North Queensland trainer Greg Wehlow is confident the predicted forecast of rainfall leading up to Saturday’s 2015 Eye Liner Stakes at Ipswich Racecourse will work to his galloper Daph ‘N’ Alf’s advantage.
Lonhorn six-year-old Daph ‘N’ Alf is one of 16 sprinters nominated for the $175,000 Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) on Ipswich Cup Day this Saturday, the gelding coming off a tidy two and a half-length first-up win over 1100m under weight-for-age conditions at Mackay on May 23.
The only other last start winner among the Eye Liner Stakes nominations this Queensland Winter Racing Carnival is the Robert Heathcote-trained seven-year-old Riva De Lago who won the Listed Glasshouse Handicap (1300m) at the Sunshine Coast on May 16.
To date the Atherton-based Daph ‘N’ Alf, named after the parents of his owner-breeder Graeme McLeod, has had 43 starts for a dozen wins, eight seconds and six third place finishes.
Ten of his 12 victories have been on Good-rated tracks but the record shows he is also a good wet-track performer with a win and three other minor placings from five starts on Heavy going.
Wehlow is convinced Daph ‘N’ Alf will appreciate any rain around in the lead-up to his hit and run Ipswich mission on the weekend and is also keen to see how he goes on the notoriously tight circuit.
“They are tipping rain and my horse loves the wet,” Wehlow, a former employee of the Cup’s King Bart Cummings, told The Courier Mail.
“The other thing is that I am sure Ipswich will suit him because it is a tight track and he will be up there racing on the speed.”
Two of the headline Eye Liner Stakes nominations are the unplaced Stradbroke Handicap graduates from last weekend at Doomben with Tony Pike’s multiple Group 1 winning Kiwi visitor Sacred Star (6th) and the Wez Hunter-trained former The Goodwood champ Smokin’ Joey (8th).
While no denying the class of those competitors, Wehlow’s prediction is that his horse will definitely give the big guns something to chase in the Eye Liner.
“I’d imagine horses like Sacred Star and Smokin’ Joey will be back in the field and with a fair bit of ground to make up,” he said.
“My horse is as strong as a bull and has a great constitution. The travel down there to Ipswich won’t worry him a bit.”
Wehlow is also considering backing-up Daph ‘N’ Alf in the $75,000 Rockhampton Newmarket (1300m) Saturday week should he run well at Ipswich this weekend.
In his final piece of pre-Eye Liner Stakes work the horse was put through his paces at his home Atherton track on Monday and looked in flying form according to Wehlow.
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