The decision by Racing Queensland to transfer Saturday’s Doomben 10,000 meeting to Eagle Farm is viewed as a positive by Matamata trainer Mark Walker who will saddle leading contender Entriviere in the weight-for-age 1200m feature.
Following recent inclement weather and a forecast for further heavy rainfall, the Brisbane Racing Club meeting has been transferred to the better draining larger circuit at Eagle Farm, whereas there was the potential for Doomben to be called off.
Walker, who hasn’t missed a beat since again assuming control of Te Akau’s Matamata operation following the departure of Hong Kong-bound Jamie Richards, will travel back to Queensland this weekend to saddle Group One winner Entriviere as the five-year-old daughter of Tavistock looks to add an Australian Group One to her already impressive CV.
“I think the transfer to Eagle Farm is a definite positive,” Walker said. “Running her fresh-up on a bottomless track at Doomben wasn’t going to be that great.”
Walker is pleased with the mare who last raced in early February when second to Levante in the Gr.1 BCD Group Sprint (1400m) at Te Rapa and prior to departing for Queensland Entriviere had two soft trials in her homeland.
“She had an exhibition gallop last Saturday at the Gold Coast after race one and then travelled up and had a gallop at Eagle Farm on Tuesday, so she is pretty ready,” Walker said.
“We wanted to have her pretty cherry ripe for her first up run and then we will decide what to do with her after that.
“The barrier draw (15 of 15) was a bit of a kick in the guts but at the end of the day if it is a rain-affected track then by that time of the day it may be the best place to be.”
Walker said the Gr.1 Tatts Tiara (1400m) at Eagle Farm on June 25 was another race circled, with a likely start in between to be determined.
Stable rider Opie Bosson will be in Brisbane this weekend to ride the patiently-handled mare, who is bidding to bring up Walker’s third Group One winner since returning from Singapore less than two months ago.
“It is fantastic to have Opie on because he is a proven Group One jockey in Australia and he knows the horses so well, it is a big advantage,” Walker said.
“It would be like a fairy tale to win an Australian Group One so quickly since returning, but they don’t give them away.
“The Queensland carnival used to be a bit easier in the past but it is not anymore, it is virtually as good as Sydney or Melbourne.”
Meanwhile, closer to home Walker will have a handful of stakes runners at Rotorua on Saturday where the track is a Soft7, including Leaderboard in the Gr.3 Campbell Infrastructure Rotorua Cup (2200m) and Mai Tai and Shepherd's Delight in the Gr.3 Rydges Rotorua Stakes (1400m).
“Leaderboard was very good in the Hawke’s Bay Cup (Listed, 2200m) last start where he was well-ridden but just found one better on the day,” Walker said.
“The wetter the better for him but it looks like the track will dry. This will be his final run of the season and he will go out and be prepared for the New Zealand Cup (Gr.3, 3200m).
“Mai Tai is the highest rated horse but the barrier (19) doesn’t make it that easy and it is a pretty even field.
“Shepherd’s Delight, she ran such a good race for second in the 1000 Guineas (Gr.1, 1600m) on a wet track so she does go better with a bit of cut in the track.”
Walker said that despite the unseasonably dry weather in New Zealand, the stable would still be quieter in terms of runners over the final few months of the season, as has become the norm at Te Akau.
“There is a big team for Matamata on Friday but it is our local track and they only have to walk across so a number will go out after that. You would think it will be wet from here on in.”