Local Queensland hoop Glen Colless has been booked to ride smart young colt Chateau Fort in the Grand Prix Stakes at Doomben this weekend with the three-year-olds’ regular rider Damian Browne on suspension.
Browne looks to face a tough test if he wants to play any part in the remainder of the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
Due to start a suspension Monday gone for a charge from a Sunshine Coast ride the weekend before last, Browne was hit with an additional suspension for careless riding on Doomben Cup Day.
The jockey was charged for his winning ride aboard the Robert Heathcote-trained Stradbroke Handicap hopeful Woorim in the Group 3 Darley BRC Sprint (1350m).
As it stands without an appeal Browne will not be available until after Stradbroke Handicap Day on June 11, outed for seven meetings.
With Browne unavailable, Scone-based trainer Paul Messara was quick to call Colless and book him as a replacement to ride Chateau Fort in the $150,000 Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben this Saturday.
“There were a few Sydney riders available but Glen was my first choice,” Messara said.
“He’s a great jockey.”
Heading towards a run in the classic $500,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) on Stradbroke Handicap Day, Kempinksy colt Chateau Fort is looking to return to form after their last-start third to Fillydelphia in the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2020m) on May 14 at Doomben.
“I was very happy with his run but not the result,” Messara said of the Rough Habit.
Prior to the Rough Habit, Chateau Fort won three on the trot including a tidy victory in the Group 3 Gunysnd Classic over the mile at Eagle Farm on April 30.
“He’s only had a light preparation and has only started five times,” Messara continued.
“He was caught a little wide last time and had to make an early run which took away from his finish.
“I’d prefer to see him chase more than get to the front too soon in the straight.
“He got to the front on the home turn in the Rough Habit and got a couple of checks.”
A one-time favourite in the futures Queensland Derby odds, Chateau Fort has since drifted out to $14 in the markets lead by Graeme Rogerson’s Doomben Cup fourth placegetter Shootoff ($5.50) and in-form Kiwi filly and Queensland Oaks favourite Scarlett Lady ($6).
Chateau Fort will face off against his last-start defeater Fillydelphia again on Saturday, but Messara is quietly confident his colt has improved enough since then to turn the tables.
Messara, however, believes Shootoff will be hard to beat in the Derby if Chateau Fort continues on for the Group 1 run.
“The horse to beat in the Derby is Shootoff and on current form he is unbeatable,” Messara said.
“I can’t see anything beating him.
“I really liked his Doomben Cup run and for me he’s an odds-on chance in the Queensland Derby.”
Meanwhile, Colless had four rides at Doomben last Saturday but failed to finish in the money, his best effort being fifth aboard beaten favourite Alverta in the Group 3 Glenlogan Park Stakes (1350m).