Top weight Le Romain has been declared a doubtful starter for the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) at Doomben on June 9.
Le Romain was allocated 58kg when the Stradbroke Handicap weights were released on Monday and trainer Kris Lees is reluctant to test the multiple Group 1 winner under that impost against some of the best sprinters in the country.
“It took a long time to get fit for the preparation and he’s had five pretty solid runs,” Lees told racing.com.
“I think it’s a lightweight’s race for mine so I’m leaning towards giving him a break.
“We put him away now and we might get him back down to the Memsie (Stakes at Caulfield in August).”
“He’s had another great campaign. He’s had no real bad luck but you could say he could have won his last three with a touch of good luck.
“He’s been racing at Group 1 level since his second preparation so he’s been to the highest level and I want to keep him there as long as I can and I don’t want to go one run too many at this stage.”
Lees said the Le Romain has returned to his Newcastle base in top order but also noted that historically the highly weighted Stradbroke Handicap runners don’t have a good record in Queensland Winter Racing Carnival’s premier sprint.
“He’s come back to Newcastle in really order but he’s got 58 (kg) – which I knew he would get and he deserves it – but I think there have been three winners since 1973 that have carried 58 or more in a Stradbroke,” Lees said.
Le Romain has been a solid Group 1 performer since his three year old season when he scored an upset win in the Group 1 $1m Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Randwick during the 2016 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Le Romain then went on to win the Group 1 $1m Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington during the 2016 Spring Carnival and the Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick during the 20117 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
The tough five year old has had five runs this campaign, all at Group 1 level, and even though he failed to secure a win, was placed at his last three runs with a second in the Group 1 $600,000 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at Randwick, a third in the Group 1 $700,000 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) and a second in the Group 1 $700,000 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1350m) at Doomben.
Le Romain was well in contention in the Stradbroke Handicap betting at Ladbrokes.com.au and was listed at $10 before Lees announced his intentions of putting the gelding away for the Spring.
The Bjorn Baker trained Champagne Cuddles’ performance to finish third to seasoned campaigners Impending and Le Romain in the Kingsford-Smith Cup as well as the fact that she will only have to carry 50kg has seen her elevated to the top of the Stradbroke Handicap betting at $4.50 with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Early betting for the 2018 Stradbroke Handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4.50 Champagne Cuddles, $5 Impending, $11 Care To Think, Invincible Gem, Perast, $15 Osburne Bulls, Santa Ana Lane, $17 Danon Liberty, Shillelagh, $19 Peaceful State, $21 Crack Me Up, Foxplay, Spieth, Voodoo Lad, $31 Volpe Veloce, $34 Lucky Hussler, $41 Super Cash Supido, $51 Endless Drama, Handsome Thief, I’m A Rippa, Moss ‘N’ Dale, $61 or better the rest.