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Is history a guide to winning modern Stradbroke?

A quick scan through the archives reveals much about the rich history of the UBET Stradbroke Handicap - but does it offer us any guide to finding the winner in 2018? 

Impending enters this year's race looking to become the first horse since Black Piranha to win back-to-back Stradbrokes, and will be asked to carry 57.5kg in the $1.5 million Handicap at Doomben on Saturday. 

While many winners in the years gone by have carried more, a win for Impending would set a modern-day record, outdoing Show A Heart's 2002 effort with 56kg. 

Veteran handicapper Lester Grimmett says although looking back on great Stradbrokes through the ages offers some assistance, the race is a much different beast these days. 

Weights being released closer to the race, raising the weight limits, and a decline in the class of New Zealand gallopers targeting our famous handicap have changed the complexion of the race over time.

When asked about standout winners over the years, Mr Grimmett highlighted some of the victors who managed to salute the judge with the topweight. 

"Rough Habit won two of them, the second one with a bit of weight (58.5kg). Then there's the likes of Campaign King who won with 58.5 in 1988," Mr Grimmett said. 

"Divide And Rule (1970) won with 8 stone 11 (56kg) but you have to remember the weight scales were very different back then."

It mightn't sound like much, but 56kg was quite a burden to bear with horses weighted as low as 45.5kg - such as 1973 victor Lucky Cloud.

In those days, Mr Grimmett said it was all about beating the handicapper. 

"I can remember the weights being out up to two months before the Stradbroke and they've got progressively closer. This year they were released just two weeks before the race," he said.  

"I think it's better. It provides a fairer assessment. When Private Steer won in 2003 the weights came out in late April and I had given her 48.5kg.

"She had only won three or four races but then she came out and ran 2nd in the Doomben 10,000 before going on to win the Stradbroke."

The 2018 bottomweight Champagne Cuddles profiles similarly to Private Steer, coming through the late autumn in Sydney, before winning the Gold Coast Guineas then running a close third in the Kingsford-Smith at Doomben a fortnight ago. 

Mr Grimmett said it was races such as the Doncaster in Sydney and the Easter Handicap in New Zealand that provided the best formlines heading towards the Stradbroke in past seasons, not so much these days. 

Crack Me Up, Endless Drama and Invincible Gem arrive at Doomben on Saturday having run in the 2018 Doncaster Handicap, but no New Zealand-trained horses will feature.