The Brisbane Winter Carnival’s biggest day takes centre stage on the Seven Network this Saturday, when the live and free racing includes the highly coveted Stradbroke Handicap and the best moments from Randwick and Sandown Hillside.
The $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap (Group 1, 1400m) is Queensland racing’s most prestigious prize, and part of a huge Saturday at Eagle Farm that includes the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m), the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1300m) and a new $1.2 million weight-for-age race, the Group 2 Q22 (2200m).
Seven’s coverage will feature Australia’s pre-eminent broadcaster Bruce McAvaney and national racing legend Michelle Payne – the only female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup – from 12.00pm AEST Saturday on Channel 7, 7two and 7plus. Racing’s #1 commentary team this week also includes Jason Richardson, while Katelyn Mallyon and Sky Racing’s Lizzie Jelfs will be trackside at Eagle Farm and Randwick respectively.
Premier Queensland trainer Tony Gollan is targeting a long-awaited maiden victory in the Stradbroke Handicap, and will be hoping five-year-old gelding Vega One can make it his year. Vega One is expected to start favourite after dropping 6kg under handicap conditions from his last-start victory in the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup, but the two minor placegetters in the Doomben 10,000, Wild Planet and The Harrovian, will be tough to beat.
Some of Australia’s most promising two-year-olds will strut their stuff in the J.J. Atkins, with Gai Waterhouse eyeing her third victory in the race as she and co-trainer Adrian Bott saddle up likely favourite Converge. Converge will be out to turn the tables on Tiger of Malay after their hard-fought duel in the Sires’ Produce Stakes, while Port Louis cannot be discounted after finishing a narrow third in the same race.
If Port Louis salutes on Saturday, his jockey Hugh Bowman will notch a remarkable 100th Group 1 win, a feat only previously achieved by Australian racing greats Jim Cassidy, Damien Oliver and George Moore.
Boom gelding Zaaki will also be compulsory viewing in The Q22 after recording one of the most dominant Group 1 wins of recent times in the Doomben Cup, while Saturday’s live and free racing also includes Bob Charley AO Stakes Day at Randwick and Sandown Hillside Race Day.
In the Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) – won by The Everest winner Classique Legend last year – trainer Kris Lees has a strong hand with three runners, including the consistent Wandabaa, who looks the one to beat after placing in three of her five starts this preparation.