In The Congo heads early Stradbroke betting markets

Tofane news
Tofane returns victorious after the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap. (Photo: Grant Peters)

With the Brisbane Winter Carnival officially set to start on April 30, online bookmakers have released pre-nomination markets for four of the seven Group 1 races on the schedule.

Markets for the Doomben 10,000 (1200m), Doomben Cup (2000m), Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) and Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) have been opened, with punters forced to wait a while longer for the Queensland Derby (2400m), Queensland Oaks (2200m) and J.J. Atkins (1600m).

The first Group 1 of the Brisbane Winter Carnival is the Doomben 10,000 on May 14, with bookmakers expecting it to be a local victory, with Tony Gollan’s mare Isotope a $6 favourite.

After running second to Shelby Sixtysix in The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 19, Big Parade is the $7 second favourite, with a trio of three-year-olds on the third and fourth lines of betting – In The Congo, Mazu ($8) and Paulele ($10).

Zaaki had his name put up in lights in 2021 with a brilliant seven-length victory in the Doomben Cup, so he has been installed as a $3 favourite for the May 21 feature, should Annabel Neasham send the All-Star Mile winner on a path to Queensland after Saturday’s highly anticipated Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m).

Sharing the second line of betting at $7 is Zaaki’s stablemate Mo’unga, last year’s Group 3 Gunsynd Classic (1600m) winner Ayrton and 2021 Caulfield Cup (2400m) runner-up Nonconformist.

Group 1 racing heads to Eagle Farm on May 28, with the running of the Kingsford-Smith Cup and Queensland Derby headlining the program.

The Kingsford Smith Cup market is very similar to the Doomben 10,000, given a number of horses traditionally head to the Kingsford Smith Cup a fortnight after the $1 million sprint at Doomben.

Isotope is an $8 equal favourite for the Kingsford Smith – the same race that the mare’s stablemate Vega One won in 2021 – with Mazu sharing the top line of betting.

All eyes will be on Eagle Farm on June 11, which will see the running of the $1.5 million Stradbroke Handicap.

The 1400m event attracts some of the nation’s best sprinters and middle-distance horses, with this year’s market suggesting 2022 will be no different.

The 2021 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) winner In The Congo heads the betting with Ladbrokes as a $10 chance, while Doncaster Mile (1600m) winner Mr Brightside is the $11 second favourite.

Isotope and Private Eye share the third line of betting at $12 each of two, with last year’s early Stradbroke favourite Ayrton a $13 hope. Four horses sit on the fifth line of betting at $15, with Ellsberg and Quantico sharing the double-figure quote with Queensland gallopers Rothfire and Vega One.

Apache Chase ($16) has already secured his spot in the race with a brilliant win in The Gateway in December, so five other horses will be looking to become exempt from ballot should they win one of the five eligible races that are held earlier in the carnival – the BRC Sprint (1350m), Fred Best Classic (1400m), Moreton Cup (1200m), Doomben 10,000 and Kingsford-Smith Cup.

The Group 1 J.J. Atkins is yet to have a market released, but it will partner the Stradbroke on June 11, along with the $1.2 million Q22 (2200m) and $400,000 Brisbane Cup (3200m).

The Q22 is expected to attract plenty of interest throughout the carnival, with the winner of the Doomben Cup ballot exempt, as well as the winner and runner-up of both the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks exempt from ballot for the second edition of the 2200m event, which was won by Zaaki in its inaugural year.

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