Ciaron Maher’s wish for a barrier between one and 10 didn’t eventuate at this morning’s Stradbroke Handicap 2014 barrier draw with former favourite Srikandi likely to change race tactics after her wide gate.
The three-year-old daughter of Dubawi was heading betting for this weekend’s $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) before connections drew barrier 17 (of 23).
“It’s probably a little wider than I’d hoped,” Ciaron told Sky Racing World at this morning’s draw.
“It is what it is.”
With the Eagle Farm classic having a capacity field of 18 starters, there’s a chance Srikandi will come into barrier 14 if the five emergencies come out.
That barrier (14) has produced two Stradbroke Handicap winners since 1983 with gate honours well spread out as the inside alley (1) has also had two runners jump from it in that time.
It’s still a massive blow for the youngster who has been dumped from top spot in the Stradbroke Handicap odds and now pays $6 as the second pick after sitting as short as $4.50 in the pre-field markets.
New favourite is the Phillip Stokes-trained South Australian raider Hucklebuck ($5), the fellow three-year-old getting into the field on the 51kg lightweight same as Srikandi.
Due to be ridden by Glen Boss, who jumped off the Gary Portelli-trained Group 1 winning Sydney four-year-old Rebel Dane to maintain his association with the filly, Srikandi has won six of her seven career starts with all of her wins being on the trot.
She’s also well tried in the sunshine state ahead of her big Group 1 test having won all three of her starts here, most recently an easy victory in the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on May 24.
In the Glenlogan she carried 57kg from barrier 13, so dropping back six kilos with a barrier that might be just one wider could be enough to get her home.
While Maher will give Boss little instruction for Saturday leaving it up to the ace hoop, who has one won Stradbroke Handicap from 17 rides in Queensland’s richest race, he believes Srikandi could be seen racing further back than she has before.
“She should be, from there, you’d think it’d roll forward in some fashion,” Maher said.
“The leaders don’t have a great record in the race, so we’ll probably just ride her where she’s comfortable, just depends on the speed when the barriers open.”
A noted frontrunner, Srikandi might not get the run of the race in the big Group 1 field the way she did from a similarly wide draw last time out and so she might be forced to settle back and charge home late.
“Both the jockeys that have rode her (Craig Williams and Glen Boss) have both said she’d be better ridden with a sit,” Maher added.
“We’ll work it out depending how she jumps.
“She might be three deep with cover or something like that or he will bite the bullet and roll forward.”
While the barrier and race speed are things out of Maher’s control, one thing he knows for sure is that he’s got his horse in top form for her shot at the big time and she’s loving being in Queensland for the winter.
“Srikandi has been thriving up here and has continued to improve from her last run,” he said.
“Her work here has been super and she looks great.”
To get behind Srikandi at her new price in the Stradbroke Handicap markets head to Ladbrokes.com.au where you’ll get the guaranteed best odds on all the Eagle Farm races this weekend.