Sniper takes aim
by Gary Crispe
No one could begrudge gallant grey filly Gold Edition a win in this afternoon’s Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane.
After all she met the best and matched it with the likes of Miss Andretti, Takeover Target and Magnus all of whom will out to enhance their reputations globally in the next few weeks in Europe.
Gold Edition has yet to win outside her own group but she has gone agonizingly close on two occasions, just going down to Miss Andretti in the Group 1 Newmarket and then Takeover Target in the Group 1 Doomben 10000.
This afternoon Gold Edition meets a capacity field under handicap conditions on a rain affected track but she will have to break new ground to be successful as no three-year-old filly has carried 120lbs to win Queensland’s feature sprint.
On the plus side in the last 20 years just four three-year-olds have won the Stradbroke and three have been fillies.
First we had Dane Ripper with 112lbs in 1997, Private Steer with 108lbs in 2003 and last year La Montagna with 109lbs.
Clearly with 53.5 kgs Gold Edition has been handed a huge compliment by the Handicapper rating her 3.5 kgs superior to subsequent Cox Plate and Australian Cup winner Dane Ripper and a massive 12lbs superior to subsequent Doncaster winner Private Steer.
That said there has probably never been a filly contest the race previously with a CV like Gold Edition possesses.
Gold Edition has reached a peak Timeform rating of 122 and has been unable to break that level of performance this campaign. That is not really an issue by itself as she can win the Stradbroke with a 122 Timeform figure if the race unfolds the right way for her.
Obviously the early speed is crucial to her “seeing out” the 7f in this class and on a rain affected track.
If Jim Cassidy can get some cheap sectionals, and he might, considering the obvious lack of genuine speed in the field, then the whole complexion of the race changes.
Even so I believe she will have difficulty holding out the lighter weighted Sniper’s Bullet who comes into the event second up after a narrow defeat at Doomben over 6f when resuming 14 days ago under 134lbs.
Last campaign, Sniper’s Bullet went from strength to strength which saw him graduate from a class 3 at midweek Warwick Farm to tackling the Group One Randwick Guineas over the Randwick mile for a gallant fourth to Mentality.
Obviously he lifted his rating to a new career high of 116 in that campaign and his first up narrow defeat at Doomben was a clear sign the lightly raced gelding had come back better than ever.
Given time to recover from that effort, he drops to 112lbs this afternoon and will have big race jockey Craig Williams in the saddle.
I see him taking up a handy position and making full use of his early speed and light weight to be in a challenging position against Gold Edition soon after turning for home.
The other main chances at the weights are Black Ink and Mitanni who both meet Gold Edition much better at the weights for their Doomben 10000 runs.
More importantly, both gallopers handle rain affected going and this along with the weight relief from the Doomben 10000 gives both a real chance of toppling Gold Edition on that match up.
I know punters to a man (including yours truly) will be cheering for Gold Edition, however the ratings say Sniper’s Bullet should have a slight edge at the odds on offer.
Enjoy the race….