By Glenn Davis
Toowoomba galloper Niccanova will be a surprise starter at Doomben on Saturday ahead of an ambitious Sydney spring campaign.
Trainer Steve Tregea had planned to send Niccanova to Sydney for his lead-up run to the Group 1 1400-metre Winx Stakes at Randwick on August 22.
However, he had a change of mind after nominating the seven-year-old for the Open Handicap over 1050 metres at Doomben and has chosen to stay in Brisbane.
“I was looking for a race in Sydney but there wasn’t much around and Doomben looked a good alternative,” Tregea said.
“He needs a good hit out to make sure he’s match fit for Sydney.”
If all goes to plan in the south, Niccanova will proceed after the Winx Stakes to the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.
Tregea expects a strong performance from Niccanova, who hasn’t raced since his narrow defeat by the James Cummings-trained Gaulois in the Group 3 Eagle Farm Mile in June.
“It was a good run last time but he just got too far back and couldn’t quite pick up Gaulois,” Tregea said.
“He hasn’t raced since then which was about two months and he’s only had a little break.
“He’s still got lot of residual fitness left in him and he’s had a couple of good hit outs on the course proper at Toowoomba.
“He’s a bit fatter than when he last raced but he’ll be competitive even with the big weight.”
Tregea isn’t worried by a forecast for rain later this week.
“Rain is predicted to come in on Friday but he’ll run no matter what,” he said.
“He loves the wet and is capable of anything on a wet track.”
Niccanova has started four times on soft tracks for three wins while he has won twice and finished second in three heavy track starts.
Tregea won’t be able to go to Sydney with Niccanova because of the COVID-19 restrictions and has booked stabling with Craig Carmody at Randwick.
Tregea is yet to book a rider for Niccanova’s spring campaign with three kilo apprentice Nathan Fazackerley set to ride him at Doomben.