Cranbourne trainer Mick Bell is not happy that his stable star Jungle Edge will have to compete in the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap on June 10 at Doomben following its switch from Eagle Farm.
Jungle Edge is racing in peak form and ran second to Clearly Innocent in the Group 1 $700,000 Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) on the controversial Eagle Farm track last Saturday.
Bell said that Jungle Edge, a noted wet tracker, handled the Eagle Farm surface that was rated a heavy 8 even though there had been no rainfall recorded in the previous seven days.
Following a barrage of criticism from high profile jockeys and trainers, Racing Queensland stepped in and changed the venue for the next two Winter Carnival Group 1 meetings from Eagle Farm to Doomben with the distance for the Stradbroke Handicap to be reduced from 1400m to 1350m.
This Saturday’s Queensland Oaks meeting has also been transferred from Eagle Farm to Doomben.
While Jungle Edge was a winner two starts back over the 1350m at Doomben in the Group 3 $125,000 BRC Sprint on May 20 on a rain affected track, it now looks likely that Stradbroke Handicap will be run on a drying surface in two weeks which Bell admits will take the advantage away from his mudlark.
“I’ve got my horse up in Queensland on good faith and just because the track doesn’t suit some high-profile trainers, now we are having to move to Doomben,” Bell told racing.com.
“My horse likes conditions at Eagle Farm and that is why I am here.
“If the tracks are rock hard, I have the option of going elsewhere. The same applies to other trainers who have horses who don’t like the track at Eagle Farm.
“There is nothing wrong with the safety of the track, we got through the meeting on Saturday, Clearly Innocent won a Group 1 fair and square.
“Are they going to go back and say his win doesn’t count now as it was on an inferior surface?”
Even though Bell is not happy with the switch of venues, he said that Jungle Edge would still take his place in the Stradbroke Handicap field.
“I’m here now, we are going to run but I’m not impressed and think the principle of moving the meeting to suit those who have whinged isn’t right,” Bell said.
Sydney’s champion trainer Chris Waller was one of the high profile people to voice his opinion on the underperforming Eagle Farm track and applauded Racing Queensland’s decision to transfer the Group 1 meetings to Doomben for the next two Saturdays.
“Although it might not suit all horses moving to Doomben we need to respect horses, jockeys, trainers and industry participants,” Waller said.
“In the interest of the punters they can now bet with some confidence again that horses will run to their true form.
“If the punters are betting we will survive.”
While Kingsford-Smith Cup winner Clearly Innocent and runner up Jungle Edge looked to handle the Eagle Farm track okay, the Waller trained Counterattack was beaten almost 7 lengths behind the winner in third place and wasn’t very comfortable on the shifty surface while his stalemate Japonisme could only beat one runner home, 23.3 lengths down the track.
Other Waller runners at Eagle Farm last Saturday that got lost were Amovatio, 9.5 lengths in fifth place, and Religify,12 lengths in sixth place in the Group 3 $125,000 Lord Mayor’s Cup (1600m) while two year old Tangled was beaten 13.7 lengths when tenth in the Group 2 $250,000 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
Waller’s two runners in the Group 3 $150,000 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) obviously weren’t at home on the shifty ground with Black On Gold, 80.1 lengths in twelfth spot, and Veladero, 86.4 lengths in fourteenth place, being eased down in the straight.