Dramatic Stradbroke Handicap shake up looms with Tuvalu and Bella Nipotina set to carry top weight

Dramatic Stradbroke Handicap shake up looms with Tuvalu and Bella Nipotina set to carry top weight
  • PublishedJune 3, 2024

Tony Gollan has pulled off what looks to be a master stroke in backing up Freedom Rally in last Saturday’s Kingsford Smith Cup, with the four-year-old rocketing up the Stradbroke Handicap ballot order.

It came as Racing Queensland officials faced a decision on whether to raise weights following confirmation that I Wish I WinThink About It and Private Eye would all head to the paddock with an eye to the spring.

It leaves Victorian raiders Tuvalu and Bella Nipotina as the new likely topweights for the Stradbroke, with both horses allotted 55.5kg.

Racing Queensland chief handicapper Nathan Bourke said the weights could be raised as much as 1.5kg as a result, however all possibilities will be considered first.

Any changes to the weights would be relative, with all runners in the field copping the same change to their allotted weight.

“We will have to make that decision by next week – it doesn’t change the relativity of the race,” Bourke said.

“We will have to look at precedents with what we have done in the past.

“Given the attrition rate and the horses that are going to the paddock, there could be a situation where we don’t have an acceptor over 56kg.

“When it has been under 56kg in the past, we have raised them.

“Under the rules there is a minimum top weight of 57kg, but there is a discretionary clause where the PRA (Racing Queensland) can make their own call.”

After running fourth in the Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup (1300m) at set weights, Freedom Rally’s rating went from 98 to 104 to put him 35th on the Stradbroke order of entry.

While he would be unlikely to gain a start in the race on his own merits, the huge jump in ratings crucially puts him inside the top 40 in the ballot order, which opens the door for connections to do a deal with Australian Bloodstock for their slot in the race, which they earned by winning The Gateway in the summer.

Gollan has previously declared his interest in cutting a deal, given Australian Bloodstock’s horse Dream Hour was beaten in midweek grade last week.

Crunch time will come later this week, with first acceptances due to pay $4800 on Wednesday before next Tuesday’s $19,500 final acceptance fee.

A $18,000 late nomination fee can also be paid by Wednesday for any horse not already entered in the race.


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