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’.


After being under water on Tuesday, Doomben is set to improve to well into the soft range for Saturday’s Brisbane metro meeting.

Doomben Racecourse Manager Ross Smith suggests he and the team are due for a change of fortune, given they have bumped into three very wet days for midweek meetings in recent weeks.

Monday’s surface was not as wet as March 17, where times were the slowest in memory, but jockeys said it was still very testing ground. Naturally, the eight races caused plenty of damage and with the rail moving from Monday’s 8m to the 2.5m slot on Saturday, the inside 6m is likely to be the best going for this meeting.

“She’s bashed around about 10m out,” Smith said.

The plan is to roll the track on Friday and with sunny skies predicted for the remainder of the week, Smith can see it improving to a Soft (6) by race time.

Interestingly, Doomben has received 685mm this year compared to 665mm to the same time 12 months ago (the calendar year rainfall was 1053mm). However, February last year was the heaviest month (441mm), compared to March being the wettest month so far of 2021, with 296mm (compared to 79.5mm last year).

April 2021 (93.5mm) has already surpassed the 14mm received in the month last year.


SCONE trainer Brett Cavanough is firing off his first Queensland Winter Carnival salvo with FENDER at Doomben on Saturday.

PINNACLE PRINCE was also a Doomben acceptor, but Cavanough is leaning towards waiting for Hawkesbury next Wednesday after he drew the outside gate over the notorious short course start at Doomben.

Fender won his first four starts before a credible effort in Group 2 grade in Sydney at just his fifth start. Cavanough feels he has him forward enough to test the early favourite Amiche in the Benchmark 78 Handicap following a recent trial hitout at Scone, where he ran second to subsequent winner Total Recall without being pressured.

The trainer is eyeing off the Wagga Town Plate with Fender, but then plans to return to Queensland in a bid to qualify for some of the better races over Stradbroke Season.

Fender surely has strong credentials to test the favourite.  The Group 2 run was sound, even though the trainer said he was not at his best that day. Off a good gate with Ryan Maloney to ride, it’s going to make for an interesting contest.

Cavanough is also looking forward to saddling STREET POWER at Muswellbrook on Friday, a horse he thinks could be among the best in his stable and another earmarked for a potential trip north.


IN-FORM trainer David Vandyke has revealed he is set to resume racing horses at Eagle Farm.

Vandyke decided not to run his horses at the venue after a summer of racing, where he felt the surface was too hard and did not allow his horses to run at his best.

He has since been monitoring stewards’ reports following meetings at the track, speaking to riders and observing racing and this week he said he had seen enough improvement to return to racing at the venue.

The Sunshine Coast based trainer has been enjoying a hot streak over the past few months, with his horses striking at around the 40 per cent mark.

He has four runners accepted for Doomben this weekend, with AMICHE (Race 4) the most fancied, given her strong wet track credentials.  He also has HOLD THE LINE in the same race, while CLOAK is one of the top fancies in Race 3 and CONSTANT FLIGHT runs in the eighth event.


Rex Lipp is tipping his recent golden run can continue with comeback mare GEM OF SCOTLAND at Doomben on Saturday.

Lipp has two of the state’s best three-year-old's in the shape of Oaks-bound TYCOON EVIE and QTIS Jewel giant slayer SIMPLY FLY, while IN HIS STRIDE wound back the clock a week ago to win at Eagle Farm.

The latter is an acceptor at Doomben on Saturday, but Lipp isn’t 100 per cent committed to a start with the big 60.5kg impost. Gem Of Scotland however, is superbly placed this week back to the Class 6 Plate conditions, where she gets in very well based on her official handicap.

It is certainly an easier option than the Open Handicap first up and the set weights and penalties task against Jadentom and Outback Barbie last time at the Gold Coast.

Her first up run was very good, then you can completely forgive what happened at the Gold Coast last time. We know the Gem Of Scotland of old would win this race with a leg in the air. She doesn’t need to be as good as she was to win this week, but it shapes as a pivotal point in her comeback.

Given Lipp told Ben Dorries (Racenet/The Courier Mail) this week “she is firing” she looks a good gamble at the early $7.50.

It is a race where I am going to be happy to play a couple of runners.

WONDERFUL RIRI has been very good in two Queensland starts and back on wet ground looks a genuine tick for her. She’s trimmed up a little from her earliest quote, but at $5.50 it still allows you to back both her and Gem Of Scotland.

Check out the latest TAB Doomben markets here 


Good luck to Larry Cassidy, who makes a timely comeback from injury this weekend.

Cassidy has taken the ride on the Chris Anderson trained HALLOWED GIRL, in what will be his first race ride since February 28. He lost an iron at the Doomben jumpouts last month, leaving a small fracture in his wrist.

He rode work on Wednesday morning and declared himself fit to return.

Cassidy won twice on Hallowed Girl before being sidelined when she last raced.

It is fitting Cassidy should return the day Randwick hosts Day 1 of The Championships. Cassidy won Doncasters on Secret Savings (1997) and Sunline, as well as the AJC Derby for Bart Cummings on Ivory’s Irish and a T.J. Smith in its formative years on Ab Initio.

Check out the latest TAB Futures markets here 


Early doors, I thought FENDER (Race 4) was over the odds at $4.20 and a good chance to roll Amiche.

I am also keen to be with DEAL OF POWER (Race 6) at the $9.50 in early markets. This is not an overly strong race and he looked good ploughing through the wet ground to break his maiden over 1400m last time. The mile is going to suit even better.

EXPRESS PRINCESS (Race 5) has already netted a Saturday victory up here and she looks well placed to land another in this modest looking race, following a tidy effort on Heavy ground at home last time out. Happy to play at the $3.50.

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.