Two of Sydney’s leading trainers Gai Waterhouse and the Hawkes Racing camp will go head to head in this weekend’s Group 1 Doomben Cup in Brisbane with their respective runners, Pornichet ($4.20) and Leebaz ($5.00), dominating early markets for the $650k feature. The best of Chris Waller’s five runners is I’m Imposing according to the market, who at $9.00 is one of only three more runners under double figures odds. Mares Silent Achiever ($9.00) and Gypsy Diamond ($8.00) the others. Waller has won two of the past five editions of this race with Beaten Up and Metal Bender, ran third with Junior last year and placed again when My Kingdom Of Fife was a head second to Scenic Shot in 2011.
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1. GREEN MOON – C Schofield (14)
As expected first up off a five month spell over an unsuitable 1400m, the Melbourne Cup winner was ran off his feet first in the G3 Victoria Handicap and finished second to last before making the trek to the Gold Coast for the Hollindale Stakes three weeks late. From the widest gate in a field of fourteen, the now 8yo was caught wide for most of the trip just off the pace but stuck on better than he was entitled to given the run, finishing sixth (3 lengths) behind Leebaz. Fitter again and the extra furlong are in his favour but what is not is the gate. He’d have to wind the clock back a few seasons to be winning from out there.
2. FORETELLER – J McDonald (9)
A month’s freshen up after some plain performances in Sydney and a return to Queensland, where the Chris Waller trained galloper has performed well in the past, saw a much improved performance from the 8yo in the Hollindale Stakes (1800m) a fortnight ago. He settled well back in the run but was seen extending well late through the centre of the field to finishing fourth behind Leebaz. Strangely though, he hasn’t been placed at his last six outings over this trip – admittedly there were in some of Australia’s premier races, and only one of his eleven career wins has been beyond 1800m however, going on his finishing effort last start, it’s hard to leave him out of the better hopes.
3. MORIARTY – J Bowman (5)
Produced an excellent effort in G1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) first up from a fifteen week spell when eighth (4.2 lengths) behind Real Impact, Criterion and Kermode. With that run under his belt, and being such a strong form reference, thought we may have seen more of him when he contested the Hollindale Stakes at his following and most recent start a month later. However, the 7yo got back in a leader dominated race and finished tenth (4.6 lengths). Enjoyed his time in Queensland late year, winning the Eagle Farm Cup and running second in the Brisbane Cup, and could be a sharp improver here with Bowman and a good gate.
4. HAWKSPUR – T Berry (2)
For the first time in a number of starts, the 5yo started to show some positive form and finished third in both the G3 Sky High (2000m) and Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) in Sydney behind Hartwell and Pornichet respectively.
Unfortunately he couldn’t replicate the above efforts at his most recent start, the G2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m), where he failed to make any impression from the back of the field and finished second to last, over eight lengths from Leebaz. Dominated the 3yo races at this Carnival two years back but his recent form suggests he’ll struggle upon his return to Brisbane.
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5. BANCO MO – D Holland (7)
The 7yo brought his outstanding Tasmanian form to the mainland last start to register a tough on-pace victory in the Listed Mornington Cup, defeating Big Memory and Don Dormer. Trainer Scott Brinton has the son of Tough Speed ticking over nicely at the moment but a step up to G1 company at WFA, he carried 56kgs to victory at Mornington, and he’ll need to improve again and hard to see him doing so by enough to be winning here.
6. WEARY – G Schofield (8)
Started this campaign solidly, winning the G2 Expressway Stakes and placing behind Contributer in the Apollo Stakes but his form has tapered off quickly since then. He drew wide and got well back in the G1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) at his most recent start and whilst the jockey wasn’t overly aggressive on him from that position in the straight, he finished fairly in a leader dominated race to finish eighth (3.2 lengths) behind Dissident. At his best a forward showing would not surprise but hard to include with any confidence given his last three starts. A wet track would help.
7. LEEBAZ – J Byrne (11)
Looked to have the JRA Plate in his keeping topping the Randwick rise two starts back but on the slow track conditions, the 5yo son of Zabeel couldn’t extend enough to hold off the fast finishing Gypsy Diamond who bettered him by half a length on the line. The Hawkes Racing representative made a mends the following week though, on firmer footing, with a good win the Hollindale Stakes (1800m) on the Gold Coast. The perfect preparation for this race and the Doomben track should suit is racing style of sitting on or setting, the pace of the race. Should take plenty to run down.
8. I’M IMPOSING – T Angland (6)
Did all he could do first run back from a spell in the G1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m), an exceptional form reference, where from the widest barrier in a field of fourteen, he finished tenth (4.9 lengths) behind Contributor.
A month later he start in last fortnight’s G2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) where he finished strongly from well back in a leader dominated race, to run third (1.7 lengths) behind Leebaz. Four of his seven career wins have been over this trip and whilst all have been in races of much lesser quality than this one, his last start effort cannot be dismissed lightly.
9. ESCADO – S Baster (3)
Three weeks after running a neck second to Sertorius in the G3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield, the Matt Laurie trained 5yo lined up on the Gold Coast in the Hollindale Stakes (1800m). Drawing the inside meant the son of Casino Prince was caught on the fence for most of the trip and ultimately in the worst part of the track but still wanted to see more fight from him late than his twelfth finishing position, 5.3 lengths behind the winner Leebaz. Has threatened to win a good race for a while but fact remains, it has been a long time now since his last win, his third overall, and hard to see him breaking that drought in this company.
10. PORNICHET – B Shinn (4)
Made light of his 60.5kgs impost to record a length victory in last weekend’s Toowoomba Cup (2000m). That victory followed an impressive win in the G3 Neville Sellwood Stakes, also over 2000m, and a strong fifth (2 lengths) in the Doncaster Handicap at his starts prior. Yet to run a bad race in seven Australian starts and his recent form reads very well for this race. The former import looks set to figure prominently here despite the quick back-up.
11. HOPFGARTEN – D Browne (13)
Like Pornichet, he missed getting a start on the Gold Coast and therefore, took part in last week’s Toowoomba Cup (2150m) where he chased Pornichet home honestly, finishing third (1.5 lengths). He was jumping from 1650m with three weeks between runs so would expect him to take benefit from that outing but does meet Pornichet 2kg worse at the weights this weekend. Genuine galloper but he’ll find this grade, which he takes on for the first time, from a wide draw, too tough.
12. ADDICTIVE HABIT – M Cahill (15)
New Zealander galloper who returned from a twenty week spell with a solid on-pace second, under 59kgs, in Open company before weakening from fourth position on the turn to run ninth (6.5 lengths) in the G1 Easter Handicap at Ellerslie. After his first up effort and given the soft track conditions, a surface he generally relishes, disappointing to see the 5yo drop away last start. Winner of four of his last eight starts but at this grade, from such a poor draw, would be happy to leave him out.
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13. SILENT ACHIEVER –
Finished unplaced, but not far off the winner, in each of her four starts over the Sydney Autumn Carnival before a four week break and then lining up on the Gold Coast as the 5/1 favourite for the G2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m). She was caught wide from gate eleven but never looked a genuine hope as the pressure went out heading into the turn, finishing eighth, and 4.4 lengths behind Leebaz. Trainer said she’ll improve with that run under her belt but just not sure she will, on what is likely to be a firmer surface, by enough to be winning here.
14. GYPSY DIAMOND – (1)
Finished strongly courtesy of a gem of a ride from Sam Clipperton to win the JRA Plate, defeating subsequent winner of the Hollindale Stakes Leebaz, before contesting last Friday’s Wagga Gold Cup where the 4yo mare was assigned top weight of 58kgs. Somewhat surprisingly, the daughter of Not A Single Doubt led and boxed on strongly from that position to run third (1.1 lengths) behind Landlocked, who carried 54.5kgs. Going well but this is a big step up in class without any compensation at the weights and could only come into calculations should the track be rain-effected.
15. EPINGLE – (12)
Mick Kent’s mare bounced back sharply after a poor first up performance at Flemington, to record a strong victory in the G3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m) on the Gold Coast where she defeating Index Link by half a length. She was ridden closer to the speed than normal in the Chairman’s and jockey Hugh Bowman had the daughter of Pins in travelling well throughout. She will improve again after that run, which saw her step up from a mile to 2000m but under WFA conditions around the smaller Doomben circuit, would be more confident in her chances if this was over slightly further.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Leebaz and Addictive Habit lead from wider gates with Gypsy Diamond and Pornichet utilising their good draws and settling handy. Pornichet gets the chance to track Leebaz the whole way here with a perfect run and is the rightful favourite. Also not far off the pace from gate six will be Hugh Bowman and Moriarty. Think he could be the improver from the Waller team. Trainer has an exceptional record in this race and Foreteller and I’m Imposing were excellent in the Hollindale Stakes, traditionally the best form reference for this race.