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This year’s $1.36 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) will play out without the inclusion of the Robert Heathcote-trained Solzhenitsyn who has been retired from racing after their weekend flop in Brisbane.
The local St Petersburg seven-year-old had their swansong in the Group 3 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m) at Doomben on Saturday, a disappointing finish as they failed to beat home any of their 12 rivals when injured during the run.
Failing to handle their hefty 61kg top weight the Group 1 winning gelding, best known for their dual Toorak Handicap wins, Solzhenitsyn was beaten 12 and a half lengths by the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap-bound River Lad.
While Natalie McCall’s winning Top Echelon six-year-old as secured a Straddie bid, Solzhenitsyn was yesterday sent to the paddock permanently and retired from racing having injured their fore fetlock.
“He has a near fore fetlock injury and the vet said it’s more than likely a lower suspensory,” Heathcote told news.com.au.
“It was a bit sad on Saturday night, but really, we have nothing to be sad about.
“He won two Group 1 races and over $1 million.”
Solzhenitsyn bows out having won 13 of their 38 career starts for $1,087,615 in prize money.
They won the 2012 and 2013 editions of the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) in Caulfield, the second of those their last turf triumph.
With Solzhenitsyn out Heathcote still has five horses in Stradbroke Handicap contention this year, the contingent led by Buffering.
The triple Group 1 champ is currently the $7 third pick in futures Stradbroke Handicap betting at Ladbrokes.com.au behind the Tony Gollan-trained Spirit Of Boom ($6) and Sydneysider Rebel Dane ($6.50).
The trio is all engaged to face off first this Saturday in the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) when Stradbroke Handicap assignments will be decided and weights affected.
It is the first year the Stradbroke weight announcement has been held off until after the 10,000.
Triple Group 1 winning Mossman six-year-old Buffering was last seen getting run down as the beaten favourite in the BTC Cup on May 10, an effort they’re out to atone for this weekend.
As it stands Racing Queensland handicapper Nathan Bourke said they would likely receive 58.5kg or 59kg, but wouldn’t get more than Apache Cat’s 60kg.
“It could change after the 10,000,” Bourke said.
“If Buffering were to win, he might go a touch higher, but the benchmark in recent years is Apache Cat (60kg) and he won’t get that.”
As for the autumn’s William Reid Stakes winner Spirit Of Boom, they are likely to enjoy around three kilos less than Buffering in the Stradbroke, the son of Sequalo going into the 10,000 on the back of a BTC Cup second.
They will however likely go in as the 58kg top weight if Buffering doesn’t back-up in the Stradbroke Handicap, a likely reality.
How they go this weekend is also a question after their BTC Cup loss was accredited to a back injury Heathcote had a chiropractor work on last week.
“We had it corrected last Sunday, but it was out again midweek,” Heathcote said.
“It is not an uncommon affliction for horses in training and I’m not that bothered by it to be honest.
“He lacked dash in the BTC Cup. Whether that could be attributed to this, I don’t know.”
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest on both the Doomben 10,000 this weekend and the upcoming Stradbroke Handicap classic.
To get in on the futures betting for both the big Group 1s make sure you have an account open online at Ladbrokes.com.au where new depositing players are rewarded with a bonus bet valued up to $250!
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