Well known Queensland media man Nathan Exelby is a constant at the track and has all the inside information as we head into another big weekend of racing in the Sunshine State.
RECOGNITION FOR TRACK AT DOOMBEN
AFTER a couple of washouts and a transferred meeting, metropolitan racing is set to resume with a bumper card at Doomben on Saturday.
Track Manager Ross Smith was buoyed by the forecast for late in the week, which should provide 48 hours for the rain-soaked course proper to dry out and get back to safe racing condition.
Smith is thinking something in the vicinity of a Heavy 8 track is likely if the rain stays away.
His biggest concern was waterlogged chutes at the 1600m and 1350m starts.
Doomben has shown a remarkable resilience and we can confidently look forward to seeing 10 races run on Saturday to kick off the Road to Magic Millions.
The bonus for Saturday is having last week’s SKY Racing Recognition Stakes and Eureka Stud F&M Classic added to the program.
DON’T LET FORM DAMPEN ENTHUSIASM FOR ZOUSTYLE
MANY of the top fancies in the features haven’t been exposed to a lot of wet track racing during their careers, which adds another element for punters to sift through this weekend.
ZOUSTYLE is the headline act in the TAB George Moore Stakes and he’s seen nothing worse than a Soft 7 to this point in his career.
The form guide says he finished seventh of nine, beaten 3.3L behind STAR OF THE SEAS in an 1100m race at Rosehill on that occasion.
But delve a little deeper and it was quite possibly one of his best runs.
He took off mid-race that day and the lead section was comfortably the quickest on the entire program. He then kicked clear on turning and held a big margin halfway up the running before paddling the final 150m.
Later, it emerged he bled during the race.
Combine those factors and it’s entirely understandable why he folded up that day.
I suspect it was much more to do with that than him not handling the prevailing conditions.
Zoustyle was awesome first up and he now tackles 1200m for the first time since his misfiring spring campaign of 2019.
I think he can maintain his unbeaten record in Queensland and notch a maiden G3 success.
Stablemate BALLER is considered one of the main dangers and he was successful on Soft 7 ground at the Gold Coast earlier in the year.
Trainer Tony Gollan has a query on him on genuine Heavy, so an improving track is likely what he’s looking for.
ALLIGATOR BLOOD didn’t like the wet conditions in the Golden Eagle at all, so his chances of a fairytale first up return look problematical, despite his excellent trial win at Doomben last week.
SHOOTING FOR GOLD is unknown in anything worse than a Soft 5 on raceday, so presents as another query.
SIGNORE FOX strikes me as a potential knockout at $13 in early markets with TAB.
He was terrific with placings in both the Kingsford Smith Cup and Stradbroke at G1 level during the winter carnival and this is a notch below having to take on EDUARDO and LOST AND RUNNING as he’s done at his past two starts. He’s also placed on the Heavy, as well as having a respectable soft track record.
WEONA SMARTONE goes for eight straight and brings the most compelling Heavy track form, having won a restricted race by 5.5L on the slush at the Gold Coast back in May.
How he adapts to having the pressure of a class horse like Zoustyle around him is the big question for his backers.
Check out the latest TAB markets here.
IF TONY IS IN, THEN SO AM I!
MIAMI FLEISS was a horse I left out of my selections all together for the Eureka Stud Classic last week but I am happy to put her on top in the same race seven days later.
Put simply, there was no way she was ever going to start on the Heavy 10 at the Gold Coast.
Tony Gollan has no issues with her to a Soft 7, but watched her flounder in the QTIS Jewel back in March on a genuine heavy track. So the drying track is the key to her chances.
If Gollan is happy to go to the post, I’m happy to go with him.
I think she’s genuine Stakes class and her last start win at the Gold Coast confirmed that after she did a bit wrong early, but still put them away comfortably.
She has been brought undone by a wide draw previously, but at this time of the meeting, I don’t mind her being drawn out a bit and having time to find the right spot.
This is by far the deepest race she’s taken on, but her winning times suggest she is well up to the task.
WANDABAA has the sexy formlines, being second to Lost And Running in the $1m race last time, getting in beautifully under the set weight conditions and having a ripper heavy track CV.
She may well prove too classy with the conditions being served up, but she’s likely to be out the back somewhere off this gate and it is 15 runs since she last won.
TYCOON EVIE is a last start winner, but another unproven in heavy ground. The worst she’s seen was at the Gold Coast in May (Soft 7), but her failure that day can be put down to the distance of the race (1800m) rather than any conclusive evidence she didn’t handle the going.
She is drawn to get a nice run, possibly midfield, after surprisingly being up on speed last time. She has a splash of class, given she claimed the scalp of APACHE CHASE among others last prep.
No doubt there’s a stack of other hopes, including JUAN DIVA off a good effort in stakes grade at Flemington, but I’m happy to side with the two local girls here.
Don’t miss catch up episodes of The Playbook here.
PROGRAMS MAY HAVE TO CHANGE FOR SOME
THIRD time lucky for the Recognition Stakes?
After being washed out last Saturday, re-scheduled to Wednesday and then handballed to Doomben, the 1350m Listed Recognition Stakes should finally be run this weekend.
The week delay might put a few of these horses’ summer aspirations on the back foot, as there’s little doubt a number of them would have been aimed at next Friday’s Listed Brisbane Handicap (1600m), expecting 13 days between runs from the original Gold Coast date.
They may now divert to the 1400m Lough Neagh Stakes on December 18 at Eagle Farm, or wait another week for the Bernborough Handicap at Doomben on Boxing Day.
The field has held together from last week, with THE HARROVIAN and NICCANOVA the headline acts and MORETHANNUMBERONE the up-and-coming youngster.
BALLISTIC BOY is unknown in the ground but was the subject of a fairly strong betting move last week before the race was called off. He’s very capable on the fresh side over 1350m at Doomben.
TAMBO’S MATE is also a possibility to back up after going to Sydney last week.
The Harrovian was into around the $2.50 mark last week (with Tambo’s Mate out) when the meeting was called off, so $4-plus in early TAB trading looks good enough to play.
Check out the latest TAB Futures markets here.
NAJMATY COULD DELIVER KNOCKOUT BLOW
THE Mode Stakes (LR) is the final event on the card and brings together an evenly matched group of fillies.
Bookmakers would be licking their lips at the prospect of punters trying to line this one up.
RHAPSODY ROSE comes up the favourite with TAB after she dominated over 1400m at Eagle Farm back in mid-October.
But back to 1200m here and with a wide gate to contend with, it could be a repeat scenario for her, similar to what she endured in her first two runs this time in.
The prevailing pattern will be very clear by this time, so if it’s no advantage to be stuck out a bit wide, she’s clearly the one to beat as she will be strong through the line - but there is no shortage of challengers.
ME ME LAGARDE was stiff not to win the stakes race Rhapsody Rose did over this course back in May, after she had nothing go right in the run before steaming home.
Her pattern is to leave it very late, but she’s been super strong the last 100m in every one of her three starts so far.
After a solid first up win, that can be a big factor in her favour at the end of what is certain to be a testing 1200m on Saturday – provided she copes with the conditions.
The left field knockout is NAJMATY, who hasn’t lived up to early expectations after she easily won her first two starts.
But she does look astutely placed in this set weights race up in Brisbane, compared to having taken on some of the best fillies in Sydney and Melbourne during the Spring.
She’s unproven in the wet ground, but if the Snowdens are happy to go to the post, she looks one that is potentially over the odds in early trading.
BEST BETS AT DOOMBEN
Ashgrove - R3, $2.60
Wapiti - R6, $3.80
Zoustyle - R9, $2.40