By Glenn Davis
History and numbers are stacked against Queensland trainers Bruce Hill and Michael Nolan in the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes at the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Hill will saddle up Man Of His Word while Nolan brings Jumbo Prince down from Toowoomba for the 1800-metre weight-for-age feature.
Man Of His Word, who drew barrier 11 and Jumbo Prince, gate one, are the only Queenslanders in the Hollindale Stakes which has attracted a field of 14.
The Hollindale Stakes has been dominated by interstate and New Zealand gallopers since it was first run in 1989 with the Chris Jordan-trained Fulmonti the only local success in 2009.
The Hollindale Stakes is regarded as the main curtain raiser to the Group 1 Doomben Cup and has been won 17 times by NSW horses.
The James Cummings-trained Godolphin runner It’s Somewhat is back to defend his Hollindale Stakes crown after claiming the race last year for the Blue Army.
Only It’s Somewhat, who also finished fifth in the 2016 Hollindale Stakes and the Richard Laming-trained Payroll have race experience at the Gold Coast.
Payroll finished third in the Magic Millions Trophy last year.
Man Of His Word goes into the Hollindale Stakes at his fourth run in following a last start fifth to With A Promise in the Listed Tails Stakes while Jumbo Prince finished ninth, less than two lengths away in the same race.
Hill couldn’t be happier with Man Of His Word who has turned a new page in his career.
“He’s going pretty good this campaign,” Hill said.
“His first two runs back were too short and he was a bit stiff when he ran fourth in the Goldmarket.
“I really liked his last run on a heavy track which didn’t suit him.”
Hill attributes Man Of His Word’s renewed form to jockey Brad Stewart.
“Brad’s ridden him in all of his races this campaign and he’s been doing everything right since he’s been on him,” he said.
“He used to do a lot of things wrong in his races like lay in or lay out and throw his head around but he’s matured a lot now and he no longer does it for Brad.”
Hill was surprised when informed only one Queenslander has won the Hollindale Stakes.
“That’s interesting… but there could be two after Saturday,” he said.
Racing Queensland webnews May 2