Business tycoon and well-known racehorse owner Gerry Harvey should be extending a Hawaiian thank you, or Mahalo, to friend and fellow thoroughbred owner John Singleton after Singleton stated that it was Harvey’s mare Aloha he fears will win the Doncaster Mile this year and not his superstar More Joyous.
Singleton is managing director of Strawberry Hills Stud who own the Gai Waterhouse-trained, five time Group 1 winning champion and favourite for Saturday’s Doncaster Mile More Joyous.
A winner of 10 straight in Sydney, four-year-old More Joyous is out to secure her sixth Group 1 victory when she lines up as one of 18 hopefuls in the $2 million Doncaster Mile (1600m) this weekend.
More Joyous is raging favourite in the Doncaster markets currently paying $2.25 after she drew barrier eight earlier in the week.
Singleton, however, has concerns over More Joyous’ 57kg weight in the race and is predicting an upset from 51.5kg lightweight, Coolmore Classic winning mare Aloha.
“I’ve got a terrible feeling the winner will be in my mate Gerry Harvey’s blue-and-white colours and her name will be Aloha,” Singleton said.
“My ratings man, who’s been with me 30 years, says she (More Joyous) is a 4-1 chance.
“I’d like to say I’m confident but I can’t.”
Encosta De Lago mare Aloha won back-to-back Group races when resuming this season, the Mick Price-trained four-year-old coming home two lengths clear first-up in the Group 3 PFD Food Services Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 5 before taking out the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 19.
Last start Aloha ran a game fourth, beaten just over half a length by last year’s Doncaster Mile winner Rangirangdoo in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill.
“Gerry (Harvey) texts me every second hour with another reason why Aloha can’t get beaten in the Doncaster,” Singleton said.
“The handicaps level things up and More Joyous has to give a good mare like Aloha a lot of weight.
“But I’ve always wanted to win the Doncaster.
“I had Gypsy Kingdom run second to Iko in 1980, which is the closest I’ve ever come to winning the race and that was a long, long time ago.”
Aloha, the sole Victorian in this year’s race, drew further out in the Doncaster barriers and is set to start from gate 11 with champion hoop Glen Boss in the mount.
Boss has been aboard Aloha for all three of her starts this season and is seeking his sixth Doncaster Mile victory having ridden past winners Sprint By (1996), Private Steer (2004), Racing To Win (2006), Haradasun (2007) and most recently Triple Honour (2008).
Since the Doncaster Mile’s inauguration, 22 mares have saluted most recently being the John O’Shea-trained Private Steer in 2004.
Along with race favourite More Joyous and Aloha there are two other mares in this year’s Doncaster Mile field looking to add their name to the list of greats with Palacio De Cristal (barrier 12) and Happy Hippy (barrier two).
Although the form is there for More Joyous and trainer Gai Waterhouse is bullish about their chances in the Doncaster, history is against the favourites.
Just five favourites in the past two decades have come good for the punters with dual winner Sunline (1999 and 2002), Private Steer (2004), Racing To Win (2006) and Haradasun (2007).
Waterhouse is vying for an incredible record-equalling seventh Doncaster victory on Saturday saddling up More Joyous and her lesser-fancied stablemate Pureness (barrier 10) who comes off a win in the Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) from March 26.
Waterhouse’s father, the late great TJ Smith, holds the current training record in the esteemed Randwick mile having won the Doncaster seven times with Unpainted (1968), Bye Bye (1969), Gunsynd (1972), Analie (1973), Authentic Heir (1976), Iko (1980) and Lygon Arms (1988).
One person firmly planted in the More Joyous camp is Waterhouse’s husband, infamous bookmaker Robbie Waterhouse.
“Obviously I hope More Joyous wins and for Gai to equal her father’s record means a tremendous amount to her,” Mr Waterhouse said.
“She (More Joyous) dominates the race.
“Only because it’s the modern-day weighting of big races to encourage the weight-for-age horses to start in a handicap, they’re kindly treated compared to the old days.
Mr Waterhouse also isn’t ruling out an upset at the hands of Tale Of The Cat gelding Pureness who is rated a $21 outsider in the markets.
“I thought Pureness has put in great Doncaster trials and I thought as Gai’s second string he also has a great chance,” he said.
“I’ve sent him for this race all along and I told (owner) Mr Altomonte he was most capable of winning the Doncaster and he won’t make me a liar, he’ll be fighting the finish out,” added Gai.