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Mitchell Bell will be reunited with Artlee for the biggest race of his life in the Stradbroke Handicap.

The wash-out of Saturday’s Eagle Farm meeting means the NSW country gelding gains a start in Brisbane’s premier race a week later at No.18 in the ballot order.

If the Oaks meeting had gone ahead, the QTC Cup winner could have leapfrogged Artlee into the $1.5 million Stradbroke (1400m) but that race is now on the same program.

Bell rode Artlee to win the inaugural Country Championship Final at Randwick last year but was injured when the Todd Willan-trained sprinter won the Listed Luskin Star Stakes at Scone at his next start.

A $21 chance in the Stradbroke, Artlee has had three recent starts in Brisbane for a third in the Group Two Victory Stakes won by Fell Swoop, seventh in the Group One BTC Cup won by Malaguerra and another third behind Snippets Land in the Group Three BRC Sprint.

The Ciaron Maher-trained Azkadellia remains the $4 favourite for the Stradbroke ahead of Goodwood winner Black Heart Bart and Counterattack who are on the second line at $5.50.

Malaguerra and Doomben 10,000 winner Music Magnate are next at $7.50.

Former West Australian Black Heart Bart, now with Darren Weir, had a gallop at Ararat racecourse on Monday ahead of his trip to Queensland with John Allen giving him aboard for the work-out.

Brad Rawiller will ride Black Heart Bart, the 58kg topweight, in the Stradbroke and will also be aboard the Weir-trained Howard Be Thy Name in the Queensland Derby.

The Stradbroke field and barrier draw will be finalised on Wednesday.

 
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