The Follow Files: Brisbane Winter Carnival horses to watch

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In this week’s edition of The Follow Files we will be looking ahead to the Brisbane Winter Carnival, which will kick off on April 29 with Victory Stakes Day at Eagle Farm.

The carnival features some of the most prestigious races in Australia, including seven Group 1s: the Stradbroke Handicap, Doomben Cup, BTC Cup, Doomben 10,000, J.J. Atkins Stakes, Queensland Oaks, Queensland Derby and Tattersalls Tiara. Over $30 million in prize money will be up for grabs across the six weeks of racing at Doomben, Eagle Farm, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast.

Below you will find three runners that we will be following as they prepare for some of the biggest races during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.

Horse to follow: Zaaki

  • Last Race: VRC Champions Stakes (1st) at Flemington on November 5, 2022

After only returning for the one disappointing barrier trial in the autumn Annabel Neasham made the decision to send Zaaki to the paddock for a freshen before getting him ready to return in the Brisbane Winter Carnival. The star eight-year-old gelding has made the Brisbane Winter Carnival his own over the last two years since he arrived in Australia, winning both the Group 2 Hollindale Stakes and the Group 1 Doomben Cup in 2021, with his staggering seven length victory in the Cup, being one of the most dominant Group 1 victories in recent times. After taking out the Doomben Cup in 2021, Zaaki went onto claim the Group 2 Q22, finishing his Queensland preparation undefeated. After a successful Victorian Spring and Autumn Carnival where he won the VRC Champions Stakes and the $5 million All-Star Mile, Neasham took her star gelding back to Queensland where he went back-to-back in the Hollindale, however, he couldn’t repeat the dose in the Doomben Cup, finishing in third. The last time we saw Zaaki was in the Group 1 VRC Champions Stakes on the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington, bringing up back-to-back wins in the race.

When to bet: Annabel Neasham spoke recently about Zaaki and his upcoming campaign, where she said that they would trial him and if he trials normally, they would go to the All Aged Stakes before heading up to Brisbane for the Doomben Cup. If Neasham is happy with her gelding’s trial and sends him to the races, we will be following him carefully and backing him when he gets to the Doomben Cup second-up.

Horse to follow: Think About It

  • Last Race: Liverpool City Cup (1st) at Randwick on February 25, 2023

Joseph Pride looks to have a very smart gelding on his hands, in the name of Think About It who took out the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup at his most recent start, taking his win streak to four in a row. After that race Pride said that he would send his four-year-old son of So You Think to the paddock for a freshen before bringing him back into work for a Stradbroke Handicap campaign. With six wins to his name from seven career race starts, there is no doubt that Think About It is a star gelding on the rise, but the odds are not in his favour, as only three four-year-old’s have won the Stradbroke Handicap in the last 20 years, with the only gelding being Trekking in 2019. However, this gelding loves to win and he makes his own luck on pace, so if Pride has him fit and ready to go on June 10, there is no doubt in our mind that Think About It will give the $3 million Stradbroke Handicap a massive shake.

When to bet: With the Stradbroke Handicap being the target for Think About It’s next preparation, we expect Joseph Pride to give him a lead-up run, possibly in the Victory Stakes or BTC Cup as both of those races carry ballot exemption status for the Stradbroke. We will be backing Think About It in whatever race he kicks off his campaign in, and if he wins well and gets a start in the Stradbroke Handicap, we will be backing him in that as well.

Horse to follow: Veight

  • Last Race: VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1st) at Flemington on March 11, 2023

Although Tony & Calvin McEvoy have said that the target race for Veight is the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick on April 1, if their star two-year-old colt was to win that race in dominant fashion, like he has done at his first two career starts, there is a chance that we could see him go to the Group 1 J.J. Atkins in the Brisbane Winter Carnival. This son of Grunt has won his first two race starts by an average winning margin of four lengths, with both of his wins being explosive and dominant. Calvin McEvoy and Damian Lane agreed that Veight is much better over 1400m or 1600m, so they chose to skip the Blue Diamond Stakes and Golden Slipper which are over 1200m for two-year-olds. Veight is in the middle of his first racing preparation currently, so it could be a stretch for him to race on April 1 and then stay fit for the J.J. Atkins in June, so we may see him go to the paddock for a month to freshen up and come back for a Brisbane Winter Carnival campaign.

When to bet: After two stunning wins at his first two race starts, there is no doubt in our mind that Veight is one of the horses to beat in the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes at Randwick for his next start, therefore, we will be backing him in that. However, if he does continue his unbeaten start to his career and take out the ATC Sires’, we hope that the McEvoy’s choose to send Veight to the J.J. Atkins, where he would be one of the key chances to take out the $1 million Group 1 over 1600m.

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