The first feature race of the Queensland summer carnival has a distinct southern flavour to it, including a couple of former headline youngsters out to make a name for themselves in new stables.
Already we’ve seen former Victorian Krone clinch some black type since joining the Tony Gollan yard, while the South Australian Hard Empire made a cracking debut for the Toby and Trent Edmonds stable at Doomben on Melbourne Cup day.
That pair go for back-to-back wins in the Keith Noud, as they are joined by one-time boom youngsters Jonker and Sandbar, who are both trying to rejuvenate their careers in the Sunshine State.
David Vandyke said the arrival of Sandbar from Brad Widdup’s Hawkesbury stable was simply a case of chasing firmer tracks.
“They are plagued with wet tracks in and around Sydney at the moment,” Vandyke said.
“I trained for the people who own him and, with Brad’s blessing, he was sent up to me to try and get away from those wetter tracks.”
Sandbar races in the colours of prominent owner Nick Vass, while Neil Werrett is also among his owners.
A $650,000 yearling purchase, Sandbar was a Listed winner at two and three and was also fourth in The Autumn Sun’s 2018 Golden Rose. He hasn’t won since a Benchmark 88 in November last year, but did win a Hawkesbury trial in September.
“He came up last week,” Vandyke said. “He’s a nice horse. He looks good, his work has been good, so there’s positive signs, but I don’t know him well.
“He’s a Magic Millions purchase, so providing he runs well Saturday he will stay up and we will press on and see how far we get.”
Gollan’s hopes of winning the Keith Noud Quality for a third straight year, after Most Important and Outback Barbie, were dealt a blow when Krone drew 13 and Jonker 15. Both are likely to take their place on Saturday despite the draws as they head to long-term targets in January.
Jonker won his first two starts as a two-year-old brilliantly and was a top Magic Millions fancy, but has failed to win in 18 subsequent starts. That said, he’s been three times Group 2 placed since and twice Listed placed, including his last start in the Grafton Ramornie.
“This is a bit of a bit of a change for him up here and I’m really happy with the way he’s going,” Gollan said.
“He should enjoy this type of carnival, he likes good ground, which we normally get. But he won’t enjoy bad barriers if he keeps getting them.”
Jonker has been with Gollan for the past 12 weeks and like Sandbar, is still a stallion.
“He has had plenty of work and on his best form, on good ground he can run well,” Gollan said.
Last start Glasshouse winner Krone is going “a whole lot better” now than she was in the winter according to Gollan.
“If there is a negative, she loves a bit of moisture and she mightn’t get that unless it storms on the day, but she’s had a faultless prep, geared towards Magic Millions day at her fourth or fifth run,” he said.