Clearly Innocent Favourite for Stradbroke Handicap Despite Wide Draw

Because of poor track conditions, the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap is being moved from Eagle Farm to Doomben, but Hugh Bowman, riding top-weight favourite Clearly Innocent, must feel as though he is still jumping from Eagle Farm, as he and his horse have drawn the 20th barrier, so the two of them will have to make up some track position and wend their way through traffic that includes three horses being fielded by Darren Weir, two Chris Waller entries, the Hawkes, the Snowdens, the Hayes and Toby Edmonds.

Sixteen horses form the main draw of the race and there are five emergencies.

Clearly Innocent will be toting a 57 kg burden, giving a 1.5 kg advantage to Jungle Edge and Chris Waller’s Good Project. The rest of the field will enjoy an even more substantial weight advantage.

With just over two days to the jump, Clearly Innocent enjoys punter favourtism, but the $4.80 quote is hardly the sort of confidence-inspiring figure that would make us want to plunk down a substantial wager. Coming from the 20th barrier with top weight in a 1350-metre race does sound like a challenge.

Counterattack will jump from barrier two at $7.50 and hold a 2.5 weight advantage over Clearly Innocent. Mackintosh, ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, will have the rail and 3.5 kg less to cover the Doomben turf.

Luke Nolen and Ulmann at $8.50 and 53.5 kg have drawn ideally with barrier eight. Ulmann is fresh and has shown good form in recent trials.

Clearly Innocent was guilty of bolting recently on the soggy Eagle Farm track, but he is coming off two wins, the last being a Group 1 win in the 1300 m Kingsford-Smith, when he had to deal with 59 kg on a heavy track, so it is possible that he can overcome the poor draw and beat the same pair, Jungle Edge and Counterattack, once more.

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