The 2014 Stradbroke Handicap field has been released; with eighteen quality gallopers as well as five emergencies included in the acceptances for the Group 1 event that will be held at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Popular Queensland sprinter Spirit Of Boom will carry the top-weight of 58 kilograms in the Stradbroke Handicap and will be having the final race start of his career before standing at Eureka Stud for the upcoming breeding season.
Spirit Of Boom broke through for a maiden win at Group 1 level in the William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing and proved that was no fluke when he took out the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 24.
Spirit Of Boom is joined in the Stradbroke Handicap field by half-brother Temple Of Boom, who was only narrowly denied his second win at Group 1 level in the Doomben 10,000 and will carry 56 kilograms on Saturday.
Rebel Dane worked home strongly to finish fourth in the Doomben 10,000, against the pattern of the day, and trainer Gary Portelli is hoping that the son of California Dane can return to winning form on the bigger Eagle Farm track.
The 2013 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner will carry 56.5 kilograms, but Portelli said that he isn’t worried about the weight and is desperately hoping that the four-year-old will score an inside gate for the Group 1 event.
Glen Boss was previously booked to ride Rebel Dane in the Stradbroke Handicap, but will partner classy filly Srikandi in the $1.36 million event this weekend after the Ciaron Maher-trained galloper stamped herself as favourite in Stradbroke Handicap betting markets with a string of impressive performances.
Srikandi, who will carry just 51 kilograms, scored her maiden black type victory with a convincing win in the Listed Silk Stocking (1200m) at the Gold Coast on May 3 before taking out the Listed Juanmo Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on May 17 and the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m) at the same venue a fortnight later.
Another lightweight chance in the Stradbroke Handicap field is Hucklebuck, who was scratched from the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) last weekend in order to be saved for a second-up tilt at the Stradbroke Handicap.
Hucklebuck returned to the races after a stint in the spelling paddock with a fourth place finish in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m) at Doomben on May 17 and has scored two wins from his previous two first-up starts.
Leading New South Wales trainer Chris Waller has never won the Stradbroke Handicap, but has Red Tracer (56kg), Velrosso (52.5kg) and Masthead (52.5kg) in the acceptances for the Group 1 event.
Red Tracer will be returning to the races for the first time since she finished third behind Diamond Drille in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) and has since impressed with two strong barrier trial performances, while Velrosso will be making his Group 1 debut after finishing fifth in the Listed Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at Scone on May 17.
Masthead has impressed in three race starts since returning to Australian racing, highlighted by a second place finish in the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m), but will need a horse in the final field to be withdrawn in order to earn a start in the Group 1 event.
John O’Shea will also be represented by multiple runners in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap, with Knoydart and Emblems, taking their place in the field, while Kelso Wood will be represented by Belltone and is still hoping that second emergency Into The Red will receive a run in the feature event of the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
The 2014 Stradbroke Handicap field is rounded out by BTC Cup winner Famous Seamus, Natalie Mccall-trained River Lad, The Goodwood winner Smokin’ Joey, Gary Kennewell-trained Conservatorium, QTC Cup winner Sacred Star, last start winner Reparations, the out of form Lucky Hussler and resuming mare Scorpio Queen.