THE Queensland winter carnival rolls on to the Sunshine Coast this weekend with five stakes races, headlined by the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1300m), Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m) and Listed Caloundra Cup (2400m). The track should be in the good range although there could be a shower or two on race day.
Benchmark 95 Handicap (1800m)
Keen to play here and I think the bookies have got the market wrong. I think LANDLOCKED should be a clear favourite and the $4.60 still available looks a good bet. The eight-year-old has won his past three starts, including the Wagga Cup over 2000m last start where he beat home Gypsy Diamond. Yes they didn’t go hard in the Wagga Cup but I don’t think they are going to go hard here either and he should get a lovely run on the speed and prove hard to run down. Favourite EIGHT’S A PARTY looks the danger although as I mentioned before I think LANDLOCKED should be a clear favourite instead. No real knock on EIGHT’S A PARTY but he is going to get a long way back from barrier 15 and while he got the job done in a benchmark 85 (1625m) at Toowoomba last start they did set it up for him. He has a good record and this track and will be running on late. FAST ARROW is the other one to consider and he does drop 4.5kg on his last start Class 6 win in the mid-weeks at Ipswich. Sure this is tougher but he finished off really well over 1666m that day and the 1800m shouldn’t bother him. TAIL AND ALL looks next best but pretty keen on LANDLOCKED.
Early betting: No real moves early.
Speed map: TAIL AND ALL should lead with KEEPIN’ GRACE also pushing forward. LANDLOCKED should box seat and FAST ARROW might be able to slot in midfield. EIGHT’S A PARTY will probably go right back from the gate and will need luck. Speeds looks only fair and it should suit front runners.
Selections: 2- Landlocked, 3- Eight’s A Party, 6- Fast Arrow, 7- Tail And All
Suggested bet: Landlocked WIN.
Fillies and Mares Handicap (1400m)
Pretty weak race this but I think there is still a bit of value here. Happy to back TINTS on an each-way basis and she has a sense of timing about her. She normally peaks third up and she put the writing on the wall with a fast finishing third in similar company at Toowoomba two weeks back. Drops 2.5kg in weight and she should really relish getting back to the Sunshine Coast where she has won before. CHAMPAGNE CATH looks the obvious danger and she is probably is the best horse in the race. My concern is 58kg first-up from a wide gate but she should get across without too much trouble and settle in the first few. I just think she is a bit short in the market for a horse that hasn’t won for 476 days. LOVE SHUTTLE is an underrated front runner and she rarely runs a bad race but seems to go around at big odds all the time. She should get a good run on the speed and she will kick late. The other one I’m keen to have a small each-way bet on is EVERYBODY HAPPY at $41. She is no star but it seems a big price for a horse that finished alongside LOVE SHUTTLE three starts back at this track and distance. LOVE SHUTTLE is about $10 yet EVERYBODY HAPPY is $41. Doesn’t make sense to me and from the good gate she should get a perfect run. Not sure she has enough class to win this but worth a throw at the stumps at $41 and this isn’t overly strong.
Early betting: Bit of support for TINTS.
Speed map: Expecting LOVE SHUTTLE and CHAMPAGNE CATH to roll forward from their wide gates and they should get across and sit one-two without too much trouble. EVERYBODY HAPPY should box seat, while AIMEE faces the possibility of getting stuck out three deep. TINTS should drift back to midfield and ELLAWISDOM will be back at the tail. Speed looks even and every runner should get their chance.
Well what do we make of HUKA EAGLE? No doubt he was disappointing in the Gold Coast Guineas three weeks back but he overraced and he was on the worst part of the track (inside) in the straight. The drop back from 1200m to 1000m is the obvious concern and my worry is he might be looking for a touch furthr. But trainer Tony Pike seems pretty confident and he said to me this week the horse was just too fresh first-up and told me pretty much to forget the run. Even though the 1000m is not ideal (he was Group 1 placed over the mile in New Zealand last prep but just didn’t quite see out the mile), he has a class edge on this lot and he ticks a lot of boxes. Barrier five is ideal and the booking of Queensland’s best jockey Damian Browne is the icing of the cake. He will get the gun run and I’m happy to back him. BEAU JET is a classy galloper on his day and it could be worth forgiving his effort in the Gold Coast Guineas when he was off the track throughout and ran ninth. He is pretty versatile and he is unbeaten in two starts at this track. The concern is gate 14 and not sure where he gets to from there. He will give them a start but he will be running on late. SHE’S MISS DEVINE has come up the early favourite with a lot of bookmakers and I must admit I was a bit surprised. The good thing about her is she is going to get the gun run just in behind them and I can tell you she did finish a nice second to Heza Bobby Dazzler in a jump out at Doomben on Tuesday (jump out is online). She is obviously going well and she did look like a superstar when romping in by seven lengths on debut at Eagle Farm back early last year. She hasn’t really lived up to the hype since but she could improve this prep. I’m tipping a much better showing from TINA MELINA and forget she went around at the Gold Coast first-up in a weaker race. She was back in the field in a slowly run race with 58.5kg and she just didn’t get into the race at any stage. Drops 4.5kg for this, should sit on the speed and she is a horse that generally needs the run first-up. Don’t be surprised if she runs a race at big odds. Other chances to KATY’S SON, who is undefeated in two starts, I Am Boss, who has finished second at his past six starts!, and AMIZADE, who is better suited back to 1000m.
Early betting: Nothing of note.
Speed map: Expecting GRACIDA to come across from its wide gate and it will probably lead in turn with AMIZADE. I AM BOSS, SHE’S MISS DEVINE and HUKA EAGLE should all be handy while TINA MELINA won’t be far away. KATELETTE should get back to midfield and BEAU JET probably has to go back at least six pairs to fit in unless he wants to race three deep or gets a bit of luck and slots in. Tempo looks solid without being crazy and every horse should get their chance.
Selections: 1- Huka Eagle, 2- Beau Jet, 9- She’s Miss Devine, 10- Tina Melina.
Suggested bets: Huka Eagle WIN, small EACH-WAY bet on TINA MELINA @ $26.
Bruce McLachlan Memorial Classic (1200m)
Intriguing race for the two-year-olds but again it doesn’t look overly strong. Can’t find a reason why HANDFAST can’t measure up here even though he was beaten in a Wyong maiden on debut. He started favourite that day on a heavy track and he just didn’t really seem to get through it at all. His trials in Sydney before that were super and I don’t think Godolphin would be bringing him up here if they didn’t think he could win a race like this. Barrier 11 is a slight concern but they should spread out and I reckon Tim Bell can slot him in midfield and he will flash home late. FREQUENDLY is a classy filly and the inside gate helps her chances. She should lead them up but trainer Les Ross is concerned about the last 200m and feels she could be vulnerable late first-up. MR OPTIMISTIC is an interesting runner and he was a bit disappointing in the Group 2 VRC Sires in Melbourne in March when he got all the favours on the speed in a slowly run race and faded to finish eighth. Made his Queensland debut in a maiden at the Gold Coast last month and he got back to eighth in a very slowly run race but still finished over the top of them to win by 1 ¾ lengths. The win was solid but it was against a weak field and even though they went slow the first few home all came from well back. I’m not sure whether he has been a bit overhyped this horse but the fact they should go hard gives him a chance to run on late. THE WILDMAN didn’t have the best of luck in the Ken Russell Memorial Classic and he has finished in the top three at both his runs at this track, including a 3 ½ length victory against a weak field two starts back. He can play a part in the finish but needs luck from gate 15. REDSSON is a classy horse but 1200m is a major concern for him. He did sit three deep without cover in the Ken Russell Memorial Classic when fading in the straight but I would much prefer him at 1100m or 1000m. BANDA SPICE will run on late, while OPINIONATED trialled well and isn’t the worst. Finally, Stuart Kendrick told me OUR RACKETEER, who is a half-brother to Oakleigh Girl, won’t go around from the outside barrier.
Early betting: Good support for HANDFAST with a number of solid bets being recorded.
Speed map: Good speed here with REDSSON, JAM TOAST, FREQUENDLY, CLOUT and TAILLEVENT all go forward horses. Expect FREQUENDLY to lead but she is unlikely to get it easy. HANDFAST should settle midfield and needs luck early, while MR OPTIMISTIC won’t be far behind him. BANDA SPICE will get back.
Real intriguing Guineas this year with a number of form lines to consider. WINX is the early favourite but personally I’m happy to take her on and I think she is under the odds at around $4. The reason I say that is she is dropping back from 2400m to 1600m. Yes, she is 35 days between runs but I wonder whether she will be sharp enough to win over the mile. The big track will help but barrier 15 won’t and she will get a long way back in what should only be an even run race. Not saying she can’t win because she is 10 rating points clear of any other runner in the race and would be carrying significantly more weight than the rest of the field if this was a handicap. I just think she is vulnerable in this race. There has been early support for WORTHY CAUSE and I do think he is the one to beat. The good thing about him is he has a sharp turn of foot and he absolutely blew them away in the Gunsynd Classic over 1800m at the Gold Coast last start. Yes, they set it up for the backmarkers that day but he should lob three pairs back from the inside gate and he will take some beating. I also thought SKYLIMIT could run a cheeky race from the front and he almost pinched the Toowoomba Guineas the other day. He was stepping up from 1200m to 1625m on that occasion and he will strip much fitter. Hard to line up ABDUCTION and she was she only beaten just over two lengths in the Coolmore two starts back before flopping on the wet track in the Adrian Knox. I know a few punters who think she is a ‘gunna’horse and it’s fair to put her in this category if she does nothing here. She has drawn ideally and should have no excuses. SWIFT LADY is an interesting runner and she had subsequent Rough Habit winner Sadler’s Lake covered comfortably in a mid-week benchmark 70 at Randwick last month. She has a good turn of foot but she did have a big pull in the weights on Sadler’s Lake the other day and might not get her preferred wet conditions this weekend. The other worry is gate 17 and she could get trapped out three deep. REEDEEM CODE must also be respected and he is a tough on-pace type that will get the gun run, while ELUSIVE CATCH will run on late and she came from last to win a weaker race at Riccarton last start (watch the replay- strong finish). MERION must also be considered.
Early betting: Good support for SKYLIMIT and WORTHY CAUSE in early betting.
Speed map: Expect SKYLIMIT to lead and SILVER HEELS could push forward from her wide gate and keep her honest. REDEEM CODE should box seat, while WORTHY CAUSE should settle midfield. MERION will be ridden quietly I believe and WINX is likely to get back. SWIFT LADY should also get back but they might roll the dice and try find cover three deep.
The spacious Sunshine Coast track should make this a true staying test and it’s probably going to suit a horse like SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD. Leaning towards the local in VOLKHERE though and there is a sense of timing about him. Rob Heathcote has always earmarked this race for him and his run in the Toowoomba Cup the other day was super when running second to subsequent Doomben Cup winner Pornichet. He has never raced at 2400m before but I think he will lap it up and he is a front running stayer that is always hard to get past. SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD was disappointing in the Chairman’s Handicap for mine at the Gold Coast three weeks back but he is a winner over this trip and the 2400m will suit him. PERPLEXITY is probably the value in the race and interesting to note there has been a bet of $900 on him @ $11. He went back in the Chairman’s Handicap the other day which was strange and his run was as good as anything in that race. Should settle on speed and he has won over 2500m. Happy to risk the favourite in INDEX LINKED and the only knock is I don’t think he runs out 2400m.
Early betting: One bet of $900 @ $11 on PERPLEXITY early but not a lot of movement.
Speed map: Expect VOLKHERE to lead with PERPLEXITY sitting handy. SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD should be midfield with INDEX LINKED. Speed should be even.
Selections: 5- Volkhere, 4- Sir John Hawkwood, 6- Perplexity, 2- Tremec.
Suggested bet: VOLKHERE WIN.
Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1300m)
Doesn’t appear to be an overly strong Glasshouse this year and it is all pointing towards Time For War bouncing back to the winners’circle. The three-year-old was scratched from last Saturday’s BTC Cup due to a wrenched joint but by all reports he has recovered well and he produced a best of the morning gallop on the Sunshine Coast course proper on Tuesday. He was probably stiff not to win the Gold Coast Guineas after doing all the hard work early in a fast run race and he should be hard to run down. Just needs a bit of luck early but should get across from his wide gate. The whisper is ALLEZ EAGLE is working the house down in Brisbane and he does seem a strong on-pace runner who should run well at his Queensland debut. DANCES ON STARS finished a strong third in the Victory Stakes three weeks ago at the Gold Coast and that is good form for this. The query is 58kg and barrier 17 but he does have Damian Browne aboard, which is a massive plus. Needs luck but he will be running on, while ENQUARE and PILLAR OF CREATION shouldn’t be too far away. YOU DID WHAT is an interesting runner and he normally flies fresh. He has a sharp turn of foot and the only real concern is fitness and first-up at 1300m doesn’t seem ideal. ENQUARE will get the gun run but is in the same boat as YOU DID WHAT regarding the fitness issue first-up over 1300m. Looks a skinny race for mine.
Early betting: Solid support for TIME FOR WAR and some support for DANCES ON STARS.
Speed map: Expect TIME FOR WAR to lead with ALLEZ EAGLE settling in the first few. ENQUARE should box seat, while MOUNT NEBO won’t be far away. DANCES ON STARS could get caught three deep midfield or worse.
Selections: 7- Time For War, -9- Allez Eagle, 1- Dances On Stars, 5- Enquare.
Suggested bet: Time For War WIN @ $5, Quinella 7/9.
Listed Bribie Handicap (1000m)
They should go like last week’s pay in the last of the day and what a lottery the 1000m dash is as well. DIAMOND OASIS has come up the early favourite and it’s hard to knock a horse that has won four of his past five starts. The obvious concern is gate 15 and I’m not sure whether he will be able to get across and find the front as there is plenty of speed drawn inside him. Well what do we do with HEZA BOBBY DAZZLER? No doubt he was disappointing first-up in the Chief De Beers when finishing 13th but he was off the track and he was first-up for eight months. He won a jump out at Doomben on Tuesday over three-year-old filly She’s Miss Devine and I thought the effort was workmanlike without being superb. Happy to give him another chance and from gate three he should get a perfect smother off a strong tempo. At his best he would go close in this and I like the fact they have backed him in early markets. ROCKY KING resumes here and there’s no doubt he was disappointing in his two-start campaign back in March. He has won four from five at this track though and should box seat and must be respected. OFFICE BEARER will get back but he will relish the strong tempo and will flash home late as will FLYING RIDDLE, who goes well fresh and is probably a tad underrated. Consider horses like FALINO, MR FAVULOUS and FACILE TIGRE for the multiples.
Early betting: Support for DIAMOND OASIS and HEZA BOBBY DAZZLER.
Speed map: Should fly along here with THINKHESAURUS, TRUE ROYAL, ROCKY KING, CRAIGLEA CRUZ and DIAMOND OASIS all on speed horses. HEZA BOBBY DAZZLER should get the gun run just in behind them, while FLYING RIDDLE might be able slot in midfield with a bit of luck. FALINO and OFFICE BEARER will get back.