The Follow Files: Who were the Queensland Winter Carnival standouts?

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With the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival coming to an official end last Saturday, this week’s Follow Files will focus on three horses that we will be following after performing consistently during the 10-week carnival.

Top horses to follow from Queensland Winter Racing Carnival 2023

Horse to follow: Antino

  • Highlight: Listed Wayne Wilson Handicap (1st)

Prior to the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival, Tony Gollan said he had high ambitions for Antino after the horse won four of his first five starts. The goal was to get his rating high enough to run in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap; however, even with three straight wins, his rating wasn’t high enough to get into the $3 million Group 1 feature on June 10.

In a bid to gain a start in the Stradbroke, Gollan entered Antino in another Class 6 Handicap over 1400m at Eagle Farm where he had to lug 61.5kg and jump from the widest barrier. He jumped well and led every step of the way to win easily. Although that didn’t get him into the Stradbroke field, his subsequent win in the Listed Wayne Wilson was as dominant as any on Stradbroke Handicap Day.

Potential spring target: Gollan said after the Wayne Wilson win that he would target races in Melbourne or Sydney in the spring for Antino. If Gollan takes him to Melbourne, the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) could be the perfect target race for him, but if he goes to Sydney, the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) could be another good target.

Horse to follow: Think About It

  • Highlight: Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1st)

After Think About It won his first Group race in the Liverpool City Cup at Randwick in February, Joseph Pride claimed he had found his Stradbroke Handicap horse. The four-year-old gelding returned from a summer preparation with a dominant display in the Listed Takeover Target Stakes at Gosford over 1200m first-up before heading to Queensland.

The horse arrived in Brisbane with eight wins from his first nine career starts, and he began his Queensland Winter Carnival with a start in his first Group 1 – the Kingsford Smith Cup. Although he was made to travel three wide for the entire 1300m trip, this son of So You Think proved way too good and claimed his maiden Group 1 victory. After that win, he went into the Stradbroke Handicap as a clear favourite with most online bookmakers, where he defied a late betting drift and won by 1.5 lengths.

Potential spring target: After Think About It’s dominant win in the Stradbroke Handicap, only one race was on Pride’s mind and that was The Everest. If he gains a slot – which many expect he will – we should see him run in the $15 million race.

Horse to follow: Prince Of Boom

  • Highlight: Group 2 Moreton Cup (1st)

Prince Of Boom had a very successful three-year-old season where he won the Gold Coast Guineas and took on the older horses admirably in Victoria at the back end of 2022. When he returned from his six-month spell, the four-year-old gelding kicked off his Queensland Winter Carnival with a big win in the Listed Ascot Handicap before taking on the Group 2 Victory Stakes. There, Prince Of Boom adopted similar front-running tactics but was beaten by Rothfire and King Of Sparta in the final 100m.

This son of Spirit Of Boom was thrown in the deep end at his next start, running sixth in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 – albeit beaten only 2.8 lengths by Giga Kick. To end his winter preparation, Robert Heathcote entered his gelding in the Group 2 Moreton Cup and Group 3 WJ Healy Stakes at Eagle Farm over two weeks and he won by over two lengths in both races.

Potential spring target: Heathcote believes Prince Of Boom isn’t ready to take on Group 1 weight-for-age races, so we expect he will try to pick off a nice Group 2 at Moonee Valley or Caulfield that will suit his front-running racing style. The Group 2 Schillaci Stakes or Group 2 McEwen Stakes could be nice target races for him.

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