Last year’s favourite for the Stradbroke Handicap Srikandi has her first start since that race in this Saturday’s G2 Victory Stakes (1200m) but despite the long lay-off, is challenging for favouritism at $5.00. She is one of six interstate visitors who also include co-favourite Knoydart and Dances On Stars who loves this particular meeting each year. In 2013 Dances On Stars ran third in the Gold Coast Guineas and in 2014, took out the Prime Minister’s Cup. He is rated a $41 chance though to make figure in three consecutive Gold Coast features. Joint favourite is Temple Of Boom who won this race last year at big odds (40/1) and in the process, postponed his retirement plans. The rising 9yo has continued to race well since and was ninth (half a length) in the remarkable blanket finish of the G1 Manikato Stakes earlier this year.
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1. TEMPLE OF BOOM – T Harrison (6)
Goes well fresh with his last two campaigns kicking off with a second to Chautauqua in the G3 Bobbie Lewis (1200m) and a close up eighth (1.8 lengths) to Fontelina in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1200m). No stranger to WFA racing and shouldn’t be too far away here either.
2. RIVER LAD – D Oliver (8)
After drawing wide in both the Moonga (1400m) and Emirates Stakes (1600m) during the Melbourne Spring Carnival and finishing well down the track in both events, last year’s Stradbroke Handicap winner was given a good spell. Tuned up for his return with a narrow Sunshine Coast barrier-trial win three weeks back but prepared to bet around him first up from what could shape up as a tricky draw if, as he usually does, he pushes forward.
3. SPEEDINESS – S Arnold (7)
The 7yo son of Testa Rossa has recorded four seconds, two at G1 level, from fifteen starts since recording his last win – 2013’s Bobbie Lewis Handicap. Capable galloper and the decision to by-pass Sydney and Melbourne over the past few months to concentrate on the Queensland Carnival, should prove to be a good move. Has performed well fresh previously and whilst he’ll be finishing well out wide, best runs of late have been second run back and when over a bit more ground.
4. ALMA’S FURY – J Byrne (9)
Trainer Tony Gollan took his galloper to W.A. after some big runs in Melbourne during the spring for a crack at the G1 Railway Stakes (1600m) but after settling on the pace from a wide draw, he weakened late to finishing eleventh and 3.8 lengths behind Elite Belle. Given a good break since and his efforts since joining the Gollan yard, and in Melbourne in-particular, which included a second to subsequent Group 1 winner Hucklebuck, could see him run better than his current price of $26 would suggest.
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5. ROCKET TO GLORY – L Tarrant (4)
Has led all the way to win his past two starts, the Carbine Club Gold Coast Stakes (1200m) and Listed Chief De Beers (1110m), defeating Architect and Cape Kidnappers respectively, making it four wins from his past eight starts. This is harder again though and being a standard weight-for-age event, he’ll receive no relief in terms of weight compared to his recent efforts. Honest galloper who’ll shoot forward, make his own luck and has a fitness edge on most of his competitors but still not sure that’ll be enough to see him through the final 100m at this level.
6. KNOYDART – J Bowman (2)
Given a freshen up since finishing sixth (3 lengths) in the G1 The Galaxy, an effort that was good considering he had to make his run home closer to the fence – not the ideal spot to be, and was only half a length off the second-placed horse. Winless in seven starts over the past year but five of them have been at the elite level, at which he has twice placed. Likes to find his feet early in his races but there should be enough pace on here to see him tearing home wider out.
7. DANCES ON STARS – B Avdulla (5)
Relished the wet conditions at this meeting last year to sweep home and take out the Listed Prime Minister’s Cup (1300m) – the race he was also nominated for Saturday. Drew wide, got back and made little impression in a leader dominated race when eighth (3.6 lengths) in last fortnight’s Listed Chief De Beers (1110m), his first run since November last year. Will take good benefit from that run and the bigger track plus a more genuine tempo suit however, might be aiming a bit too high at this level and WFA.
8. CAPE KIDNAPPERS – R McMahon (12)
Chased hard but just couldn’t reel in leader and eventual winner Rocket To Glory first up in the Listed Chief De Beers a fortnight ago. Typically strong performance first up and will take good benefit out of it but interesting to note, that of his nine career wins, only one has come at a distance beyond 1100m – and that was his third victory in 2011. Seldom runs a bad race but the poor draw and trip at this level make for significant question marks over him.
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9. HIDDEN WARRIOR – J Cassidy (10)
Returned from an eighth month break with a solid on-pace effort in last week’s G3 Hall Marks Stakes (1200m) when third (2.3 lengths) behind exciting pair Our Boy Malachi and Craftiness. Promising return but have to wonder, given he’s on the quick back-up, how much that took out of him being his first run back for a while and on a slow track.
10. WHITTINGTON – C Schofield (11)
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the best of this stallion, which co-incidentally came at this track in January of last year when he claimed the Magic Millions Sprint. Then with the Waterhouse yard, he spent time with Waller before coming to be under the care of John Thompson at the start of this year. His three starts for Thompson haven’t been of a standard that would suggest he’d be winning here though.
11. BALL OF MUSCLE – B Shinn (3)
Progressive sprinter from Joe Pride’s stables, he rounded out last campaign with victory in the Listed Takeover Target Stakes (1200m) at Gosford before returning to racing down the Flemington straight a fortnight ago, running a nose second to Hard Romp. Although a beaten favourite, he was having his first look down the straight course and gave the winner 9kgs. He has drawn perfectly in three, which should see him in the firing line for a long way and offering plenty of cheek.
12. SRIKANDI – D Browne (1)
Took all before her at his carnival last year, winning three in a row, including the G3 Glenlogan Park Stakes, before finishing third (1.1 lengths) to River Lad in the G1 Stradbroke Handicap. Hasn’t raced since and trainer Ciaron Maher has brought the daughter of Dubawi along slowly, giving her two trials in the past month the most recent of which she won in very impressive fashion. She’s capable of picking up from where she left off and being right in the thick of things here.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Feature race of the draw has drawn together a smart field. Srikandi looked very good in a recent trial win and drawing the inside will be an advantage and give Browne the option of taking a sit if the pace is too hot. It’s hard to know with any confidence how she’ll see out the last 100m but at $5.00, there’s good insurance with the place dividend. Knoydart gets his chance here with what should be a good speed up front. Like the engagement of Bowman who’ll be able to get right over the gelding and bring out the best in him. Another who’ll close well late is Speediness. Like the fact that they’ve targeted the Queensland carnival and he has run some bold races fresh in the past.
4. TEMPLE OF BOOM