It is hard work picking a winner at any given time; but the Doomben 10,000 this year might just be one of the hardest in recent memory. The race is full of good horses that are well performed at Group One level including Your Song who won a Group One at his last start against many of Saturday’s opponents. However on that particular day the track was wet and for some reason, horses from the back simply could not make up any ground. Buffering missed the start, while Better Than Ready got too far back. It was a great win from Your Song, but there were excuses behind him.
Rangirandoo, Rain Affair, Your Song, Sea Siren, Yosei and Steps In Time all have a really good chance of winning this race but such is the races depth, they can’t make it into our top four.
Buffering as mentioned missed the start at his last start in the BTC Cup. He was left wide and back, two positions he seems to find himself in in Group One races. The way the track was playing, plus the by then heavy surface gave the gelding no chance after he missed the start. All his energy was used just to get into a striking position. He still fought on pretty bravely for 4th but was beaten a long way by the three-year-old Your Song. There seems to be several front runners in this race and in the past when Buffering has been taken on in the lead he has simply out classed his rivals and still won. There is very little doubt that there will be plenty of pressure in this race and if Buffering has taken no ill effects from his hard run two weeks ago, he can certainly bounce back and record his first Group One win.
What about Manawanui? He was terrific first up from a long break in the Hall Mark Stakes and his talent has never been questioned. He is a very versatile horse at his best in that he can win and is competitive both in sprint and middle distance races. He has been off the scene for a long time, but his best is very good and is good enough to give plenty of his rivals in this race a big fright.
Since September last year Epaulette has had five starts. He won the Group One Golden Rose, then won the Guineas Prelude at Caulfield. In the Caulfield Guineas he was third behind All Too Hard and Pierro then first up a few weeks ago he was second to Black Caviar and beat Bel Sprinter in the process. In his last start in the now famous Group One All-Aged Stakes, he ran a creditable sixth but was only two lengths from the winner and had plenty of excuses. There are no gaps in his form and from barrier four this colt will be very hard to beat.
And our old favourite Better Than Ready. There is a touch of loyalty involved in him being so well fancied again and he certainly was not disgraced in running 3rd in the BTC Cup. He got a mile back in that race and not one horse for the day won or even really got close after having to come from the back of the field. He flew home for 3rd and went straight past Buffering in the process. He is ideally suited at the 1350m and if the track is playing fair, from barrier one he will position up somewhere a little closer and hopefully get some luck. The weather looks ok for Brisbane in the days leading up to the race and Better Than Ready performs a lot better on tracks that are not heavy as it was last two weeks ago in the BTC Cup.
4th. Manawanui. He might need one more start before he is right to give his best; however even at 85% the class that he has demonstrated in his three-year-old season should give him a good chance in the race.
3rd. Buffering. This poor horse just finds a way to continually be the best Group Two winner in Australia. He manages to have something go wrong every time he is the well backed favourite in a Group One race. Two weeks ago was heartbreaking; as soon as he missed the start, there was no chance he could win. He was well backed that day and it was all over in three strides. If he jumps and runs and it does not rain too much he is in with a fantastic chance. $4 is extremely good value.
2nd. Epaulette. He has form around Black Caviar, All Too Hard, and Pierro. These are still the three best horses in Australia and they are all retired! He has also beaten home Bel Sprinter who would be the favourite if he was in this race. This is great form and the reason he may even jump as the second favourite after his fellow three-year-old Your Song.
1st. Better Than Ready. A three-year-old, barrier one, a drier track and a great turn of foot are the four main reasons he is on top. His last 200m in the BTC Cup where he stormed home against the bias indicates the colt is looking for further. The 1350m of the Doomben 10,000 looks perfect. He is a massive chance and we will probably get double figures odds on the day.
By Zeb Armstrong