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The Ex-Factor with Nathan Exelby - December 31

Fri 31 December 2021

Well known Queensland media man Nathan Exelby is a constant at the track and has all the inside information as we head into another big weekend of racing in the Sunshine State.

 

SPECIAL MOMENT FOR ‘SPECIAL K’

KEMENTARI’S presence in The Buffering on Saturday adds an exciting new dimension to the race, which could potentially lead to a unique situation come the week of January 15.

Like a growing number of Godolphin horses in recent years, KEMENTARI will try to secure a wildcard into Magic Millions-day by winning this wildcard race.

ROHERYN qualified for a MM tilt for the second time when winning the Falvelon last week. He ran third in the MM Snippets last year after his wildcard win.

James Cummings-trained runners MANICURE, ISUARIAN and ATHIRI all ran second on Magic Millions day after earning wildcards during the Brisbane leg of the Queensland Summer Carnival.

So, Cummings has the blueprint finely tuned and he’s also trying to do the same with KATALIN when she runs in the Nudgee at Doomben on Saturday.

But Kementari would be different altogether.

The now seven-year-old was put back into training after proving infertile at stud. He covered more than 50 mares, but to the best of Godolphin Australia’s manager Vin Cox’s knowledge, he only ever had two live foals.

Those two foals have been catalogued to sell at January’s Gold Coast Magic Millions Yearling Sale.

Imagine Kementari winning a ‘Magics’ race in the same week his two progeny were sold!

Even if he were to just compete on the day it would be some kind of story.

So for sentiment’s sake, there will be no more popular runner at Doomben this weekend.

Kementari has won two races since being put back into work in the first half of 2020 – those being the G3 Scahill Stakes in Perth in December 2020 and the G2 Gilgai Stakes at Flemington to kickstart his 2021 spring campaign.

He is best placed in this race under the set weight and penalty conditions and Cox said he received a glowing report from Cummings about the seven-year-old’s final track hitout earlier this week.

He needs to overcome an awkward draw, but there’s little doubting his Gilgai run is good enough to give this race a huge shake.

The army of ‘Special K’ fans, or ‘followers’ (those who love to see him do Kementari things like running second, third or fourth) will have their eyes firmly parked on Doomben when the Buffering comes around this weekend.

 

APACHE WON’T HAVE IT ALL HIS OWN WAY

ON the subject of The Buffering, APACHE CHASE seems terribly short in early trading at around the $2.40 mark with TAB.

This race is on a different level all together compared to the horses he beat up on in The Gateway.

And he gets away from Eagle Farm, where he clearly has a big advantage in being able to handle a surface that so many others don’t.

He’s yet to win in two goes around Doomben, the latest when he was 3.5L adrift of ISOTOPE and AWAY GAME in last year’s Gold Edition.

It is fair to say he’s improved notably since then and this will be his first go at the 1350m, which should suit much better than 1200m.

But he is drawn wide, so will be working a shade early and faces some handy rivals here that include TAMBO’S MATE (a dual stakes winner at the track this time in), KIKU (off a good run in G1 grade in Melbourne and a soft recent trial), SOXAGON (terrific first up last week in the Falvelon), GARIBALDI (back to form in easier last start), AIM (who conquered Apache in the MM Guineas this year) and the aforementioned Kementari.

Even a horse like BLONDEAU adds to the interest for me. He’s been freshened up again and he seems to race well that way. His fresh rating way back at the start of this campaign is a number good enough to give this race a real shake and he handles wet ground should that arrive.

The point I’m making is that I believe this to be a red hot race and $2.40 seems very skinny about the favourite taking on a whole new ball game away from his favourite playground.

MILLIONS FAV NEEDS MOMENT IN THE SUN

COOLANGATTA trimmed up a shade after winning the McLachlan last week in terms of Magic Millions betting, but I suspect the performance presented hope to a few rivals.

It wasn’t the massacre many had predicted and even though the performance had huge merit after she was part of a busy first half, the diminishing margin on the line to $101 chance THELWELL says she’s not invincible.

The win of RUSSIAN CONQUEST in Sydney looked outstanding to the eye and her three lengths win saw her elevated to the equal second line of betting at $9.

James McDonald noted Coolangatta would be better served if a firmer track was served up on MM day, as he didn’t feel she was totally comfortable on the Soft 6 surface and no doubt she will improve again for it.

But it does make other lead-ups over the next fortnight more important.

This weekend we see the equal second favourite SOARING AMBITION take on a handy field at Doomben, while $17 MM chance SECRET REVOLUTION opts to stay at home and try and qualify for the race via the Kensington track.

A standout performance by either could give that current $1.70 price about Coolangatta a little nudge outwards.

TIGER WILL SHOW MORE HEART AT DOOMBEN

THE Magic Millions Guineas market is also set for a shake-up on Saturday, with current favourite JAMAEA resuming against the older mares in the Nudgee at Doomben.

Trainers Robert and Luke Price have opted for the 1200m fresh tilt, as opposed to the 1350m of the Vo Rogue, which has been the traditional Brisbane lead-up for the Guineas.

It will be a good test for Jamaea with the 56kg against seasoned older rivals headed by ISOTOPE, who heads betting for the Listed feature.

KING OF SPARTA joined Jamaea on the top line of Guineas betting when getting back and running on in Wednesday’s Gosford Guineas.

SHIHONKA ($15) is the highest rated Guineas runner out of all those contesting the Vo Rogue on Saturday and she’s been installed an early short-priced favourite for that race.

IT is by no means the strongest Vo Rogue we’ve seen, but rivals will fancy their chances of rolling the Sydney filly at the end of 1350m after she fell in to win over the trip last time out.

I’m looking for TIGER HEART to run a much-improved race in the Vo Rogue. Things haven’t panned out for him this prep, but out to 1350m suits and I’m sure he’s going to be a better horse away from Eagle Farm.

BEST BETS AT DOOMBEN

  • Tribute King - R2, $15
  • Soaring Ambition - R3, $1.85
  • Jetty, R5 - $8.50