by Mitchell Lamb
Big card at Eagle Farm in Brisbane Friday night with two Group 1 events, the time honored Stradbroke Handicap and the J.J. Atkins Stakes for the juveniles. Hopefully, we can steer you into a couple of winners below.
EAGLE FARM RACE 2
NO.3 RECKLESS CHOICE (BORIS THORNTON)
Current Odds: 4-1
Really consistent galloper at this type of level. In fact, he proved he was up to stakes grade last prep, and this looks an ideal race for him to grab his first victory since September.
First up last start he was very good late giving weight to all, including the winner and rival again here in Red Chase, and the run will have done him the world of good. He now meets Red Chase 2kgs better off, he usually needs at least that one run back before getting near his best, and as long as he can stay close enough when the pressure is being applied, he can get home over the top of them late.
Looks the value runner amongst the three that are hard in the market.
EAGLE FARM RACE 7
NO.4 NOT AN OPTION (MICHAEL CAHILL)
Current Odds: 15-1
Not An Option will debut here in the J.J. Atkins for his new stable under the care of the Freedman brothers Richard and Michael, and I think he is primed for a huge performance.
He displayed potential back in New Zealand before heading over for a crack at some big races during the Autumn Carnival in Sydney. He ran into a potential star in Doubtland in the Kindergarten Stakes over an unsuitable 5 1/2-furlong trip, but finished hard the last furlong. Before they threw him into the Champagne (G1) over the mile, where he had zero luck throughout the race, and in my opinion should have run third.
They’ve obviously looked at this race as a fantastic chance for the well-bred colt to claim a major as a juvenile, and whilst they have arguably struck a stronger field than perhaps they initially thought might be here, I reckon they’ve got him ready to go after two nice barrier trials in Sydney.
Drawn to be able to take a closer position now in the run than what he’s been able to in his two Aussie starts, gets the blinkers on first time, and, most importantly, he’s a very attractive quote.
EAGLE FARM RACE 8
NO.17 HIGHTAIL (BLAKE SPRIGGS)
Current Odds: 12-1
He’s had a funny sort of career Hightail – I’d argue that early on that he was perhaps overhyped, but now, I’d say that he’s perhaps underrated – for me, he’s a classy animal, who’s not a star, but is a genuine Group 1 handicap type galloper and, as his career progresses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him race at the top level and be extremely competitive on most occasions.
He comes into what is his first crack at a group one event in career best form. He’s won both runs back this time in, the first against a handy group of older sprinters in Sydney, before heading north to the Gold Coast where he ran down The Odyssey right on the line in the Gold Coast Guineas.
He looks ready to peak here, he gets no weight on his back, he draws perfectly to probably take up a better than midfield position getting a soft run in transit, and I can’t see how he can be almost triple the price of the current favorite Dawn Passage, when you take into account the form line through Exhilarates – in fact it’s even more strange that he’s a longer price than her because I thought he beat her fair and square last time out.
With a bit of luck when he needs it in the home straight, I’m confident Hightail is going to look the winner of this at some stage and I think he’s poised to run the race of his life here.