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Nicholls’ young guns straightened up at Capalaba

By Isaac Murphy

Warren Nicholls is not one to take the Capalaba straight for granted, and the trainer has educated plenty of pups there including Riverboat Queen and Shot Of Bourbon.

The pair have progressed through the grades and loom as genuine winning chances in this Sunday’s Young Guns Final, looking to take a tonne of confidence to take back to their circle racing.

Riverboat Queen ran third in heat one to Cracking Force, where she only managed to get off heals in the last 100 metres to charge to within a length of Townsville Cup winner Hara’s Panda in second, and locking in a Final berth.

The trainer’s only concern come Sunday is the box eight draw.

“She’s taken to the straight really well, she loves it up there it really suits her strengths,” Nicholls said.

“The only disadvantage on Sunday is she’ll want to get over to the rail from box eight and she’s only a little thing so that might be tough.

“They develop their patterns up the straight and she’s always been one to favour the inside rather than out, but with a touch of luck she still has the speed to really motor if she gets a run.

“If she was drawn the inside three boxes, I’d actually be really confident about her chances - it’s a hot field but she’s there with the best of them on ability.”

Turning two next month, Riverboat Queen is one of Nicholls’ dogs who has flourished up the straight, something he can use throughout her career.

“Capalaba is an advantage for a lot of trainers, it gives us a chance to give our young dogs an education while racing for decent prizemoney as well,” he said.

“Some handle it better than others and this bitch looks like she’s one of those, so to always have the option to come back here on a Sunday and get a conditioning or form run is a real bonus.

“Being involved in a Young Guns series is one step better, you don’t use up any grades and get a shot at taking away a trophy.”

Riverboat Queen has shown plenty around the circle to suggest a long 500-metre career awaits, and Nicholls will remain patient with the bitch bred by a fellow trainer.

“She can run 22.80 over the 395 metres pretty easily so I think I’ll be able to get her back up to the 500 in the near future with a couple more at Capalaba and shorter runs in her,” Nicholls said.

“She’s still immature age wise and probably racing wise as well, I’m confident if we keep her on the right track like any good young bitch she’ll come along and show some considerable improvement the more she races.

“We think she’s well above average; Noel Evans bred her out of Slip Sliding which is a dam we have a lot of time for, so we did the rearing and got to keep her and she’s shown us more than enough so far.”

Riverboat Queen Next Racing
Shot Of Bourbon Next Racing

Shot Of Bourbon had a similar heat run to his kennel mate, tucked away on the rail and beaten less than two lengths by Ninetymile King and Slade, and will take his place in the final with a low draw.

“If I had my choice, I’d put Shot Of Bourbon in one of the centre boxes but I’m happy enough with the two as he’ll get his chance from there,” he said.

“Similarly to Riverboat Queen if he’s drawn out wide, he wants to lay in but if he can tuck himself away on the inside and find the centre of the track late - he’s a big chance the way he finishes.”

Shot Of Bourbon started his career like a champion, chewing through his grades at Albion Park before he got a bad case of the yips, luckily Capalaba was there to straighten him up.

“He forced our hand a bit in taking him to Capalaba, he came out and won six of eight races at Albion Park to start his career and just went right off the boil coming up with the lids, so I said it’s time we get him to Capalaba,” Nicholls said.

“We gave him four straight starts at Capalaba and he started to get a little better each time and to see him ping the lids from the 395-metre start last week and run not far outside the track record so we knew the stint had done its job.

“He’ll continue to race at Capalaba in between his Albion Park runs, but the track’s honestly saved his career and it would be great to knock off a Young Guns with him with given the benefit he’s taken.”

Nicholls said if he had to split the pair, Shot Of Bourbon got the nod with his raw ability but could give the trainer a headache too.

“We knew he’d go well when we took him to the straight, he’s the fastest dog I’ve ever had up our straight at home which is a fair effort, it’s just been about harnessing the ability,” he said.

“The whole Oaks Road/Avamay litter are a bit of a handful - all of them with minds of their own - but maturity is just starting to kick in and we think we’ve got a handy race dog.

“His name really suits him because we can have a shot of bourbon to celebrate his wins and have one to forget about his bad days.”