This Saturday in Queensland the Michael Nolan-trained Jumbo Prince will have his final tune-up for next month’s Magic Millions Trophy on the Gold Coast with a run at the same track this Saturday.
The Toowoomba-based Nolan opted not to run the four-year-old son of Outback Prince in last Saturday Listed Bernborough Handicap over the mile in Brisbane, won by Centre Pivot, and is happy with his decision to save the stallion for Boxing Day’s Gold Coast meeting.
A winner of nine of his 26 career starts to date, Jumbo Prince ran third to Magicool when beaten only a length in this year’s Group 1 Queensland Derby (2200m) during the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival.
His first-up run was a 1200m win in October at Doomben followed by a close second at the same track over 1350m.
He failed to finish in the money two back however when seventh, crossing nearly four lengths from the Tony Gollan-trained Traveston Girl from a wide barrier 12 of 14 draw in the Listed Recognition Stakes (1600m) in November.
Jumbo Prince was last seen crossing fifth, two and a half lengths off the same winning mare in the Listed Brisbane Handicap (1640m) on December 5 giving him three weeks between runs heading into Saturday’s clash.
Winner over 1800m at his only other Gold Coast run this January gone, the horse returns to the track and runs over the same distance in a $75,000 Open Handicap where he will carry 57kg.
The race is part of the State of Origin jockeys’ series and Queensland’s representation Jim Byrne takes over for Michael Cahill, aboard for the galloper’s four most recent runs at Doomben, in the saddle of Jumbo Prince.
Weights in the race are led by the Rex Lipp-trained mare Tinto (60kg) coming off a brave second to Happy Clapper in the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick a fortnight ago.
Nolan is happy to forgive Jumbo Prince for his recent Doomben failures blaming bad barriers and an unsuitably slow pace in both the Recognition and the Brisbane Handicap.
“He also had a run of bad barriers which meant he had to go back,” Nolan told AAP.
“They were running those races at a slow pace early and then sprinting the last 600 metres in 33.5 (seconds).”
“It is impossible for the back markers to catch them. Jumbo Prince ran a slashing time for his final 600 metres in the Brisbane Handicap and many people said it was the run of the day.”
“But he still finished only fifth.”
Nolan also pointed out that while the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) were doing a “fantastic job” at Doomben while Eagle Farm is out of action, Jumbo Prince was far more suited to Brisbane’s other track.
“They have done a fantastic job with it as it has a huge workload,” he said.
“It is where we have to race with Eagle Farm closed and that is it.
“But Jumbo Prince isn’t the only horse missing Eagle Farm and 1800 metre races.”
Nolan uses this weekend’s run as a lead-up into the January 9 race day back at the Gold Coast with Jumbo Prince targeting the $1 million Magic Millions Trophy (1800m).
“At least we know he can handle the track down there (at the Gold Coast) which is an advantage,” Nolan added.
If the nominations for his Saturday assignment are anything to go by though he faces a tough run before then with other standout entries including three-time winner at the track Meteorolgist and the Andrew Williamson-trained Darci Be Good.
The 2016 Magic Millions Trophy field is out on January 6 with betting to open shortly after at Ladbrokes.