The Queensland Constellations is fast approaching.
And it’s a pumped-up version for 2023 with Racing Queensland increasing prizemoney on most events while introducing several ‘new’ races throughout July staged at Albion Park.
As a result, there’s an obvious question being asked.
To be fair, it’s a question I receive each year from the local owners and trainers as they try to assess where their own runners fit into the mix.
But it’s a great question to ask this year and hard to give a definitive answer, there’s plenty of interest but no guarantees at this stage aside from Leap To Fame and Merlin being invited and accepted for the Rising Sun.
That doesn’t mean we need to hit the panic button, there’s still plenty of time while many campaigns are yet to start, and likely types aren’t being screwed right down this far out.
Standardbreds are becoming more refined, much like their thoroughbred cousins and don’t seem to require as much and racing to reach their peak.
The Racing Queensland Media/Marketing department and their group of scouts are chasing several types while the APHRC are hopeful of attracting several of the top prospects themselves, both pacing and trotting varieties.
All the ‘major’ centres have key runners including Western Australia, connections of star open class performer Magnificent Storm and classy four-year-old mare Wonderful To Fly have expressed interest which is a very pleasing sign.
Having representation from the other side of the country is crucial because it generates more National awareness for the carnival.
More awareness = more turnover.
The last time we had a representative from Perth arrive in town was champion pacer Im Themightyquinn back in 2014.
Magnificent Storm would be a great addition to races like the Gr.1 $200,000 Garrard’s Sunshine Sprint and the Gr.1 $400,000 Blacks A Fake, the only Grand Circuit event staged in Queensland.
Meanwhile, Wonderful To Fly could start in the Gr.1 $350,000 Rising Sun, a race mare’s have won both editions to date while starting the following week in the Gr.1 $150,000 Golden Girl, a mares only feature.
So, why not have both here.
Will the Kiwi’s return?
They came in strong numbers two years ago before HRNZ altered their calendar which explains why many didn’t return last year.
So, will they have strong representation in 2023?
All-Stars (Mark & Nathan Purdon) look likely but without their A-graders including Akuta, Millwood Nike and Don’t Stop Dreaming while its unknown on whether reigning Trainers of the Year Steve & Amanda Telfer plus Hayden Cullen (Stonewall Stud) make their maiden voyage to Brisvegas?
Will they campaign star mare Aardies Express and unbeaten three-year-old Ohoka Connor?
Will dual New Zealand Cup ‘Champ’ Copy That return?
Naturally, representation from south of the border will be very good with several leading trainers from both New South Wales and Victoria building deep squads.
An intriguing runner could be former All Stars pacer Bollinger, purchased for a hefty sum recently and joining the stables of respected horseman Dean Braun.
The four-year-old is deliberately being aimed at the Rising Sun and a clash with Leap To Fame beckons.
Which trotters head this way could be very interesting but the overwhelming response to the hugely bolstered trotting events is encouraging.
Bottom line, I’m confident the Constellations will be a success and attracting the very best talent available looks likely.
We’ll soon know.
Until next time.