Top Melbourne jockey Craig Newitt has picked up the ride on local fancy Better Than Ready in the Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 8.
Eagle Farm trainer Kelly Schweida was forced to hunt for a replacement jockey when regular rider Ric McMahon was suspended for careless riding at Doomben last Saturday and secured the services of Newitt who won the 2006 Stradbroke on La Montagna.
McMahon was handed a nine meeting suspension for causing interference when he shifted out on Better Than Ready at the 300m in the Group 1 $650,000 Carlton Mid Doomben 10,000 (1350m) before running home to finish fifth to Epaulette.
McMahon said that he would appeal after stewards outed him from midnight on June 1 until midnight on June 14, making him available for the Ipswich Cup meeting.
Even though McMahon is fighting the suspension, Schweida wanted to lock in a top rider for the Brisbane Winter Carnival’s most prestigious race.
Craig Williams was also on the short list but was unable to gain a release from his riding commitments in Japan.
Williams was the first choice after riding Better Than Ready in the Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 9 when the three year old ran a mighty race to finish fifth to Shamexpress.
Better Than Ready was allocated 52.5kg for the Stradbroke Handicap when weights were released on Monday, and even though he is listed as twenty-first in order of entry, he will gain a start with several horses above him already having been announced non-runners.
Sydney sprinter Rain Affair has been sent to the paddock following his unplaced effort in the Doomben 10,000 on the weekend, while runner-up Sea Siren is off to England to compete in the Royal Ascot Carnival.
“She flies to the UK from Melbourne so we’ll float her down on Sunday night and she leaves Melbourne next Wednesday,” trainer John O’Shea said.
The Peter Moody trained Moment Of Change won’t be coming to Brisbane and multiple Group 1 winning mares Ortensia and Secret Admirer has been retired.
Better Than Ready is currently the $6 second favourite for the Stradbroke after two good runs at weight for age in the BTC Cup and the Doomben 10,000.
Epaulette shot to the top of the market at $4.40 after his Doomben 10,000 win with BTC Cup winner Your Song at $8,50 with Group 1 bridesmaid Buffering at $9.