Racing: Queenslander ready for Newmarket Hcp

By Mark Oberhardt

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Star Queensland 3-year-old Better Than Ready has beaten the big wet to remain on target to land a plunge in the Newmarket Hcp at Flemington on Saturday.

The Kelly Schweida-trained Better Than Ready was at $51 in some early markets, however, after a brilliant win at Eagle Farm on February 23, Better Than Ready has been backed in to as short as $7.

Queensland racing has been decimated in the past few days by heavy rain but for most of it Better Than Ready has been relaxing in his Melbourne stable.

Schweida said Better Than Ready had arrived in Melbourne last Thursday morning and had done well since. "He did some light work on Saturday morning and will have a good hitout on Tuesday," Schweida said on Sunday.

Regular jockey Ric McMahon is unable to make Better Than Ready's Newmarket weight and Craig Williams will take the ride.

"Craig will test him in trackwork on Tuesday to get a feel for the big race," Schweida said.

Better Than Ready stamped himself as a future star when he set a 1200m record at Randwick in the Brian Crowley Stakes in the spring.

Schweida resisted the temptation to take him to Melbourne for the Coolmore Stud Stakes to preserve the colt for an autumn/winter campaign.

Perfect conditions are forecast in Melbourne for the Newmarket (1200m) but Schweida is hoping the tracks remain wet in Brisbane for another few days.

He has top mudlark Doubtful Jack, who was to have run in the Tattersalls Members Cup (1600m) at Saturday's abandoned Eagle Farm meeting.

The race has been moved to tomorrow and Schweida confirmed Doubtful Jack would be a definite starter.

A recent course record win at Flemington has earned Niconoise the chance to emulate his brother in Saturday's other Flemington feature, the Australian Cup.

Niconoise earned a shot at the Australian Cup (2000m), a race his half-brother Niconero won in 2009, when he ran 1:40.83 for 1700m last Saturday week.

"Auld Burns won for us on Saturday and Niconoise killed Auld Burns last start," trainer David Hayes said.

"He broke a course record so we thought we'd give it a try."

While Niconoise is Hayes' hope in the feature event, the resurgent trainer is looking forward to unveiling 4-year-old spring Cups hopeful Goldoni in a race on the undercard.

The son of Dylan Thomas was a listed winner over 2400m at Chester in his most recent start in September.

"It will probably be too short for him on Saturday," said Hayes. "He's a mile-and-a-half horse, but a really good one."


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