Robert Smerdon’s always honest galloper Under The Louvre stretched out over 1400m and broke his Group 1 maiden with an upset win over Black Heart Bart in the Stradbroke Handicap 2016 at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Last time out the same two horses finished one-two, but in reverse order, in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide.
The Goodwood form proved the one to follow into Queensland’s richest race on the final Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival meeting, the bikkies going to five-year-old Excellent Art stallion Under The Louvre in the $1.5 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
It was the horse’s ninth run over the distance and he dug deep for his second win at 1400m, which both Smerdon and winning jockey Dwayne Dunn agree is just above his preferred.
“That’s his nemesis,” Dunn said of the 1400m.
“But he got midfield with a little bit of cover and I was able to keep a bit of petrol in the tank for the finish.”
Under The Louvre broke a notable drought going back to March last year when he won a Black-Type at Mornington, but he’d been racing competitively in top company since.
He was third in last year’s The Goodwood before his second in the same sprint feature this autumn, and also crossed third to Stratum Star in last September’s Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) in Melbourne.
Third-up in the Stradbroke Handicap, Dunn gave the horse a stellar and well-timed ride keeping enough in the tank late for him to narrowly hold off the Darren Weir-trained top weight Black Heart Bart after the two fought it out down the straight.
Red hot favourite Azkadellia prepared by last year’s Stradbroke Handicap winning trainer Ciaron Maher was never in the mix, missing the kick and drifting back a long way to settle in the second half of the field.
Two Blue was one of the first out and had the early lead before moving to second behind the John Sadler-trained Charmed Harmony, while the BTC Cup winner Malaguerra sat in fourth behind Hooked.
Mid-race Black Heart Bart was taken forward in a bold move from jockey Brad Rawiller moving into fourth, while Azkadellia was still travelling back fourth last.
Once on the home straight the runs came down the outside from the likes of Chris Waller’s Fred Best Classic winner Counterattack and Sacred Star from the New Zealand stables of Tony Pike who earlier on the card took out the JJ Atkins with Sacred Elixir.
Black Heart Bart was also finishing very strongly under the hefty 58kg and it was he and Under The Louvre going at it in a two horse battle over the closing stages.
On the line Under The Louvre ($14) just won by the bob of the head from Black Heart Bart ($6).
In a massive shock, the Stradbroke Handicap trifecta was completed by the lightly-raced Toby Edmonds-trained Hinchinbrook three-year-old from the Gold Coast The Virginian ($151).
A Class 1 horse, The Virginian was sold to Hong Kong before failing the vet check only to race third in the Stradbroke Handicap at just his fourth career run making the gelding very hard to place in future runs.
It was the widest three runners home first in the Stradbroke Handicap result this winter who raced away from the rest of the pack on the new Eagle Farm course proper.
“It’s great to be back here at Eagle Farm,” winning hoop Dunn said.
“We had a little bit of a better run than Black Heart Bart in transit.
“He beat us in Adelaide last time but this weekend it was our turn.
“He’s a great horse and deserves to win his Group 1.”
Smerdon was thrilled with the Stradbroke Handicap win and was happy to see Under The Louvre guts it out over the distance.
“He’s such a genuine horse and he’s been so competitive at the highest level for a long time,” he said.
“The 1400m just stretches him.
“I knew that 1350m is about his go, but he toughed it out and found the line well.”
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2016 Stradbroke Handicap Results & Finishing Order
Eagle Farm Race 9 – 11/06/2016
|1||7||UNDER THE LOUVRE||Robert Smerdon||Dwayne Dunn||–||13||54.5kg||$11|
|2||1||BLACK HEART BART||Darren Weir||Brad Rawiller||0.1L||10||58kg||$5.50|
|3||18||THE VIRGINIAN||Toby Edmonds||Ms Rosie Myers||3.4L||12||50.5kg||$81|
|4||2||DELECTATION||Chris Waller||James McDonald||6.9L||7||57kg||$26|
|5||8||SACRED STAR||Tony Pike||Vinnie Colgan||7L||8||54.5kg||$81|
|6||13||PRECIOUS GEM||Henry Dwyer||Tim Clark||7.2L||18||52.5kg||$41|
|7||12||COUNTERATTACK||Chris Waller||Joao Moreira||8.5L||14||52.5kg||$6.50|
|8||6||CHARLIE BOY||Peter & Paul Snowden||Tommy Berry||8.7L||6||54.5kg||$26|
|9||3||MALAGUERRA||Lee & Anthony Freedman||Hugh Bowman||10.5L||9||56kg||$9.50|
|10||5||AZKADELLIA (NZ)||Ciaron Maher||Damien Oliver||10.7L||5||54.5kg||$4F|
|11||15||KAEPERNICK||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Christian Reith||11.7L||17||52kg||$18|
|12||9||BIG MONEY||Rodney Northam||Robert Thompson||11.8L||4||54kg||$41|
|13||10||HOOKED||John P Thompson||Tye Angland||12L||16||54kg||$31|
|14||17||TAKEDOWN||Gary Moore||Jason Taylor||12.4L||11||50.5kg||$31|
|15||16||ARTLEE||Todd Willan||Mitchell Bell||12.6L||1||52kg||$26|
|16||4||MUSIC MAGNATE (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Kerrin McEvoy||17.6L||3||55.5kg||$7.50|
|17||14||TWO BLUE||Kristen Buchanan||Ms Tegan Harrison||19.9L||2||52kg||$101|
|18||11||CHARMED HARMONY||John Sadler||Chad Schofield||24.9L||15||53kg||$81|