A quality nine-race program gets underway this Saturday at Eagle Farm, headlined by the highlight of the Brisbane Winter Carnival, the $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap.
The Group 1 J.J. Atkins and the inaugural Q22 are also fascinating betting races alongside six other black-type contests.
We’ve run the rule over each and every horse and our best bets for Stradbroke Day can be found here!
Race 1 - 11:29am
Listed Nova 106.9 Oxlade Stakes (1200m)
This is a very interesting race to start the day with a case to be made for most of these juveniles.
In The Congo goes on top for me after he overcame a bit of an awkward start to win well on debut at Randwick Kensington last month.
The son of Snitzel has drawn an identical barrier draw for his second start on Saturday, and while there’s much more depth in this race, I think the way he finished off on debut suggested he’ll be tough to hold out over a touch further.
2 Units In The Congo
Race 2 - 12:04pm
Listed The Wayne Wilson (1600m)
Hard to knock the form of So You Win as he looks to break a run of recent placings that dates back to April.
Chris Waller’s six-year-old saw some late support in his last start over further in the Lord Mayor’s Cup, and it certainly warranted as the son of So You Think made up big ground from midfield to finish a clear second to Reloaded.
How he handles getting back to the mile now looks a slight query, but his recent form is really hard to fault.
He’s raced in arguably some much tougher races than this recently and the fact he’s missed a place only once at Eagle Farm makes for strong reading.
2 Units E/W So You Win
Race 3 - 12:39pm
Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m)
Punters piled into Ayrton in the Fred Best Classic a fortnight ago where he failed to catch all-the-way winner Apache Chase.
It was a tough watch for some, but there was still plenty to like about the way he finished off through the line as he gets out to the mile now for the first time.
Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr’s three-year-old clearly has a very bright future and this looks a perfect race for him to atone after missing out on a spot in the Stradbroke.
He’s still got some maturing to do, but fitter for two runs back, he should be putting most of these away with ease.
3 Units Ayrton
Race 4 - 1:14pm
Group 2 Brisbane Cup (3200m)
Trusting Glen Boss to get the job done aboard Rondinella in the Brisbane Cup, who gets back out to 3200m after finishing a length off Selino over this same trip at Randwick two runs back in the Sydney Cup.
The New Zealand import has been up for a while, but she’s held her form enormously well to go on and run fourth two weeks ago in the Premier Cup here at Eagle Farm.
The mare by Ocean Park is winless since she ventured across the ditch last August, but since she meets a couple of her main rivals better off at the weights, I think this might be her day.
2 Units Rondinella
Race 5 - 1:53pm
Group 2 Q22 (2200m)
$1.2 million goes on the line in the inaugural edition of The Q22.
This should be a fascinating race with several Group 1 winners lining up, but it’s obviously hard to go past the short-priced favourite Zaaki following his triumph in the Doomben Cup a couple of weeks ago.
Clearly this is a tougher assignment for him stepping up to 2200m for the first time, but on class alone, he should be putting most of these to bed in the late stages.
If you’re looking to back something each-way, the obvious standout is Toffee Tongue.
She doesn’t win out of turn, but she’s been a very consistent customer for Chris Waller throughout her prep. Comes off a last start second to Zaaki in the Doomben Cup and the $11.00 looks great value.
5 Units Zaaki
Race 6 - 1:53pm
Listed Hinkler Handicap (1200m)
This isn’t a race I’m particularly keen to dive into, mainly because it looks Garibaldi’s to lose.
The son of I Am Invincible has been around the mark since he returned to work finished second over this track and trip last month before a bold fourth to Emerald Kingdom in the BRC Sprint at Doomben.
He’s found the money in all four of his starts over this track and trip and rarely runs a bad race at Eagle Farm in general. Rain or sunshine, he performs, and he should be afforded the gun run along the rail.
2 Units Garibaldi
Race 7 - 3:13pm
Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m)
Port Louis looks set to peak coming off a last start third to a couple of his rivals in Tiger Of Malay and Converge a couple of weeks ago in the Group 2 Sires’ Produce.
Ciaron Maher and David Eustace’s lightly-raced colt is winless in four starts, but he’s clearly crying out for the mile now after making up big ground two runs back in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes at Randwick.
I like the fact Hugh Bowman has ridden him in all four of his starts, and he might be suited by the wide draw in the JJ Atkins since he likes to get back and run on.
2 Units Port Louis
Race 8 - 3:53pm
Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m)
This is an outstanding edition of the $1.5 million Stradbroke and it really isn’t an easy race for punters to navigate.
We’ve seen throughout the Carnival that previous experience at Eagle Farm counts for a lot, so for that reason, I’ve got the favourite Vega One on top as he looks to claim a Kingsford Smith – Stradbroke Handicap double.
Losing the class of Jamie Kah in the saddle is a slight knock, but Rachel King should have a lot less work to do on him after drawing a gate.
Providing the pair can find cover early, I’m confident they’ll prove too much to in the closing stages.
2 Units Vega One
Race 9 - 4:29pm
Group 2 Magic Millions Dane Ripper Stakes (1300m)
Exhilarates was outstanding second-up in the Listed Helen Coghlan Stakes where she wound up from well back in the field to win by close to a length.
She’s the kind of horse that tends to improve with racing and while this is a much tougher task, she’s worth a look here at double-digit odds.
Giving away too big of a start will cost her in an open race like this, but the fact Kerrin McEvoy has retained the ride should give her every chance to go on with it.
2 Units E/W Exhilarates