by Ross Stanley
Queensland’s signature race day fell on Saturday when Doomben played host to the $1.5 million UBET Stradbroke Handicap, the state’s richest contest.
The track also hosted two other Group One races the same day: the $600,000 Channel 7 Queensland Derby and the $600,000 Jaguar Lands Rover J.J. Atkins Plate.
For many, Stradbroke Day is the only meeting they attend each year, and there were understandable fears about how the track would handle the program.
It was rated a Heavy 8 on Friday, and some punters held off with their main bets until after they saw what unfolded in the early contests.
But it was pleasing to see that this major event is still a handicap.
The two previous key sprints during the carnival have been staged under weight-for-age conditions, but the Stradbroke added interest and complexity because the handicaps ranged from 57.5 down to 50 kilograms.
Conventional wisdom is that the lesser weighted runners are generally more suited on wet ground.
However, if the horse feels uncomfortable on the going and loses confidence, weight won’t matter as much.
Another slice of conventional wisdom is to consider four-year-olds that are well down in the handicaps.
But the event is – and always will be – a lottery … as the final results showed.
Impending, who took out last year’s Stradbroke, went onto the field highly fancied.
But saddled with a top weight handicap, he only managed to place seventh this year.
However, while the curtain may have now come down on Impending’s racing career, all is not lost: he is now slated for a lucrative stud career that should provide consistent boom times for the horse’s owners.
Mnemosyne is a dual Group One heroine that was named after the Greek goddess of memory.
She is was also the dam of Impending, the top-wseighted Stradbroke competitor who sadly came in seventh place this year.
When it comes to remembering the past, Oakey traine5 Graham Banks has a reason to baulk if someone mentions terms such as cirrus, cumulonimbus and nimbostratus.
Graham, who saddled up the recent Nanango winner Courting Joy, was simply too heavy to continue his successful association with Lucky Cloud in the 1973 Stradbroke.
Although there was a boom surrounding the Hasty Cloud gelding, he had yet to score in open company so his handicap was a mere 45.5 kilograms.
Trainer Norm Higgins knew that any overweight could be the difference between glory and defeat.
Fred Marsland at first knocked back the offer because he didn’t think he could make the low mark.
But he had a change of heart and shed the necessary avoirdupois.
Higgins was right: Bengalla Lad looked likely to prevail but the nine kilos difference kicked in and the Toowoomba hopeful scraped home.
Lucky Cloud then proved the victory was no fluke by carrying 50 kilos into third place in Craigola’s (Mick Dittman, 46.5 kilograms) Doomben 10,000.