Imported galloper Junoob is set to make his Group 1 debut in the 2014 Doomben Cup after he was among 27 horses included in the nominations for the $500,000 event that will be run on May 17.
Junoob joined the Chris Waller stable in 2013, after being prepared by Tom Dascombe in the United Kingdom, and has progressed through the grades impressively during his maiden preparation in Australia.
The Haafhd gelding made his Australian racing debut with a second place finish behind Spurtonic at Royal Randwick on September 7 and after six starts broke through for his maiden win for his new stable in the Schweppes Handicap (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on February 1.
Junoob stamped himself as a horse to watch during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival with a dominant four lengths win in the Might And Power Handicap (1900m) and, after failing to fire on a wet track in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 1, finished his Sydney preparation with wins in both the Listed Randwick City Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on March 15 and the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on April 5.
Waller contemplated giving Junoob his maiden start at Group 1 level in The BMW on April 5, but has opted to wait for the 2014 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival and the six-year-old will start the Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on Saturday as a clear favourite.
Waller won the 2013 Doomben Cup with Beaten Up and he is set to have a number of chances to defend his title; with Danchai, I’m Imposing, Lucky Chappy, Moriarty, Trade Commissioner and Vilanova also included in the nominations for the Group 1 event.
Anthony Freedman is another trainer that has previously had success in the Doomben Cup and he will be chasing his second victory in the race with German import Waldpark.
Waldpark made his Australian racing debut during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and was one of the best-backed runners in the lead-up to the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), but tired badly in the final stages of the race and finished a distant 17th behind Fawkner.
The Dubawi entire had a lengthy stint in the spelling paddock following the Caulfield Cup and returned to the races with a fair sixth place finish in the Peter Armytage Handicap (1610m) at Flemington on ANZAC Day.
Other exciting horses that have been included in the 2014 Doomben Cup nominations are Team Hawkes-trained Leebaz, tough stayer Mr O’Ceirin, imported galloper Slow Pace, triple Group 1 winner Streama and Queensland Oak contender Hera.