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Neasham stable chasing good four-tune in Hollindale Stakes

Fri 10 May 2024

By Andrew Smith

They are aiming for a fourth straight A.D. Hollindale Stakes victory this weekend, but this year it won’t be Zaaki flying the flag for the Annabel Neasham camp.

Instead, Mighty Ulysses, Jimi Hendrix, Numerian and Naval College will line up for the stable in Saturday’s weight-for-age feature over 1800 metres on the Sunshine Coast.

Neasham’s Brisbane-based assistant trainer Todd Pollard and his staff made the most of some morning sunshine during the week, taking Mighty Ulysses and Jimi Hendrix for a wade in the water at Nudgee Beach.

The duo will duke it out after a one-two finish in the Listed Brisbane Mile Handicap over 1600 metres at Eagle Farm two weeks ago.

The Group 2 race will go a long way to determining a plan of attack for the pair for the rest of the 2024 Queensland Racing Carnival.

“The Hollindale is a bit of a fact-finding mission for both horses, I suppose,” Pollard said.

“They’re proper horses from Europe, they’ve got really good form - Annabel has brought them to come over here and race them in good company.

“It’s good to see them get underway so soon in their Australian campaigns.

“They’ve had good runs and it’s exciting to see how they’ve trained on.”

A four-time winner in the United Kingdom, Mighty Ulysses is currently the favourite in the betting out of the four Neasham horses.

Pollard said the gelding’s run at Corbould Park would determine his hopes of stepping up to the Group 1 Doomben Cup in a fortnight’s time.

“He is a very good horse, but he’s also quite quirky and quite a hard-going horse,” Pollard said.

“He raced in the earmuffs for the first time at Eagle Farm and it seemed to work - the key to him is getting him to relax and switch off and finish off like he did the other day.

“Stepping up in distance to a race like the Hollindale – it’s probably working out whether he is going to get 2000m for the Doomben Cup or if he’s going to be a horse that’s a little too sharp and keen, and hard-going in his races.

“We may need to come back in trip.”

The stable is also expecting improvement from Jimi Hendrix, with the Hollindale the five-year-old’s third run on Aussie shores since his move from the UK.

“He’s a nice horse as well, going forward he was first up the other day so you’d expect to see a bit of natural improvement there,” Pollard said.

“The 1800/2000m shouldn’t be a question for him but I suppose it’s to see the progression he’s made from his first-up run.

“It’s also seeing if he can go into a race like the Doomben Cup, or if we have to look at other options throughout the carnival for him, which might just be a tier below which he would be very competitive in.”

Numerian will also be fresh off a spell, with the European galloper having not raced since a fourth-placed finish in the Perth Cup on New Year’s Day.

“He’s certainly a class galloper - he’s won over $2.5 million dollars in prize money and has been a good acquisition for the stable,” Pollard said.

“He’s certainly a horse that will be kicking off in the Hollindale that will be going towards the Doomben Cup and the Q22, but I suppose whatever he does on Saturday, he is going to improve from and we’ll look forward to the next two races.”

Zaaki’s 2023 triumph elevated Neasham into the company of John Hawkes, Bob Thomsen and Chris Waller, all of whom also claimed three Hollindale Stakes.

Now enjoying retirement in the New South Wales town of Scone, the four-time Group 1 winner’s legacy in the race is inspiring the stable to make it four consecutive wins.

“Obviously Zaaki was a special horse for the stable and since Annabel starting training three years ago, she’s won this race every time since she’s been training,” Pollard said.

“He’s enjoying retirement kicking up his heels and not having to go to the races anymore.

“It would be nice with three or four chances on Saturday and hopefully we can keep that run going.”

2023 Doomben Cup winner Huetor is set to start as favourite, drawing barrier 14 for the $500,000 feature.

Last year’s QLD Derby and QLD Guineas winner Kovalica will also be looking to get his Queensland Racing Carnival campaign underway and will start from barrier 13.

“It’s a very open and even race - with our chances you have to respect them all, including ours,” Pollard said.

“I guess it’s going to come down with who’s going to appreciate the track conditions with what’s thrown up on Saturday, and the right runs in the race, and a bit of luck.

“Hopefully it can be one of ours.”

Naval College may be a late scratching after also accepting for the Gosford Cup.

Other prospects for the Neasham stable for the winter include Fawkner Park and Sibaaq who have been nominated for the Doomben Cup.

Bosustow and Deputize also look set to push towards the BRC Sires Produce Stakes and J.J. Atkins.

Saturday’s Hollindale Stakes raceday features six prestigious black-type races and nearly $1.7 million in prize money, with the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas and Group 3 Ken Russell Memorial Classic to also be run.