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’.


THE long-awaited return of ROTHFIRE finally happens this Saturday, but the enormity of the task he is facing shouldn’t be underestimated.

No doubt it would be a magnificent achievement to have him come back and acquit himself with distinction against the heavyweights of Australian sprinting.

To win would be a fairytale of epic proportions.

Let’s consider some facts, according to the respected analysts at Timeform Australia.

Rothfire’s career peak came in last year’s Run to the Rose where he was afforded a rating of 122. His next best was 117+ in the G1 J.J. Atkins. His most recent start was a 107 when he broke down in the Golden Rose almost 12 months ago.

Now let’s consider the opposition he is faced with on Saturday in the G2 The Shorts (1100m).

NATURE STRIP comes in with a Timeform rating of 129, having run to just short of that mark first up; EDUARDO is a 125 horse; GYTRASH’s 12-month best is 123 and MASKED CRUSADER is at 122. Then there’s fellow The TAB Everest hopeful LOST AND RUNNING, who is a 114 Timeform rater, but under the conditions of Saturday’s race, equates to a 121 at the weights.

So there’s four horses who have performed to at least the equal of Rothfire’s very best in the last 12 months and another who’s best is just shy of it.

So even if Rothfire were to run to what he has shown at the peak of his powers to this point, it’s likely not going to be good enough to win this race.

This is not to be detrimental to the horse – I like most Queenslanders would dearly love to see him return better than ever, as there is no doubt he was a gifted talent as a two and three-year-old.

And the team behind him, from the surgeons, spelling home and back in the stable from Rob Heathcote down, have done a remarkable job in getting him to this point, where he has dazzled in two Doomben trials.

But I feel some of the commentary around his chances is underselling just how difficult this comeback race is going to be. TAB has him marked as a $5 third favourite behind Nature Strip ($2.30) and Masked Crusader (4.60).

I suspect you will get better than $5 by the time we come to race time and his army of fans will have fingers crossed he can buck the odds.

Check out the latest TAB markets here


THERE’S been a lot of commentary around INCENTIVISE’s weight for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in the wake of his Makybe Diva Stakes win last weekend.

The fact is, a G1 WFA win made him fair game for the handicapper/s and they’ve taken the opportunity to bump him up. Had he not run last Saturday, Incentivise would have received 53.5kg in the Cups, based on his runaway G3 Tatt’s Cup win. So it’s cost him 2kg and he won $600,000 last Saturday to show for it.

What makes the 55.5kg impost interesting is that it puts him in rare territory from a Cups double perspective. TAB have Incentivise favourite for both the Caulfield ($4.50) and Melbourne ($8) Cups.

The history books tell us that of the 11 horses to complete the Cups double, only one has started as higher in the weights as Incentivise will.

That honour belongs to RISING FASTi, who had 8 Stone 10 (55.3kg) when he won the 1954 Caulfield Cup, before being bumped up to 9.5 (59.4kg) in the Melbourne Cup.

GALILEE had the equivalent of 54kg when he won the 1966 Caulfield Cup, before taking the Melbourne Cup with a tick over 56.5kg.

So Incentivise has to squeeze between two legends to accomplish what the market place currently has him favourite to do. Based on that mountain of history, the odds are right against Incentivise winning both.

Thanks ‘Captain Obvious’ you say … given only 11 horses have achieved the feat amongst the many thousands who have tried over the past 160-odd years.

I guess the point I’m making is that Incentivise makes far more appeal in the Caulfield Cup at $4.50 than he does at $8 in the Melbourne Cup, which looks very tough now, regardless of which way things go at Caulfield.

If he can’t win at Caulfield over 2400m, then he’s not likely to do so over 3200m at Flemington. If he does win at Caulfield, he will be bettering every Caulfield Cup winner ever bar Rising Fast.

Still, a Caulfield Cup will still look mighty fine on a mantelpiece … just as a G1 Makybe Diva Stakes trophy does.


BACKERS of MIAMI FLEISS might have the ghosts of KISUKANO ringing in their heads when she lines up this weekend.

Queensland metropolitan racing heads down the M1 to the Gold Coast for the club’s annual Pink Ribbon Cup meeting on Saturday.

Raisng money for Breast Cancer, the day has become one of the best on the ‘Coast’, with the whole course turning pink. It was granted stand-alone metropolitan status last year, where Kisukano was expected to win the feature race. She was sent out a $1.30 pop, but was bowled over by $16 chance EPIC GIRL.

Fast forward 12 months and it’s Miami Fleiss who is being served up deep into the red.

TAB is offering $1.50 about her chances to make it four wins in six starts in the $125,000 feature.

I expected her to come up reasonably short, but I have to admit at being taken aback by just how short!

This is the SPIRIT OF BOOM mare’s first test beyond 1200m and also first test in Open company, albeit against her own sex.
The Gold Coast was the venue for her first defeat, on a wet Jewel day in March. Her other defeat came via ELOQUENTLY, who bowled her over first up at Doomben after Miami was forced to do a power of work in the run.

She bounced back last time with a charmed run in front under 53kg. This can be a stiffer test this weekend.

I don’t want to bet against her, but by the same token, I won’t be charging into this price either.


MIAMI Fleiss headlines a powerful hand for premier trainer Tony Gollan on the Coast.

Gollan had a rare Saturday miss last week at Doomben, but has some heavy artillery to put on the float this week. A RIVER SOMEWHERE looked super impressive winning first up at the Doomben midweeks and she looks a great chance in the opening event on the card.

Then Gollan has THE MOVE and short-course specialist SUGAR BOOM giving him a strong hand in the 900m scamper, the aforementioned Miami Fleiss in the Pink Ribbon Cup and rounding out the day RUN FOR GLORY is top elect to win the Benchmark 85 Handicap under Leah Kilner’s 3kg claim.

TOKORIKI LAD is also a leading hope in the last race, while SAY HAYA, SEEINGISBELIEVING, PIZONIE and HOWDY ANGEL round out the Gollan representation on the day.

From a personal point of view, I’m keen to see A River Somewhere and The Move continue on their winning way and for Run For Glory to live up to his BALLISTIC BOY formline in the last.


IT was a shame to see CONVERGE ruled out of the Golden Rose after blood tests suggested he may be carrying an infection and subsequently being treated with antibiotics.

Hopefully he can recover quickly and be back for a revised spring preparation, or else be readied for a big autumn.
The form out of his Atkins win is shaping as the strongest in years.

Minor placegetters GIANNIS and TIGER OF MALAY fought out the Listed Dulcify at Kembla on Saturday, while RANCH HAND stepped up to dethrone INGRATITATING at Flemington. 

Check out the latest Futures markets here


A River Somewhere, R1, $3.50
Irish Sequel/Ocean Treaty, R5, $12/$7.50
Morethannumberone, R8, $2.25
Run For Glory, R9, $3.10

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.