The Quokka - 1200m, Ascot R8
It’s always exciting to see a new high quality race enter the Australian calendar, and now it’s Perth’s turn to join the party that Sydney started and Melbourne jumped into to match them.
The Quokka owes its inspiration to The Everest, being a 1200m WFA sprint where vested interests can buy a “slot” that they try to fill with the horse they think gives them the best chance of winning the race and/or earning them substantial prizemoney.
This first running of The Quokka has attracted six good sprinters from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and they are our starting point given they have been taking on the best of the best over the last few months.
Uncommon James is an improving four-year-old of only nine starts that is coming off a win in the Oakleigh Plate and a second in the Galaxy, and thus couldn’t be in better form for this assignment. A wide draw of 13 shouldn’t worry him too much given that’s the barrier he won the Oakleigh Plate from, and he will no doubt push forward from there.
Asfoora was in both the Oakleigh Plate and Galaxy, less than a length behind Uncommon James each time. She was the victim of a poor ride in one and unlucky in the other, so may very well be able to turn the tables on that galloper. She’s certainly got the talent to win a big race like this.
Shades of Rose was a couple of lengths behind Uncommon James and Asfoora in the Galaxy, before fronting up in the TJ Smith where she never made an impression on that heavy track. Before that, the lightly raced four-year-old mare was thrown into the Everest and was far from disgraced. She might be a little down on confidence right now, but can bounce back.
Bella Nipotina is the best credentialled horse in the field. This season she has won a Group 1 and placed in three others, all of them at weight-for-age. She’s been finishing right alongside or just behind horses like Imperatriz, I Wish I Win, Coolongatta, Nature Strip and Giga Kick, and has drawn the best of the four main fancies. She’s okay on a good track, but her chances would increase with any rain.
Overpass and Kementari are striking this race first-up for their respective Sydney-based stables.
Overpass appears to be the forgotten horse of the race. In his last two first-up performances, he split Nature Strip and Lost and Running in the Shorts, and before that he won the Expressway beating Forbidden Love and Anamoe, who have won 12 Group 1 races between them.
He lost form and confidence due to all the Sydney wet tracks in 2022, and appeared to have had enough when he finally struck good tracks at unsuitable distances late in the spring. He has been gelded since, and if he is back to his best he can easily win this race.
Kementari has been around forever, racing all over the country, and it’s easy to forget that his first win as an older horse was actually in Perth. He’s always raced well at Ascot when he’s ventured over, but would almost need to produce a career best to take this out.
Of the WA horses, Amelia’s Jewel is the…well, jewel in the crown, and the powerful three-year-old filly will jump a commanding favourite in this race.
She’s beaten Eastern state raiders before, when winning the Northerly in early December out to 1800m. Her remarkable versatility, as well as her renowned finishing burst, was on display first-up at 1100m when finishing all over the top of Red Can Man and Acromantula, both of which are rivals here.
It’s hard to see that Amelia’s Jewel doesn’t measure up, and if she can beat this field then we have another superstar on our hands, and a horse that could potentially tackle an Everest or a Cox Plate later on in the year. The Australian racing scene will be her oyster.
There’s a few horses in this race whose best form has come when either leading or sitting close to the speed, and with $4M on the line pace won’t be an issue.
Amelia’s Jewel will drift back from the widest gate, while Uncommon James and Asfoora drawn next to her will push forward. Shades of Rose will use barrier 1 and can sit as close as she likes, while Bella Nipotina and Overpass from middle barriers will look to get a lovely trail from midfield.
Selections: 1.Overpass 2.Bella Nipotina 3.Amelia’s Jewel 4.Asfoora
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check Playup Website For Latest Odds