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The Ex Factor with Nathan Exelby

Well-known Queensland 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.

WHAT TO DO WITH MAZU? 

WILL Mazu be the horse to offset a miserable recent run of outs for three-year-old's in the TAB Doomben 10,000?

MAZU has been favourite for the Group 1 feature ever since the field picture became clear and with the prospect of a very Heavy track, he had shortened right up last weekend.

But the switch to Eagle Farm, where the surface will not be as rain affected, has seen his price drift out a shade as the week has worn on.

The Peter and Paul Snowden trained gelding is shooting for six straight wins and aiming to give Triple Crown Syndications their second win in the race after REDZEL won five years ago. 

Standing in his way is a solid field comprising five Group 1 winners, a couple of other Group winning three-year-olds from this season and COUNT DE RUPEE and ISOTOPE, both of which have won races valued at $1Million in the last six months. 

According to Malcolm McLaren’s outstanding Form Focus service, three-year-olds have won the 10,000 on 28 occasions.

But since the race was made a WFA event in 1997 and the three-year-old ACCOMPLICE won, there’s been just four of 23 Doomben 10,000s won by the youngsters. 

LAURIE’S LOTTERY won in 1999, BEL ESPRIT was successful in 2003 and then SEA SIREN and EPAULETTE went back to back in 2012-13.

Since Epaulette, there has been nine three-year-olds contest the race, with just one minor placing – DERRYN in 2017. 

In recent years they have proven a touch costly. RUSSIAN REVOLUTION was unplaced as the $3.50 favourite in 2017. Wild Ruler was unplaced 12 months ago as a $5.50 second elect. 

Mazu seemingly has the right credentials to change the recent pattern, a fact borne out by the fact an agreement was struck on Wednesday with The Star and Arrowfield Stud for him to run in The Everest for the next two years. 

It’s a big endorsement for Mazu’s ability and given the current ‘big-name’ sprinters aren’t there this weekend, he needs to stand up and showcase his credentials.

He has certainly proven to be an outstanding wet tracker, but I don’t think he should be pigeon-holed. Last spring before going for a break, he clocked a tick over 69 seconds for the 1200m at Randwick, comfortably beating a horse who then ran very well in the Coolmore Stud Stakes. 

On the map he looks like getting into a very good spot – something that can’t be said for other fancied runners ENTRIVIERE and Isotope – and I think he’s going to be up to the task.

FILLY CAN TOPPLE THE BOYS IN ROUGH HABIT 

The Rough Habit Plate brings together an eclectic mix of three-year-olds as they warm up for the Queensland Derby in a fortnight. 

We have those coming through the Queensland Guineas, an emerging Kiwi and an ex-Kiwi filly coming off a dominant win in the Frank Packer Plate in Sydney. 

VERONA runs for the powerful Maher-Eustace stable after beating the boys in the Packer Plate in Sydney. The beaten favourite that day was STRAIGHT ARRON, who would be a warm favourite for this had he turned up. 

Verona had been tested up to Group 2 grade in New Zealand over the summer before joining the new stable and she revelled in the wet at Randwick.

I’m backing her to go on with the job here and prove superior to those coming through the Guineas, headed by CHARACTER and DARK DESTROYER, who are both potentially suspect at this trip. 

PINARELLO brings strong NZ form and is the one that could emerge as the big Derby player here, but I’m going to stick with the filly. 

‘BOOM’ OR BUST FOR BABIES? 

The Spirit Of Boom (Champagne) Classic looks a tough affair on paper and I can’t see myself getting too involved. 

For mine, it looks a lesser race than the Ken Russell Memorial won by NETTUNO last week. 

At least that’s what it looks like right now. It wouldn’t surprise if something emerged on Saturday, as it’s a race with a rich history of unearthing top line talent.

But which horse that might be is a difficult assignment to work out. 

OVERSEAS FORM TO STAND UP 

PALACE PIER was ranked among the world’s best horses through 2020 and 2021, so using him as a reference for a Benchmark 85 Handicap in Brisbane looks a solid enough methodology.

ACQUITTED ran second to Palace Pier in June of 2020 before that horse went on to win a string of Group 1 races.

Acquitted didn’t go on with the job in the same fashion, but he obviously did enough subsequently to impress the astute eyes of the Australian Bloodstock team, who have placed him with Kris Lees since he arrived in Australia. 

I liked his trials and then first up in Australia he travelled into the race like the winner, but seemed to lose his rhythm after just putting in a bad stride at the 200m on the very heavy going. 

He will strike firmer footing this week and I think the early odds about his chances are very appealing. 

Hopefully Sam Clipperton will be bringing up a race-to-race double after he wins the 10,000 on Mazu. 

BEST BETS 

Shamaton, Race 1, $5.50
Diamil, Race 2, $3.60
Kisukano, Race 6, $10
Acquitted, Race 9, $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.

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