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Despite still harbouring obvious concerns about their 56kg weight allocation, Sydney trainer Peter Snowden has declared his Doomben 10,000 winning colt Epaulette as spot on for a shot at the Stradbroke Handicap 2013 at Eagle Farm this Saturday.
While all eyes were on Kelso Wood’s impressive Queensland Guineas winner Sizzling over the weekend, Commands colt Epaulette is still spruiked as the horse to beat in the $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) this weekend.
Winner of the Golden Rose last September, Epaulette became a dual Group 1 champion on May 25 when they put an easy two lengths on the defending winner Sea Siren to win the Doomben 10,000 over 1350m.
That effort saw them installed at the top of the Stradbroke Handicap odds, Epaulette remaining the $5 favourite.
Their main rivals are coming for them in the markets however with three horses now at $6 with the Kelly Schweida-trained Better Than Ready, Anthony Cummings’ BTC Cup winner Your Song and Sizzling.
Snitzel colt Sizzling looks a dangerous light weight chance in the Stradbroke currently allocated just 52kg not having been penalised for their weekend win.
Epaulette meanwhile didn’t escape the handicapper’s whip and was slogged with 56kg when the weights were first released, just two kilos under the 58kg topweight Buffering.
Snowden admits that winning another Group 1 in Brisbane this weekend with that weight won’t be a walk in the park, but he is keeping faith in Epaulette who hasn’t put a foot wrong since their Doomben 10,000 win.
“I’ve had a look at Epaulette this weekend and he is in great order,” Snowden said on Saturday.
“He’s trained on really well since the Doomben 10,000 and I’m confident he will be hard to beat although it won’t be easy for him with 56kg.
“The weight is terrible and if the handicaps were done before the 10,000, he would not have got 56kg.
“But I’m not whinging about it, we have to deal with what we’ve got, and I know the horse is as good as I can get him going into the Stradbroke.”
There is a chance Epaulette won’t race on for another season win or lose the Stradbroke with connections considering sending them to Europe to race with owner Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Godolphin outfit.
Snowden is also sweating on Wednesday’s Stradbroke Handicap final acceptances to see whether his other top hope Academus ($11) gets into the field.
The Lonhro gelding, winner of the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) first-up on May 4, is currently 21st on the Stradbroke Handicap order of entry with just 51.5kg.
The only horse currently inside the top 18 in the ballot confirmed as a non-acceptor is the to-be-retired Pear Tart who won the race last year.
That means Snowden still needs another two horses to defect and or be scratched for the current second emergency Academus to get in after their close fourth beaten under two lengths in the Queensland Guineas.
“Academus got caught up on the corner and everythnig whipped up around him but the last 100m he was very strong to the line,” Snowden said.
“With only 51.5kg he is in the Stradbroke with a good weight.”
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