Stradbroke Handicap barrier draw provides mixed luck

Melbourne-trained galloper Ayrton remains at the top of the betting for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap despite drawing off the track.

The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained galloper drew barrier 19 in the 23-horse which comprises 18 starters and five emergencies.

If the emergencies do not gain a start, Ayrton will jump from barrier 15 in Saturday’s 1400m handicap at Eagle Farm.

Ayrton drifted from $4.60 to $5 following the draw in Brisbane on Tuesday evening.

While the draw may not have been kind, Price is content with where Ayrton is placed in Saturday’s race as he gets back onto a firmer surface at Eagle Farm.

Ayrton scored first-up at Caulfield in April before flopping on the heavy ground in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast last month.

Price and Kent Jnr elected to alter plans with Ayrton and target Saturday’s race, and because he was not among original entries were forced to pay a $9000 late entry fee.

“The question is whether the Stradbroke is the exact right race for him,” Price said.

“Last year I thought he was vulnerable, so we switched him to the mile (the Gunsynd) which he won.

“He’s up there and after his last start we weren’t going to persevere into the 2000-metre races. It’s not to say he doesn’t handle 2000 metres, but I didn’t have much confidence to persevere.

“He’s training well, and he had a good trial on the Poly at the Sunshine Coast last week.”

Eleven Eleven, who was an eye-catching third in the Group 1 Kingsford Smith Cup at Eagle Farm on May 28, firmed from $7 into $6.50 after drawing barrier 5.

Drawn two horses inside is the Kingsford Smith winner Apache Chase who also firmed from $9 to $8.50.

Apache Chase will be attempting to go one better than Vega One last year, who after winning the Kingsford Smith finished second to Tofane in the Stradbroke.

Local trainer Robert Heathcote will have the strongest representation in the Group 1 race, saddling three runners, and had mixed luck with the draw.

Emerald Kingdon drew barrier two, Rothfire 20 and Startantes 15.

“I wish all three had single digit draws, but it is what it is,” Heathcote said.

“Rothfire will push forward now while it doesn’t really effect Startantes as he gets back anyway.”

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