Queensland Harness Racing has seized the opportunity to own the winter months and lure the best harness racing has to offer and bring them to southeast QLD.
The Blacks A Fake has always been a race which has attracted major talents but the introduction of two new races has added enormously to the carnival.
Firstly, a 100k mares race will assemble most of the best mares in Australasia for The Golden Girl, to be held on July 17.
This weekend, another new race takes centre stage with The Rising Sun. A $250,000 event for three and four-year-olds with some incredibly courageous and wise wrinkles to bring together arguably the race of the season.
The Rising Sun is largely for 4YO’s with the QLD racing committee having the ability to invite a couple of boom three-year-olds with the incentive to race being a guarantee of barrier one or two as well as an extra 100k bonus for winning as a younger horse.
Any mares who enter also get a barrier advantage, drawn immediately outside the 3YO participants.
All in all, it’s a magnificent concept which has been certified by the crop of horses they’ve attracted. Kiwi superstars Copy That and Krug would likely have stayed home preparing for a November New Zealand Cup but the lure of the Constellations Carnival was too much so even in this COVID environment, they’ve turned up in sunny Queensland.
THE BIG GUNS AKA WINNING CHANCES
EXPENSIVE EGO (9) – Luke McCarthy, Belinda McCarthy $2.70
A bonafide star and potential champion on the rise.
Took me a while to get on board the hype train but I am all aboard, especially after his brutal win last week on this track from off the fence.
Luke McCarthy has been hinting to the fact that this bloke is closing the gap on King of Swing. He cops a nice trailing draw and you’d imagine McCarthy will be around to the breeze at the earliest opportunity.
I can even see a scenario where Krug gets stuck on the pegs and Ego could sail to the top – but that’s a more unlikely scenario but one to keep in mind.
He deserves favouritism and could very well prove himself to be better than these on class and toughness. This race could pan out very similarly to his Chariots of Fire victory so watching that replay will warm the hearts of his backers and based on last week’s win, he may even go just as fast!
KRUG (1) – Blair Orange, Cran Dalgety $3
Is the pole the perfect alley or was gate two the ideal gate to ensure he’s not double crossed at the beginning? The ideal scenario sees Kowalski Analysis crossing and handing the front back to the gun three-year-old. I have few doubts Krug is the prototype three-year-old that can win this race against the older horses but so much depends upon how hard he needs to burn early because Expensive Ego – among others – will be coming hard to apply even more pressure.
He can win, make no mistake about that but you’ll know your fate after a couple of furlongs should you be in his corner.
COPY THAT (13) – Anthony Butt, Ray Green $8
Question marks were about as to whether Ray Green would even bring his stable star to QLD but his debut run in the sunshine state suggest he’s not here to make up numbers.
His devastating sprint in last week’s Wondais Mate was as good as you’ll see. A Butt dragged him at right angles before unleashing a furious 200m to overrun genuinely good horses like Spankem, Colt Thirty One and Balraj.
Gate 13 looms as unlucky 13 here, however, as the big guns will likely be forced to do so much less work to be thereabouts at the end.
They’ll need to run supersonic silly times to enhance Copy That’s winning claims but after seeing him dazzle last week, who’d be brave enough to say no hope?
NEXT IN LINE AKA THE BLOWOUTS
AMAZING DREAM (3) – Mark Purdon, Nathan Purdon $13
It’s a struggle to work out exactly where this mare – the only female in the race – fits in.
Her Auckland Cup win tells us she’s got the requisite skills to upend this field but she’s been semi-regularly beaten in mares-only races.
That tells me, when she’s forced to be the aggressor there is a vulnerability but when she’s the stalker… look out. She again toppled the boys unexpectedly when she beat Copy That, who was favourite, in the Northern Derby in Auckland.
So when Amazing Dream is allowed to go under the radar she can surprise – and often does.
Here, she’s very hard to map because driver Mark Purdon is not normally aggressive off the gate and she’d have a hard time holding a forward spot against Krug and Kowalski Analysis anyway.
Where she lobs in the run is key but it’s highly likely Purdon will be looking for gaps at the half mile – and should she get those gaps we know what can happen from there.
SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (10) – Driver TBC, Belinda McCarthy $10
Brings incredible x-factor into such a competitive race already boasting converging form lines.
His three runs for Team McCarthy have yielded three excellent wins despite him being driven tough in each race. The stable have been thrilled with him since he arrived in NSW from the Shaky Isles and his sheer speed is breathtaking. His 200m acceleration was on display at Goulburn when he went from a few lengths off the leader to in front in a heartbeat.
Should the leaders be going crazy – and it’s likely they will be – then Spirit of St Louis becomes a dangerous commodity in the lane. He follows out Amazing Dream, which could be both positive or negative as her gate speed and aggressiveness early is a real unknown.
Full disclosure… I’m on at massive odds so of course I hope he wins but even the stable think perhaps the race has come up too quickly for him. Will be dangerous, can win but will be a real star of the upcoming Group 1 races later in the season.
BUNDORAN (5) – Amanda Turnbull $14
A huge improver in quick time and a genuine blowout contender in this race. A National Rating 109 horse, so you know he’s a genuine four-year-old on the rise.
Since arriving from New Zealand, his Menangle form has been impeccable and we know how good a driver Amanda Turnbull is when rating one out in front… problem is, there’s about a 0.8% chance Bundoran gets to the top.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance…
KOWALSKI ANALYSIS (4) – Sofia Arvidsson, Matthew Craven $8
To cross or not to cross. That’s all you need to figure out when you’re deciding on this bloke’s chances.
His gate speed is simply electric and set him up for placings in the Chariots of Fire and 4YO Victoria Bonanza but can he take the next step and turn that blistering gate speed into a big Group 1 win?
Connections have always shown a willingness to hand up and with him being fresh up into this big, high pressure race there’s got to be the expectation Sofia Arvidsson would be willing to re-give the lead to Krug or perhaps even Expensive Ego should he zip around them quickly.
A definite place chancing, dependant on how hard he’s forced to burn off the machine.
THE ALSO RANS AKA KNOCK ME DOWN WITH A FEATHER IF YOU WIN
KASHED UP (2) – Brendan Barnes, Gemma Hewitt $81
The second of the three-year-old entrants, this fella broke my heart last week when he upstaged American Dealer to win the last race at The Creek – and probably secure a place in this race.
You’d imagine Brendan Barnes will be ducking for cover early, perhaps even eyeing off the spot behind Krug should Blacksadance get left flat-footed. A pegs run will be vital to any hope this home-bred son of For A Reason may have in earning a big cheque.
This race may set him up for a strong tilt at the Queensland Derby.
BLACKSADANCE (8) – Pete McMullen, Chantal Turpin – $26
A quality and consistent animal despite not winning since April. Is a veteran of 45 starts and has won 11 races but is yet to strike a big blow in a big race.
A three-pegs run would be ideal, perhaps even more so than trying to chase a tearaway leader like Krug. Pete McMullen will need to be alert at the start to ensure he maintains leaders back but from there it could be a cushy run to the line.
CRUNCH TIME (11) – Nathan Dawson, Rickie Alchin $121
A gate speed horse drawn 11, not exactly an ideal scenario.
As a 3YO, he produced a 1:49.6 mile but he did that in front running his own splits. In this race, he will be driven for extreme luck and just hoping to finish in the top half of the field.
MACH DA VINCI (12) – Shane Graham, Peter Hansen $81
A good horse with a blinding turn of foot but there’s a gap between he and the absolute elite. His grounding at FFA level in Sydney will have him ready for any type of race and he’s not the worst 80/1 chance I’ve ever seen because he will be back smoking the pipe hoping Krug, Expensive Ego and co. go absolutely bonkers.
Two back he was heavily supported as favourite but failed. That race he was parked up working, here he will be doing no work and again, he’s not the worst extreme roughie I’ve seen.
SEND IT (7) – Brad Hewitt $121
A smart son of Western Terror who lobs an impossible barrier in this calibre of race.
Never ventured north to Albion Park but the lure of a crack at 250k would draw most horses. The pain of the wide gate means Brad Hewitt has no choice but to drop off the arm and look for a spot in running. An incredible amount of luck will be needed just to get a crack at them should he be going well enough off the hot tempo.
ILIKEMEBETTOR (6) – Driver TBC, Belinda McCarthy $81
Was a nice winner at The Creek last weekend and has some claims of being in the main event and not relying on someone else dropping out to gain a start.
A very consistent performer at the lowers grades, winning five from 16 and placing in all but three career starts. You know what they say about the emergency in a consolation… always back them!
THE SPEED MAP
I could well be wrong (I likely am) but I see this map being relatively straightforward.
Krug is desperate to hold the top and Kowalski Analysis will be coming off the arm at full noise. Either way, Krug either holds up or gets off and retakes the top as Kowalski Analysis always hands up.
Instead of burning up stupidly, I’d expect Blair Orange to let Sofia Arvidsson go before retaking the lead and holding. From there, it’s just a matter of time until Expensive Ego gets to the breeze.
Who occupies the 1-1 is interesting – and far more uncertain. Amazing Dream would love to be there but plenty of horses will be desperate to get in front of Expensive Ego knowing they’ll get the cover they so desire.
Here’s how I’ve settled…
Krug in front, Kowalski Analysis behind the leader with Expensive Ego in the chair and Amazing Dream riding the helmet of L McCarthy.
Copy That likely has to lead up the three-wide line with speedster Spirit of St Louis on his back.
1 EXPENSIVE EGO – Feel like he could be the next generational open class superstar! Has to go on top.
2 KRUG – Will lead for a long long way but the burn to hold up early may just tell in the final half furlong.
3 AMAZING DREAM – Word is she’s airborne and when she gets to hunt and not be the hunted she’s a freak.
4 COPY THAT – Impossible task from 13 unless they go completely silly up front.
Best Roughie: MACH DA VINCI – Just have $5 each way, please…
What a race this should be. Well done QLD and good luck to all.