Flying Brisbane horseman Tony Gollan is hoping for an inside barrier draw for his top-weight Spirit Of Boom when they have their swansong race in Saturday’s Stradbroke Handicap 2014.
Set for retirement after contesting the $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday, Sequalo six-year-old shoots for their third elite level trophy to take with them to stud.
They broke their Group 1 duck in Melbourne winning the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley narrowly in March before making it a double in front of a home crowd of supporters in the Doomben 10,000 last start.
Now Spirit Of Boom shoots for Queensland’s richest race looking to keep the big wins coming for the locals following their 10,000 success and that of the Toowoomba-based filly Tinto in last weekend’s Queensland Oaks.
The locals though have history against them with only six Queensland-trained horses winning the Stradbroke Handicap in the past 30 years.
Spirit Of Boom has contested the past two editions of the Stradbroke running sixth to Mid Summer Music in 2012 and then a close fourth when just a length off upset winner Linton in the feature 12 months ago.
Last Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival they were blessed with the inside alley for their Stradbroke bid.
While history shows it is the extreme outside barrier 18 that has produced the most Stradbroke Handicap winners since 1983 with four, Gollan knows his horse will be at their best from a single digit barrier.
“I’d love it if Spirit could draw anywhere between one and four,” Gollan told The Daily Telegraph.
With the non-acceptance of original top-weight Buffering (59kg) the Stradbroke Handicap weights will be raised 0.5kg at final acceptance stage tomorrow so that Spirit Of Boom carries the new maximum of 58kg.
It’s a notable rise from the 54kg they had on their back in the race last year, but one Gollan is confident they can handle from the right gate.
“If Spirit draws wide with 58kg, that makes his job really hard,” he said.
“But if he gets a soft draw, and gets a similar run to the one he did in the 10,000 [with barrier two], I’m confident he’ll carry the 58kg.
“The weight won’t be as a big a deal if he draws well.
“He’s now won $2.5 million in prize money, so he’s earned the 58kg.”
Even before the Stradbroke Handicap barrier draw however the bookies still need convincing with Spirit Of Boom occupying the fifth line of betting at a futures price of $9.
Their stablemate Temple Of Boom, who will race on in the spring after a spell, is just longer than that at $10 as they race in their second Stradbroke.
The now seven-year-old Piccolo gelding was fifth in the 2012 Stradbroke but missed the race last year after running dead last in the BTC Cup earlier in the carnival suffering from thumps.
This season has been one of their best preps yet however with Temple Of Boom, a half-brother to Spirit Of Boom, winning the Group 2 Victory Stakes in an upset before a BTC Cup fourth and second in a Gollan-trained 10,000 quinella.
Ideally Gollan would like Temple Of Boom, who has 56kg, to draw just off the rails “anywhere between three and eight”, knowing that form and fitness aren’t the only things that matter in a big 18-horse Stradbroke field.
“They’ve both come through their last runs really well, and what will enhance their chances on Saturday will be good barriers,” he said.
“That’s what enhanced their chances in the Doomben 10,000.
“The barriers will play a big role, I tipped a Queensland win in the 10,000, I thought Buffering was the horse to beat outside of our horses, and I certainly hope it can be another Queensland victory on Saturday.”
As for the competition Gollan said it was an open affair this year.
“This one is wide open,” he said.
“There are a few Kiwis, a few from Victoria [including the favourite Srikandi].”
The proud Queenslander ‘forgetting’ to mention the strength of the New South Wales raiders in the race including second favourite Rebel Dane from Sydney.
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