Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
The 2013 JJ Atkins could be the Gai Waterhouse-trained favourite Romantic Moon’s for the taking at Eagle Farm Racecourse this weekend with rival trainer Chris Waller keen to bypass the race with second fancy Zoustar if the track is rain-affected.
Of the 17 juveniles still in contention for the $500,000 Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m), Stradbroke Handicap Day final fields to be released on Wednesday, two are prepared by the season’s current top Group 1 winning trainer Waller.
Looking to take his elite level trophies into double figures with his 10th of the season this Saturday, Waller has both Zoustar and Vilanova in the mix for the JJ Atkins.
The duo ran an impressive one-two last start in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) at Doomben on May 25 and the plan was for both to back up again in the Group 1.
Ongoing heavy rainfall in Queensland however has played havoc with the notoriously bad drainage at Eagle Farm which was rated a Slow (6 – 7) for Queensland Oaks Day last weekend.
With more wet weather a possibility this week Waller has his concerns about how his nicely bred Northern Meteor colt Zoustar will handle a softer track when going up to the mile for the first time.
“They (Zoustar and Vilanova) both worked well on Saturday morning but I’m not convinced that Zoustar is happy on soft ground, so we are watching the weather,” Waller said.
“Vilanova will certainly run, but we could wait with Zoustar.”
Zoustar is undefeated in their three runs so far having enjoyed a good win on debut at Canterbury in April over 1100m before stepping up to 1300m to win again at Hawkesbury in May before their Group 2 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival success a month ago.
Their record says they handle give in the ground with their winning debut achieved on a Slow (6).
However weather they can repeat such form over more distance is the unknown for their trainer.
Kiwi expat Vilanova, formerly prepared in New Zealand by Jason Bridgman, meanwhile has had six starts for just the one win to date when a three length winner in a Te Rapa black type last December.
All their runs back in NZ were on Good (3) tracks but they showed they were just as effective on a Slow (7) in their maiden run down under when just a long neck away second to Vo Heart in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200M) at Eagle Farm on May 11.
Latest JJ Atkins odds at bookies around the country have Waterhouse’s fellow Northern Meteor two-year-old Romantic Touch at the top of the markets after their explosive 7.5 length Canterbury win over 1550m on May 22.
Zoustar occupies the second line of betting followed by Vilanova and then the Steven O’Dea-trained local hope Sir Moments.
Choisir gelding Sir Moments has won their past two starts on the trot firstly taking out the Listed Dalerllo Stakes (1200m) at Doomben second-up on May 18 before their close win over Gypsy Diamond in the Listed The Phoenix (1400m) at Eagle Farm last Saturday.
The 2013 JJ Atkins final field and barriers will be released on Wednesday so stay tuned.
In the meantime get ready for the last of the Brisbane Group 1’s by signing up with bookmaker.com.au today where you will find all the hottest winter racing odds and promos.
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