The Robert Smerdon-trained Under The Louvre created history by winning the first G1 Stradbroke Handicap over 1400m on the revamped Eagle Farm track; Counterattack swept to the lead early in the straight but he started to paddle soon after and it was Black Heart Bart and Under The Louvre that quickly charged to the lead together in the middle of the track. Black Heart Bart and Under The Louvre had the race to themselves over the last 200m and Black Heart Bart appeared to be hanging-on but Under The Louvre with 3.5kg less proved a shade too strong over the concluding stages. Under The Louvre has been much-maligned for not being a regular winner but he is rarely far-away and he often finds bad luck; given a perfect Dwayne Dunn ride Under The Louvre recorded his first G1 victory and it was thoroughly deserved. Black Heart Bart was magnificent in-defeat and it will be no surprise if he is a WFA star in the Spring. 3-Y-O The Virginian was eligible for a Class 2 and he was having just his fourth career-start so his effort to finish third was superb.
It was a great day for the New Zealanders at Eagle Farm and the first of the G1's, the J.J. Atkins for 2-Y-O over 1600m was won in cavalier style by the Tony Pike-trained Sacred Elixir; at his previous start Sacred Elixir raced without luck before finishing strongly for a close sixth in the Sires Produce but on this occasion Zac Purton kept Sacred Elixir out of trouble and at no stage over the last 600m was the result in much doubt. Sacred Elixir swept to the lead in the straight and he made it a one-act affair careering-away to win by three and a half lengths. Roughies Charnley River and Heart Skipt A Beat filled the minor placings. Favoured runners Souchez, Candika, Attention, Nikitas, Jaws Of Steel and Cadogan were beaten 6.6, 9, 11, 16.8, 33.4 and 42.7 lengths respectively which suggests the form from the Atkins should be taken with a grain of salt but Sacred Elixir is genuinely promising and he is sure to target the Victoria Derby in the Spring.
The G1 Queensland Derby for 3-Y-O over 2400m was a great result for Queensland with the Bryan Guy-trained Eagle Way winning and the Desleigh Forster-trained I'm Belucci finishing third. Eagle Way put the writing on the wall at his previous start when he was a fast-finishing second to Mackintosh in the Grand Prix and the step-up to 2400m at Eagle Farm was made to order for this son of More Than Ready. Eagle Way was given a perfect ride from Paul Hammersley and after he was briefly challenged in the straight Eagle Way proved much too strong over the concluding stages. Eagle Way has a very bright future but unfortunately that future will be in Hong Kong. The Chris Waller-trained Rodrico battled-on strongly for second. The favourite Howard Be Thy Name battled-on for fourth but he was not quite the same horse and he should receive a well-earned spell. Mackintosh had not lost a race for Chris Waller but he capitulated after leading and he was beaten 34.1 lengths in last place.
It was another G1 for Tony Pike and the New Zealanders when Provocative proved a mile too good for Ambience and Falkenberg in the Queensland Oaks for 3-Y-O fillies over 2400m; Provocative was given a great ride from Leith Innes coming from barrier sixteen and finding a good spot by the winning post the first time. Provocative was always travelling well and when Innes popped Provocative the question the Queensland Oaks was over in the twinkling of an eye. Provocative has only had seven career starts for four wins and she is from the last crop of super sire Zabeel so with further improvement Provocative can be competitive in stronger races in the Spring. Once again the margins of the beaten brigade were extraordinarily large with the favourite Imposing Lass beaten 13.7 lengths into sixth place and $8 chance Kebede beaten 31.4 lengths into fifteenth place.
The great day for the New Zealanders started when the Adrian and Harry Bull-trained Benzini proved too strong in the G2 Brisbane Cup over 2400m; ridden to perfection by Rosie Myers Benzini swept to the lead early in the straight and he kept going strongly to hold-off Sir John Hawkwood which seriously challenged Benzini over the last 200m. Junoob battled-on well for third almost a length in front of the favourite Real Love which looked a fleeting hope in the straight but she could not sustain her run which was in-contrast to her previous efforts. It is very unlikely that any of these runners will play a part in the big races in the Spring but Benzini is a very solid horse that recorded his eleventh victory from thirty-eight career starts. Congratrulations Rosie Myers for becoming the first woman to ride a Brisbane Cup winner.
There were three other G2 races on the magnificent card at Eagle Farm and the winners were Cradle Me in the Dane Ripper Stakes for fillies and mares over 1400m, Tsaritsa in the Queensland Guineas for 3-Y-O over 1600m and Spill The Beans in the QTC Cup over 1300m. The John O'Shea-trained Ghisoni was expected to win the Dane Ripper but after being a big drifter from $1.65 to $1.95 and then missing the start Ghisoni was never a factor and she finished a lack-lustre fifth. Unlike his ride on Fell Swoop a fortnight earlier in the Doomben 10,000 Zac Purton rode the perfect race from barrier one aboard Cradle Me which was just behind the leaders approaching the home turn; Purton found clear running early in the straight and from there Cradle Me proved too strong for Artistry and Jessy Belle. The Chris Waller-trained Tsaritsa only won the Queensland Guineas narrowly but she was impressive recording her fourth win from seven career starts and there are many more wins in-store.
HORSES TO FOLLOW
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|9||Under The Louvre
Black Heart Bart