The Stradbroke Handicap is considered the crown jewel of the Brisbane Winter Carnival, and we’ll be treated to another wide-open edition of the $1.5 million feature this Saturday at Eagle Farm. 

Last-start Kingsford Smith Cup winner Apache Chase is hoping to become the first favourite to win the race since Black Piranha in 2009, but he’ll have his hands full with second place-getter Eleven Eleven also stepping out. 

Mick Price and Michael Kent Jr’s promising four-year-old Ayrton has drifted in betting after drawing wide, while Tony Gollan can win the Stradbroke for the first time with hometown hero Isotope. 

After winning the race with Tofane last year, Michael Moroney is hoping to defend his crown with Buffalo River, while last year’s winning rider Craig Williams saddles Brooklyn Hustle from a tricky draw. 

Like always, there’s plenty of value on offer in this year’s Stradbroke, and our thoughts on every runner are available below. 

1. Private Eye (1) 

  • Group 1’s: 1 (2021 Epsom Handicap)
  • Record: 19-8:1:1
  • Track: 2:1-0-0
  • Distance: 3:1-1-0
  • Trainer: Joseph Pride
  • Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
  • Odds: $17.00

Caught wide in the Kingsford-Smith Cup and never really found the tempo to suit. Was nearly eight weeks between runs that day after finishing second-last in the Doncaster Mile the start prior. Should show improvement on a quicker backup and out to his preferred trip, but with top-weight, he’s tough to have.

2. Laws of Indices (13) 

  • Group 1’s: 1 (2021 Jean Prat)
  • Record: 18-3:0:2
  • Track: 1:0-0-0
  • Distance: 5:1-0-1
  • Trainer: Annabel Neasham
  • Jockey: James McDonald
  • Odds: $16.00

Group 1 winner in France that has shown plenty since arriving in Australia. Fourth to Cascadian two back in the All Aged Stakes and was only 1.5L off Forbidden Love in the George Ryder at Randwick not long before. Another one that was caught wide in the Kingsford Smith Cup off a freshen-up, but I thought he finished off okay. Looks set to peak now with some fitness under his belt and the booking of James McDonald warrants plenty of respect. 

3. Apache Chase (3) 

  • Group 1’s: 1 (2022 Kingsford Smith Cup)
  • Record: 22-9:2:3
  • Track: 13:8-1-0
  • Distance: 10:6-0-2
  • Trainer: Desleigh Forster
  • Jockey: Jim Byrne
  • Odds: $10.00

Hoping to become just the second horse since Thorn Park in 2004 to complete the Kingsford Smith – Stradbroke Handicap double. Led all the way two weeks ago thanks to a  beautiful ride from Jim Byrne, but it looked as though 1300m was his limit when crossing the line. Another 25m and Paulele and Eleven Eleven would have had him beat. There looks to be more speed on offer here and I think there are others with more appeal. 

4. Eleven Eleven (5) 

  • Record: 29-9:2:5
  • Track: 3:0-1-2
  • Distance: 6:3-0-1
  • Trainer: Gregory Hickman
  • Jockey: Hugh Bowman
  • Odds: $5.50 

Recent form reads well for this. Stormed home to run a place in the Kingsford Smith a fortnight ago and appeared to have plenty left to give through the line. Has won three times over 1400m in the past and has also been a very consistent performer at Eagle Farm. Third-up form reads equally as well and he looks set for the gun run under Hugh Bowman again. Tough to fault. 

5. Alligator Blood (21)

  • Group 1’s: 1 (2020 Australian Guineas)
  • Record: 19-9:3:1
  • Track: 4:2-1-0
  • Distance: 6:4-0-0
  • Trainer: Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott
  • Jockey: Tim Clark
  • Odds: $9.50

Let down out wide first-up in the BRC Sprint to just miss out in a head-bob behind Soxagon. I thought he made up good ground from the tail of the field to finish where he did, but it’s tough to know how strong that form line is. There’s certainly plenty of improvement to come second-up though, and if Tim Clark can save his best for late from another sticky draw, he’ll be tough to hold out. 

6. Soxagon (11) 

  • Record: 29-10:6:2
  • Track: 7:3-2-0
  • Distance: 13:4-4-1
  • Trainer: Mark Currie
  • Jockey: Brad Stewart
  • Odds: $15.00 

Shooting for a hat-trick in his Group 1 debut. Lapped up the heavy conditions to win a Listed race on the Gold Coast first-up and just held on to win the BRC Sprint by a lip over Alligator Blood two weeks ago. Tends to run a good race third-up but this is obviously a much tougher assignment. Based on recent form however, there’s nothing to say he can’t run a place from an ideal alley.

7. Emerald Kingdom (2) 

  • Record: 31-12:3:3
  • Track: 12:4-1-2
  • Distance: 12:5-2-1
  • Trainer: Robert Heathcote
  • Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
  • Odds: $34.00 

Won a much easier race at Rockingham two back where he actually beat home Apache Chase narrowly. He was quickly found out in the BRC Sprint though where he faded late after settling in just behind the speed. Not sure the tempo suited that day, but this is still much harder.

8. Wild Planet (14)

  • Record: 27-6:5:2
  • Track: 3:0-0-0
  • Distance: 12:4-1-2
  • Trainer: Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
  • Jockey: Brock Ryan
  • Odds: $101

Has placed only once from eight starts at Group 1 level. Failed to run a race finishing last in the Kingsford Smith Cup after blowing the start. Loves 1400m, but losing William Pike helps explain the odds on offer.

9. Rothfire (20) 

  • Group 1’s: 1 (2020 JJ Atkins)
  • Record: 14-7:1:0
  • Track: 8:5-0-0
  • Distance: 2:1-0-0
  • Trainer: Robert Heathcote
  • Jockey: Tommy Berry
  • Odds: $16.00 

Won on this same day two years ago and has been game at Group 1 level in three starts since. Found cover and worked home nicely for fourth in the Kingsford Smith Cup, but after finding a split late, I thought he lacked his usual turn of foot in the clear. Still deserved to run a place, but out over further and from a tricky gate, the price is probably about right. 

10. I Am Superman (18)

  • Record: 28-6:2:1
  • Track: 1:0-0-0
  • Distance: 12:3-2-0
  • Trainer: Peter & Paul Snowden
  • Jockey: Sam Clipperton
  • Odds: $31.00 

Seven weeks between starts after failing to run a race in the Victoria Handicap at Caulfield back in April. Has looked good in a couple of trials down in Sydney, but he was equally disappointing in this same race last year. That said, he typically does his best work fresh, and his record over 1400m has to be considered. Worth a look each-way. 

11. Ayrton (19) 

  • Record: 9-6:1:1
  • Track: 2:1-1-0
  • Distance: 5:3-1-1
  • Trainer: Mick Price & Michael Kent Jr
  • Jockey: Ms Jamie Kah
  • Odds: $5.50 

Won the Victoria Handicap quite well at Caulfield two back but was then 12 lengths off Zaaki after seeing plenty of late support in the Hollindale on the Gold Coast. Has been kept fresh for the run but his recent trial on the Sunny Coast makes him a very questionable favourite. The wide draw only complicates matters and I’m prepared to risk. 

12. Bandersnatch (12) 

  • Record: 26-9:3:2
  • Track: 0:0-0-0
  • Distance: 13:6-2-1
  • Trainer: Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes
  • Jockey: Jason Collett
  • Odds: $91.00 

Tamworth Cup winner two back that is now facing Group 1 company for the first time. Last in a Listed race at Scone a few weeks ago and looks severely outclassed here. 

13. Niccanova (16) 

  • Record: 50-10:10:6
  • Track: 16:3-4-3
  • Distance: 18:4-3-2
  • Trainer: Steve Tregea
  • Jockey: Anthony Allen
  • Odds: $67.00 

Hasn’t won a race in over a year. Third in the BRC Sprint two back and probably deserved to finish closer in the Moreton Cup last week after contacting a runner down the straight. Has won on a quick backup before but not sure this is the right race for him. 

14. Buffalo River (10) 

  • Record: 25-7:7:3
  • Track: 1:0-0-0
  • Distance: 14:6-6-1
  • Trainer: Michael Moroney
  • Jockey: Ms Rachel King
  • Odds: $41.00 

Very genuine type that tends to give an honest effort. Led coming out of the turn in the BRC Sprint but was swallowed up over the final furlong finishing 1.5L off Soxagon. Third-up record checks out, but I think he’d prefer some sting out of the track. 

15. Isotope (4) 

  • Record: 14-6:3:0
  • Track: 4:0-1-0
  • Distance: 2:0-0-0
  • Trainer: Tony Gollan
  • Jockey: William Pike
  • Odds: $11.00 

Had a beautiful run into the race in the Kingsford Smith but finished off only fairly for ninth. Hasn’t had the best of luck at Eagle Farm and is unplaced in two starts over 1400m. Should be fitter now with a few runs under the belt but I’m not sure she’s up to beating some of these. 

16. Brooklyn Hustle (22)

  • Record: 25-4:2:2
  • Track: 3:1-0-0
  • Distance: 1:0-0-0
  • Trainer: Jason Warren & Dean Krongold
  • Jockey: Craig Williams
  • Odds: $26.00 

Got back like she always does and was only plain to the line in the Kingsford Smith. Similar story the start prior in the Robert Sangster at Morphettville where she was nearly four lengths off Snapdancer. Tends to give an honest effort but I’m happy to leave her out from a nightmare draw. 

17. Vilana (8)

  • Record: 6-4:1:0
  • Track: 1:1-0-0
  • Distance: 3:2-0-0
  • Trainer: James Cummings
  • Jockey: Ms Stephanie Thornton
  • Odds: $15.00 

Progressive type that has won four from six so far. Rattled off back-to-back wins on heavy going in Sydney during the autumn and resumed from a freshen-up to take out the Fred Best two weeks ago. She got the gun run that day and showed an impressive turn of foot to score by half a length. Good gap back to third and this does look the next logical step for her. 

18. Startantes (15) 

  • Record: 17-5:2:3
  • Track: 5:1-0-0
  • Distance: 6:1-1-0
  • Trainer: Robert Heathcote
  • Jockey: Taylor Marshall
  • Odds: $17.00 

Very intriguing horse given the weight. Worth forgiving her run in the Fred Best where she ran out of running room down the straight, while her performance first-up behind Count De Rupee in the Victory Stakes was full of merit. Her race pattern is frustrating at times, but she’ll likely get back and save her best for late – which is certainly good enough. 


  • 19. Scallopini (7)
  • 20. Ranch Hand (23)
  • 21. Flying Crazy (17)
  • 22. Tycoonist (9)
  • 23. Frankie Pinot (6)