Stradbroke Handicap, Queensland Derby, JJ Atkins live race updates, blog

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    It's June, which means Stradbroke time is right around the corner. (AAP Image/Dan Peled).

    A massive day on the racing calendar for Queensland with a string of bumper Group 1 races, including the Queensland Derby, the JJ Atkins and finishing off with the prized Stradbroke Handicap. Catch all the live race updates and results on The Roar from 2:20pm (AEST).

    With the controversies of Eagle Farm still continuing, the Straddy will be at Doomben this year, mirroring the same meet in 2015 when Eagle Farm was under construction.

    Let’s kick things off with the first of the three Group 1’s for the day.

    JJ Atkins (TJ Smith)

    The race that no one can figure out what to call, the Atkins (or Smith) is one for the two-year-olds and a race that typically leads well into the spring carnival in terms of form for the colts and fillies.

    This one will be a real tester for the young runners who have never raced at this distance before.

    New Zealand filly Melody Belle is coming in as the very short-priced favourite thanks to four wins from her first six starts, including a near five-length win past the post at the Sires Stakes just two weeks ago.

    Taking Aim and the Paul Butterworth-trained Capital Gain are shaping up to be the biggest threats to Melody Belle at this stage with Chris Waller’s Tangled preparing well for the run as well.

    Despite getting caught up in traffic in the Sires, finishing a sluggish 10th in the end, Kerrin McEvoy took Tangled to an impressive win at the Moet Classic by a half a length over All Too Huiying one week earlier.

    Capital Gain has been the constant bridesmaid in his seven-race career, picking up three second place finishes in his last five runs. He’s struggled with his starts and will need to jump well today to avoid playing catch up again.

    Aloisia is shaping us as an outside chance after an impressive finish at Flemington just two weeks ago to take the win, but short experience on the track could hurt her chances.

    Prediction
    1. Melody Belle
    2. Taking Aim
    3. Capital Gain
    4. Tangled

    Race Info
    Distance: 1,600 metres
    Age: 2-year-olds
    Weight: Set Weights – Fillies (55kg), colts and geldings (57kg)
    Purse: $600,000
    2016 winner: Sacred Elixir

    Queensland Derby

    The Queensland Derby looks to be a case of close your eyes and pick one out of the hat this year, with a string of at least five horses looking the goods to take a win here among a bumper 21-horse field.

    The Ciaron Maher-trained Ruthven has been favoured by the bookies but the colt has struggled to execute on the final stretch as of late, taking second place four times from his last five starts.

    One of those was a last start second-place at the South Australian Derby, coming in half a length behind kiwi horse Volatile Mix who flashed home from eighth inside the final 300 metres to take the win and strong form into the Derby today.

    A jump from barrier 20 might harm his chances for positioning early in the run but has the finishing prowess to pull it off.

    Shocking Luck had a shocker in his last start at the Grand Prix at Eagle Farm two weeks ago after the gelding led all the way before collapsing inside the final stretch to fall into sixth place.

    A two and a half length win at Doomben though two weeks prior to that run was a much better indication of his power in the saddle, being his fifth top two finish in a row.

    Ana Royale is another coming off a very shaky result, struggling to eighth in the Queensland Oaks last weekend after an impressive win at the South Australia Fillies in her previous run.

    Definitely one to watch but she’ll need that galloping room through the final stretch to avoid being caught up in traffic again.

    The Waller-trained Black And Gold will an interesting prospect and one that is proving hard to pick over the last nine months.

    Four wins in there but some poor runs inside his last three starts has made it difficult to work off form. Excels on a good track, but has struggled otherwise and has never run at Doomben.

    Rockstar Rebel and Mongolian Wolf would the roughies to throw any spare change on but they might be searching for a place finish more than anything among a tight field.

    Prediction
    1. Volatile Mix
    2. Ruthven
    3. Shocking Luck
    4. Black And Gold

    Race Info
    Distance: 2,400 metres
    Age: 3-year-olds
    Weight: Set Weights – Fillies (55kg), colts and geldings (57kg)
    Purse: $600,000
    2016 winner: Eagle Way

    Stradbroke Handicap

    The big one. The $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap is Queensland’s biggest race of the year and their marquee Group 1 on the calendar.

    The pre-race favourite has won just six times in the last 33 years and just once in the last ten.

    Interestingly as well, just one horse has come from a last-start win to take the Straddy in the last 23 years, all but throwing form out the window for the field with those two stats.

    Clearly Innocent is arguably the form runner leading into the race and has the bookies backing because of it but carries a bulky 57kg for his troubles.

    He is by far the heaviest runner and despite picking up wins at the Luskinstar and Kingsford-Smith Cup in his last two starts, the later being an impressive finish around the outside at Eagle Farm to take it by three lengths, it could be too much to carry to the same kind of finish.

    The Doomben 10,000 is always a strong indicator leading into the Handicap and Counter Attack certainly impressed there in May.

    Jockey Opie Bosson pulled off an incredible finish that saw him take the four-year-old from the back of the field inside the last 400 metres to a second place finish behind Redzel by just half a length.

    He finished a fairly non-descript seventh in this same race last year but has come a long way since then, including two Group 1 placings from his last three runs and a much stronger prep.

    Mackintosh has proven deadly in first up runs, taking two wins from as many starts after a spell and is once again coming off a 12-week break for the Straddy.

    Ulmann has been impressive across the border in Sydney and down in Victoria but has only run once at Doomben and that was a last start place finish two and half lengths behind Jungle Edge.

    Has the legs to get the job done here but has to overcome some inconsistencies throughout the middle portion of the run, leaving him with too much to do at the finish.

    Darren Weir’s six-year-old veteran of 48 starts Burning Front will have his first crack at Stradbroke off the back of a very impressive seven wins from his last eight starts.

    He’s carrying 54.5kg and is a touch behind his prime but is proven on the Group 1 stage over a few years and has all the form in the world behind him. With Ben Allen taking the reigns, he’s a real chance of upsetting the favourites on this one.

    Prediction
    1. Mackintosh
    2. Burning Front
    3. Counterattack
    4. Clearly Innocent

    Race Info
    Distance: 1,400 metres
    Age: No restriction
    Weight: Handicap
    Purse: $1.5 million
    2016 winner: Under The Louvre

    Catch all the live race updates and results on The Roar from 2:20pm (AEST).

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