Wide barriers for Stradbroke not an Absolut disaster

MELBOURNE trainer Danny O'Brien lost badly on two AAMI Stradbroke fronts Wednesday but still came up with one really positive note.

The barrier draw for Saturday's Stradbroke at Eagle Farm, on paper at least, was a shocker for O'Brien, with Absolut Glam (gate 20) and Juste Momente (gate 22) near the outside.

To rub salt into the wound, Juste Momente was declared first emergency and is almost certain to be locked out of the $1 million race.

To balance the ledger somewhat was the fact both horses worked well on a heavy surface on the Eagle Farm course proper yesterday and look in prime condition for the big race.

Absolut Glam worked on the outside of Juste Momente in a 1000m hitout in which the pair quickened from the 600m. Absolute Glam drew slightly clear in the final stages when rider Shane Scriven gave her a dig.

With two more days of clear weather the track could return to a little worse than dead, with the rail moved to the 3m position to avoid the wear and tear from the Oaks meeting last Saturday.

However the forecast is for a return to showers towards the weekend.

Absolut Glam has never been tested in really soft conditions so O'Brien was happy she handled the ground so capably in the workout.

"Shane was very happy with the way she went over the heavy conditions and also with the way she pulled up. Fitness is not going to be a problem," O'Brien said.

"The barriers don't look flash. But with soft conditions they might not be such a disadvantage.

"The history of the race shows a lot of horses drawn out have won."

O'Brien was cross Juste Momente did not make the final 20.

The grey mare won the Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes at Morphettville three starts back on March 29.

Under the conditions of the Stradbroke, chief handicapper Lester Grimmett had an option but to use a 1.5kg "discretionary allowance for mares for ballot purposes".

"I can't understand how a mare who won a Group 1 three starts back is held out of the field by horses like Double Dare and Mr Baritone," O'Brien said.

"Both those horses have had a lot of runs and don't look like measuring up to Group 1."

Grimmett conceded O'Brien had an argument but ultimately decided not to exercise his ballot option because Juste Momente's ratings were not up to the standard required to demand the use of the special condition.

Topweight Casino Prince emerged from the Stradbroke draw as a clear favourite at $4.40 after coming up with gate four.

By Bart Sinclair - Courier Mail

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