May 28, 2017
NEWCASTLE: Sunday, May 28, 2017: IT now seems a formality Hugh Bowman will be able to continue his association with racing’s latest “millionaire” Clearly Innocent in the $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap.
But Racing Queensland is yet to confirm Queensland’s richest Group 1 race will be run at Eagle Farm, having decided today not to run Saturday’s Queensland Oaks meeting there because of the “much maligned” surface (with Doomben and the Sunshine Coast the likely transfer options)..
The new track, opened nearly 12 months ago, again drew widespread criticism yesterday and Racing Queensland said it wants to “present the best possible surface for Group 1 meetings” in the next few weeks.
Apart from Saturday week’s Stradbroke, the $500,000 Group 1 Tattersall’s Tiara (1400m) is also scheduled to be run at Eagle Farm on June 24.
The surface certainly didn’t bother Clearly Innocent, who romped away with the $700,000 Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) to lift his earnings to $1,051,600 (nine wins from 15 starts).
Weights for the Stradbroke will be issued tomorrow, and Kris Lees has been hoping the gelding will get sufficient weight for Bowman to stay with him for another Group 1 assignment.
But news this afternoon that nominal topweight Black Heart Bart – along with a number of other well-performed horses expected to be near the top of the handicaps- won’t be lining up means that weights almost certainly will have to be raised at acceptance time.
The Stradbroke topweight must carry at least 57kg, and raising of weights – perhaps as much as 2kg – should permit Bowman to make the gelding’s handicap without any problems.
Bowman has partnered him at his last two starts when he has produced dominant performances; in the Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) at the Scone Cup carnival on May 13 and again yesterday.
Clearly Innocent rocketed to $4 favoritism for the Stradbroke following his Kingsford-Smith victory.
Pleasingly, the gelding has come through the race well.
Clearly Innocent’s victory provided Lees with his second Group 1 win on consecutive weekends in Brisbane (Sense Of Occasion won last Saturday’s $600,000 Doomben Cup) and also gave him a record four successes at racing’s elite level in a season.
That wasn’t the end of it.
The Group 1 triumph was his 122nd win for the season (his previous best was 120 in 2014-15) and the first prize lifted his current season earnings to a record $7,849,019 (bettering last season’s benchmark of $7,526,523).
And there are two more months left before the season ends on July 31!