Top class three year olds Sizzling and Better Than Ready have joined top sprinter Buffering as Queensland’s big hopes in this year’s Group 1 $1.36m AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 8 after nominations were finalized today.
The Brisbane Racing Club received one hundred and thirty-seven entries for the $1m sprint which hasn’t seen a home town victory since Barry Baldwin’s filly La Montagna took the major prize in 2006.
Last year’s winner Mid Summer Music is not among this year’s noms, but trainer Peter Moody will be well represented with six horses named in the entries list.
Group 1 winner Moment Of Change heads the leading Melbourne trainer’s entries which also include Club Command, Mr Make Believe, My Quest For Peace, Ready To Rip and Strawberry Boy.
Old warhorse Rangirangdoo, one of Chris Waller’s eight entries, heads the leading Sydney trainer’s Stradbroke hopefuls while Peter Snowden has entered six.
Group 1 winner Epaulette will be suited by the 1400m of the Stradbroke while six year old Rarefied showed that he is back winning the Listed $100,000 Carolyn Griffin Hall Mark Stakes (1200m) at Randwick last Saturday at only his second run back from a fifteen month break.
Robert Heathcote is looking forward to going one better than last year with Buffering after the five year old was run down by Mid Summer Music and is hoping that the handicapper doesn’t add to his 58kg that he carried when gallant in defeat.
A Group 1 win has eluded Buffering to date with seven minor placings at the top level, including a second to Black Caviar and two thirds when Black Caviar and Hay List ran the quinella, but indicated that he was nearing his peak with a devastating win last Saturday in the Group 2 $175,000 Coca-Cola Victory Stakes (1200m) at Doomben.
“I’m hoping Buffering can become the pin up horse for the carnival,” Heathcote said.
“I’ve always believed that behind Black Caviar and Hay List when he was firing, that Buffering was the third best sprinter in Australia.”
Front runner Rain Affair is also not far off a Group 1 win and gave plenty of cheek last week at Randwick when only run down in the final fifty metres by glamour three year old All Too Hard in the Group 1 $400,000 Yarraman Park All Aged Stakes (1400m).
Eagle Farm trainer Kelso Wood will kick off Sizzling’s Stradbroke Handicap campaign this Saturday at the Gold Coast when the Group 1 winning colt lines up in the Group 3 $125,000 Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) for the three year olds.
Wood will keep Sizzling to his own age for the time being and will use the Group 2 $350,000 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 1 as his final lead up to the Stradbroke.
“He would be carrying the same weight in the weight-for-age races, so it makes sense to take on his own age,” Wood said.
“I’ve spoken to the handicappers and they assure me he’ll get a run in the Stradbroke and running in the Guineas gives him the same seven-day back-up into the Stradbroke as we used to win the T.J. last year.”
The Kelly Schweida trained Better Than Ready is also on track for bigger spoils after scoring an impressive win over 1000m at Eagle Farm on April 20 after a short break.
Better Than Ready showed that he is up to the class with a very good fifth to Shamexpress in this year’s Group 1 $1m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March.