After a gutsy win in the $200,000 Group 3 Channel Seven George Moore Stakes (1200m) at Doomben Racecourse over the weekend, Sydney galloper Big Money could be set for a Group 1 Brisbane raid next winter.
His Scone-based trainer Rodney Northam was thrilled with the tough George Moore Stakes performance of the Choisir gelding on Saturday, the five-year-old posting a one and a quarter length victory over Tony Gollan’s Brisbane Handicap winner Someday ($7).
Five-year-old Big Money, ridden by Australia’s most successful jockey Robert Thompson, was the $4.20 favourite in betting and fought off a strong challenge by eventual third placegetter Cape Kidnappers ($4.80) on the straight to run home clear in his first victory since the Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) at Grafton in early July.
“He’s no superstar but he’s a real little trier and when it came to the crunch in the straight he fought on like a bulldog,” Thompson told the media post-win on Saturday.
It was a nice improvement on his last start too when second last at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day crossing nearly 13 lengths off the winner Deep Field when caught in the wrong part of the track in the Group 2 Tab.Com.Au Stakes (1200m) back on November 1.
Saturday’s George Moore Stakes was an atoning win then for Big Money, a result that should boost the spirits of his hospital-ridden owner Phil Gunter according to Northam.
“It would have been nice to win on Derby Day at Flemington for Phil but this will perk him up a lot,” he said.
Last time Big Money was in Queensland he won the Group 3 W.J. Healy Stakes (1200m) on the back of a Listed Lightning Handicap (1000m) second when just a long neck off the Kelly Schweida-trained Cape Kidnappers back in June.
Next on the agenda for the George Moore Stakes winner is a return to Doomben on December 20 for a shot at the $200,000 Listed Lough Neagh Stakes (1350m).
There the lightly-raced Big Money, a winner of eight of his 14 starts to date, will be test over further than 1200m for the first time.
Northam is hoping he steps up to the distance well, opening up a host of top options over more metres during the 2015 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
“It’s worth good money and I also want to run him with the view of seeing how he handles the 1350 metres looking further ahead to the winter carnival,” he told AAP.
“The Doomben 10,000 and the Stradbroke would be nice races for him next winter if he shows us he can handle a bit further than 1200 metres.”
May 23 is the scheduled date for next year’s $750,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) before Queensland’s premier race, the $2 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) runs on June 6.
Eagle Farm Racecourse is the official home of the Stradbrokes but it could be moved to Doomben in 2015 if track renovations at the state’s top course aren’t completed in time.
In the Lough Neagh Stakes meanwhile both the George Moore Stakes runner-up Someday and third past the post Cape Kidnappers could be given the chance to turn the tables.
Jockey Tim Bell is confident six-year-old Someday will be on the improve and could turn the tables on Big Money.
“Unfortunately we met a very smart horse today but stepping up to 1350 metres next time will be ideal for my horse,” Bell said on Saturday.
“He was gallant in defeat and I’m looking forward to turning the tables next time.”
Fellow hoop Damian Browne is also tipping a better run next time out for seven-year-old Cape Kidnappers who was having his first start since his second to Big Money in the WJ Healy back in the winter.
“He travelled well and felt really good through the race so I’m expecting he’ll take a heap of improvement from the run,” Browne said.