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Clearly Innocent will have to defy recent history in the Group One race
Image: Darren Winningham

Stradbroke Handicap favourite Clearly Innocent has more than an outside barrier to contend with as he will also have to defy recent history in the Group One race.

Cleary Innocent remains the dominant favourite despite drawing barrier 20 in Saturday’s $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap at Doomben.

He will jump from 15 if none of the emergencies gains a start.

Trainer Kris Lees remains confident with Clearly Innocent who has won two of his three starts for the Newcastle trainer since he took over from the now-retired Greg Bennett.

“He would have had to go back in the field anyway. Hugh (Bowman) is a world class jockey and it will be up to him to get cover,” Lees said.

“He will be very hard to beat if he can get that.”

Recent Stradbroke history has been against favourites with only Black Piranha in 2009 winning in the past 10 years.

Clearly Innocent would also be the first Group One winner at his previous start to win the Stradbroke in 20 years.

Only one last-start winner of any race at his previous start, Linton in 2014, has taken the Stradbroke in the past 20 years.

Clearly Innocent will also have to carry 57kg, the most weight since Rough Habit who won with 58.5kg in 1992.

No topweight has won the Stradbroke in 15 years.

Bowman will be out to equal Shane Dye’s record of 13 Australian Group One winners in a season on Clearly Innocent.

He has also won three in Hong Kong.

As well as six Group One wins on Winx, Bowman has won on Le Romain (Cantala Stakes), Flying Artie (Coolmore Stud Stakes), Jameka (BMW), Invader (ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes), Bonneval (Australian Oaks), and Clearly Innocent (Kingsford Smith Cup).

Werther (Hong Kong Gold Cup and Champions & Chater Cup) and Lucky Bubbles (Chairman’s Sprint Prize) are his three in Hong Kong.

 
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