2018 Stradbroke Handicap 1350m
This time honoured event is named after Lord Stradbroke who invented the Weight For Age scale in thoroughbred racing. First run at Eagle Farm in 1890 and won by Pyrrhus the race has been won by some genuine greats of the Australian turf such as Private Steer, Dane Ripper, Rough Habit, Campaign King, Triton, Winfreux and Wiggle. Black Pirhana, Rough Habit, Daybreak Lover, Lucky Ring, Petrol Lager, Highland, Gold Tie and Babel have all annexed the race twice, Impending attempts this rare feat in 2018, defending the crown he won here at Doomben in 2017. 2018 will only be the forth time the race has been run away from Eagle Farm.
In the past 35 runnings, only 2 mares and 4 fillies have saluted, while 8 favourites have been successful during this period.
The weights have been dramatically compressed for this event, if we removed the top two weighted horses there is only 3.5kg between the other 14 runners. So some runners lower in the weights are poorly weighted in comparison to the top weights.
There is generally plenty of speed in a Stradbroke, especially with a capacity field, jockeys from wide draws attempting to begin fast to get across near the rails. However this year there is only one noted leader, the Paul Perry trained Perast, so he may not get things all his own way over the initial 300 metres or so. We would be looking for a run on horse that obtains a good run in transit with cover, with a recognized Group 1 jockey who will present his mount into the race at the right time.
Impending – carried 52.5kg to win in 2017, so rises 5kg, however he has improved significantly over the past 12 months, running a great third in the Group 1 Darley Classic at Flemington in the Spring and winning at WFA Group 1 level over this course and distance last start. Barrier 9 is perfect draw for him and he has the best jockey in the race, Damian Browne to navigate. Definite winning chance again.
Santa Anna Lane – Group 1 Goodwood winner last start coming from a mile back in the field to win impressively, actually drops in weight at the handicaps here although this field is probably stronger, has a Group 1 1400m win to his credit so he should be included amongst the winning chances from the good draw.
Crack Me Up – the best local hope attacking the event fresh after his last start Doncaster failure in early April. He has the ability and quality to win, has a nice draw and is well weighted. Each way chance at around the $25 mark.
Endless Drama – 6yo entire who has only won 3 races and looked well held by Impending a fortnight ago. Barrier 20 a real concern.
Voodoo Lad – winner of 10 from 25 attempts and hails from the all conquering Weir stable. Failed miserably in the Goodwood last start, has trialled well since and will be well ridden, but we must question whether he has the quality to win a Stradbroke.
Speith – has been trying to win a Group 1 for some time now without success and has never won beyond 1200m. Ran on well behind Impending last start however the 1350m is a definite query from barrier 21.
Foxplay – mare who has not won a race for over 14 months, looked well held in weaker grade last start however does drop 7kg on that run. Significantly McEvoy has jumped off her and even though Michael Walker is riding in red hot form, she will need plenty of luck from barrier 19.
Most Important – has pace and should be handy from the good draw, however his last couple of runs have not been his best and he will need to lift dramatically to threaten some of these.
The Monstar – peaks third up here coming off a strong Sunshine Coast win last week albeit in a weaker race. He will go forward and race on the speed, the final 200m might be his biggest test.
Shillelagh – Group 1 winner at Flemington in November however has failed to recapture that form in four starts since. Ran on well against the mares last start and drops 7.5kg in weight, so should be considered an each way hope if she can race at her best.
Care To Think – winner of 6 from 14 attempts and will strip fitter for two runs this time in where he has run on well in both. Drops 6.5kg in weight which will assist however we question where he gets in the run from barrier 16 and he will need luck.
Burning Passion – another who drops significantly in weight off his last start effort behind Impending, his best form does appear to be over 1200m and has barrier 15 with which to contend.
Super Cash – 5yo mare who is best known for her deeds over 1100m a distance over which she has won 5 of her 6 races. Ran an even race in the Goodwood however it’s impossible to see her beating Santa Ann Lane here.
Invincible Gem – 4yo mare who has always shown promise winning 5 from 15. Ran on strongly last start at Scone and will strip fitter, however she will probably have to go forward from the awkward barrier and looked well beaten during the Sydney Autumn carnival and will need to improve sharply to win this race.
Perast – looks the obvious leader and will have to work to get across from the barrier, has no weight, a winner over this course and distance his past two starts, however the final 200m is a real concern with the quality horses running on out wide.
Champagne Cuddles – lightly raced 3yo filly who looks very well placed here at the weights. Drops 5kg off her last start narrow defeat by Impending, perfectly drawn, just needs some luck at the right time to get clear running in the straight and she will be in the finish.
Danon Liberty – Weir runner first up in Australia and has only won 3 races, we would prefer to see what he can do before jumping on
Osbourne Bulls – always thought he was a future Group 1 winner and gets in here with a suitable weight, distance suits and can run a big race from the barrier should he get a run.
The winner should come from Impending, Santa Anna Lane, Champagne Cuddles or Crack Me Up, with good chances given to Care To Think and Invincible Gem with luck from their awkward draws. Osbourne Bulls a chance should he obtain a run.
1 #16 Champagne Cuddles
2 #1 Impending
3 #2 Santa Anna Lane
4 #3 Crack Me Up