The 2017 Brisbane Winter Carnival’s most exciting horses will step out on Saturday afternoon and a capacity field of sprinters will seek to join a long and illustrious list of Stradbroke Handicap winners.
For only the second time in history, Doomben Racecourse will host the Stradbroke Handicap in 2017 following the BRC’s decision to move the race from its traditional home, Eagle Farm, for safety reasons.
Kingsford-Smith Cup winner Clearly Innocent is set to lead an all-star 2017 Stradbroke Handicap field also boasting the likes of Counterattack, Jungle Edge and Derryn.
Srikandi – 2015
Srikandi was a strong and consistent performer throughout her entire racing career and won the Stradbroke Handicap in 2015; the only other time that the race was contested on the Doomben 1350m course. Finishing third behind River Lad and Temple Of Boom in the race as a three-year-old in 2014, the Dubawi mare returned to racing in 2015 for a smart win in the Group 2 Victory Stakes (1200m), but failed to produce much in either of the Group 1 BTC Cup (1200m) and Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m). Beginning the Stradbroke Handicap at double-figure odds, jockey Kerrin McEvoy took a handy position on pace and never appeared in doubt; drawing away in the final 200m to win the race by two lengths. Having repeated the effort in the Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) a fortnight later, Srikandi returned to the track only two more times before retiring into a breeding career; finishing second behind Chautauqua in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) most notably.
Sincero – 2011
Talented three-year-old Sincero completed a perfectly-timed sprint to be crowned the Stradbroke Handicap winner in 2011. Having settled in the middle of the field after jumping fairly, the Umatilla gelding was blocked for a run in the final straight at Eagle Farm, but found clear running with 200m and made it count; flashing home to beat beaded by a short neck. The stable star for Wyong-based trainer Stephen Farley, Sincero enjoyed a prosperous racing career which also included a smart win in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1500m) the proceeding winter.
Black Piranha – 2009, 2010
Black Piranha claimed only two Group 1 wins throughout his sixty-three career starts, but both of those happened to come in the form of the 2009 and 2010 editions of the Stradbroke Handicap. After running on well to win the 2009 Stradbroke by a half-length, the Clang gelding steadily built to the task through the late stages of autumn and early winter, but started a $21 shot in his defence of the Brisbane Winter Carnival’s showpiece. Having worked his way into the clear rounding onto the final straight, Black Piranha mustered a smart turn of foot; lunging at the line to win the race in a photo from Melito and fellow roughie Mic Mac.
Dane Ripper – 1997
Dane Ripper delivered legendary trainer Bart Cummings several outstanding results throughout her impressive racing career, including the 1997 Stradbroke Handicap – the first of her four Group 1 triumphs. With only 50kgs in tow, Dane Ripper flew the barriers at Eagle Farm and took a positive position close to the pace; extending in the final straight to find the line two lengths ahead of Quick Flick and Celestial Choir. The Danehill mare undoubtedly found her best form during the proceeding Spring Carnival however, when triumphant in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m). Run on Stradbroke Handicap Day each year, the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1400m) is the final point of call for fillies and mares on the traditional path towards the Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m).
All Our Mob – 1994
The Bryan Guy-trained All Our Mob won several Group 1 title throughout an impressive career, but claimed his first via a tough performance in the 1994 Stradbroke Handicap. Having gone close several times previously but also harbouring a tendency to fade in the dying stages of his races, the What A Guest gelding returned a far-more furnished horse as a four-year-old and followed up a smart placing in the Doomben 10,000 with a strong one-length triumph in the Stradbroke. Having been transferred to the care of Gai Waterhouse from his five-year-old season, All Our Mob went on to win the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m), Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) most notably.
Rough Habit – 1991, 1992
Multiple Group 1 winner Rough Habit was a star of Australian turf in the early 90s and displayed a keen affiliation with Eagle Farm; winning the Queensland Derby in 1990 before claiming consecutive Stradbroke Handicap triumphs in 1991 and 1992. Never appearing in doubt when a comfortable winner of the race at his first attempt, the Roughcast gelding was settled at the tail of the field in the 1992 Stradbroke as Euclase and Schillaci traded early blows on pace. Completely blocked for a run and appearing down and out when the field straightened, Rough Habit mustered a scintillating turn of foot and weaved through the field; savaging the line for undoubtedly one of the best wins of his racing career. The Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) for three-year-olds is contested at Doomben Racecourse each winter.
Daybreak Lover – 1984, 1986
Champion sprinter Daybreak Lover famously posted an impressive win in the 1984 editions of the Stradbroke Handicap, subsequently served a season at stud and returned to the track in 1986 to return to the pinnacle of racing in the Winter Carnival feature. The only horse to beat Sir Dapper during his standout two-year-old campaign, Daybreak Lover ended his racing career with an excellent race record of eleven wins and twelve minors through forty starts, which also included consecutive wins in the QTC Lightning. Following his final competitive start, the Namnan entire returned to the breeding barn, wherby he remained a good sire for more than a decade.
Sir Wisp – 1977
Sir Wisp and remains the longest-priced horse to win the Stradbroke Handicap after saluting at 100-1 in the race’s 1977 edition. Ridden by apprentice hoop Glen Killen, the Belgravia Square entire was last when the field straightened, but produced a scintillating turn of foot on the rails to beat race favourite Tiger Town by a neck. HorseRacing.com.au’s Mark Mazzaglia strapped Sir Wisp on the day of his Stradbroke Handicap triumph for his father; trainer Tony Mazzaglia. The Eagle Farm horseman was known for his successful plunges, however Sir Wisp’s Stradbroke Handicap was undoubtedly the most notable of his career. While he didn’t show a lot in his campaign to winning the Stradbroke Handicap, Sir Wisp had shown ability amongst black type company and most notably won the Eye Liner Stakes (1200m) at Ipswich as a three-year-old.
The Best Horse Never to be Crowned Stradbroke Handicap Winner – Buffering
Warhorse Buffering was a cult hero of Queensland and Australian racing throughout his long and glittering racing career and the gelding was unlucky not to win the Stradbroke Handicap in three attempts. Appearing to have the race won in the final straight in 2011, before fading late to finish fourth behind Sincero, the Mossman carried typically excellent form into the 2012 Stradbroke, but finished just off the pace of race winner Mid Summer Music in second position. Making his final appearance in the Winter Carnival feature in 2013, Buffering again took up the running was beaten late by a fast-finishing Linton. Through a total of fifty-five career starts, Buffering posted twenty wins and seventeen minors; highlighted by seven Group 1 triumphs at home and abroad. The gelding remained dominant until his final preparation as a nine-year-old last spring, perhaps best illustrated by his win in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint (1000m) in Dubai in 2016.