Eagle Farm trainer Kelly Schweida might have dropped his lip but he didn’t drop his bundle when his three year old Better Than Ready came up with a horror draw in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Better Than Ready came up with barrier nineteen out of twenty-three but will jump from fifteen if the emergencies failed to gain a start.
Schweida initially felt that his long term plan to win the Stradbroke had fallen apart but after further consideration decided that it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
“It’s not as bad as it looks. I think he’s a better horse ridden quiet and that’s how we’ll have to ride him from there. You can’t do anything about barriers and weather,” Schweida said.
“Ever since we won in Sydney in October last year it’s been geared towards this. You go all that time and then you go to the barrier draw and then one fell swoop …
“I was enjoying the week until Wednesday’s barrier draw. Then we got handled by the Cockroaches and that made it worse.”
Schweida, a staunch Queenslander, also had to cope with the Maroons getting beaten by New South Wales in last Wednesday Sate Of Origin match in Sydney and would enjoy nothing more than to see a local trounce the southern invaders in Brisbane Winter Carnival’s showpiece feature race, especially if it was his More Than Ready colt.
The Eagle Farm trainer knew he had a special galloper when Better Than Ready won his first start in a race as a two year old at Eagle Farm.
In his next campaign Schweida took the colt to Sydney where he set a new 1200m Randwick track record winning the Listed $100,000 Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) on October 20 last year.
Better Than Ready clocked 1.8.19 for the 1200m and Schweida immediately set the Stradbroke plan in motion.
Along the way Better Than Ready was tested against the best in the country when a respectable fifth to Shamexpress in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 9.
Better Than Ready has performed admirably at weight for age during the current Winter Carnival and will be better suited under the handicap conditions in the Stradbroke.
Even though the Anthony Cummings trained Your Song made it an one act affair with his five lengths victory in the Group 1 $400,000 Bundaberg Distilling Co. BTC Cup (1200m) at Eagle Farm on May 11, Better Than Ready was able to make up plenty of ground in the straight to finish third.
And then he ran a similar race from back in the field for a strong finishing fifth to Epaulette in the Group 1 $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) at Doomben two weeks ago.
Better Than Ready meets both those three year olds better at the weights and will appreciate a solid pace and the bigger Eagle Farm track.
Melbourne jockey Craig Newitt replaces the suspended Ric McMahon and knows how to handle the tricky barrier after winning the 2006 Stradbroke Handicap on the Barry Baldwin trained three year old La Montagna who jumped from gate eighteen in a twenty horse field.
Better Than Ready is well up the market order at $8.50 behind favourites Your Song ($4.80) and Sizzling ($5.50).
The Peter Snowden trained Epaulette has been marked a $7 chance just in front of Buffering at $8.50.