Eagle Farm races: Baylee Nothdurft shifts focus from Vega One to Isotope in hunt for group 1 glory

The handicapper determined Baylee Nothdurft’s Stradbroke fate with top fancy Vega One allotted just 52kg, but the flip side means the state’s leading rider will be at full strength when he rides Isotope in the J.J. Atkins on the same day.

Nothdurft and Jim Byrne feature in a swap for Saturday’s Group 2 Victory Stakes, with the apprentice switching to Outback Barbie and Byrne taking the Vega One ride after being booked for the mount in the Stradbroke.

Trainer Tony Gollan said it was an easy decision after Stradbroke weights came out.

“Baylee was going to try and ride 53kg if Vega One got that, but 52kg just ruled it out,’’ Gollan said. “That would have been three weeks of really intense wasting for him.

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Baylee Nothdurft will ride Outback Barbie in the Victory Stakes. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

“I want him strong for Isotope in the J.J. Atkins. I wasn’t prepared to let him even try.

“He is not designed to ride that weight. Jim could ride 53kg most weeks if he had to, so 52kg is OK for him. We then booked Mark Du Plessis for Outback Barbie at 51kg.”

Nothdurft has had a chequered history with Vega One, having missed the winning ride in The Gateway through suspension and then incurring a three-month suspension for his first-up ride on the horse.

“He’s been a hard-luck story for me,” he said. “I was going to ride him if he got 53kg or above. Tony and I spoke about it and thought I was better off not busting my gut to ride him, where I can be fit and well to ride (Isotope) in the other Group 1.

“Vega One is going super. Tony couldn’t have him any better, but I’m hoping to knock him off (today). Outback Barbie was really good last time too.”

The 21-year-old has ridden three Listed winners but never a Group winner, so the next fortnight shapes as a potential watershed moment in his fledgling career, starting with Outback Barbie and Isotope (Champagne Stakes) on Saturday.

“(Isotope) is the best two-year-old I’ve sat on and to be able to ride her in a Group 2 is a big thrill,” Nothdurft said. “From the get-go we knew she was pretty smart, but they have to come out and prove it. And she’s proven it.

Baylee Nothdurft retains the ride on exciting filly Isotope in the Champagne Classic at Eagle Farm. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:The Courier-Mail

“I think 1200m is going to suit her even better and I can’t wait to see her at 1400m.

“The way she relaxes in her races and her breeding, 1400m and even beyond in her three-year-old season looks within her capabilities.”

Nothdurft is still hopeful of picking up a Stradbroke ride, but his options are limited given there’s going to be only a handful of horses within his weight range.

Stud dud continues to tease

Stud dud, bookies’ pin-up and punter’s nightmare are all catchphrases that have been linked with Kementari, the spectacular-looking five-year-old who is aiming to win his first race as a gelding at Eagle Farm.

Kementari continues his comeback from a failed stud career in the Victory Stakes, ahead of a tilt at the Group 1 Stradbroke in a fortnight.

It’s a very different path to what had originally been planned for him.

At a fee of $33,000 at Darley’s Hunter Valley base, he was one of the highest profile horses to retire to stud in 2019, but proved almost completely infertile.

Kementari has been costly for punters. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“He covered 54 mares and only got one in foal,” Godolphin’s Australian manager Vin Cox said. “The first lot of scans (three mares) were all negative and as the week panned out, from the first 10 there was eight negatives and two what they call pending.

“In the early days we might’ve had three in foal and two of them lost it, which tends to happen with these sub-fertile horses. We did some work on him, but it came back no chance. There was a very low chance of getting anything in foal.”

Darley do not insure their horses, so a stallion with a stud value in the vicinity of $15 million was gelded and all those who invested in him refunded.

“It is a game of Russian roulette and every now and then the bullet lands in your chamber and it was our turn last year,” Cox said.

“We put him back into work and brought him along very slowly. When we trialled him, Darren Beadman was heavily involved and emphasised to Hugh (Bowman) to make sure he had a nice experience. He came back loving it and the decision was made, let’s go to the races.”

Trekking wins Goodwood by a nose

Horse Racing: The Godolphin-trained Trekking stormed home to pip Gytrash a thrilling finish to the Group 1 The Goodwood at Morphettville.

Kementari has picked up where he left off – as a bridesmaid. He’s had 13 starts since he last won a race and been a beaten favourite six times.

“Bookmakers have put their kids through school on the Kementari scholarship,” Cox said.

“The only thing I would say to those punters is that you’d love to own one like him, because he’s a very good horse.”

Kementari is vying for favouritism on Saturday, ahead of a Stradbroke tilt where he is attractively weighted on his best form with 55.5kg.

“Is he still elite level? Given his age, he’s probably a touch below it, but he’s not going to embarrass himself or our organisation,” Cox said. “He will give the Stradbroke a good shake.”

Tyzone on target for Stradbroke

A plan 12 months in the making has the final piece added to it in Saturday’s Group 2 Victory Stakes as Tyzone rounds out a preparation aimed entirely at going one better in next month’s Stradbroke Handicap.

Co-trainer Trent Edmonds said ever since Tyzone finished second to Trekking last year, it has been the aim to return for another tilt at the famous race.

“I think he’s going every bit as good as last year,” Edmonds said.

“Because he’s had that good form from 12 months ago, weights have hampered him a bit. He’s only a small horse and up where it hurts in those races makes it harder for him.

Blake Shinn rides Tyzone to victory in the Bernborough Ascot BRC Sprint, May 2019.Source:AAP

“From the day he ran second last year, we planned to have him firing, knowing he will carry a whole lot less weight than he will in the lead-up runs.”

Owner Tom Hedley has been in racing for 40 years, but Tyzone holds a special place in his heart.

“He’s the best horse I’ve owned. He’s taken us to a level we’ve never been in racing,” Hedley said.

Hedley celebrated a best ever six wins on the card at his home town of Cairns last Thursday.

Now in his third tenure as Chairman of the club, Hedley races about 35 horses at any one time, but Thursday’s six-peat was the most times his colours had ever saluted at the one meeting.

Tyzone’s trainers are confident of a strong show in next month’s Stradbroke Handicap.Source:AAP

“I had five only a couple of weeks ago and that was pretty good too, but you have to pinch yourself really. No matter where you are, to win six on the card at a TAB meeting is something a bit special,” he said.

The haul started with Rigel, Past Ready, Triumph Star and Centro Superior winning the first four races, before Bet On Love and Full Recognition won the final two events.

It could have been seven winners, but Bougatsa came up half a length short in Race 5.

No prizes for guessing which runner Hedley thought was his best hope on the day.

“You wouldn’t believe it, I thought Bougatsa was the best bet of the day. I thought he was a certainty!” Hedley said.

Tyzone wins the Gold Coast Goldmarket last month. Picture: Trackside PhotographySource:The Courier-Mail

The other Hedley star of the past year has been country Cups king The Harrovian, who hasn’t been seen since carrying 67kg to win at Cairns on April 30.

He had a little setback with an eye issue after the win, but Hedley is hopeful he will make a quick recovery.

Edmonds said Wisdom Of Water had pulled up well from his Ken Russell win on Saturday and everything is in order for his J.J. Atkins tilt, while stablemate Vanna Girl will run next in the Pam O’Neill on May 30.

“Wisdom Of Water didn’t leave an oat. He was nice and fresh, went for a walk around the canal and a pick of grass, fantastic,” he said.

Originally published asExciting filly has young gun’s undivided attention

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