Updated: Jul 9, 2020
Finally! We are here on the eve of Stradbroke Day. Two months ago all corporate bookmakers refunded futures bets due to the uncertainty of the QLD Winter Carnival. That uncertainty of whether the race would even go ahead in 2020 has passed and now we have two serious Group 1 races on our hands. Brisbane’s weather will present the Eagle Farm track with a good surface and you’d think it will play fair, giving every horse its chance in the early races, but as the meeting goes on, it might be an advantage to get 3-4 horses off the fence.
The Stradbroke Handicap, QLD’s most prestigious race over the Eagle Farm 1400m, won last year by Godolphin’s Trekking, who lines up again and carries the top weight of 58kg, here's our preview of the Group 1 features.
Stradbroke Handicap Preview
James Innes Jnr on board the $4.5 favourite, Dawn Passage, holds the key to how this race will be run. In classic Gai and Adrian style, most would assume from Barrier 23 (prior to scratchings) Innes Jnr will roll forward, in similar fashion as last Saturday’s dress rehearsal in the Fred Best Classic. However, Dawn Passage typically settles back in its races, allowing the 3-year colt to display his devastating turn of foot. I reckon Dawn Passage has no other choice but to roll forward under the urgings of Innes Jnr and it might find itself caught wide. On the barrier draw alone, I am putting a line through the favourite as I think there will be good tempo in the race with locally trained, Deep Image pushing forward for Rob Heathcote and I think Bam’s On Fire will push up from the inside, it was ridden upside down in the Group 1 TAB Classic in Adelaide, only finishing a couple of lengths of Bella Vella, perhaps Niccanova pushes forward as well from the wide gate.
With all that considered, I think it’s fair to say there will be a fairly even tempo, setting it up for horses sitting just off the speed with some cover. Exhilarates from Barrier 4 will get her chance, 3rd up and gets to the spacious Eagle Farm 1400m for the first time with only the postage stamp of 49.5kg’s on her back. The 3-year old filly ticks a lot of boxes here and looks to be an each-way all-day proposition. Victorem was fucking breathtaking last start and on the back of that performance, it meets a very similar field and has drawn soft, a definite chance on what is probably his preferred Eagle Farm surface, the only knock is $19 SP last start, now we’re being asked to take $7.50, regardless, it’s Victorem on top for me.
The obvious class horse of the event is last year’s winner, Trekking. He was super in the Goodwood, running down Gytrash on the line. Trekking brings the A grade form lines but Michael Cahill have to produce a peach of a ride from Barrier 22 as he’ll be giving some good horses a good head start under the big weight. No doubt Cummings will have him in good order and he’ll run a good race, I just think he’ll be giving Victorem too much of a start, not to mention the 5.5kg differential in the weights.
Trekking is back to defend his Stradbroke Handicap title (Photo credit: Just Horse Racing)
In terms of value, I thought Chief Ironside (Kris Lees/Australian Bloodstock horses can not be trusted!) with the shades first time can figure in the finish. Now 3rd up and has a platform to show what he did in the Spring beating Cliff's Edge to win the Group 2 Crystal Mile, not bad form!
Here’s the Stradbroke Tips from the boys:
#3BNC Stradbroke Tips:
Gussy Montaro: Exhilarates (EWAD).
Georgie Byron Baked: Exhilarates
Marnus Magoulias: Trekking
Sivo: Victorem & Trekking
JJ Atkins Preview
This year’s edition of the JJ Atkins presents a hot field! The market has gravitated toward four horses; Rothfire ($3.8), Wisdom of Water ($6), Macroura ($6.5) and Isotope ($7.5). In terms of winning chances, I feel the market is spot on. If anything else wins, it would be a huge surprise. Admittedly, all four horses are untried over the trip and step up to Group 1 race conditions for the first time, whichever horse handles that experience the best will win.
Interestingly, like the Stradbroke favourite, Rothfire ($3.8) has drawn wide in Barrier 14. Unlike Dawn Passage, Rothfire only knows one way, go forward. I can’t see this changing on Saturday, as there is only one horse drawn inside the gelding with gate speed. Untested at the 1400m, plus the wide alley, and the potential of having to deal with an out of control Wisdom of Water, Rothfire; not for me.
Wisdom of Water, well if this colt settles it will win. SP profile of $1.45 1st up and a $1.55 2nd up, notably against easier opposition, but it reflects a horse with serious untapped ability. The horse leaves the barriers like a greyhound, fast! This 2-year colt is on top for me as it has far more upside than anything else in the field. I’ll preface this all by saying, he’s got untapped ability but also his fair share of quirks! The way I read the map, he may well get third the fence and if he over races, tickets could be confetti very early! However, 3rd up into the prep, this horse should be ready to fucking explode! If he wants to lead he probably can, although he has won coming from the tail before, I think if he was to lead then that won’t do anything to help Rothfire’s winning chances.
Rothfire is favourite for Saturday's JJ Atkins @ Eagle Farm
Macroura is a typical Ciaron Maher and David Eustace 2-year old, professional. This filly will handle the tempo of a Group 1 and will look the winner at some stage. The step up from 1100m-1400m and now 4th up is strange and a knock on its chances, it suggests to me that the stable are just having a throw at the stumps. Macroura for me, is a sharp filly better suited over the shorter trips and probably won’t be strong enough over the 1400m.
Not sure what to expect from Isotope. Brained them on debut when backed like a sure fucking thing. Then backed that up by winning at the Sunshine Coast beating an underdone Gotta Kiss. Look, to be brutally honest Gollan has some tricks up his sleeve, his horses seem to grow a leg between runs. So the fact that Isotope lost last start, means we could see a different horse on Saturday. My advice would be to watch the market in the lead up to the race. Money speaks all languages with the Gollan Stable. The horse on exposed form can not win, I think Rothfire had its measure, however like I said it’s a big watch.
In terms of a roughie, Thunder Mania presents value. Dominate wins this prep and importantly has won over the 1400m. Trialled up super for this weekend, drawn to get a gun run in transit and 3rd up could be the blow out at odds.
#3BNC JJ Atkins Tips:
Gussy Montaro: Wisdom of Water & Overlord (EWAD)
Georgie Byron Baked: Rothfire
Marnus Magoulias: Isotope
Sivo: Wisdom of Water
#3BNC Eagle Farm Quadrella Numbers:
Around the Grounds:
Randwick 8/7 – Phaistos.
Georgie Byron Baked Overseas Multi Special:
YASUDA KINEN 2020 (JPN) – Almond Eye
2000 GUINEAS 2020 (GB) - Pinatubo
Marnus Magoulias Moral Multi:
Morphettville 2/4 - Be My Star
Randwick 7/1 – Classique Legend
Sivo Keep it Simple File:
Morphettville 2/4 - Be My Star
Sydney 9/9 – Itz Lily EW
Flemington 6/8 - Masaff
Good luck, good punting & as always, gamble responsibly!