By Jordan Gerrans and Andrew Adermann
Described as one of the more intelligent horses Tony Gollan has been around, the premier Brisbane trainer is aiming to get inside Graff’s head this week ahead of a first-up tilt at the Group 1 Doomben 10,000.
The Gollan team head to the 1200-metre Weight For Age feature on the third Saturday of the TAB Queensland Winter Racing Carnival with a dual approach – Graff and Vega One.
Gollan has had a knack of getting horses to fire quickly after arriving at his Eagle Farm barn; Baller did it on the Gold Coast last Saturday in the Listed Goldmarket, while Krone went from on the verge of retirement to a Group 1 winner not long after joining his team.
Baller (pictured) came to his stable in good order, Gollan says, and has appreciated the change of scenery, while also riding him a little closer.
Graff is in a similar boat ahead of his first-up assignment in the Doomben 10,000, having previously being with top southern trainers Kris Lees and Danny O’Brien.
Speaking on Tuesday morning at Doomben’s trials, Gollan does not think he has a secret formula to turning around horses’ fortunes, declaring that some just appreciate a change of scenery and routine.
“We just put them into our system, see how they react to it and change what we have to change, we do not overthink it too much,” Gollan said.
“With Graff, we have noticed a few different things with him as he has come from terrific trainers in Kris Lees and Danny O’Brien.
“One thing talking to the guys from Australian Bloodstock about Graff, the reason for the change of trainers is that he actually enjoys change, with the routine being a bit different.
“We have not had to overthink Graff, he is a tricky bugger – I know that – he has a lot of quirks, he is an intelligent horse and hopefully I can get inside his head enough this week to really fire up for us fresh-up.
“We know the ability is there, we just want to see him produce it on Saturday.”
Graff has won at Group 2 and 3 level earlier in his career and comes to Queensland chasing Group 1 glory for the first time this year.
The five-year-old bay has shown he is up to the elite mark, finishing fifth in the 2018 Everest and being placed at Group 1 level, but is known to often thrown in ordinary efforts as well.
He worked with Garibaldi on Tuesday morning; with Gollan hopeful he is figuring out Graff.
“Graff is a bit of an enigma, on his day, he can compete in anything seeing as he finished fifth in an Everest,” he said.
“If we can get inside his head and get him to his best for Saturday, there is no reason he couldn’t run really well, he has proven he is right up to Group 1 level when he is on song.
“There is no secret formula as to why horses change, sometimes the change in routine for horses just does the trick.
“These are horses that already gallop, it is just trying to get the best out of him.”
The Gollan team filled up the nomination sheet earlier in the week for the Doomben 100,00, but will take just two into the race, with Jonker, Garibaldi and Outback Barbie looking at other options.
Jonker is working through bruising and an infection in his hind leg and is likely to now to head towards the Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup later this month while Garibaldi goes to the BRC Sprint next Saturday.
The 2014 Doomben 10,000 champion has declared he is very happy with both runners ahead of Saturday’s $1 million event.
The TAB has Vega One as a $14 chance for Saturday, while Graff is $19 – with Eduardo the $2.30 favourite.
“Vega One has done terrific since the Victory Stakes, I could not be more pleased with him,” Gollan said.
“He is really up to the mark now.
“It has always been by design to have Graff first-up into this race, both horses – if this rain comes mid-week, they will adapt to the giving ground and both are in very good shape for Saturday.
“I thought Vega One was great in the Victory Stakes the other day, he finished ahead of Trekking, and if there is rain around, he is very good on that sort of ground.”