We’re set for a big 2018 Brisbane Winter Carnival and Group racing returns to Doomben on Saturday for Victory Stakes Day. Four of the nine races on Victory Stakes Day will be contested at black type level and the rail will be set out five metres around the entire Doomben track.
A smart field of stayers will step out in the first on Victory Stakes Day and there is a case to be made for each. Chris Waller will launch a smart attack in Estikhraaj ($17) and Great Glen ($3), but the latter clearly represents the master trainer’s best chance of winning the race. Great Glen has produced a number of credible performances and results this time and should be able to find his way to the pace from barrier 4. Leading hoop Jeff Lloyd is a bonus and he will be tough to get past.
Ten horses remain in contention for Race 2 following the early scratching of In Good Time. Sydney raider Kings Of Leon ($3.80) will make his competitive return in this race and should prove extremely difficult to beat under the conditions. The I Am Invincible gelding won a pair of quality Sydney sprints in his most-recent preparation and has trialled well in the lead-up to this race. He does appear to have a class edge on his rivals here and will be hard to beat with only 55.5kgs in tow. Jest Excel ($5.50) has been racing in good form this time and looms as the major danger. The Exceed And Excel mare resumed for a tough win over 900m at the Gold Coast on February 10th and was last seen finishing second in another race over the same course and distance.
A capacity field has been taken for the third and it is set to be an exciting race from a spectator’s perspective. Japanese import Hallelujah Boy ($4.20) flew home from the tail of the field to finish fourth in the Provincial Championships Final at Randwick last time out and looks to have found his race here. The Tosen Phantom entire has been luckless in his runs this time in and will carry only 54.5kgs here. He’ll go back anyway, so the wide draw is no concern and he will be extremely difficult to hold out. Coldstone ($4.40) has been racing well amongst tougher company than this in Victoria and can return to winning form here. The Gold Away gelding was caught wide in transit, but still finished off well in the Listed Golden Mile at Bendigo last time out and should be right in the finish again on Saturday.
The capacity field confirmed for Race 4 is one of the most open on Victory Stakes Day from a betting perspective. Two horses that appeal at their current quotes are topweight Manaya ($4.40) and consistent performer Muddy Rope ($12). Manaya was also confirmed in the field for the Victory Stakes by Michael Costa, but the trainer has elected to saddle his horse in this race and he’ll be difficult to beat. The Hinchinbrook mare has not been seen at the races since December, but she produced a number of quality performances last time in, including a dominant win over 1350m at Doomben. She has trialled well leading into this race and is ready for a big first-up performance. Muddy Rope was inconvenienced in the run before finishing seventh over 1050m at Doomben last time out, but he was racing in terrific condition prior to that and is a live chance here, should he find some of his best. The son of Hinchinbrook easily won a pair of sprinters third and fourth-up this time and does look over the odds here. I will be backing Manaya on the nose, but am also happy to have an each-way bet on Muddy Rope at his current odds.
The first black type race of the day will see fourteen two-year-olds step out in the Dalrello Stakes. Shamurt is yet to taste anything but success during her short racing career and at the time of publish, is the $3 Dalrello Stakes favourite. The Murtajill filly debuted for a smart win at Doomben on March 24th, before beating odds-on pop Cuddle Me Tight at Toowoomba last time out. She is drawn ideally in barrier 5 and will carry only 55kgs as a filly. Victorian raider Starvirgo is ready to peak third-up and looks to be well and truly over the odds at her current $18 quote. The son of Zoustar took up the running at Ballarat last time out and was just beaten in the final 100m of the race. Regan Bayliss will take the ride and he is worth consideration at current odds.
A capacity field of three-year-olds will step out in the sixth, but it does look like Marsupial’s race to lose. Marsupial ($2.70) resumed this time for a close second behind I Am Excited in the Spark Of Life Handicap at Rosehill, before again finishing second in a 1200m Gosford sprint on March 21st. Having returned to winning form over 1100m at Warwick Farm last time out, jockey Jim Byrne will be able to dictate terms from barrier 2 and there is simply not a horse in this field with the runs on the board that Marsupial has. First-up winner Mishani Bullitt ($8.50) will only improve into this race and could receive the run of the race form barrier 4. The son of Show A Heart faces a step up in class into this race, but has the notable advantage of Jeff Lloyd in the saddle and can run a big race at good odds.
A quality field of fillies will step out in the Gold Coast Bracelet and there is a case to be made for several runners. Sydney raider Torvill ($2.50) has found outstanding form this time in and she may never find a better opportunity to post another black type win. The Not A Single Doubt filly resumed for thir din the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes on February 17th, before mustering a big turn of foot to finish second behind Shoals in the Group 1 Surround Stakes. Having since finished second in the Group 3 Kembla Classic, sixth in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes and fourth in the Listed South Pacific, she faces a clear step back in class here and is primed for a big performance. The wide barrier is a concern, but on class alone she can win this race. Local runner Skate To Paris ($9) has been consistent without returning to winning form this time, and can be right in the finish of this race, while Chris Waller-trained stable mates Improvise ($8) and Another Dollar ($12) are both live chances.
The feature race has drawn a quality field of sprinters and while only eight horses will step out, it is absolutely dripping with talent. Godolphin runner Impending won the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap during the last Brisbane Winter Carnival and looks set to jump the odds-on favourite in the Victory Stakes. The Lonhro entire has not been seen at the races in 2018, but continued to impress in spring and placed in both the Listed Sydney Stakes and Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m). He absolutely flies fresh and will jump from the ideal barrier 3. Talented filly I Am Excited has found excellent form this time and is a genuine lightweight chance. The daughter of I Am Invincible won the Listed Darby Munro and Listed Fireball Stakes in succession, before finishing third in the Group 2 Arrowfield Sprint last time out. This is her first attempt at open company, but she is more than deserving of a shot. Consistent Group 1 performer Supido ($3.70) is drawn ideally in the Victory Stakes field and is another horse that will take plenty of beating under the conditions of the race. If it pours with rain in between now and Saturday, one horse that will prove to be over the odds is Jungle Edge ($12). There is potentially not a more potent wet tracker in the country and from gate 2, he will take up the running and will be tough to get past late.
Another open field has been drawn to this year’s Gunsynd Classic and it is an open race from a betting perspective. Race favourite Villermont ($2.60) is a Group 2 winner at the distance and should prove tough to beat again. The All Too Hard colt has been fair without setting the industry on fire this year, but did manage to finish a smart fourth in the Group 1 Australian Guineas most notably. He was last seen finishing fourth in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes on Day 1 of The Championships and faces a pretty sizeable step back in class into this field. Group 1 winner Capital Gain ($19) failed to make an impression throughout the Sydney Autumn Carnival, but is a horse that could surprise at odds in a field like this one.