Scone horseman Rodney Northam is confident his last start George Moore Stakes winner Big Money can handle a heavy impost when he shoots for back-to-back Doomben wins in Saturday’s 2014 Lough Neagh Stakes.
A five-year-old son of Choisir, Big Money won the opening leg of the Brisbane Summer Sprint Series on December 6 with a tidy one and a quarter length victory in the Group 3 George Moore Stakes (1200m).
The super-consistent sprinter now boasts eight wins and 14 starts, an imposing record he’s out to add to this weekend in the $175,000 Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m).
One of 16 nominations for the second leg of the summer sprint crown, the gelding may be in form but he’ll need to be at his best with the big weight allocation coming his way.
Big Money carried 57.5kg to victory in the George Moore but will likely go up to 59.5kg for Saturday’s assignment after Racing Queensland handicapper Nathan Bourke nominated a two kilo increase on his winning weight last time out.
“From those in the George Moore, he’s now the highest rated of them,” Bourke told The Courier Mail on Monday.
Despite that Northam confirmed connections would accept into the Lough Neagh Stakes field this week, and that the horse was deserving of the increase.
“It’s not great, but he probably deserves it,” Northam said
He faces a very similar field to that he beat last time out including George Moore runner-up Someday, Cape Kidnappers (3rd) and Into The Red (4th) but will have the extra weight to handle this time.
It’s a tough assignment then, and one the great Chief De Beers twice failed to do.
The local hero won the race, then known as the Doomben Stakes, twice in 1994 and 1996 carrying 52kg and 58kg respectively with Alan Russell in the saddle.
Chief De Beers then came back for two more goes at adding a third trophy in 1997 and 1998 carrying 59.5kg both times under the riding of Mick Dittman.
It was a weight that proved too much to bear however with the cult galloper running eighth in 1997 to Harvey Lad and then runner-up 12 months later behind the 1998 Lough Neagh Stakes winner Blue Pill.
The most weight carried to victory in the race meanwhile is an incredible 60.5kg that the mighty Takeover Target had for his classy win in 2005 just before his trip to Melbourne for the Group 1 Lightning – Newmarket Handicap double.
Northam also uses the Lough Neagh Stakes as a guide to how Big Money handles the extra distance, the eight-time winner yet to be tested over further than 1200m.
If successful it will open up his Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival options, Northam keen to return to chase Group 1 glory in the Sunshine State mid next year.
Possible winter targets for the horse include the $750,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 23 and the lucrative $2 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), hopefully held at Eagle Farm if renovations go to plan, on June 6.
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