Well known QLD media man NATHAN EXELBY is a constant at the track and has all the inside information as we head towards the upcoming Queensland Winter Carnival in the ‘sunshine state’.
NATURE STRIP ON WATCH LIST FOR QUEENSLAND FANS
QUEENSLAND racing fans will be watching intently over the next week or so as Chris Waller mulls over plans for Horse of the Year NATURE STRIP.
A start in the Doomben 10,000 has been flagged for Nature Strip, but Waller says everything revolves around how to get Nature Strip to October’s Everest in peak condition.
His words of “The Everest is actually quite deep into the spring, so there’s the chance to take him to Queensland if we need to” will be something fans this side of the border hope comes to fruition.
Nature Strip is genuine Box Office material and to have him back for another tilt at the 10,000 – he was fourth to The Bostonian and Osborne Bulls in 2019 – would be a brilliant drawcard for the $1 million sprint on May 15.
For what it’s worth, three of the four Everest winners so far raced during May/June.
Redzel ran in the 10,000 (winning in 2017 and fourth in 2018) before returning to Sydney later in the year to claim the first two renewals of the race, while Classique Legend won in Sydney on the same day as the Stradbroke was run last year.
It is a trend we here in Queensland would unashamedly like to see continue!
FOLLOW THE MARKET MOVERS – MOST OF THE TIME
Market moves in Brisbane tend to tell a big story most of the time – look no further than last Monday’s Doomben meeting run on the bog, where nearly every winner was a big firmer late in betting.
On Saturday, MOSSHIKI seemed certain to add to the record of well-backed winners, having firmed from $5 to $3.20 late.
The easing favourite EXPRESS PRINCESS looked under siege from Mosshiki, particularly after doing some work early.
The one thing backers of Express Princess had in their favour was the fact her stalker … was Mosshiki!
The Sydney mare was able to fend him off at the end, leaving Mosshiki’s record at two wins in 26 starts.
Jim Byrne described Express Princess as “a real dogged sort of horse.”
“It was a big effort by her. She had to do a bit of work from a bad gate,” Byrne said.
“When he came up around me I was nearly not going to wait for him. I was going to take off, but doing some work early makes you hesitant to do that. But once he came up on my outside, he probably got a head in front of her, she just really toughed it out.”
FENDER A CLASS ABOVE
FENDER kicked off what Scone trainer Brett Cavanough hopes to be a productive few months in south-east Queensland when he proved a class above his Benchmark 78 rivals at Doomben.
Cavanough has flagged a Stradbroke dream for Fender, but not before he heads back south for the Wagga Town Plate.
Fender is probably still at big odds to even secure a Stradbroke berth, let alone win it, but he showed on Saturday connections can have a lot of fun going through the grades this time in.
The margin could have been considerably more had Ryan Maloney not put the brakes on in the final 100m. Additionally, his times of 70.24 and 34.75 compared nicely with Open Handicap winner RACECOURSE ROAD (69.88/35.2) later in the day when you consider he carried 58.5kg, so there’s plenty more to come.
Cavanough has earmarked a number of two and three-year-old’s to head north for the Queensland Winter Carnival.
One of those is PINNACLE PRINCE, a scratching from Saturday’s Doomben meeting to instead be saved for a first up tilt at Hawkesbury this Wednesday.
Pinnacle Prince’s only defeat in four starts to date was to stablemate and Kosciuszko winner It’s Me.
STARTANTES TO COME BACK BIGGER AND STRONGER
Taylor Marshall suggested STARTANTES would head for a break after what has been a productive debut campaign.
The Rob Heathcote trained filly was able to turn the tables on last start conqueror MILITARY GAMBLER in the 1200m event.
She had won at Eagle Farm at start number two, before Heathcote applied blinkers for her next outing dropping back to 1110m.
The shades came off on Saturday back up to 1200m and she was very strong at the end.
“I just let her be where she was happy. She was quite electric late,” Marshall said.
“She IS not overly big, but she has got a big motor and an electric turn of foot.
“I am of the belief she will probably be tipped out now. She will only come back bigger and stronger.”
Startantes looks certain to add more to the tally of prolific wins this family has given Heathcote and connections.
Ben Thompson netted his first Saturday treble since coming to Queensland when successful on SEAT OF POWER, BAREFOOT and WONDERFUL RIRI.
He had ridden a midweek treble at Eagle Farm in January.
Saturday’s trio showcased a range of skills. He led and controlled on Seat Of Power and weaved a winning passage inside horses on Wonderful Riri.
And Barefoot is a mare that requires perfect timing, which Thompson found here.
FOUR TO FOLLOW
WONDERFUL RIRI made it two from three since coming to Queensland in the last on Saturday in what I expect to be a very good restricted form race.
GUNTANTES was cruelled by a bad barrier here and just had to give away too much start. He found the line strongly again.
CELLARMAID will probably take a few more runs, but her effort to come from the back to finish within five lengths of the winner was notable at her first run since June last year. She’s proven at 2000m and looks on track to add to her record.
GEM OF SCOTLAND is also knocking on the door after three runs back from her long break.
There is a smell of the Queensland Winter Carnival in the air at Eagle Farm this Saturday, with the running of two Listed races.
The Ascot Handicap (1000m) kicks off a big sequence of sprint races in Queensland over the next couple of months, while the Daybreak Lover (3yo, 1400m) provides a nice platform for horses heading to the Group 2 Queensland Guineas on May 1.
Catch Nathan Exelby on The Playbook every Thursday night on Sky Thoroughbred Central (Ch528). Nathan also appears on Sky Thoroughbred Central’s weekday coverage, RadioTAB’s Saturday morning preview of Queensland’s feature meeting and the Brisbane Racing Club website and social media platforms.
Queensland crowds will be hoping Nature Strip heads north for a repeat performance of Saturday's Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick, picture Sportpix.com.au