With the rain failing to let up across Brisbane overnight, the resulting wet track is causing a variety of problems for horses running in the first day of the winter carnival at Eagle Farm Racecourse today.
Zero Rock is due to take part in the feature event of the day, the Group 2 Victory Stakes, and trainer Kelso Wood admits that the state of the track will most likely mean a below par performance from the horse.
Wood’s only other option is to take Zero Rock to the Silk Stocking at the Gold Coast in a one week’s time, however, the trainer believes she would be weighted out of the race.
“The Silk Stocking doesn’t really fit my plan because she would get too much weight and have a very hard run first up,” Wood said.
“And who’s to say it won’t be wet again next week?”
The rain affected track will come as a big blow to Zero Rock’s chances in the race, which until now the trainer considered very high.
“She’s had a very good preparation for this week. I picked this race out a long way out and I was confident she was ready to give the race a real shake,” Wood said.
“Now I’m not so sure. I just hope the sun stays out and we do get some improvement in the track.”
Eagle Farm’s course manager, Bill Shuck, doesn’t like Wood’s chances, with Brisbane receiving an extra 30 millimeters of rain in the past four days.
“The grass is in good shape but the profile of the track is saturated,” Mr Shuck said.
“We have just had nuisance showers overnight and this morning but it just keeps topping up the track.
“It’s definitely a heavy (8) and I can’t see too much improvement unless we get some strong wind.”
One horse that won’t be minding the current state of the track is Robert Heathcote’s Buffering.
Buffering will be making his racing comeback after having a month off due to a minor leg injury.
“He trialled brilliantly on March 15 and everything was shaping up perfectly but then he got a stone bruise, which developed into an abscess,” Heathcote said.
“Normally you give them four or five days and they come right, but his went on for a week and then another week and it almost got to the stage where we thought about aborting the carnival.
“Thankfully it finally burst and from that moment it has been all positive.
Despite initial concerns, Heathcote is confident that Buffering is well prepared for today’s Victory Stakes.
“Going into this race I was a little worried he might be a touch underdone until he worked last Saturday,” Heathcote said.
“I gave him a searching gallop with Woorim and their work was first class. It was as good as I could have hoped and that was topped off (Thursday) with a nice bit of work.
“Larry (Cassidy) rode him and we were both very pleased.”
Heathcote’s only worry is whether or not his other starter, Woorim, will handle the wet ground after suffering from a variety of foot problems over his career.
“I think he would be the one to beat in this race if we were on a drier surface,” Heathcote said.
“It’s no secret we have had some issues with his feet over the last couple of years, but he had an extended spell and they are now the best they have ever been.”
The current $3.30 favourite for the Victory Stakes is Atomic Force, who blitzed his opposition on a rain-affected track in Sydney last weekend to win the Group 1 The Galaxy.
Atomic Force’s trainer, Darren Smith, is confident that his proven swimmer can continue his winning form.
“I know he’s had a long campaign but he’s come through his Galaxy win in great order,” Smith said.
Just seven horses will compete in the $175,000 Victory Stakes when they run as Race 7 later today.