Fresh off winning a shiny new Mercedes-Benz at Warrnambool at the start of the month, Wangoom-based horseman Darren Weir this week targets a Group 1 in Brisbane with his Warrnambool Cup champ Akzar lining up in the 2014 Doomben Cup.
Early betting markets for this Saturday’s $500,000 Group 1 Titan Energy Services Doomben Cup (2000m) are led by Guy Walter’s A.D. Hollindale Stakes winning mare Streama and last start Hawkesbury Cup winner Leebaz.
Hot on the heels of the co-favourites in the pre-field Doomben Cup odds meanwhile is Weir’s flying veteran galloper Akzar.
A rising eight-year-old Selkirk gelding, the Irish import is also backing up off a win having stormed home in the mud on May 1 to win the Listed Warrnambool Cup (2350m) by an impressive six lengths.
They drop back in distance on Saturday, and go up in class facing a top field, but are still looking one of the main dangers in the big one at Doomben this weekend.
While Weir’s earlier focus was on getting him to win at stakes level in the Warrnambool Cup, the trainer also admits he had been considering a Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival raid and the Doomben Cup for Akzar for some time.
In a slipup also made by two other trainers however, Weir missed the first acceptance fee and connections were forced to pay a discounted $11,500 late entry fee to ensure their horse’s appearance on Saturday.
It’s a hefty cost Weir is hoping the horse can win them back with a top four finish at worst covering the costs.
“It’s a big step up in class for him and he would certainly have to improve,” Weir told The Courier-Mail.
Akzar has won four of their past six starts having backed up from a second in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield when blocked for a run on April 19 to win the Warrnambool feature.
Their victory there earned Weir a bonus $41,000 car on offer to any trainer who won four or more races across the three-day Warrnambool Cup Carnival, the trainer after an even greater prize this Saturday with the rejuvenated runner.
Weir only took over the training of Akzar, originally imported by Lloyd Williams and prepared by his private trainer Robert Hickmott during 2011 before going to Rob Blacker, at the end of January.
Before coming to their new trainer who has given them a new lease on life and the race track Akzar was looking at being retired due to their poor form, the horse having finished dead last when 10th in the Traralgon Cup in their last run before being transferred to Weir.
Weir is crediting a change of scenery and the stayer’s love of the beach for the change.
“I have got two stables and I had him in the Ballarat one for the first week I got him and he was just going through the motions and didn’t look that happy,” Weir, who is the country’s most prolific trainer this season with 192 winners sitting ahead of Chris Waller (171), said.
“Then I sent him to the beach stable at Warrnambool and got him working on the beach and he thrived and absolutely loved it.
“He hardly ever goes to the track except on race days and he just goes and canters on the beach and gallops across some sand dunes. He has become a very happy horse.”
Final 2014 Doomben Cup acceptances close on Wednesday morning with the field and barriers to be published right here at Races.com.au.
That makes today your last chance to get in on the juicy futures Doomben Cup prices open now at Ladbrokes.com.au so head along now to lock in your selections at their generous all-in prices!