Kingsford-Smith Cup: Tony Gollan backs Jonker to repel southern raiders

Tony Gollan successfully raided Sydney’s autumn carnival, but Queensland’s premier trainer says it is just as important to keep prizemoney at home during the winter carnival.

Local trainers have traditionally struggled to keep their southern rivals at bay during winter raids but Gollan is building a stable packed with top-line depth and is hopeful of leaving a mark on Saturday’s Group 1 Kingsford-Smith Cup (1300m) with a three-pronged attack in Jonker, Vega One and Outback Barbie.

Gollan’s hand is bolstered by the return of Jonker, who was scratched from the Doomben 10,000 earlier in the month after suffering a leg infection.

While he was kicking stones after his last-minute scratching, he is now looking at the silver lining heading into Saturday as the speed machine resumes for the first time since his third in The Galaxy in March.

“Maybe all these things happen for a reason,” Gollan said.

“I was really disappointed because he did a really nice piece of work on the Saturday and then all of a sudden on Sunday he had a high temperature and a swollen back leg which is a sign of a minor infection.

“Running that week – I suggest he wouldn’t have won the way the track played anyway.

“It has been a funny carnival getting him ready. Everything I had set was towards this carnival but I am particularly happy with the way he is going, I have no excuses.”

Jonker (inside) and Vega One (outside) work at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning. Picture: Brad FleetSource:News Corp Australia

With Krone and Isotope both successful during the Sydney autumn, Gollan is operating without two of his top-liners in the Queensland carnival with both cooling their heels, but now is the time for the likes of Jonker and Vega One to produce at home.

While he is competing against powerhouse stables on Saturday, Gollan is keen to continue Queensland’s solid run of form over the past few months.

“It is always hard for us to do,” he said.

“For our stable in particular, we took a few horses away for the autumn carnival in Sydney in Krone and Isotope, therefore we don’t have them here for this carnival so we were always going to come in a tiny bit depleted.

“We still have a nice enough team but it has been good to see the Queensland horses winning races because you always want to run well in your home carnival – that is the nature of the game.

“I think racing in Queensland is going really, really well … I think it is in the best place it has been in since I have been training – 20 years.

Even with his free-rolling style of running, Gollan is undeterred by the prospect of stepping Jonker up in trip, saying he will appreciate the added ground in both the Kingsford-Smith Cup and Stradbroke Handicap a fortnight later.

“I have never been shy of the 1300m for him and I’m not shy of 1400m either, he really loves that free-flowing style of racing where there isn’t that pressure he would have had in the 10,000 against Eduardo,” he said.

With a stack of success rejuvenating tried horses, Gollan said it was important to keep fresh blood rotating through the stable.

Gollan also saddles up Tiger Heart in the Group 2 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on Saturday.

Originally published asGollan backs Jonker to repel southern raiders

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