The 2013 Stradbroke Handicap

The Stradbroke is one of the best races on the Australian racing calendar. A 1400m handicap with a full field of sprinters, milers and even the odd stayer. This year’s field is very even with a lot of really good chances at good odds. Interesting the last 13 winning weights of the Stardbroke have been 53.5, 50.5, 55.5, 55, 53.5, 50, 48.5, 53, 54, 48, 56, 53.5, 49.5kg. That is an average of just under 52.5kg. Old favourite Better Than Ready has 52.5kg so hopefully the low weight tradition continues. Yet this year the top weight Buffering only has 58kg; last year the world’s unluckiest horse also had 58kg but started from barrier 14 and was only just beaten. This year he has barrier 6.

Linton was once a boom horse. He was a real up and comer but he was aimed at just the Cox Plate and the Melbourne Cup each year. He rarely was run in a race where he could realistically win. Now he is running everywhere in everything and he is thriving. It is good to see the old boy winning some races after so long without a win and you can just see him storming down the outside to figure in the finish somewhere. On this very website, John Sadler noted that Linton was originally going to be aimed at the Doncaster then all being well, the Singapore Cup. Unfortunately that did not eventuate, but it does show that the trainer has full faith in his horse.

Solzhenitsyn is one of the best horses in Australia. In the spring he won a Group One race over the mile that contained More Joyous who was flying at the time. He also ran second to Moment Of Change in a 1400m Group One last year. At his last start he seemed to be back to his best and at his best, as mentioned, he is one of the best horses in Australia. He sneaks into this race with 56kg and Michael Rodd rides him better than anyone. Solzhenitsyn loves racing in Queensland; in fact he has not lost a race at a Brisbane track in over a year. It is also important to note that first up over 1300m he ran third to Pierro and More Joyous in one of the hottest races of the year to date. Look out for him late and even at Moonee Valley in late October.

Buffering is the unluckiest horse in Australia. In his last two Group One race he has missed the start in one and been attacked hopelessly in the lead in the other. He deserves to win Queensland’s best race and despite the weight he just may. $10 represents exceptional value; last year he was wide, he was hassled and he was only just pipped by Mid Summer Music down on the minimum who had a perfect run.

Better Than Ready fits the profile of a Stradbroke winner better than any other horse in the race. He is down in the weights, he is looking for 1400m, he is in form and most importantly he was running on beautifully in the Doomben 10,000. Better Than Ready has let us down a little lately but he has always been looking for Eagle Farm, the 1400m and a handicap. He looks mighty hard to beat.

Verdict: Linton is at $31, Solzhenitsyn is currently $17, Buffering is a staggering $10 and Better Than Ready is at $9. We can back them all! Maybe Linton is more a place chance, but the other three really have great chances of winning at good odds. It is hard to split them in regards to first, second and third but here goes.

4th. Linton. You never know and he has a bit of Black Piranha about him in that he is old and tough.

3rd / equal 1st. Solzhenitsyn. 1400m might just be a little short of his best distance. Look out for him in the Cox Plate also.

2nd / equal 1st. Buffering. He deserves it more than any other horse in the race and his talent is undeniable.

1st. Better Than Ready. The average winning weight in the last 13 years is 52.33kg so rounding up that is 52.5kg. That is the exact weight this colt has. He can run on or sit on the speed and he is crying out for the 1400m. Go well.

By Zeb Armstrong


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