Clearly Innocent The Clear Favourite At Stradbroke Handicap Despite Barrier Draw 20
Written on the 9 June 2017
It's that time again with Queensland''s biggest Group 1 race, the $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap on Saturday, June 10th at 3:40pm. Usually held at Eagle Farm over 1400 metres, this year with the closure of the ill-fated Eagle Farm, the race will be run at Doomben over 1350 metres.
Clearly Innocent despite the less than pleasing barrier draw of 20, heads up the field in favourite place after winning the Kingsford-Smith Cup (G1) and the Luskin Star Stakes last month.
Trainer, Kris Lees believes all he needs is a little bit of luck after the draw was made on Wednesday. The field is made up of sixteen plus five emergencies but will jump from fifteen if all the reserves fail to gain a start.
"When you see 20 come out you are initially concerned but when you properly analyse it, he will come in to 15, it is a race that is likely to have solid tempo," Lees said.
"To be fair, I would prefer to be there than barrier one; I don't get too concerned about barrier draws; I let the jockeys worry about that.
"It is a good field, he will need a lot of luck and if he does he will be right in the race."
As well as the wide gate hurdle Lees has to overcome, Clearly Innocent was promoted to be the top weight with 57kg after trainer Darren Weir decided not to run the original top weight Black Heart Bart.
Lees would also have preferred the Stradbroke Handicap to have stayed at Eagle Farm after Clearly Innocent handled the Heavy track well during the Kingsford-Smith Cup.
"He handled that surface at Eagle Farm, whereas a lot of horses didn't, so if we are talking self-interest, we would have preferred to stay there," Lees said.
"Certainly the dynamics have changed a little, we have gone from thinking we would be going to a Stradbroke at Eagle Farm to now Doomben, 57kg and a wide gate."
Lees is happy with the condition of the 5yo gelding going into the Stradbroke Handicap.
"He had a gallop on the course proper at the Gold Coast on Wednesday morning, he worked really well, he has just maintained his fitness, he got up here pretty fit," Lees said.
"He is in good order. I haven't done a lot with him, he has raced every two weeks and is spot on."
Jockey, Hugh Bowman will also be chasing a hat trick after his last two wins on Clearly Innocent last month.
The Not A Single Doubt sired gelding currently sits at $5.50 with Ladbrokes.
Chris Waller-trained Mackintosh ($7.00) and Counterattack ($8.00) have been well favoured by bookies after a barrier draw of 1 and 2 respectively.
Mackintosh had his last win in September 2016 with the Theo Marks Stakes (G2). The 4yo gelding is undefeated at Doomben Racecourse over the longer distances where he has won both of his previous starts in the Rough Habit Plate and the Grand Prix Stakes last May before things went downhill from there with a last place finish in the Queensland Derby June last year.
Mackintosh will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy at a weight of 53.5kg.
The Redoute's Choice sired Counterattack has been nipping at the heels of Redzel and Clearly Innocent with 3rd placing to Clearly Innocent at the Kingsford-Smith Cup at Eagle Farm last month and 2nd placing to Redzel at the Doomben 10,000 and the TAB Hall Mark Stakes at Randwick in April.
The 4yo had his last win in May 2016 at the Fred Best Classic (G3) at Doomben. He will be ridden by Opie Bosson with a weight of 54.5.kg.
Some of the other hopefuls sitting under $10 are the Darren Weir-trained Ulmann ($8.50) who came 3rd in the BRC Sprint (G3) at Doomben in May with a win at Warrnambool earlier in the month.
Burning Front ($9) who has bumped Jungle Edge to $13 might be the one to watch after winning the Hughes Limousines R A Lee Stakes (G3) at Morphettville and the Irt Vobis Gold Mile at Caulfield in May.
The Mick Bell-trained Jungle Edge which was sitting at $9.00 now at $13 came 2nd to Clearly Innocent at the Kingsford-Smith Cup at Eagle Farm and a win at the BRC Stakes (G3) in May on much-liked Heavy tracks.
(Photo: Clearly Innocent, Photo source: Google Images)