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’.


WE’VE heard plenty of commentary in recent weeks proclaiming that “Jamie Kah on” for another rider should be noted in the official gear changes, such is the frequency she wins on such horses.

It’s a move that worked for VEGA ONE, who notched a maiden G1 success in the Kingsford Smith Cup under Kah a fortnight ago.
So how does that same equation work when the ‘gear change’ is Kah off?

Let’s look at some statistics to put some context around the ‘Kah on’ hysteria.

Since August 2019, Kah has had 764 rides on horses that had another rider at their previous start for 132 wins and a 7% profit on investment (based on flat staking). When you zone in on those same runners when they start favourite, it’s 63 from 140 (45%) for a 21% profit.

On last start winners where Kah is replacing another rider, the tally is 16 from 25 for 66% profit when they start favourite.

So you can see there is plenty of merit in the theory around Kah jumping aboard.

So what happens when the opposite happens and Kah is replaced by another rider?

On all runners that were ridden by Kah at their previous start and a different jockey this time, the figure since August 2019 is 84 from 783 at a 34% loss on turnover. On favourites, the tally is 35 from 116 for a 21 per cent loss.

The one saving grace – and this now relates specifically to Vega One – is that where a last start winner starts favourite (with the new jock), the strike rate is eight from 19 for 13 per cent profit. 

Vega One fans will be hoping that profitable trend continues, with the Tony Gollan-trained runner firming to a clear favourite after Tuesday night’s barrier draw.

Rachel King takes the hot seat on Vega One for Saturday’s TAB Stradbroke Handicap.

In the same time frame, King has had a good record herself when taking over from other riders. On runners one to eight in the market, she actually has turned a profit for punters under that scenario.

On favourites, she has struck 30 times from 80 attempts (37%) for a 5.6 per cent profit on turnover. From those favourites that were last start winners, she’s won six of 17 for a 24 per cent profit.

They are all just figures of course and the real question is whether Vega One can repeat what he did in the Kingsford Smith Cup under handicap conditions on Saturday.

I think he can.

In his two runs before the KS Cup, he loomed to win, but just didn’t quite finish off. That was clearly because of the amount of time he had away from racing. He’s there now and ominously, trainer Tony Gollan says he has improved since that race.

The fact the stable is in red hot form also adds confidence.

BALLER went to G2 success last week and SETANTA has gone from Class 1 to a stakes winner.

I know the record of favourites in the Stradbroke has been abysmal for a good while now, but the profile of an in-form horse with genuine WFA form getting into a handicap with just 53kg is an irresistible one to pass up.

Check out the latest TAB markets here.


THE market did its usual shuffle after Tuesday night’s barrier draw, with WILD PLANET easing off a wide draw and Vega One firming up.
But the fact is, this is one race where statistics say a wide barrier draw doesn’t count against you.

From the last 30 years, 15 winners have started from double figure gates.

TYZONE drew the carpark last year, jumping from 16 and he was able to get there, with NICCANOVA (third) and Vega One (fourth) also jumping from double digit gates.

IMPENDING (run at Doomben that year), UNDER THE LOUVRE, RIVER LAD and LINTON also overcame wider alleys.

The pace set up in Saturday’s $1.5M feature should bode well for those off the speed, so the likes of Wild Planet, IMAGING, SUBPOENAED, THE HARROVIAN and TOFANE shouldn’t be disadvantaged by where they have drawn.

Other notable Stradbroke statistics revolve around the weights.

MR QUICKIE will have to carry the biggest weight to success since ROUGH HABIT if he’s to win under 56.5kg. The biggest since Rough Habit was SHOW A HEART with 56kg in 2002. The 53-55kg range has accounted for half the winners since 1991.

Check out the latest TAB Futures markets here.


HUGH Bowman’s poor luck with wide draws in Queensland’s G1 races this Stradbroke season continued when PORT LOUIS drew one from the outside in the J.J. Atkins.

MUGATOO drew the inside in the Doomben Cup, but broke down. Since then, it’s been mostly wide for the Hall Of Famer.

SENOR TOBA jumped from 18 in the Derby, while Port Louis was out of 16 in the $1M G2 Sires. Then DUAIS drew out in 11 last week but was good enough to overcome it.

Will Port Louis be good enough to do the same?

Bowman gave him every possible chance in the Sires, bursting through the pack where he looked the likely winner for a few strides before peaking on his run late.

No doubt he will be fitter for it and we’ve seen him very strong at the end of a mile in Sydney, but can he turn the tables on CONVERGE?

The Waterhouse-Bott-trained son of Frankel was simply outstanding in the Sires, shuffled right back from a bad gate, then finding trouble before charging at the end.

He seemed to appreciate being ridden more conservatively early and that’s likely to be the tactics again, but no matter what happens, you have to assume he will be at least a couple of lengths in front of Port Louis in the run, which gives him a massive advantage.


JAMES McDonald has said he wants to see ZAAKI repeat the dose in Saturday’s $1.2Million SKY Racing Q22 before declaring him the right horse for the Cox Plate and ratings gurus are thinking along similar lines.

McDonald told News Corp’s Ben Dorries that Zaaki does not need to improve much off the Doomben Cup win to be a Cox Plate contender, but “he has still got to meet that expectation of consistently high standards, so I’m looking forward to seeing if he can back it up.”

BetSmart’s Daniel O’Sullivan had similar sentiments after assessing the Doomben Cup win at 110 on his scale – which is the best performance in Australia this season by a horse at 1600m and beyond (the sprinters CLASSIQUE LEGEND, NATURE STRIP, BIVOUAC and EDUARDO are ahead of him).

O’Sullivan noted that if Zaaki were to maintain that level, he would dominate G1 WFA racing in this country, but he mused it was more likely he would revert back to being a 104.5-type horse (like his Hollindale rating), which still makes him super competitive at G1 level, but not dominant.

He suggested it’s also possible he regresses back to his 100-102 previous rating levels.

Up here in Brisbane, we would love to see another performance up around the 110 mark to really frank his status as a potential spring star.

Timeform took a similarly positive view of the Doomben Cup performance by Zaaki, assessing him at 126 on their scale.

That puts him behind only ANTHONY VAN DYCK (127 in the Caulfield Cup) in terms of 1600m+ horses this season.


MARKET framers have AYRTON at an odds-on quote again when he runs in the G3 Gunsynd Classic on Saturday.

Co-trainer Mick Price has said this week he’s a better horse than he was before the Fred Best Classic and is excited by the prospect of getting to 1600m.

The testing material this time looks to be ELLSBERG, who comes off a high rating second against older horses last start in Sydney.

In simple terms, Ellsberg has to be a chance to beat Ayrton, based on the fact he had a good margin to spare over PRIVATE EYE, who then ran past Ayrton’s subsequent conqueror APACHE CHASE in the Queensland Guineas.

We know it’s not as straight forward as that, but I feel Ayrton needs to step up another notch from what we saw in the Fred Best and more like his second win at Caulfield.

While Apache Chase is well-established, fourth placed PALLADAS was only a short margin away from Ayrton in what turned out a blanket finish.

I’m not sure Ayrton really let down on the Eagle Farm track.

I am certain he will be a topliner when he heads back home for the spring, but at $1.70 vs $4 Ellsberg on Saturday, I am giving the Sydneysider a chance to roll him.


Converge, Race 7, No.2, $3.50

1 Vega One, 2 Imaging, 3 Wild Planet, 4 The Harrovian, 5 Subpoenaed.

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.