Despite having flown home to win the Doomben 10,000 last start the punters have abandoned the Peter Snowden-trained Epaulette for this weekend with the youngster a market drifter for the 2013 Stradbroke Handicap.
Commands colt Epaulette first hit the big time last September winning the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in Sydney.
After a third in the Caulfield Guineas to All Too Hard they were sent out for six months, resuming in April when a brave second to the mighty Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes.
Things went amiss two weeks later however when they were sixth to All Too Hard in the All Aged Stakes.
A month after that Epaulette travelled to Queensland to chance some Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival black type, something they seemed to achieve with ease at Doomben on May 25 when defeating Sea Siren by two lengths to take out the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
That smart win saw them installed at the top of the bookmaker.com.au odds for the $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) which runs at Eagle Farm Racecourse this Saturday.
Epaulette lost their favouritism for the Straddie however following this week’s barrier draw where they suffered a blow coming up with the second widest gate (22 of 23) which will see them jump from 17 of 18 should all five emergencies fail to gain a run.
There’s also a matter of their hefty 56kg weight allocation which will see them meet the 58kg topweight Buffering just two kilos better off, something Snowden is very well aware of.
Still Darley’s head trainer maintains the Stradbroke Handicap win is still within Epaulette’s reach with the stable looking for their first win in Queensland’s richest race after a number of close calls including Beaded who was 4th in 2010 and a very close second to Sincero in 2011.
“It’s a strong race and it’s really hard to win,” Snowden said.
“We’ve been close before, but we haven’t won it, so I know the task we have in front of us.
“Epaulette worked super (on Tuesday morning) and he’s done really well since he’s been in Brisbane.
“He’s been right alongside the superstars All Too Hard and Pierro. He’s only a shandy off being at the very top level.
“He’s more than capable, even with that weight, of winning.”
So will Epaulette silence the critics and overcome the weight and gate to win?
#2 Epaulette – Horse Form
- Barrier: 22 (into 17)
- Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
- Trainer: Peter Snowden
- Owners: Sheikh Mohammed
- Age: 3YO
- Gender: Colt
- Breeding: by Commands from Accessories (GB)
- Career: 11-5-2-2
- Win: 45.45%
- Place: 81.82%
- Last 6: 13×261
- Prize Money: $1,708,750
- Track: 0-0-0-0
- Distance: 4-3-0-0
- Current 2013 Stradbroke Handicap Odds: $7
Why Epaulette Can Score Doomben 10,000 – Stradbroke Handicap Double
- Wide barriers haven’t been disadvantageous in the past 10 years with five Stradbroke winners jumping from double digits in that time and eight in the past 20 years
- Snowden’s head jockey Kerrin McEvoy rides again
- Come off a brilliant two length victory in the Doomben 10,000 beating a number of these same rivals
- Doomben 10,000 has produced seven of the past 10 Stradbroke Handicap champions
- Is a dual Group 1 winner having also taken out the Golden Rose and has form around the best when second to Black Caviar in the TJ Smith Stakes in April
- Boasts the second highest Win Rate of the field (45.45%) trailing only #17 Better Than Ready (50%)
- Also is the most consistent looking at Place Percentages with an impressive 81.82%
- Awesome record over the 1400m (4-3-0-0) with their only loss being their sixth in the All Aged Stakes
- Right age as this season’s three-year-olds are dominating the big open age races
- Losing their spot at the top of the odds is actually an advantage historically with just two favourites saluting in the past 10 years
Why Epaulette Won’t Win the Stradbroke Handicap 2013
- It’s a really wide gate 17 and has produced only one Stradbroke Handicap winner in the past 30 years with St Basil (2005)
- History says last start winners don’t back up and take out the Stradbroke with the last to do so being 20 years ago, are they classy enough to be the first since 1993?
- Yet to race at Eagle Farm
- Has never raced on worse than Dead so if the rain comes and track is Slow – Heavy that’s a real unknown
- Carry 56kg which is a big weight for a three-year-old here giving lots away to some big dangers including #17 Better Than Ready (52.5kg) and #18 Sizzling (52kg)
- Some really other genuine hopes here that could be hard to hold out
Think Epaulette has what it takes to break the last-start winners’ hoodoo in the Stradbroke? Get behind them or your other selections online now at the best price at bookmaker.com.au.
Even better this weekend if you back Epaulette or another interstate visitor to win and they finish second or third behind a Queensland-trained horse such as Queensland Guineas winner Sizzling then bookmaker.com.au will refund your bet up to $100!