Go Wandji, a son of Wandji, was bought by Dougall’s father, John, for only $20,000 at the Scone Inglis sale in 2019.
“Dad had a lot of good horses when he was a trainer,” Dougall said.
“He trained a horse called Todfrost who won 17 of his first 21 starts.
“He’s had a lot of other good horses to win in the city and I wouldn’t say Go Wandji is any better than those.”
Dougall has been training for 22 years and had big expectations of Go Wandji from the day he first spotted him.
“He was a real nice looker when I first spotted him,” Dougall said.
“He was very strong and athletic and he showed a lot of ability from day one.”
Dougall is a great carer of horses and never rushed Go Wandji in his early days and gave him his first start at Dalby in February last year, strolling to a decisive win over 1200m in Maiden grade. He then backed up the win three weeks later, scoring by more than three lengths at his second start at Chinchilla.
The early wins earned Go Wandji a well-deserved winter break and he wasn’t sighted again until he won a Class Three at Warwick on August 2.
Dougall then tested Go Wandji for the first time in the metropolitan arena where he finished a gallant third in a Class 3 set weights race at Eagle Farm on August 21 prior to his Warwick defeat.
Dougall trains only a small team at Toowoomba and Go Wandji’s win at Doomben was the trainer’s first in the metropolitan area since Lady Agulhas won at Eagle Farm in 2013.
Go Wandji has attracted interest from overseas and Hong Kong buyers, but so far he’s not for sale.
“I’ve had a few calls to sell him but he’s Dad’s horse and it’s up to him if he wants to sell or not,” Dougall said.
“Dad is 75 now and he’s having a lot of fun with him at the moment.
“Horses like him don’t come around very often.”
Dougall believes the sky is the limit for Go Wandji if the gelding keeps improving, but he won’t be rushing him for the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap this year.
“He’s a big raw fella who will get further, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“He needs to keep improving and who knows if that will happen.
“Some horses reach a certain level and just don’t improve further.”
Dougall believes missing The Gateway might be a blessing in disguise.
“He’s spelling at the moment and won’t race until mid-March,” he said.
“The Stradbroke is a long way off now that we missed The Gateway and he’ll probably be kept for the second-tier races in the winter.
“I still believe he’s got a fair bit of ring craft to learn and the Stradbroke this year could be a bridge too far.
“He’s still got a nice rating, which will give us the chance to see what sort of form he can get back to.”
While Dougall believe next year’s Stradbroke is a more realistic goal for Go Wandji, he won’t hesitate to try to win a ballot free race into Queensland’s premier sprint if the opportunity arises.
Only time will tell now if Go Wandji is the real deal.