Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
The major race running this Christmas Saturday is Brisbane’s 2011 Lough Neagh Stakes, the second leg of the prized Doomben Summer Series attracting a final field of 14 gallopers at acceptance stage.
Scheduled to run as Doomben Race 7 at 4:15pm (QLD time), the $200,000 Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m) presents Luxbet punters with the perfect pre-Christmas betting opportunity to add a little cheer to the festive season.
Leading the field is defending champ Zero Rock, Kelso Wood’s rank Danzero mare fresh off a first-up win in the Listed Travel Associates Classic (1200m) at Eagle Farm on December 3.
Twelve months ago Zero Rock scored the Travel Associates Classic – Lough Neagh Stakes double before progressing on to run a close second to Bold Glance in the Magic Millions Cup at the Gold Coast, and is on the same path this season.
Allocated the 58kg topweight of the 2011 Lough Neagh Stakes field with Chris Munce to ride, Zero Rock has three kilos more than she carried to victory in the feature last year but has the class to overcome this and her worse than mid-field barrier eight draw.
Other hopefuls that drew awkwardly in the Lough Neagh Stakes barriers for Saturday include the now Gillian Heinrich-trained Startsmeup out in gate 13 with Damian Browne to ride and Rob Heathcote’s consistent Falvelon four-year-old Excellantes in barrier 11.
Excellantes backed up from their close second to Listen Son in the Listed Keith Noud Quality (1200m) at Eagle Farm on November 26 to finish third behind Adebisi in the Group 3 George Moore Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on December 3.
They came within three lengths in the George Moore despite not being suited to the Slow-rated track, and Heathcote is hoping that they can be more competitive on Saturday on firmer ground.
Despite their wide gate 11 draw, Excellantes is still sure to be one of the best backed runners once Luxbet markets are released as they had the same wide barrier (11 of 12) when coming within a nose of victory two starts back.
The Lough Neagh will, however, be Excellante’s first look at the 1350 metres which could add value to their odds, the horse beaten when odds-on in their opening two runs for the season.
“A few people are knocking him, but I’m willing to forgive the horse,” Heathcote said.
“He just didn’t sprint on that shifting track last time, whereas I think Adebisi was well suited by the tempo and a little bit of give.
“Take nothing away from the winner because he did it all from the front and the rest of us have to catch up now, but I believe Excellantes is up to the task.
“There’s an obvious query over him at 12350 metres, but I am comfortable that he will get it, especially if he happens to be racing on top of the ground.”
Horses that had more luck with the gates include Desleigh Forster’s George Moore stakes winner Adebisi to jump from gate six as they shoot for win number three from three for the season, Andrew Williamson’s Sunshine Coast visitor Ready To Rip (barrier two) and Stratum four-year-old My Destiny (barrier three).
After early concerns of being balloted out of the Lough Neagh Stakes field, as they were for the Villiers Stakes last weekend in Sydney, the Con Karakatsanis-trained My Destiny made the cut after a number of nominees were not accepted for.
The in-form gelding comes off three straight wins in Sydney over 1300 metres and on the 53kg minimum with their ideal draw for the tight track is likely to start one of the top fancies in the Doomben race odds at Luxbet.
Karakatsanis is confident My Destiny will make a strong Queensland debut with the trip to the Sunshine State unlikely to affect their fitness or condition.
“It will be his first time away but a trip like that isn’t going to worry him,” he said.
“He is a tough and strong horse and nothing really fazes him because he’s real relaxed.”
The Tony Gollan-trained Lough Neagh Stakes pair Listen Son and Spirit Of Boom, meanwhile, had mixed results in the draw coming up with gates four and 12 respectively.
See below for the complete 2011 Athol Mulley Memorial Lough Neagh Stakes field, barriers, weights and jockeys.
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2011 Lough Neagh Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Doomben Race 7 – 24/12/2011
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||52X62236X1||ZERO ROCK||Kelso Wood||Chris Munce||8||58kg||106|
|2||90X5866100||POOR JUDGE||Wayne Nugent||Kenji Yoshida||14||57.5kg||101|
|3||1133XD1X30||ESSINGTON||Darryl Hansen||Glen Colless||7||57kg||100|
|4||X282460X01||LISTEN SON||Tony Gollan||Scott Seamer||4||57kg||100|
|5||20X21362X5||STARTSMEUP||Gillian Heinrich||Damian Browne||13||56kg||98|
|6||X601065X11||ADEBISI||Desleigh Forster||Paul Hammersley||6||55kg||96|
|7||2271523X80||SHUFFLE THE CASH||Bryan Guy||Mitchell Wood (a)||9||55kg||96|
|8||102112X224||EXCELLANTES||Robert Heathcote||Jim Byrne||11||53kg||92|
|9||X37252X593||SPIRIT OF BOOM||Tony Gollan||Ric McMahon||12||53kg||91|
|10||16540X1268||READY TO RIP||Andrew Williamson||Scott Galloway||2||53kg||89.5|
|11||X55026X119||HAVATRYST||Barry Baldwin||Timothy Bell (a)||5||53kg||88|
|12||64X20067X0||JAZZ HEART||Bryan Guy||Joe Bowditch||10||53kg||88|
|13||4189850X26||STEEL ZIP||Pat Duff||Justin P Stanley||1||53kg||83|
|14||2103X62111||MY DESTINY||Con Karakatsanis||Jay Ford||3||53kg||82|
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