Racing in the state of Victoria is usually the main focus of my attention, but I am broadening my horizons this week.
Doomben is located just outside the Queensland city of Brisbane and it hosts a very important card of Group race action with some top-class performers having their last prep races before taking up Group 1 engagements in the next few weeks.
The mild climate of Queensland lends itself to top class racing in the Australian winter as trainers from around the country tend to follow the weather in pursuit of decent ground for their horses.
Unusually though, the ground is likely to be soft there, but that will suit my sole selection. All my other selections are from Caulfield in Melbourne.
DAWN PASSAGE has a good record of four wins from nine outings and the colt’s recent form has justified his short odds of 5/4. Dominant wins in the Hawkesbury and Scone Guineas respectively over 1400 metres has earned him a possible tilt at next week’s Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.
Trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, Dawn Passage is a son of the former Jim Bolger-trained star Dawn Approach and he is perfectly placed in this Group 3 over 1350m. While there are some handy local and interstate performers engaged, Dawn Passage is classy and is better suited at the distance than most of his likely challengers.
With the experienced Brad Stewart to ride, Dawn Passage can settle where comfortable and be good enough to beat this field before his Stradbroke assault. This race can be viewed live on Sky Sports Racing too.
CRYSTAL CHIEF ran a blinder on debut at Flemington when he was a fast finishing third to Divine Caprice. He got in all sorts of trouble in that race.
The experience gained there should really stand to him as he steps up half a furlong here. He is up against some impressive debut winners in Dark Horse and Island Joy, but Crystal Chief has been handed a plum draw in barrier two and I expect Daniel Stackhouse to take full advantage.
SMOKE BOMB is chasing a hat trick of wins in race 4 after back-to-back wins over 1400 metres at Cranbourne. Both wins came from the front and his last one was particularly impressive when he scorched clear after kicking off the home bend.
Jake Noonan was on board for both wins and is back in the saddle here. The step up to 1600 metres should be well within his grasp and if the same front running tactics are applied, I can’t see anything getting by Smoke Bomb.
SIKORSKY is the star performer of the day at Caulfield. He was very impressive on his most recent win when I tipped him at 7/2 at Flemington.
This race is not as strong, and he should be too good for his rivals. Bar something is wrong with the horse or he encounters a horrible passage, he should be right in contention.
I expect PACODALI to outrun his current odds of 12/1 in the last race. He was a bit disappointing last week at Flemington, but that was over 1600 metres on soft ground and he chased a crazy fast pace before tiring late on.
The step back up to 2000 metres on better ground here is more favourable. He is burdened with top weight, but the capable Lachie King takes a bit off so expect him to be bang there at the finish at a nice price.
*Prices correct at publishing but are subject to change except on our snazzy new bet widget which is bang up to date.
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