Statford All The Rage For Grand Prix Decider

TOWNSVILLE sprinting star Stratford goes into Tuesday night's Grand Prix Final the raging hot favourite for his owner-trainer Rhonda Essery.

David Brasch

21 June 2021

TOWNSVILLE star Stratford goes into Tuesday night’s Grand Prix Final (498m) the raging hot favourite amid a “stern difference of opinion” between his owner-trainer Rhonda Essery and her husband Steve.

The son of Fernando Bale-Jingjing has started 55 times for 28 wins and 13 placings earning $64,000 a remarkable performer for a $2500 buy at 18 months.

“Steve wants me to head to Brisbane with him for the Nationals,” said Rhonda.

“I’m more inclined to keep him at home even though he has won in fast time down there.”

Stratford won the Country Cup at Albion Park and downed Steve Kavanagh’s Group star Louis Rumble in 29.96 back in February.

Such is Stratford’s domination of top grade racing in Townsville he has won his past eight in succession and 15 of his past 21. He has started odds on at 15 of his past 21 starts.

He is drawn to perfection in the Grand Prix drawing the eight the box from where he has won four of his past eight.

“His kennel name is Romeo and I absolutely love him,” said Rhonda.

“We bought him when he was 18 months old and paid only $2500 for him. When he arrived I then bought his two sisters for $5000 each.

“The dog arrived on the plane here and was 27 kilos. He now races up to 30 kilos, but generally around 29.5.”

Rhonda is already planning to breed a litter of two by Stratford “down the track”.

“Townsville closes down for three weeks after Tuesday night for the local show,” she said. “He can have an easy week and then we will head to Rockhampton for a top grade late in the month and then into the Grand Prix there on July 6.”

While Stratford is the standout of his litter, it contains six other winners from a litter of eight. They also include Cape Fernando (10 wins, $29,000), Remi Monelli (14 wins, $38,000), Ruby Monelli (9 wins, $36,000) etc.

“I’m told the m other (Jingjing) has just produced a litter to Aston Kimetto and I’ve put an order in for a dog and a bitch,” said Rhonda.