Jockey Chris Munce will turn the clock back almost a decade when he reunites with veteran Toowoomba trainer Paul Nolan on Fantastic Blue at Doomben.
Munce, who claimed Brisbane’s riding honours last season, hasn’t ridden for Nolan since Mister Omega finished 12th in the Group Three BTC Sprint at Doomben in May 2002.
“Mister Omega had just smashed the course record at Doomben, which he held for five years, and I wanted Chris to ride him in the Lightning but he said the horse wasn’t up to it,” Nolan said.
Matthew Dracos replaced Munce on Mister Omega who finished seventh to Alpine Express in the Listed Lightning Handicap at Eagle Farm that year.
Nolan is confident Fantastic Blue can rediscover his best form in Saturday’s Liftronic – Elevators & Escalators Handicap (2200m) after missing the Brisbane winter carnival.
“In my opinion only bad luck will beat him and he’ll be very hard to beat,” Nolan said.
“His work this morning was the best he’s ever done and he did it in heavy shoes.”
Nolan pencilled in a Group Two Brisbane Cup campaign for Fantastic Blue after the gelding won twice at Doomben in February before the five-year-old ended his autumn campaign with a disappointing seventh in the Listed Toowoomba Cup (2100m) in March.
“In hindsight I shouldn’t have gone to the Toowoomba Cup but we’re all generals after the event,” Nolan said.
“I made the mistake of running him on a heavy track at Eagle Farm the previous start and it killed him.
“The races were called off after that race.”
Nolan’s Brisbane Cup plans were derailed when Fantastic Blue needed a longer spell to recover from his torrid Toowoomba Cup run.
“Had he not been set for the Toowoomba Cup I wouldn’t have started him and would have given him a break earlier to get ready for the winter,” he said.
“I also had visions of the Grafton Cup with him but he wasn’t ready to run 2300 metres at the time.”
Fantastic Blue returned to winning form over 1625 metres at Toowoomba three starts back before Nolan was forced to drop him back in distance to 1500 metres at Eagle Farm on July 9.
“It was too short for him over 1500 metres when he ran sixth and he needed the run last start when I stepped him up to 2100 metres at Eagle Fram when he ran fourth,” Nolan said.
Nolan has never taken a horse to Sydney but is keen to send Fantastic Blue south for the Group Three Newcastle Cup (2350m) on September 14.
“The only horse I’ve taken interstate was Laurie’s Folly who won the big $20,000 maiden (at Lismore in 2002),” he said.