Barrier beneficial to favourite Converge’s Atkins tilt

Connections plan to use Converge’s better barrier to advantage in Saturday’s Group 1 J.J. Atkins, but are also mindful of not dulling his brilliant turn of foot.

Converge turned in one of the best ‘beaten’ runs of the Queensland carnival when he stormed from last to just miss — after striking a little trouble in the straight — in the BRC Sires last month. 


Off the back of that performance, Converge has been installed as a warm favourite for the Atkins, firming even further after drawing gate five, compared to key betting rival Port Louis drawing out in 13.

Co-trainer Adrian Bott had been hoping for a good draw so Converge didn’t have to concede so much ground this time.

“No doubt there’s benefit to riding him conservatively. He has a great turn of foot as we have seen. We saw that before going into the Sires and that was the plan going into that run,” Bott said.

“From that barrier we had, it forced us to go back further than we anticipated in the run. Hopefully [on Saturday] land in a position where he’s a bit more prominent in the race.”

Converge turned in a brilliant course proper gallop before the Sires, but Bott said his work was framed differently on Tuesday as he prepared to go back to the mile.

“With the benefit of that run, [Tuesday’s work] was enough to keep him up to the mark. He didn’t need to be asked as much,” Bott said.

“He worked over a little further, but I still really liked the way he went about it and that’s the main thing.

“He went into [the Sires] with a good bit of improvement to come out of it and it was good to see him take that improvement in the work we saw [Tuesday].”

Bott and his training partner Gai Waterhouse also have Volcanic Rock on the back-up from his win in The Phoenix last Saturday.

“There’s no queries about a strong mile for him. He’s a horse that keeps improving, so it’s difficult to get a gauge on where his true potential is,” he said.

“No doubt we’re raising the bar, so it will be interesting to see how he steps up. He’s pulled up incredibly well from the run.”

Waterhouse is chasing her third win in the Atkins, having won the race back-to-back with Romantic Touch and Almalad in 2013-14.

Gai is also seeking a third Brisbane Cup success, having won with Tullamore (2011) and three years ago as co-trainer with Bott when Sedanzer landed the race.

The pair have Knight’s Order running Saturday, on the back-up from a win at Rosehill last Saturday.

“He’s starting to his straps now this campaign. He’s in great form at present and it looks a really nice race for him,” Bott said.