The Harrovian Primed for Stradbroke Assault
All of North Queensland eyes will be on the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on Saturday as local hero The Harrovian battles for a share in $1.5 million in prizemoney.
On behalf of the Hedley Group and several others in the ownership, The Harrovian was purchased by Cairns-based trained Stephen Massingham from Mornington-based trainer Jim Conlan for just $20,000 back in 2018.
Under the care of Massingham, The Harrovian had 14 starts between March 2019 and October 2020 and recorded 12 wins and two 2nd placings.
The son of Fastnet Rock quickly settled into his tropical surroundings and gave Massingham a victory in his first appearance on North Queensland tracks taking out a Class 3 Plate in Cairns.
Not even Massingham could have hoped for what was to come after that debut.
He won two Class 6 Plates from his next three starts and soon after won the Townsville Cup (2000m) with Robert Thompson aboard.
“We knew we had a ‘handy’ galloper on our hands but it wasn’t until the Winter Carnival up here when we realised he was a better than average horse” Massingham said.
It was about then it became evident that the stable had a handy galloper on their hands.
Two weeks later, The Harrovian lined up in the 2019 Cairns Cup (2100m) and with Thompson still aboard, he carried 2.5kgs more and won by an even bigger margin that day.
Then five weeks later, he took his place in the Cairns Amateurs Cup (2100m) where he carried yet another 2.5kgs (making his saddlebag weight 59kgs) and it had little effect on him as he put four lengths on the field in a masterful display.
The Harrovian then went on to win another two-straight Open Hcp events, carrying 65kgs and 67kgs respectively, with the weight proving inconsequential to him as he made both victories look just as easy.
He was then spelled for 17 weeks before pulling off what Massingham believes was his greatest achievement.
Coming off that lengthy break, he lined up in the Cairns Newmarket (WFA) over the shorter 1400m trip, and with a withering burst, he stormed home to win by almost two lengths on the line.
“That was the most remarkable thing I’ve seen from him” Massingham said.
“To come off a break like that and win the Newmarket first-up was an incredible effort” he added.
It was then decided to try him down south against city class gallopers in Brisbane where he faced some talented horses.
He lined up at Eagle Farm first and then Doomben where he won both Open company events and by then had many people talking about him.
That took his run to nine-straight wins before being transferred to Toby and Trent Edmonds who also tasted instant success with The Harrovian taking out the Listed Tatts Recognition Stakes (1350m) at Doomben.
Yet another convincing victory came there, beating home the classy Red Chase and Profit, making it 10 on the trot for the seven-year-old galloper.
The bookies then accepted he was the real McCoy and sent him out a white-hot $1.80 favourite for the Listed Bernborough Plate (1600m) at Eagle Farm where he again stormed home to take the honours.
He beat home Nicconova and the Chris Munce-trained Skate To Paris that day, making it 11-straight wins.
After a nine-week freshen-up, his next mission was in Melbourne where he finished a gallant fifth in the Group Three Shaftsbury Avenue (1400m), then followed that up with a similar finish in the All-Star Mile at Moonee Valley which impressed Massingham very much.
“His effort in the All-Star was superb, finishing just four lengths behind Mugatoo, a Group Three winner and Russian Camelot (finished second), a dual Group One winner,” Massingham said.
“We couldn’t have asked for more from him.”
The Harrovian returned to the Edmonds’ Gold Coast stables for a well-deserved rest and spent nine weeks in the paddock.
He then came out (on fresh legs again) and faced his first-ever Group One contest, the Doomben 10,000 and unwanted in the market ($21), he stormed home to give them a real fright, finishing an impressive third behind Eduardo and Wild Planet, beaten half a length on the line.
This also impressed Massingham who believes that effort has him primed before the big event on Saturday.
“He comes good real quick, as we saw in the Ten Thousand and he won’t need another run before the Stradbroke” Massingham said.
Asked what he thought about the appointment of Glen Boss as The Harrovian’s rider, Massingham gave it the thumbs up.
“Bossy is a big-race rider and he just knows how to get them to the line. I couldn’t be happier than seeing Bossy on him for this race” he said.
The Harrovian has been allocated just 53kgs for Saturday’s 1400m race and that also had Massingham smiling.
“He won’t know himself with that weight after carrying 65 and 67 kilos up here (Nth Qld) before we took him down south,” Massingham said.
“All we need now is a good gate and have a trouble-free run and then let Bossy do the rest.”
The Harrovian is currently on the third line of betting for the Stradbroke with Sportsbet at $9, firming in the last two weeks from his opening quote of $21.
North Queensland is abuzz this week with a one-off State Of Origin match being played in Townsville on Wednesday night and then all the focus and attention will be drawn to Eagle Farm on Saturday as their four-legged icon flies the flag in the $1.5 million race.
He has a huge following up north and at barrier rise, all his supporters will give out their usual chant for him…. “Go Big H”