Queensland horseman John Zielke is out to make a mark on the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival this weekend and has high hopes of a Group 2 win in the Danehill Stakes with Dreams Aplenty.
The $200,000 Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) has this season attracted a final field of 12 three-year-old sprinters including Zielke’s returning youngster Dreams Aplenty from the Sunshine Coast.
The Dream Ahead gelding races for the first time since his fifth behind Sacred Elixir in the Group 1 J.J. Atkins (1600m) at Eagle Farm back on June 11 as a juvenile in the winter.
His other most recent run produced a close second at Doomben behind Attention when beaten only a quarter-length in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350m) in late May.
Dreams Aplenty has won just one of his five starts to date when enjoying a three and a quarter-length win on debut at his home track back in April.
Saturday marks his first foray into interstate racing, but he has suffered an early blow drawing the outside alley in the Danehill Stakes field.
Bobby El-Issa, aboard for the galloper’s two latest runs, retains the ride this weekend with Dreams Aplenty rated a $14 chance to win the Flemington Group 2 through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Current favourite at $4 is the rails-drawn Defcon, the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Choisir colt coming off a first-up win in the Group 3 H.D.F. McNeil Stakes (1200m) from August 27.
Despite his position in the markets, jockey Dwayne Dunn believes Defcon could be vulnerable from the inside draw this weekend.
That could pave the way for a horse like Dreams Aplenty to get a clearer run from a wide alley and for Zielke to enjoy success down south for the second spring on the trot.
Last year the Sunshine Coast horseman raided the Victorian races with the since-retired Worthy Cause who won the Listed Headquarters Stakes (1400m) at Flemington over subsequent Emirates Stakes winner Turn Me Loose during a four-run campaign.
After the Danehill Stakes, Zielke hopes to head to the $500,000 Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) back at Flemington on VRC Derby Day, October 29, with Dreams Aplenty.
“He’s one of those horses, if you keep him fresh, he’ll keep on pinging for you,” he told Racing Victoria.
“He will run the 1400m – he only got beaten half-a-head when the saddle slipped on him in the Sires’ Produce, and that’s 1350m. He’ll run 1400m on his ear.
“I’d like to keep him fresh and try and win the Coolmore with him.
“The Coolmore, from what other people have told me, you need a strong 1400m horse to win that race.”
Originally Zielke was to have two runners in the Danehill Stakes, but El-Issa convinced him to give filly Happy Event an easier run on Saturday in the $120,000 Listed Cap D’Antibes Stakes (1100m) so the jockey could stay on both horses.
In-form Happy Event is also by Dream Ahead and was last seen winning back-to-back races over 1200m in Queensland during July.
“I was initially going to have both these horses in the Danehill, and I asked Bobby which one he wanted to ride, and he said Happy Event,” Zielke explained.
“I tried to convince him he was on the wrong one, so in the end, we decided to split them up.”
Happy Event is a $21 outsider for the Black-Type on Makybe Diva Stakes Day.
While Zielke knows the Robbie Laing-trained Group 3 winner Missrock ($6) is the one to beat, he remains confident his filly can be in the finish at the blow-out price.
“The horse to beat here is certainly the top-weight [Missrock],” he said.
“[But] if I can’t run second to the top-weight with no bad luck; I’d be a little bit disappointed in her.
“She’s had two 1000m jumpouts in the last fortnight, including one at Cranbourne on Monday.
“I don’t think fitness is going to be an excuse.”