Queensland Harness Racing is about to explode into prominence thanks to some imaginative race programming and a favourable schedule – not to mention 22 degrees and sunshine each and every day.
The introduction of The Rising Sun and The Golden Girl give this upcoming QLD carnival enormous potential with a large crop of serious horses making their way to the sunshine state for a crack at some winter riches.
With the Derby, Oaks, Sunshine Sprint and Blacks A Fake also on the calendar, we are about to witness a month of unbelievably competitive and high quality racing.
You know I love a list, so here are the top 10 horses entering the month long carnival. This carnival will be blessed with Group 1 calibre standardbreds.
1 KING OF SWING – Reigning Blacks A Fake winner.
The King’s reign continues but the challengers are coming. One major rival could be stable mate, Expensive Ego. But, for now, everything must go through the reigning Blacks A Fake champ who is lethal when in front.
Luke McCarthy has committed to driving KOS no matter who he faces or where he draws so that’s a big push as to who is the No. 1 seed across this carnival.
2 EXPENSIVE EGO – Chariots of Fire king.
I was slow to the party but his Chariots of Fire victory had me looking for a place on the bandwagon. He casually cruised into Melbourne and claimed the $200,000 APG Final and looms as the new blood on the open class scene. His true gate speed is a query but his toughness and speed give him a devastating blend which will see him feature heavily in The Rising Sun and Blacks A Fake.
3 KRUG – NZ Derby champion.
As the horses warmed up for last weekend’s Redcliffe Derby, the boom three-year-old’s odds continued to drift from the $1.30 offered when markets opened. The closer the race approached the more Krug’s odds improved. History now tells us that market move was ridiculous however speed mappers perhaps had the right idea as Krug was left three-wide for a lap and then in the breeze – but none of that made any difference.
Krug obliterated the track record and announced himself to any Aussie layers… thankfully I was one of the few who gobbled up the silly price!
Krug will be mighty hard to beat in the QLD Derby but also drawing 1 or 2 in The Rising Sun means the older horses will have their work cut out to beat him.
Could well be the horse of the carnival.
4 COPY THAT – NZ Messenger champ.
Where exactly is this fella at!?!
His best is close to as good as anything but his recent Jewels run was subpar. Anthony Butt drove him to a slick trial at Albion Park last week so perhaps he’s back to where he needs to be.
He’s out to an $8 chance to win The Rising Sun – which on his best form is a great price.
Ray Green has won some big races across in Oz so discount Copy That at your peril.
5 SPANKEM – Miracle Mile champ.
Thanks to the astute reader who alerted this bozo to the fact I’d left Spankem out of this initial list. How could I !?!
The former Miracle Mile champion and two-time NZ Cup place-getter is with Darren Weeks’ barn for the carnival. Some – including me – suggest the sprint trip suits this guy, so the Sunshine Sprint and this weekend’s Wondais Mate will be his for the taking.
After winning the Miracle Mile, Spankem suffered a long-term injury and it’s arguable whether we have seen him at his best since then. Perhaps the QLD sun will bring out his A-game.
6 AMAZING DREAM – Auckland Cup winning mare.
Many have had their queries about this mare but it seems the better the competition the better she performs. Doing all the work at mares grade sometimes brings her undone but we’ve seen what she can do against the big boys in an Auckland Cup and NZ Derby.
Whispers suggest she’s humming in the QLD sun so she should be the outright Golden Girl favourite but with the mares barrier preference, the multiple Group 1-winner is also huge value at 11/1 for The Rising Sun.
She’s a horse that makes you kick yourself when you discount her and she swoops over the top at silly odds.
7 SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS – The fastest horse in Australia ?
He’s yet to do it but the hype around this horse is enough for me to throw him in. Driver Luke McCarthy is high on him and mentioned on Melbourne radio that he’s been impressive in his Australian starts because he’s been in the breeze when his real weapon is trailing a speed.
His snap speed for a furlong looks as quick as anything around which makes him a dangerous proposition in all of the good races he is engaged in.
8 COLT THIRTY ONE – Former Blacks A Fake champ.
The local star – and former Blacks A Fake champ – looks on the downward spiral but his best is still excellent. He’s developed added toughness as an older horse but still possesses that speed to nail them up the lane.
He’s on his home track, has been there and done that and is in excellent hands. He’d surprise me but you cannot discount him entirely.
9 SPELLBOUND – The next dominant mare…
The former Kiwi mare burst onto the Aussie scene with a deadly win at Melton a few weeks back followed by a gutsy second-placing to Iolanta.
She beat a few good ones at Menangle last weekend on her way north and will be among the top picks in the mares races and there’s some chance she’d have a crack at the Blacks A Fake under the right circumstances.
10 TURN IT UP – Former Auckland Cup winner.
Former boom horse who is lucky to still be racing such were the extent of his problems. Won an Auckland Cup after a handful of starts and Mark Purdon had openly mentioned him as their next superstar before injuries struck.
His explosive gate speed gives him a chance in any race he draws the front in but he will always be looking to hand to an appropriate rival.
Hard to see him winning any of the big races but he’s a real threat to pinch a podium or two.
WILDCARD: AMERICAN DEALER – A New Zealand Group 1-winning 3YO.
A relative unknown to most in Australia, this fella has upstaged Krug at Group 1 level in NZ and has been placed in a few other major races across the ditch.
He’s an opportunist – prepared by Ray Green – but can strike a blow in the Queensland Derby and may even get a wildcard invite into The Rising Sun without the obvious second three-year-old entrant.