Niccanova to step up after Doomben victory

Niccanova wins at Doomben.
Niccanova (R) has made a timely return to winning form to earn a Brisbane summer carnival campaign.

Promising Toowoomba galloper Niccanova will step up in distance before a summer carnival campaign after his impressive win at Doomben.

Sent out favourite, Niccanova ($2) ended months of frustrations for trainer Steve Tregea when he beat Fiery Heights ($2.30) by 2 1/4 lengths in the Peter and Kerry Handicap (1350m).

Tregea has a big opinion of Niccanova who won the 2017 Group Three Fred Best Classic and ran third in the Group Two Queensland Guineas (1600m).

Niccanova was being set for the feature races in the winter after an impressive come back win in March but a series of niggling problems has restricted him to just three starts in the spring.

Tregea said he had been frustrated trying to get Niccanova out to a suitable distance this campaign.

“His first two runs back were at 1200 metres and I have been looking for the right race. This proved the one but he can go to 1600 metres now and then we can start thinking about the summer carnival,” Tregea said.

“There is a mile race next Saturday but he will need to do very well.”

Tregea said there were plenty of options in the summer as Niccanova was competitive at 1200m but could get out to further later in the carnival.

Jockey Damian Browne made a successful return to metropolitan racing when the outsider in a four-horse field, veteran Hard Stride, won the CJA Produce Handicap (1050m).

Hard Stride was a winner at Dalby two starts back but had not won a city race in September 2016.;

The gelding was originally raced by David Moodie’s Contract Racing syndicates but trainer Tony Sears wife Leah bought a share in him earlier this year.

Browne, a multiple Group One-winning jockey, missed six weeks of racing with a facial injury and returned at a Caloundra night meeting last week where he had a double.

He had only two rides at Doomben on Saturday and Hard Stride gave him a morale-boosting win.

“I needed surgery on my nose after a trackwork accident and it isn’t that flash-looking now but at least it is working,” Browne said.