Darley Australia and boss Sheikh Mohammed may have enjoyed two Doomben 10,000 wins in the past three years, but connections know asking Knoydart to win the feature again this weekend is a big ask.
Managing director of the powerhouse racing operation Henry Plumptre would love for their More Than Ready four-year-old Knoydart to surprise him, but doesn’t rate the galloper in the same league as Darley’s recent Doomben 10,000 winners Beaded (2011) and Epaulette (2013).
“I don’t think Knoydart’s as good as them,” Plumptre told The Courier Mail when speaking bluntly over their chances in Saturday’s classic.
“Beaded ran enough placings in Group 1’s behind some serious horses to suggest she was a top filly and Epaulette on his day, when he wanted to, could be anything.
“I don’t think we’ve ever thought Knoydart was in that class. But he has stepped up.
“His biggest issue early on was with soundness. He had a few niggling issues and he wasn’t letting go a lot of the time.”
This year’s $650,000 Group 1 James Boag’s Premium Doomben 10,000 (1350m) runs on Saturday and features a field of 11 hopefuls including Knoydart who earned their spot with some excellent autumn form.
Favourite in the latest Doomben 10,000 odds at $4.20 is the Rob Heathcote-trained triple Group 1 winner Buffering out to atone for a third in the BTC Cup last stat.
The Mossman six-year-old is joined at single figures by the likes of Gary Portelli’s Sydney galloper Rebel Dane ($4.60) coming via the exact lead-up Epaulette did to win last winter, Tony Gollan’s BTC Cup runner-up Spirit Of Boom ($4.80) and upset winner of that lead-up feature Famous Seamus ($8).
Just outside of these occupying the fifth line of Doomben 10,000 betting at $10 is then Knoydart, now prepared by Darley’s new private trainer John O’Shea.
That’s a price Plumptre believes is about right looking at Knoydart’s recent form, the most recent of which was a second behind fellow 10,000 hopeful Hot Snitzel in the Group 3 Hall Mark Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 26.
“On his day he’s capable but I don’t think we would have him at the same level as Beaded or Epaulette,” he said.
Before that Knoydart was getting around well during the summer posting three straight wins, including The Listed Hareeba Stakes (1200m) at Mornington in February from the outside barrier (14 of 14).
From there they went up to Group 1 class and were far from disgraced when third behind Lankan Rupee in both the Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket Handicap when still prepared by Peter Snowden.
“Pete (Snowden) got him going in the autumn and when he ran a really good race in the Newmarket we thought he could be a chance in a race like the 10,000,” Plumptre said.
Whether you’re sticking with the Doomben 10,000 favourites, or tipping an upset from the likes of Knoydart, the best markets can be found online at Ladbrokes.com.au so sign-up with them today to lock in the top prices this winter!