The News Desk


The Ex Factor with Nathan Exelby

Well known QLD 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’.


METROPOLITAN and feature racing heads to Ipswich this Saturday for the annual Ipswich Cup meeting.

It has long been one of the highlights of Racing Queensland’s Winter Racing Carnival, with a huge crowd descending upon the Bundamba course, celebrating perhaps the city’s favourite day of the year.

But while the party rolls on trackside, it’s serious business for owners, trainers, jockeys and punters too. There’s three Stakes races to be won!

Ipswich is often referred to as “a tricky circuit.” But is that really the case? Statistics suggest punters have a pretty good grip on this day – and all others at Ipswich.

Looking at south-east Queensland venues over the past two racing seasons (since August 2019), favourites at Ipswich have a healthy 38.9 per cent strike rate (200 wins in 513 races). That figure is bettered by punters only at the Sunshine Coast, where the figure rises to 40 per cent. It’s then down to 35 per cent at Doomben, 34% at the Gold Coast and then Eagle Farm at 30 per cent.

On this particular feature day, there’s been 77 races run since 2012, where favourites have won 22 times (28%) and the winner has been found 44 times from the first three in the market. The stakes races tend to be run true to form as well, with favourites winning 12 of the 26 since 2012 (46%) for a 68 per cent profit on turnover at flat staking.

The only real ‘blowout’ result in a feature in the time frame was Anagold snaring the Ipswich Cup of 2013 at an SP of $41. Outside her, Monsiuer Gustave’s 2017 Eye Liner win at $17 is the biggest priced feature winner on the day.

So in recent times at least, it has paid to not look too far from the obvious in finding the stakes winners at ‘Ippy.’

Ipswich is also a track where certain jockeys have more success than others.

Interestingly, Damian Browne hated going to Ipswich in his riding days and never bothered to take midweek rides at the venue. But when coerced to ride on Cup day, he invariably enjoyed great success.

From 2012 to his retirement, Browne had just 17 rides on Cup Day at Ipswich, winning five races for a profit of 67% on turnover. Of others since 2012, Michael Cahill (9 wins from 48 rides) and Jim Byrne (9 from 64) are the standout performers.

Check out the latest TAB markets here.


SO where does that leave us for the features this weekend?

AMISH BOY dual accepted in the three-year-old and the Eye Liner, with Ciaron Maher and David Eustace deciding the Group 1 placed colt will take his place against older horses in the Listed feature. He’s certainly been a tease for straight out punters, winning just one of 15 to date and placing in the minors eight times.

But he brings strong credentials to this race, having been placed in the Magic Millions Guineas and Group 1 VRC Newmarket this year.  Hugh Bowman noted after riding him into third in the Fred Best Classic (right beside Ayrton) he would have been a worthy Stradbroke contender. 

Instead, he lines up at Listed level with man of the moment Craig Williams taking the ride.  He will sit back, as is his style and then make his run coming to the turn. Given the usual pattern at Ipswich, he’s going to be hard to hold out. 

AXE is the main betting danger. He unusually drifted back last time in the BRC Sprint, forced to race wide, but still making up many lengths in the straight to finish not far from Stradbroke winner Tofane. 

The barrier again presents his main challenge. 

Going wider, SNITCH didn’t have a lot of luck first up under a big weight (in the same race Superium came through) and from the inside draw down to the limit weight, he’s a candidate to improve sharply in this. 

Check out the latest TAB Futures markets here.


THE Gai Waterhouse Classic looks to have plenty of speed on paper and I’m hoping BOOMTOWN LASS can just get in the slipstream of those up front and then sprint quickly in the straight.

She was stiff as a board not to win on this day two years ago and ever since, she’s been a model of consistency.

She places more often than she wins, but it’s not often she’s gifted the inside draw. She just ran out of puff first up chasing Usmanov and will be fitter this time. 

I think she gets her chance to win a stakes race here and get down the Sydney raider LILLEMOR, who will be giving a bold sight in front. 


The Ipswich Cup boasts a lot of the usual suspects. I’m taking a leap of faith and tipping IN GOOD HEALTH to bounce back. She gave ground at Eagle Farm after over-racing. Now back out to the staying trip, she can get into a better rhythm and really give them something to chase here. 

PALLADAS brings a compelling formline to the three-year-old Cooney (1350m) having finished right alongside Ayrton in the Fred Best Classic.

He now takes on another set weights race, but one without the star factor of what he took on last time. He does look favourably placed as Ipswich is a track he’s been effective at previously.

But I’m going to give OUR PLAYBOY another chance here. He looks over the odds here. His two runs as a gelding have been good. He was strong through the line at Doomben, then didn’t have a lot of room at Eagle Farm and ended up finishing just behind the blanket finish.

Don’t see a problem with this extra trip, suspect he will appreciate this surface and at around the $9-$10 mark, I can’t let him go around in this field without being with him. He’s a proven stakes horse, meeting some coming out of midweek grade at level weights. I think they have found a beautiful race for him.


HE’S no betting proposition (for most), but INCENTIVISE is one of the highlights at Ipswich, coming off his 9L Eagle Farm romp. Had Steve Tregea thrown him in the Ipswich Cup, I suspect he would have run favourite, but instead he lines up in a restricted race where $1.25 is the likely starting point.

He has since been stitched up in a deal to go south and be trained by Peter Moody, where Tregea will stay in the ownership. I’d love to see him go out a big winner for Tregea and really frank what the eye and the clock told us about his Eagle Farm win. 


A HORSE with a similar name goes around earlier in the day after a first up run at the Sunshine Coast.

INDISPENSABLE really charged at the line late at Caloundra after the winner stole a march from the 600m. Punters are likely to warm to his chances off that run. I think he’s a great hope, but so too MASAFF.

He was one of the hapless pursuers of Incentivise at Eagle Farm and now comes back to the shorter course at Ipswich, where he bolted in two starts back. 

With Jim Byrne taking the ride, he should take some beating here. 


R4 No.12 Purroni $5.50
R5 No.3 Our Playboy $9

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.