The UBET Northern Crowns Series kicks off today with the running of the $100,000 XXXX Gold Rockhampton Newmarket Handicap.
Punters will be faced with one of the strongest editions of the race in recent years.
To help you find a winner, Racing Queensland contributor Kobie O'Brien has put together this runner-by-runner preview.
1. Charlie Boy - T: Tony Gollan - J: Brad Stewart
Brings the famous Redzel colours to Rockhampton and is the top weight in a very impressive field. Hasn’t won since September 2017 however and has finished in the second half of the field in 4 of 5 starts since. Beaten 6 lengths by I’m A Rippa and Tyzone last time out. Up almost 6kg in weight and drawn wide, again faces a task.
2. Niccanova - T: Steve Tregea - J: Anthony Allen
Hasn’t missed a place in all 7 starts, winning 5. Beaten some very handy ones in a short career to date and Group 2 placed back in May immediately after winning a Group 3. Has won out to 1600 however will race outside his own age for just the second time. Unbeaten first up.
3. Too Good to Refuse - T: Desleigh Forster - J: James Orman
Prominent backmarker who, based on recent runs, is ready to win. Came from 14th to finish within 3 lengths of Crack Me Up when running 4th late last year before coming from last to beat over half the field home behind Cantbuybetter and Hopfgarten again in listed company. 3 lengths off Savanna Amour in latest and won a Doomben trial on June 26. Will find the Rocky straight a treat.
4. Executed - T: Krystle Johnston - J: Brad Pengelly
Won impressively here 2 back carrying 64.5kg. Beaten over 3 last time out by Dylan’s Luck and Divine Service who he will find again, however meets them carrying 7kg less, finds a few lengths? Prolific winner with 17 victories to his name including a listed win at Doomben in June 2016 before taking out Townsville’s Cleveland Bay a month later. 5 starts for 4 wins at the distance and 2 from 2 over the 1300 at Callaghan Park.
5. Peacock - T: Diane G Murphy- J: Justin Stanley
Ex Godolphin runner who recorded a victory at Rosehill in March this year, going on to lead and give them a galloping lesson at Sandown just 2 back. Beaten by a very good one in Jamaican Rain last start over 1400 but really can’t knock the form. Just 3 lengths off Osborne Bulls in March this year, and most impressively finished 5th behind Malaguerra and Black Heart Bart when the Moonee Valley 1200m track record was broken in the Group 2 Australia Stakes last year. Beat Turn Me Loose by over 2 in that run, wow.
6. Of the Day - T: Tony Gollan - J: Mark Du Plessis
Form was not red-hot going into last start but came from 10th to beat Ringo’s A Rockstar by 2 in a class 6 at Ipswich. That was over 1200m and hasn’t won over any further. Going on that run will be extremely competitive here.
7. Heartbreak Harry - T: Tom Button - J: Chris Whiteley
Big, tough, honest type who just won’t lay down. Placed in both the Rockhampton and Mackay Newmarket last year before taking out the Cleveland Bay in Townsville and barring injury would have been headed to Cairns following. Was massive first up when running 4th to Executed from a wide draw over first up over 1100 and no luck last time out. 1300m suits and has not missed a place at the track and distance in 6 goes!
8. Idance - T: Stephen Rundle - J: Elyce Smith
Won’t know himself after carrying a big weight in last 2 and finished just a length off a very good one in Court Clown 2 back over 1200 here at Rocky. 2nd to Great Esteem at Rosehill but that was well over 2 years ago. Might need this run.
9. Blue Jest - T: Bevan Johnson - J: Les Tilley
54-start veteran but another one who knows how to find the line with 20 wins to his name. Ran 10th in last year’s Cleveland Bay but it only gets harder here and he might be a bit outclassed. Drops a considerable 12kg in weight from last start however and softly drawn in barrier 4. 7 wins over 1200 and 5 over 1400.
10. Dylan's Luck - T: Lindsay Hatch - J: Nathan Day
Came from close to last and put them to the sword here last start and time was good (last 600 33.81). 21 lengths off Yarrapower and Jetsonic at Doomben back in April and the form is probably stronger here than that race. A similar run to last start would be competitive but another who is yet to win past 1200.
11. Divine Service - T: Darryl Hansen - J: Micheal Hellyer
Hasn’t won since February 2017 but it did beat Upstart Pride in that run. Almost 9 lengths of Niccanova in March this year over 1350 and runs into it again here. Will have to find plenty of improvement on that but fought on-pace to finish 2nd to Dylan’s Luck at this track last start. Hasn’t won past 1200.
13. Arena Salon - T: Natalie McCall - J: Ron Stewart
On-pacer and been in the money in last 3 but Gold Coast and Beaudesert form just doesn’t match up to some of these. Placed in 5 of 7 over the distance and they’ll know he’s there.
3. Too Good To Refuse
4. Dylan’s Luck