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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.

HOW TO TACKLE THE TIARA 

SINCE 2007 the Tattersall’s Tiara (formerly the Winter Stakes) has been the final G1 of the Australian racing season.

First run in 1989, it surged to its G1 status off the back of top class performers like DANE RIPPER and BONANOVA winning the race in its earlier years. 

It’s never going to be the strongest race on the calendar, but for making the value of potential broodmares, it holds its own.

Recent winners SRIKANDI ($2M), INVINCIBELLA ($1.3M) and TOFANE ($3.1M) all made seven figures as broodmare prospects subsequent to winning this race. 

The pattern for finding the winner has been relatively simple (in theory!) since the race went to G1 level, with 12 of the 14 winners coming through either the Stradbroke or Dane Ripper Stakes.

The exceptions have been PEAR TART, who won the Queensland Guineas, and MISS COVER GIRL, who ran fourth in the QTC (Moreton) Cup. 

I suspect that tally might be added to this year.

The two coming through this year’s Stradbroke are STARTANTES and BROOKLYN HUSTLE. They were beaten a margin either side of four lengths in that race and as a result bring a last start rating that is going to be short of the mark. So, despite the market having them $9.50 and $11 respectively, I’m looking to others. 

Seven of the acceptors come through the Dane Ripper, although SALATEEN and APRIL RAIN need scratchings to secure a run. 

That leaves PALAISIPAN, WRITTEN BEAUTY, ENCHANTED HEART, BRING THE RANSOM and VANGELIC as those trying to build on the Dane Ripper record. Palaisipan is attempting to be the sixth filly or mare to do the double (from 24 others that have attempted the feat). 

But the TAB market is giving long odds about the tally being added to, either by the winner or those behind her, with each of them marked $31 or longer. 

The two favourites are ANNAVISTO ($5) and SNAPDANCER ($6). The latter relinquished top spot after drawing gate 21 – meaning she will jump from 17, a barrier no horse has won this race from. 

She needs to prove she can get the 1400m, but she brings comfortably the best last start rating after spreadeagling her rivals in the Sangster and has the speed to offset the draw.

Annavisto is off a last start second at G1 level in Sydney on what was the heaviest ground of the carnival.

She’s been in Queensland a good while and has had two trials. Have the trials looked like G1 winning gallops? You wouldn’t say so, but I’m always reluctant to be too harsh on good horses based on what they do in trials.

What doesn’t excite me is the price. Here she is trying to buck the history of the race coming off a 77-day break and $5 in a very evenly matched field looks short enough, particularly with other pressure in the race up the pointy end. 

Last year NUDGE came out of the Magic Millions National Classic and was best of the rest behind Tofane.

I’m looking to the same race this year in making my selection.

Nudge ran well again, but was outpointed by KIKU, who reeled off a monster sectional in the slowly run race.

Back to 1400m from the mile is the trick, but as mentioned, good speed here and Kiku is sure to be strong to the line. 

That puts her back somewhere towards the Carbine Club form from last year and at $13 in the market, I give her a really good chance. 

SNOWDENS TO CAP OFF DREAM CARNIVAL

TEAM Snowden have had a field day at the carnival and while NAJMATY isn’t there to contest the Tiara, the stable still brings a strong hand to the meeting.

Market framers are guarded about their Magic Millions Guineas winner KING OF SPARTA, who is marked nice and short to win the Healy Stakes (Race 9). 

The $2.90 vs the older horses doesn’t look overly enticing to me, so I’m interested to see whether other punters want to gravitate to him at that price, or wait for potentially better on Saturday.

Tommy Berry switches from RANGES to ride the three-year-old, who has had two trials in Sydney to prepare. 

His first up record is sound enough, but this is surely tougher than chasing Bachanalia and co as he did in the Gosford Guineas last December. 

He won the MM Guineas second up, but the form from that race has hardly been franked since either. 

I regard Ranges as the better play of the pair, with $10 looking a nice price for a horse that’s going to box seat on speed. 

The other formline there is the Moreton Cup, where Baller meets those behind him worse at the weights. I have to take him on with the 60kg here, with SHOOTING FOR GOLD weighted to turn the tables.

He’s now however drawn to turn the tables! But it is the final event of the carnival and it may be that jockeys are looking to get away from the fence late in the day. We will leave that to William Pike, but at the same price as Ranges, I’m happy to have something on both of them at the odds. 

NOTHING COMMON ABOUT THIS THREE-YEAR-OLD

UNCOMMON JAMES was taken out of the three-year-old race at Ipswich last week because of the wide draw and now runs against older horses in his first run for 54 weeks. 

TAB made its opinion of his talents well known by going up $2.30 on Wednesday and punters made it known they had an even higher opinion, backing him to $2.10 by Thursday morning. 

He brings a compelling trial to this race, breezing past SHAMATON and TILIANAM, with Annavisto another of those in his wake at Doomben earlier this month. 

He took care of MAOTAI when we last saw him and that horse showed enough flashes of brilliance this season to say the form is solid.

I’m siding with the O’Dea-Hoysted trained three-year-old to make a winning return. 

CAN JOHNNY ROCK ON? 

THE Tatt’s Life Member Stakes, which started life as the Australia Post Stakes, returns to its rightful distance of 1400m this year and has attracted a deep field.

This race has been a good one over the years, with future G1 winners like SIRMIONE and SHELLSCRAPE successful.

JOHNNY ROCKER attempts to go three from three with Barry Lockwood extending his campaign after the dominant Oxlade Stakes win a fortnight ago, where he ran his rivals ragged from the front. 

STROLL also comes off a last start stakes win, while CHAYSE ‘N’ ARTIE should have finished closer to POLITICAL DEBATE in his most recent run. 

All three are hovering around the $5/$5.50 mark with TAB at the moment. 

There’s a host of others coming through similar races that should make this one of the best betting races on the card. 

Johnny brings the best numbers for mine … but will the 1400m find him out?

BEST BETS

Seduction Queen, Race 1, $3.60
Uncommon James, Race 2, $2.10
London Banker, Race 4, $5.50

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.

 

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