Trainer John Zielke is upbeat about his prospects of winning a race or two at Murwillumbah on Monday and hopes the meeting can be the springboard to bigger things for a couple of his emerging talents.
Zielke pops across the border with five genuine winning hopes, including two-year-olds Rains Aplenty, who runs in the Vincent's Crabbes Creek Liquor Store 2YO Hcp over 1200m, and Champagne Garden, who takes on older horses in the O'Keefe Earthmoving Maiden Plate (1530m).
The trainer is also confident The Pinkerton can win the East Coast Asphalt Class 1 Plate (1530m) and expects strong runs from both Future Event in the Moo Moo Roadhouse Mooball Cup (1530m) and Cyclone Path, who resumes in the Burringbar Quality Meats Maiden Hcp (1200m).
Zielke is heading to Murwillumbah with his two-year-olds Rains Aplenty and Champagne Garden due to the lack of suitable juvenile races for them in Queensland.
"The two-year-old races in Queensland seem to be either over 900m and 1000m or are Maidens, so I've decided to send Rains Aplenty and Champagne Garden across the border on Monday," he said.
"And I didn't want them to race each other so I've kept Rains A Plenty to the 1200m against his own age and Champagne Garden tackles the 1530m Maiden."
Rains A Plenty, a well-bred son of Manhattan Rain out of the Group One-winning mare Macedon Lady (winner of the 2002 Caulfield Thousand Guineas), has raced pretty well in Brisbane this season, breaking through for his first win at Doomben on March 21 when he resumed for an easy win on a heavy 10.
He then ran third at Ipswich over 1350m on April 4 but a change of riding tactics backfired at his next outing when he ran 10th of 12 behind Uh Oh at the Gold Coast on April 21. Rains Aplenty has since won a barrier trial at the Gold Coast on Tuesday.
Rains Aplenty winning his Gold Coast trial on May 1
"When he drew wide at the Gold Coast last time out we decided to ride him quietly back in the field and advised the stewards of those change in riding tactics," said Zielke.
"But we found out that's not the way to ride him and we won't be doing that again. He'll go forward in Monday's race and should be very hard to beat."
Zielke believes Champagne Garden, runner-up at both of his starts either side of a spell, is a promising galloper and possibly the best two-year-old in his stable. The son of Al Maher made his debut with a luckless second at Ipswich back in January then was gelded before resuming over 1350m at Ipswich on April 18 with another unlucky second placing.
"Champagne Garden could be the best two-year-old in the stable and but has had no luck so far and really should be two (wins) from two," he said. "The step up to the 1530m on Monday should be ideal for him. He should settle midfield and has a nice turn of foot.
"I've nominated both Rains A Plenty and Champagne Garden for the JJ Atkins over the 1600m at Doomben in June. The Sires over 1350m could also be a target, but obviously they'd both have to win with plenty of authority at Murwillumbah to press on towards those races."
The $600,000 Group One JJ Atkins Plate (1600m) is run at Doomben on June 9, a fortnight after the $250,000 Group Two Sires Produce (1350m) at the same track.
Zielke is confident The Pinkerton can bounce back from his unfortunate first-up run over 1650m at Beaudesert on Anzac Day. The Pinkerton's saddle slipped near the 1400m of that race and rider Luke Dittman lost his irons from the 1000m. The Pinkerton was beaten just over four lengths.
"Luke said he should have won very easily," said Zielke. "He's a nice horse and I'm confident he'll be winning on Monday."
A three-year-old son of Bullet Train, The Pinkerton has also been nominated for a winter feature, the $600,000 Queensland Derby (2200m) at Doomben on June 9.
Zielke expects his other two Murwillumbah runners - Future Event (Mooball Cup) and Cyclone Path (Maiden Hcp) - will both race well.
Future Event drops back to the 1530m on Monday after recent runs over 1800m, most recently at the Gold Coast on April 21 when fourth to Red Phantom in a 3YO Hcp.
"I've freshened him up for the drop back to the 1530m and the softer surface at Murwillumbah will really suit him. And the key to him on Monday is that he's dropping nicely in weight down to the 54kg."
Cyclone Path, placed in two of his four starts, is resuming since his latest sixth of 11 in an Ipswich Maiden on January 17, but Zielke said the three-year-old was primed for a much-improved showing on Monday.
"He ran fourth in a trial at the Gold Coast this week (May 1) but he was under a tight hold and could have won it easily," he said. "He's been working extremely well and should be hard to beat first-up.
"We're going to Murwillumbah with five runners and all of them should race very well."