Graeme Rogerson’s Duelled gelding Shootoff is in-form and fighting fit ahead of his attempt at a third straight win in this weekend’s Doomben Cup.
Group 1 placegetter and early favourite for the upcoming Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm, three-year-old Shootoff was one of 10 acceptors for Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Doomben Cup (2020m) when the final field was released on Wednesday.
Despite having won their past two starts over 2000m and 1900m respectively by impressive margins, Shootoff sits as a double-figure outsider paying $10 to cause a Doomben Cup upset after drawing wide with barrier eight.
Doomben Cup betting is dominated by quality imports Glass Harmonium and My Kingdom Of Fife, while Gold Coast galloper Shoot Out also well-liked in the markets as the third single-figure shot.
After Shootoff was comprehensively beaten in his two earlier Group 1 assignments this year finishing ninth to Ilovethiscity in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) and then 11th to Jimmy Choux in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m), Rogerson is now confident he has discovered the right racing tactic with the emerging stayer.
Early in his career Shootoff was known as a backmarker but since being given a more forward racing position in his recent runs, the revitalised gelding has been able to win back-to-back races.
“He just did everything so casually and wasn’t putting in in his races,” Rogerson’s foreman Roger Elliott said of Shootoff in the early stages of his career.
“We changed the way we have been riding him and it has been just amazing what he has done.
“We wanted him to know he was in a race and the penny has dropped with him now.”
Firstly Shootoff scored a three and a half length victory in the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick before an equally easy three length win in the Canterbury Lord Mayor’s Cup (1900m) a fortnight ago.
“He has done really well since his last win,” trainer Rogerson said.
So well that Shootoff has surged into the $5 favourite to take out the Group 1 Queensland Derby next month and only needs to run well on Saturday to maintain their dominance in the market.
History, however, is against both Shootoff and Anthony Cumming’s fellow three-year-old Shadows In The Sun to win the Doomben Cup.
It has been 11 years since a three-year-old succeeded in the Doomben Cup, Akhenaton the last of this age group to salute.
Still, Rogerson and Elliott are convinced Shootoff can break this drought having been especially pleased with their win at Canterbury.
“The last win was particularly pleasing because it showed us he can go just as good on top of the ground as he did when he won the Packer Plate in the heavy,” Elliott said.