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EAGLE FARM PREVIEW June 6, 2009 STRADBROKE HANDICAP (1400M) Race 5, 2.38pm (Brisbane time) A study of the history of the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), at Eagle Farm, doesn’t read well for the fairer sex – since 1930, only seven fillies or mares have won the prestigious handicap. On face value, that statistic adds to the tough assignment already facing the bottom-weight and serious contender in this year’s Stradbroke, the 3YO filly, Ortensia, and especially the highly-rated 4YO mare Absolut Glam. Already, Ortensia is trying to become the first horse to win the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m, Eagle Farm) and back up a week later to win the Stradbroke (since the QTC Cup was introduced as a lead-up race in 1979). Added to that, trainer Tony Noonan was forced to run Ortensia in the QTC Cup (backing up in seven days was not in his plans) to ensure the filly, who is weighted on only 51.5kg, gained a start. A couple of historical facts are in Ortensia’s favour – firstly, the Stradbroke is a handicap and it is a race won by many moderate lowweighted horses, many of whom were not in the same class as Ortensia. Secondly, five of the seven females to win the Stradbroke since 1930 were 3YO fillies (Capri, in 1931, is the only mare, and Wiggle, in 1958, was a 2YO). And three 3YO fillies – La Montagna (2006), Private Steer (2003) and Dane Ripper (1997) – have won the Stradbroke in recent years. I rate Ortensia as a superior filly to La Montagna, and time will tell if she can go on to measure up to the standard of

SPEED MAP Predicted positions on settling

Private Steer (later to win the Doncaster Handicap) and Dane Ripper (Cox Plate). The important thing about Ortensia is her slick turn of foot, which will allow jockey Craig Williams the confidence to ride her conservatively – an advantage in a race usually run at a hectic tempo. Black Piranha deserves a win after being runner-up in three consecutive Group 1 races – George Ryder Stakes, Doncaster Handicap and Doomben 10,000. Horses like Private Steer (2003), Adam (1999) and All Our Mob (1994) have won the Stradbroke after finishing second in the Doomben 10,000. Black Piranha has suffered for his consistency – he has 55kg, 1.5kg more than last year’s Stradbroke winner Mr Baritone. Danleigh struggled when fifth in the Doomben 10,000 after winning the All Aged Stakes (1400m, Randwick). He should be in the finish, along with the Solo Flyer who drops 4.5kg on his Lord Mayor’s Cup (1615m, Doomben) second. I expect last year’s runner-up Hard To Catch to run very well. Trainer Pat Duff has kept him fresh and he loves this track and handles wet going. Mick Price’s Rightfully Yours is drawn to get a cosy run and his wet track form puts him among the chances, along with Mr Baritone who is working back to form. Bank Robber flopped in the Doomben 10,000 (9th) when bogged down on the inside. He will need to be on his game to win from barrier 18. The tips: Ortensia just ahead of Black Piranha; followed by Hard To Catch, Danleigh, Rightfully Yours and Mr Baritone.

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AND ALSO There’s the Stradbroke (left), in which recent Group 1 form says Black Piranha is overdue; and he handles the wet, too. Really, however, Saturday’s race is a high-class raffle on a muchcriticised wet track at Eagle Farm. But, wait. There’s more. There’s the Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m), which could turn out Shocking for punters – either the Victorian of that name wins because he is as good as he showed punters he might be, or the race is another raffle with staying triers from several states and New Zealand chasing an elite win. There’s also the Group 1 T.J. Smith for 2YOs over 1600m, with another rising star, Queenslander Shoot Out, falling into the same category as Shocking – form says he’s better, but on this track who knows? And there’s an ex-Group 1, ex-3200m race, the now Group 2, now 2400m Brisbane Cup. It’s still worth $300,000 and, at the very least, it offers the dizzy Sir Slick a chance to go around for the umpteenth week on end. I’m guessing he’ll be in the Ipswich Cup a week later, too. The tip? Well, the lady trainer said on www.gaiwaterhouse.com.au that her best tip for the week was a citrus squeezer selling at $15.95 – she uses it to make her ‘darling one’ a hot lemon and orange drink at 3.30am before she goes to the track. With all the brouhaha over the wet and worn Eagle Farm track, we suggest that for this week you take Gai’s tip; or take a punt and lay Ortensia, in the Straddie, and other non-swimmers across the card. Stephen Howell

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Stradbroke Handicap Preview

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