My Betting Mate’s resident racing expert CHRIS SCHOLTZ dissects this year’s Doomben Ten Thousand field and finds it hard to oppose the favourite I WISH I WIN.

The first Group One contest of the Brisbane winter carnival is embarrassingly down on numbers but isn’t lacking in class with six G1 winners among the nine acceptors for the $1.5 million Doomben Ten Thousand.

The bigger issue is the track rating, sitting on a Heavy 8 on Friday after Doomben received more than 120mm of rain in the last week. More showers are expected on Friday before a fine Saturday but it will come too late with best case scenario an upgrade to the soft range. The rail is in the true position.

Whatever way you dissect the race (1) I WISH I WIN stands out as the horse to beat. He’s an elite performer with a brilliant record that speaks for itself – unplaced only twice in 19 starts and only once out of the top three in his last 10 starts, all in G1 contests over distances from 1000m to 1600m on everything from good to the heaviest of affected tracks.

He topped ratings tables everywhere when he ran down Giga Kick to win last year’s TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at Randwick and would be hailed as the best horse in the land if he had converted a luckless second in the 2023 Everest and a blanket finish third at his latest start in this year’s TJ Smith to wins.

Traffic problems due to lack of early gate speed contributed to those defeats, raising debate about how much the rails draw is going to help or hinder his Ten Thousand chances around the tighter Doomben course. What you have to factor in is the knowledge champion jockey James McDonald will have gleaned from riding I WISH I WIN for the first time in last month’s TJ Smith when the imposing Savabeel 4YO was having his first start since his desperate second to Think About It in the Everest back in October.

McDonald’s mindset is sure to be about avoiding inside runs and giving I WISH I WIN plenty of galloping room – if it pans out right and the big horse gets the clear air he needs he is fresh enough to overwhelm the opposition with his feared finishing sprint. The key word is “fresh” as his trainer Peter Moody pencilled the Ten Thousand as a target race for I WISH I WIN weeks ago, knowing his best chance would be sending him in off a fresh preparation without a trial since he last raced in the TJ Smith on April 6.

Opposing I WISH I WIN are five evenly matched G1 winners – (2) PRIVATE EYE, (3) MAZU (winner of this race two years ago when transferred to Eagle Farm and third last year behind Giga Kick), (5) BELLA NIPOTINA, his stablemate (6) CHAIN OF LIGHTNING and (7) ESPIONA.All have shone on their given days but their peak performances rate below I WISH I WIN’S career best figure and they lack his scope for further improvement, being deep into testing campaigns that began in the early autumn.

The track conditions are a leveller as all are accomplished wet track performers. As I have stated previously horses rarely reach this top tier of competition without the ability to adapt to all types of racing conditions – it’s just that some handle the wet better than others. MAZU, BELLA NIPOTINA and CHAIN OF LIGHTNING rate as the best mudlarks in this Ten Thousand field but every acceptor boasts multiple wins on soft or heavy tracks.

The grey CHAIN OF LIGHTNING had been unplaced in eight G1 starts before her upset win in the TJ Smith at Randwick on April 6 when she revelled in the heavy conditions. She was the right horse in the right place at the right time as less than a length covered the first six across the line including four of the runners in this race. CHAIN OF LIGHTNING regressed when only sixth in the All Aged Stakes after the TJ Smith but 1400m was always going to be a test for her at G1 level and she can rebound with the return to 1200m on a heavy track.

While Peter Moody would dearly love to win his first Doomben Ten Thousand (Black Caviar was denied a start in 2011 after she had won the BTC Cup when Moody changed plans and sent the mare for a spell) rival trainers are seeking to build on their successful records in the race. Joseph Pride, the trainer of PRIVATE EYE and MAZU, won his first in 2005 with Red Oog and a second with Eduardo in 2021 while Chris Waller landed his first with Boban in 2015.

Waller’s mare ESPIONA can be an enigma but she is my preference for the quinella providing the track is not a bog. While her best G1 form is against her own sex my choice is based on her tragic sixth in the TJ Smith as she surely would have been in the placings with clear running over the last 200m. A below par performance followed in the All Aged Stakes (1400m) but she responds to having her races spaced and a month between runs gives her the chance to bounce back.

Joe Pride bypassed the TJ Smith with PRIVATE EYE, a move that saw the rising 7YO finding something like his best G1 form when third in the All Aged Stakes where he appreciated getting out to 1400m after average efforts in shorter sprints over the carnival. Big prizemoney is hard to pass up but I cannot fathom why Pride has pursued 1000m-1200m sprint races with PRIVATE EYE when the gelding continually produces his best figures in events from 1300m to 1600m. His peak performance was his win in the G1 Epsom Handicap over 1600m at Randwick in 2021 and his race at this winter carnival should be next month’s G1 Stradbroke over 1400m on the big Eagle Farm track where he will attempt to go one better than his second behind Alligator Blood in 2022.

PRIVATE EYE’s new stablemate MAZU was having just his third start for Pride when he won his first race in two years with the help of a favourable heavy track in the G3 Hall Mark Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on April 20 carrying 60kg. He had struggled at his previous start when only 11th in the TJ Smith but his Hall Mark Stakes rating marked a return to his best figures and you have to respect that his only two starts in Brisbane have resulted in a win and a third in this race when he was trained by Peter and Paul Snowden.

The rising 7YO BELLA NIPOTINA is the oldest of the five mares contesting the Ten Thousand but it’s to her credit that her best performances have come in the latter part of her career,

especially when she has struck rain affected ground. She rates highly on her gritty second in the TJ Smith but she has since been to Perth and back for a fourth in The Quokka (1200m) and it remains to be seen how she can cope with such a demanding schedule as she edges closer to retirement.

Talented mares WEE NESSY and STEFI MAGNETICA boast solid Group form but need to make a big jump in their ratings to upset this field. The rank outsider BODY BOB will give his connections a thrill racing for $1.5 million prizemoney but that’s as far as it goes – in a normal year with a full field he wouldn’t get a look in!


(1) I WISH I WIN; (7) Espiona; (6) Chain Of Lightning; (5) Bella Nipotina

Published on May 17, 2024

Bookies Contributor

My Betting Mate