Darley’s Epaulette will earn a place alongside some of the greatest Stradbroke Handicap winners of all time if successful in the Group One sprint at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The Sydney three-year-old will jump from barrier 17 if the emergencies aren’t needed as Darley bids to win the $1.36 million feature for the first time.
Epaulette, who will carry 56 kilograms, will join the great Divide And Rule as the equal highest weighted three-year-old to win the Stradbroke since 1953 when it was first run over 1400 metres.
Divide And Rule won the Stradbroke with 56kgs in 1970.
Kilshery carried 55.5kgs in 1962 while Persian Lyric and Knave both had 55kgs in their Stradbroke victories in 1961 and 1956 respectively.
Epaulette will also be aiming to join another elite band of sprinters by becoming only the fourth horse to win the Doomben 10,000-Stradbroke Handicap double in the same year.
The feat was last achieved by Bart Cumming’s former great sprinter Campaign King in 1988 which emulated Spedito in 1975 and Winfreux in 1965.
The Stradbroke Handicap is part of a Super Saturday of racing with the Group 1 Queensland Derby and Group 1 J.J. Atkins the other main features with a gala support card of two Groups 2’s and four Listed races.
Queensland has a strong hand in this year’s Stradbroke with Sizzling, Buffering, Solzhenitsyn, Better Than Ready and Spirit Of Boom all in with great chances of winning.
The last Queenslander to win the Stradbroke was the Barry Baldwin-trained La Montagna in 2006.
Epaulette was second favourite for the Stradbroke but punters have shied away after he drew barrier 22.
Paul Reid, who is in charge of the Peter Snowden-trained Epaulette in Brisbane, has taken the son of Commands to the beach to keep him mentally tuned.
“He’s got all the ability in the world but you’ve got to try and get it out of him,” said Reid at the Stradbroke barrier draw on Wednesday.
“We’ve been taking him to the beach and doing a few different things to keep him fresh and happy.”
Victorian filly Gondokoro also will be striving for a place in the history books in the Queensland Derby (2400m).
The daughter of Zabeel blew away her rivals in the G1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm last week and will become only the fourth filly in the past 40 years to win the Oaks-Derby double.
The Peter Moody-trained Riva San in 2008 was the last successful filly joining Royal Magic (1992), Bravery (1988) and Analie in 1973 to complete the double.
Source : Racing Queensland