Peter Snowden’s unswerving mare Beaded will need more than just her awesome ability to overcome a wide barrier 17 draw in Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) if she is to salute for the punters.
Lonhro four-year-old Beaded firmed into Stradbroke favouritism after the previous four-time Group 1 placegetter finally broke her elite level duck with a courageous final-stride victory over fellow Stradbroke hopeful Love Conquers All in the Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 28.
In the 10,000 Beaded had the advantage of an ideal barrier five start, but on Saturday jockey Kerrin McEvoy will have their work cut out for them to get the mare across the quality Stradbroke field and to the line first.
With the five emergencies in this year’s Stradbroke not gaining a start, Beaded will move in just three gates.
A winner of 10 over her 20 starts, which have also produced nine minor placings, Beaded proved she could conquer a horror draw when she won the Group 3 Hyderabad Race Club Stakes (1200m) first-up at Caulfield on February 12 earlier this year.
In the Hyderabad, Beaded jumped from gate 15 of 16 and was able to defeat subsequent QTC Cup winner Varenna Miss by an easy one and a half lengths.
While having had the luck of the barrier gods in the majority of other starts, in last year’s Stradbroke Handicap showdown, Beaded was forced to jump from gate 17 of 18 and in a brave effort was still able to mow down all but three of the runners in finishing less than half a length back from winner Black Piranha.
It was a case of déjà vu for Snowden at Wednesday’s Stradbroke Handicap barrier draw, the top Sydney trainer again pulling out barrier 17 for Beaded, the mare now the easing favourite in the markets for Saturday’s classic.
Twelve months ago McEvoy rode Beaded in the Stradbroke, and the hoop is likely to engage the same tactics in this year’s edition even with the horse increasing from 51kg in 2010 to 54kg in the 2011 Stradbroke.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to be drawn out there but she overcame a wide barrier in the race last year to run well,” McEvoy said of Beaded, who will be attempting to become the first mare since 1936 to win the Stradbroke.
“It looks as though we will have to push forward and put her in the race from the barrier.
“I haven’t really sat down and had a good look at the race just yet but hopefully we can find some luck in running because she is right at the top of her game.
“We’ll just sit down and work out a game plan but she’s pretty adaptable and versatile as to where you can ride her.
“Obviously we need a bit of luck to go our way to slot into a nice spot but she’s a tough little mare as we know and her record suggests she can overcome something like this.”
The plum ride aboard Beaded is one of eight McEvoy has on the bumper all black-type Stradbroke Handicap Day at Eagle Farm this Saturday.
In the meeting’s other two elite level features, McEvoy has been booked to ride promising juvenile Benfica in the $500,000 Group 1 TJ Smith (1600m) and last-start Randwick winner Yulalona in the $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m).
Lonhro colt Benfica was the early favourite for the TJ Smith after winning the Listed Hampden Stakes (1200m) first-up at Doomben last month by an impressive three and a half lengths, but has eased out to a $5.50 chance after their flop last Saturday.
Benfica was unable to come within six lengths of Gerald Ryan’s champion Hot Snitzel in the Group 2 BRC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) after missing the start when stablemate Free Wheeling reared in the barrier beside him.
On Saturday McEvoy will be looking to turn the tables on Hot Snitzel and win the TJ Smith with Benfica who has drawn gate six.
“He got mucked up at the start last week (in the Sires Produce) and if he can get out of the barriers and into a forward position he will be right in the race,” McEvoy said.