jj atkins

The JJ Atkins is a Group 1 mile race for two-year-old horses, held at Eagle Farm Racecourse during the Brisbane  Outside of the Magic Millions 2YO Classic, the race is the Queensland’s hgihest-profile and richest race for two-year-olds. The JJ Atkins was first run way back in 1893 as the Claret Stakes – a name it retained for the majority of it’s history. From 1976 onwards the race had a series of name changes – the Marlboro Stakes, the Castlemaine Stakes, the Channel Nine Stakes, the QTC Classic and the TJ Smith – before it was renamed the JJ Atkins in 2013 after legendary Queensland jockey Jim Atkins.

JJ Atkins: The market

The top of the market with TopSport looks like this (prices as at Friday morning):

$3.30 Converge
$5 Port Louis
$6.50 Tiger of Malay

Read on for a full preview of the race from our Queensland racing gun, The Professor.

JJ Atkins: The track

With a couple of days to dry out we will likely be looking at a Good 4 come raceday, though expect there to be some give in the track. Expecting the best going to be off the fence in the straight.

JJ Atkins: Speed

This is not always a fast run race – though the last couple of iterations have been – and there doesn’t look to be a lot of pace here. Should suit runners that can be close up on the speed and peel out into the best part of the track in the straight.

JJ Atkins: Contenders

Tiger Of Malay has not had much luck in two starts in Queensland so far. Was still good enough to win the Sires’ Produce last start despite being three-wide with cover for the duration. Draws wide and looks a good chance to be caught wide again. Good enough to be in the finish if he gets enough luck.

Converge went back from a wide gate in the Sires’ Produce when he normally is right up on the speed. Appeared to enjoy the change of tactics as he ran on strongly for an eye-catching second. Proven over the mile and from a better draw maps perfectly. Ticks a lot of boxes.

Subterranean covered more ground than Cliff Young in the Sires’ Produce, posted at least four-wide for the duration of the event. Did well to finish off the race solidly. Can improve from a better draw but unproven over a mile. Knock-out chance.

Overpass racked up some impressive ratings in winning three of his first four starts, but was up in grade last start in the Sires’ Produce. Had every possible in that run and was beaten three lengths into 4th. Likely gets a very nice run again, but hard to see him turning the tables on those that beat him home. Also not convinced he wants a mile.

I’ve got a bit of time for Port Louis. Ran second in the Sire’s Produce beaten 0.6 lengths coming from near last and finishing off very strongly. Is proven over the mile. His bad luck with the barrier draws continues though – drawn 13 and likely to be back near last again.

I was against Volcanic Rock last start when he won The Phoenix here over 1500m. Got the job done but figures were moderate and I’m not convinced he wants a mile. Is on the quick back-up  and will go forward, but I prefer others here.

Ranch Hand also had excuses to an extent in the Sires’ Produce – did race three-wide but had cover and wasn’t as disadvantaged as some others in the race. Is a horse that has been flattered by suitable tempos in races previously. Seeing the way that Converge and Subterranean went past him in the Sires Produce I find it very hard to see him winning this.

Blushing Tycoon had a solid win over 1400m at Flemington last time out when sat outside the lead, but figures out of that race were moderate with compressed margins. This looks much harder and gets a tough draw in barrier 12. Can’t see him winning this.

Overmann got the better of Volcanic Rock over 1300m at Rosehill last start. While Volcanic Rock came out and won last start it’s not really the form line I want to be with. Think the mile is a question mark here and I couldn’t be with him.

Cape Brereton is on the quick back up after claiming his second win from as many starts over 1400 metres at Rosehill last time out. Needs to improve significantly on what he has done so far but looks to have a bit of scope and gets the winkers on first time.

I’ve been on Giannis both runs in Queensland after a couple of good runs in his first prep and an eye catching trial leading up to this prep. Has had excuses both runs in Queensland so I’ll probably be having a sanity bet on him, but Converge did give him windburn in the Sires’ Produce.

Dark Rebel is an unknown quantity. Won on debut at Warwick Farm but that was on a Heavy track. Failed in his only start in Queensland but got the tongue over the bit and raced four-wide. Blinkers and tongue tie on but you would be taking on faith here.

Three Wise Men is one of two maidens in the race. Couldn’t break through at Newcastle or Kembla Grange before running a competitive race behind Overmann at Rosehill last time out. Not for me.

Miss Hipstar is a five-start maiden who was not competitive in the Sires Produce and draws 14 of 14. Leave me out.

JJ Atkins: Verdict

The top three in the market do look to have a bit the field here. All three were impressive in the Sires’ Produce but Converge looked the best of them and looks likely to get the best run of the three in this race. Port Louis and Tiger Of Malay look likely to either spot him a big start, get caught wide, or both. Subterranean is the one of the outsiders that interests me the most – was impressive in the Sires and can improve here from a better draw.

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