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DOOMBEN PREVIEW May 16, 2009 DOOMBEN CUP (2020M) Race 7, 3.50pm (Brisbane time) It is not uncommon for the Group 1 Doomben Cup to attract a capacity field, as it has done this year. Last year a full compliment of 16 horses went around when the race was won by Sarrera, who has missed this year’s event in preference for the Group 1 Singapore International Airlines Cup (WFA 2000m) at Kranji, run on Sunday. Joining Sarrera in Singapore is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (WFA 2000m, Randwick) winner Pompeii Ruler who would have started a shortprice favourite to win the Doomben Cup, and more than likely he would have scared off a few of the horses that accepted to run in his absence. The class runners this year are Racing To Win, Triple Honour and Douro Valley – but all have queries on their form. Racing To Win is racing below his best and he is a question mark at 2000m, while Triple Honour hasn’t won a race since winning the 2008 Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m) at Randwick, and he also is a query at the 2020m of the Doomben Cup. On the other hand, Douro Valley is a gun at the distance – last spring he won the Group 1 Yalumba Stakes (WFA 2000m) at Caulfield – and he is a horse who has been set for this race after missing the autumn carnival in Melbourne, and having only one run – 11th behind Pompeii Ruler in the QE Stakes at Randwick – in Sydney as his lead-up for this. Importantly, Douro Valley will be on a firm track (it was slow at Randwick) and it is his preferred surface – five of his eight wins are on good tracks and

SPEED MAP Predicted positions on settling

three on dead ground. A fair indication of how well trainer Danny O’Brien expects Douro Valley to perform at Doomben is his enticing of former regular rider James Winks to return from Hong Kong to ride DV in this race. Winks rode DV when he finished second behind stablemate Master O’Reilly in the 2007 Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and also when the horse led most of the way to win the Yalumba in the spring. I am tipping the 3YO filly Miss Darcey to be the danger. The lightly-raced chestnut filly is attempting to become the first 3YO filly to win the race, and while better fillies than her have attempted and failed, she looks very well placed in a field in which most of her rivals are handicappers. Miss Darcey will be well ridden by Glen Boss, who also rode the last 3YO to win this race – Akhenaton in 2000. New Zealand-trained horses are targeted towards this carnival, and there is no better Kiwi in Queensland at present than the top-flight mare Veloce Bella, a former outstanding 3YO filly who returned to her best form with a last-start win in the Group 2 Travis Stakes (WFA 2000m) at Te Rapa, beating Culminate who performed so well during the Sydney autumn carnival. Veloce Bella has drawn the rails, and she should be able to settle midfield. She looks a genuine threat if she can get a clear run at them. Racing To Win and Triple Honour must be considered on their class factor alone. The tips: Douro Valley from Miss Darcey, Veloce Bella and Racing To Win and Triple Honour

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AND ALSO The venerable Takeover Target, The Goodwood winner and star of the Group 1 meeting in Adelaide on May 2, will give his all again this weekend when he runs in the KrisFlyer over 1200m at Kranji in Singapore on Sunday night. Watch him on pay TV; and don’t miss the chance to see if Pompeii Ruler and Sarrera can shape up on the international stage in the 2000m SIA Cup – they’ll have to be good to get near Presvis, who has cut a swathe through Dubai and Hong Kong. The ‘support act’ from Adelaide, SA Derby winner Rebel Raider, is in the paddock and won’t be seen until the spring, but two handy performers from the Morphettville meeting will be at Flemington on Saturday and are worth considering if you’re having a punt. The first is Wallinger, who won the 2YO (1050m), and returns to Flemington (sixth of seven after leading there over 1000m on Jan 1, at his only other start). With Dwayne Dunn up for the first time in a race, he is ready to win R1 (1000m). Leon Corstens’s Dane Babylon, backed to beat him in Adelaide, has another crack, but Kwassa Kwassa looks the obvious danger – note, however, that KK seems to keep finding one better. Rebel Raider’s rider Clare Lindop returns to the scene of her greatest triumph, the Victoria Derby, but with a Leon Macdonald stablemate, Augusta Proud (R5, 1200m) – beaten just over two lengths by TT, the filly is more than ready to win. Watch how Efficient finishes first-up after a fetlock injury, and file it away for the spring. Stephen Howell

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