Racing to the AAMI Stradbroke Race Day

IT’S full of grandeur, rich with history – and a cracker to watch. On AAMI Stradbroke Race Day, the champagne may flow and the hats may be big but it’s all about the race.

While the AAMI Stradbroke Day (June 6, 2009) enjoys all the associated fun and folly of a big race day – it’s described as Queensland’s grandest – there’s no forgetting that this is all about the race. The AAMI Stradbroke Handicap is the headline event, Australia’s premier sprint race that attracts Australasia’s finest jockeys, trainers and horses.

According to Eagle Farm Course Manager, Bill Shuck, the Stradbroke is a special race that could be equivalent to Victoria's Melbourne Cup or Sydney's Doncaster meet.

“You’ve got the best educated horses, the best jockeys – they’re all there to win," Mr Shuck said.

"It's our grand final."

The race, named after Lord Stradbroke (a relative of Admiral Rous, the man who developed the weight for age scale), was first run in 1890 and won by Pyrrhus, whose owners pocketed an impressive 200 sovereigns. In 2009, the stakes are set at $1 million, ensuring the race’s elite status and making it Queensland’s top racing event.

But, prize money, history and grandeur aside, the Stradbroke is purely a great race. Its quality field, heart-stopping action and nail-biting finishes appeal to both the racing diehard and the occasional punter.
The attraction is the handicap – this means that horses carry varying weights depending on their previous successes.

A dominant horse carries more weight than one with less wins. The result is a more even field where every starter is a potential winner. It makes for a thrilling contest – especially when that 200-to-1 shot passes the post first.

“But that’s the thing about the Stradbroke," said Mr Shuck. "You’ve got 100 to 1 horses fighting out the finish in a million dollar race.”

Stradbroke winners are household names – even those who have never read a form guide may recognise Rough Habit, Daybreak Lover and All our Mob.

And while the race is the main event, the atmosphere of the Stradbroke takes over Eagle Farm for an entire week of celebrations.

An exciting lead-up includes the AAMI Breakfast with the Stars, where early birds (it starts at 6am) are rewarded with the sight of the country’s best thoroughbreds going through their paces and experts giving you an insight into race preparations.

The Barrier Draw is the first chance to hear the all-important barrier placements. The Cocktail Party, one of the most highly anticipated events of the week, is an elegant night where rubbing shoulders with the racing elite is a given. At the Bernborough Club Lunch, diners get the scoop on the race from industry experts.

The AAMI Stradbroke runs from June 2-7,2009, while the AAMI Stradbroke Day is on Saturday, June 6, 2009. For more information, visit www.classicstradbroke.com.au.

Food for thought

Cheering on their favourites is hungry work for the 20,000 punters expected at Eagle Farm this June.  They will get through:
  • 360kg Moreton Bay bugs
  • 540 dozen fresh half shell oysters
  • 400kg fresh peeled prawns
  • 60kg sliced smoked salmon
  • 350kg of roast beef
  • 250kg of roast lamb
  • 200kg of roast pork
  • 100kg of some of Australia’s finest cheeses
  • 200kg of salads


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