Raffaello Who? The Forgotten Stradbroke Contender

Raffaello is one of the more interesting runners in the 2011 Stradbroke Handicap and one which most have skipped over in the lead up.

In fact you’d be excused for not even knowing he was in the field with ‘Raffaello‘ pretty much only mentioned in the final field and barrier draw announcement.

He’s certainly worth a look at the very least though as he provides a bit of an x-factor to a field which is otherwise well determined.

Most runners are at least a few runs into their preps and many have been in action since the autumn in Sydney.

That’s not the case for Raffaello though which will be first up for the year having not run since the Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield last spring.

In fact his start before that was back in June in the Eagle Farm Cup so in terms of freshness none of the others come close.

Obviously having just one run in the last year poses a few questions in terms of fitness but trainer Patrick Ryan is very happy with his current condition.

Not only is his race prep unique, he’ll have a slightly different logistical lead up as well.

Ryan sent the horse to Ballina by float on Sunday but the horse won’t leave for Brisbane until the day of the race.

He’s been working well on the beach at Lennox Heads and Ryan wants to keep him there for as long as he can.

“He went a bit sour going to the track previously and he’s going so good going to the beach I thought I wouldn’t change anything,” Ryan said.

“It’s a bit of an ask but I couldn’t ask for him to be doing any better at this stage.”

While Ryan is well aware of the challenge facing him in trying to win a $1 million Group 1 first up he’s confident he’ll put in a good showing.

“It’s a long shot but he’s doing well and he looks an absolute treat and he’s travelled so well I’d be disappointed if he didn’t run some sort of race,” Ryan said.

“I’ve kept him fresh and he’s in good nick. His action is so good I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s somewhere thereabouts.”

He has had some support in the betting markets and after blowing out to as much as $301 in early markets he’s now settled at a $31 quote.

Also in his favour is that he has won first up before, albeit a much lower rated 1200m race at Caulfield.

His career has thus far returned nine wins and more than half a million dollars in prize money and he has also run a place at Group 1 level as well.

While working for Mark Kavanagh he came home third in the 2009 Rupert Clarke Stakes over the Stradbroke distance.

Given it will be just his first run it’s likely Raffaello will have one more start in Queensland before being put away for the spring.

The Listed Glasshouse Handicap on the Sunshine Coast seems the most likely option on July 2nd.

His rider at Eagle Farm tomorrow will be Lisa Cropp who will take the reins for the very first time.

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