Some of Queensland’s leading stables are preparing their troops for another assault on Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival, following the state’s success down south last year.
Queensland gallopers blazed a trail through the early spart of the spring in 2022, with the Steven O’Dea and Matt Hoysted training team enjoying some notable results courtesy of Uncommon James, Shooting For Gold and Scallopini.
All three tasted success, with subsequent Group 1 winner Uncommon James earning his first Black Type victory in the Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, before Shooting For Gold got in on the act in the Group 3 McCafé 1100 Stakes (1100m) and stable stalwart Scallopini rolled back the years in The Sofitel (1400m) at Flemington.
Uncommon James, who was bred and is owned by Hoysted’s wife Caitlin, broke through the $1 million barrier when he defeated some topline sprinters in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) earlier this year and the speed machine is set to enhance his burgeoning reputation when he returns to Melbourne.
His shrewd trainers have identified the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley in late September as the ideal kick-off point for their stable star, with the Manikato Stakes (1200m) – which will be run on Cox Plate Day this year – shaping as his next frontier.
Uncommon James’ opponents in both races could include another Queensland sensation in Rothfire, who proudly flew the flag for the Robert Heathcote stable in Melbourne last year.
Rothfire’s record at The Valley gives Heathcote plenty of confidence ahead of his spring mission, with ‘The Thriller from Chinchilla’ having beaten a smart field of sprinters – including dual Group 1 winner Coolangatta – to win the Group 2 McEwen Stakes (1000m) there last September.
A subsequent second in the Manikato Stakes proved Rothfire could mix it at the elite level, and the seasoned campaigner proved he had lost none of his zest for racing during the Queensland Winter Carnival, most notably when running a huge race behind Think About It in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
Rothfire will have company on the journey south in the form of his fellow Group 1 winner Startantes, Group 2 hero Prince Of Boom and up-and-coming filly Ekaterina.
Tony Gollan has also outlined his spring plans, with Queensland’s leading trainer set to send a crack team including Black Soil Bloodstock’s Magic Millions heroine Skirt The Law and Antino, who made a mighty impression with four straight wins during the winter carnival.
“Skirt The Law is back in work and we’ll kick her off in the Quezette Stakes at Caulfield on mid-August,” said Gollan, who has just claimed his 10th Trainers’ Premiership.
“She will have a Doomben barrier trial next Tuesday which should top her off nicely before we send her south. She’s furnished really nicely during her break, and is looking a very strong filly now.
“I’m going into the carnival with an open mind with her, I don’t know if she’s purely a sprinter or if she’ll get over further ground but if everything goes to plan, the Coolmore would be the grand final.
“Antino is much the same in that we haven’t mapped out a definite program for him yet. There are some really nice options but we’ll kick him off in a listed race over 1400m on Makybe Diva Stakes Day, then hopefully he’ll run in the Toorak Handicap but we’ll let him tell us which way we head.
“He’s definitely one of the more promising horses I’ve trained – if not the most promising – but he’s got to go down there and prove himself. It’s one thing to do it in your own back yard, if he can run up to the same level in Melbourne then we’ll know we have something special on our hands.”