It probably wasn’t the race Ballarat trainer Darren Weir had in mind for this Saturday’s Doomben meeting, but the combination of an untimely injury to stable-star Trust In A Gust and the emergence of Master Of Arts, means Weir will figure in the Queensland Derby rather than the Stradbroke Handicap as planned. Weir’s charge ran an unlucky second in the G2 Grand Prix Stakes, traditionally the best form reference for this race, is on the second line of betting at $5.50 behind New Zealand’s Werther, impressive winner of last week’s G2 Eagle Farm Cup. Only Upham, winner of the Grand Prix Stakes, in the remainder of the capacity field is under double figure odds at $9.00. Chris Waller has three runners entered with the pick of his trio according to the market being Saddler’s Lake ($10.00). The High Chaparral gelding who likes to roll along out in front can’t take a trick when it comes to the barrier draws though and for the third consecutive time, as drawn a double-figure barrier.
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1. WERTHER – Jim Byrne (1)
Proved much too good when taking on the older horses in last week’s G2 Eagle Farm Cup (2200m), running out a comprehensive 2.3 length victor. That continued his outstanding recent form which has seen him win three of his last five outings and the son of Tavistock is primed to better that strike rate again here after drawing perfectly in gate one.
2. UPHAM – Kerrin McEvoy (12)
Rewarded for his recent consistent performances with a 1.3 length win in last fortnight’s G3 Grand Prix Stakes, defeating Redoutable Heart and the unlucky Master Of Arts. A ten out of ten ride by McEvoy last start saw the Peter Moody trained galloper in the box seat throughout. It’ll require a similar effort from the same Jockey again this weekend, for as he did last start, the son of Mastercraftsman as again drawn wider out. An honest galloper who only needs half a chance in the run to be competitive.
3. SADLER’S LAKE – Blake Shinn (18)
Dominated from the front to take out the G3 Rough Habit Plate (2000m) two starts back before the early work from a wide barrier when contesting the G3 Grand Prix Stakes, took its toll late and he finished fifth (1.8 lengths) behind Upham. Very good effort last start despite being unplaced given he draw the widest gate in a big field and was never given a moment’s piece up front. Unfortunately, after Wednesday’s barrier draw, the Chris Waller trained galloper faces a similar task this weekend.
4. JUMBO PRINCE – Timothy Bell (10)
An improving colt from the Michael Nolen stables, the son of Outback Prince has produced solid runs in the G3 Rough Habit and G3 Grand Prix Stakes at his two most recent outings. He finished strongly from midfield to run third to Sadler’s Lake – who dominated from the front, in the Rough Habit before drawing wide and pushing forward in the Grand Prix, where he stuck on tenaciously for sixth (1.9 lengths) behind Upham. Showing good form in all of the right lead-up race and should get a smoother run in transit this weekend compared to last start.
5. MAGICOOL – James Winks (17)
After running fourth behind impressive filly Delicacy in the SA Derby, (Werther third) the Mark Kavanagh trained runner returned to Flemington where he toughed out a neck win over Kenjorwood in the Banjo Paterson Series Heat (2000m). Good effort last time out against the older horses and the softer track in the SA Derby, the form out of which is very good, probably wasn’t his preferred conditions. Has shown enough in recent runs to warrant some consideration but the draw will make this tough.
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6. WORTH CAUSE – Justin Stanley (11)
Secured a lovely run from the inside gate when contesting the Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) two starts back but was no match for subsequent Oaks winner Winx late, finishing third (3.3 lengths), before dropping back in the field from his wide gate in the G3 Grand Prix Stakes (2020m). He was winding up nicely inside the final 100m and crossed the line in seventh spot (3.2 lengths) behind Upham. It looks as though the distance will suit Rob Heathcote’s galloper and did beat Upham comfortably recently on the Gold Coast.
7. HIGH MIDNIGHT – Tim Clark (7)
The High Chaparral gelding made it two wins in a row and three from six overall with a slugging finishing in a BM 72 (2000m) at Randwick a fortnight ago. Got a lovely run last time out and whilst he’s an improving type from the right yard – Bart and James Cummings, an event of this nature might be a bit early in his career at this stage.
8. QUICK STRIKE – Tommy Berry (9)
Given a month off after finishing fifth (2.1 lengths) in the ATC Derby and was good late in a BM 75 (1500m) at Rosehill before travelling north and contesting the G3 Grand Prix Stakes (2020m). The Chris Waller trained galloper tracked into the race nicely as the speed picked up leaving the 600m but was dour in the run home, finishing eleventh (4.1 lengths) behind Upham. Fitter and longer again suits however, appears to have too much to turn around on that run to be winning here.
9. REDOUTABLE HEART – James McDonald (2)
He was given every chance in the G3 Grand Prix Stakes and ran his typically honest race, finishing second (1.3 lengths) to Upham and had drawn a gate that should see him get a very similar run here. The well-bred son of Redoute’s Choice has only missed a place once in six starts but still only has the one win to his name.
10. MASTER OF ARTS – Glen Boss
Originally with Warwick Farm trainer Joe Pride, this son of Mastercraftsman has been quickly making a name for himself under the guidance of Ballarat Trainer Darren Weir. He recorded a head win at Caulfield over 2000m before lining up as an $8 chance in the G3 Grand Prix Stakes at Doomben a fortnight where he experience nothing but bad luck in the straight when looking for a run. He crossed the line in third position (1.4 lengths) but with more room, may have given Upham something to worry about late. Improving type who will be hard to beat here.
11. CHILLIN WITH DYLAN – Ryan Wiggins (19)
The Dylan Thomas colt only has the one win from fourteen starts to his name but despite the poor record, his closing efforts in both the Rough Habit Plate and Grand Prix Stakes, where he finished fourth in both (beaten 3.4 lengths and 1.4 lengths respectively), see him as a live chance here. The Ben Currie trained galloper look as though he’ll enjoy the 2200m trip on the weekend and just needs to be within striking distance on the turn – which unfortunately after Wednesday’s barrier trial was conducted, doesn’t look like being the case. May have to give them too much start.
12. THERMOGENIC – Craig Williams (6)
The half-brother to Group 1 winner Nechita recorded his second career win at Flemington in his most recent outing (3yo Handicap over 1600m) courtesy of a great ride from Craig Williams. The Phillip Stokes representative tried his hand at a few better races in the past and in most of them, been well accounted for. He won’t find this event any easier than his previous races and despite having a good gate and jockey in his corner, looks to be a bit out of his comfort zone here.
13. INAGURATION – Hugh Bowman (3)
Experienced a horror run in the G3 Grand Prix Stakes at his most recent out, posted three deep for the duration of the race, and no surprise to see him drop out in the straight and finish fourteenth (7.1 lengths) behind stable-mate Upham. Previous start saw him close steadily from near last in the G3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m) to run 3.7 lengths fifth behind Saddler’s Lake who dictated proceedings from in front. Should secure a lovely run here from three and that could see a sharp improvement however, for him to be among the leading contenders, would like to see a little bit of give in the ground.
14. RISING LUCK – (8)
Was sent out favourite for the 3yo race at 2200m at Ipswich at his most recent start and after securing a lovely run throughout, didn’t let punters down, saluting by head. That was only his second win from twelve starts and it had to be a lot more impressive than it was for him to be giving a serious hope here.
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15. SPUR ON GOLD – Michael Cahill (16)
Racing well of late for trainer Pat Carey and has some form around the likes of Ungrateful Ellen and Master Of Arts in Melbourne. The Flying Spur gelding’s last start saw him finishing strongly from near last in a big field, to run a head second to Unfurl at Caulfield over 2000m. Trainer excels with stayers and this guy has his fair share of ability however, from a wide gate, first go the reverse way of racing, would be happy to shop around him.
16. GRAPPA BRANDY – (15)
Finally at his most recent outing, start number sixteen, his patient connections were rewarded with his maiden win on the Gold Coast in a 0-65 Handicap (1800m). Nothing in that run though, or his previous fifteen, that would suggest he could be competitive in this race.
17. ALLZIN – (14) (1st EM)
Caught in the final stages by Rising Luck in a 2200m race at Ipswich at his most recent outing and whist that continued his run of steady form, he’ll find this grade much tougher, especially from his wider gate, and will struggle.
18. HARRY – (4) (2nd EM)
New Zealand who, after winning two of his first three starts, was shipped across the Tasman by trainer Murray Baker to contest the G3 Grand Prix Stakes (2020m). Although finishing twelfth, he was only 4.3 lengths from the winner Upham and it was a commendable effort so early in his career. Will continue to improve but maybe not a rate quick enough that, should he get a run, he’d be winning here.
19. LUCOBLU – (5)
Chased home the smart Werther two starts back in New Zealand when fourth (5.4 lengths) in the Championship Stakes (2100m) before travelling to Queensland for last fortnight’s G3 Grand Prix Stakes. He settled just of the speed but couldn’t go with them when the pressure started to pick up approaching the turn and dropped out to finish last of the sixteen runners. Can’t see him winning here off of that effort.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Good pace here with Saddler’s Lake, Upham and Magicool, who have all drawn wide, likely to all push forward and get a spot before the field leave the straight for the first time. Having drawn gate 1, the favourite Werther will be able to track the good speed and only needs a touch of luck turning for home to increase is already handy strike rate. He has drawn poorly (again) but don’t dismiss Saddler’s Lake at that factor alone. With a touch of luck early, he may be able to get a breather some time mid-race and prove hard to run down. Master Of Arts should’ve been right in the finish last time out, is improving rapidly with each run and will be right in the mix here. Value chances to Worthy Cause, Jumbo Prince and Chillin With Dylan.
1. MASTER OF ARTS
2. SADDLER’S LAKE
4. JUMBO PRINCE