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The two-year-old milers are on show at Eagle Farm this weekend facing off in the Group 1 $1 million J.J. Atkins (1600m), and the bookies are having a hard time separating the top three chances in the markets.

Converge | Photo: Steve Hart | Horseracing.com.au

2021 JJ Atkins winner Converge. Photo: Steve Hart.

The first of two Group 1 features on the Stradbroke Handicap Day card, the J.J. Atkins features a near capacity field of juveniles.

Current markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are tipping the form out of last Saturday’s Listed The Phoenix (1500m) form to stack-up with the winner Political Debate and runner-up Sharp ‘N’ Smart both on the quick back-up.

The latter is tipped to turn the tables on his last start conqueror with the Graeme & Deborah Rogerson-trained Redwood gelding, Sharp ‘N’ Smart, sitting top of the J.J. Atkins odds online at $4.20 and firming.

The Kiwi expat has previous winning form over the mile having won a Black-Type back home across the Tasman in late April before being narrowly denied down under last weekend.

Beaten a nose in The Pheonix, he presents fitter for the run and will relish getting back up to 1600m with Hugh Bowman retaining the ride.

Chasing back-to-back wins on successive Saturdays, the Chris Waller-trained Political Debate is also being kept safe in J.J. Atkins betting at $4.80.

Third two back with excuses when finishing off well in the Group 2 Spirit Of Boom Classic (1200m), the So You Think colt was good over further in The Phoenix and looks a genuine chance to see out the 1600m with James McDonald retaining the ride.

Waller chases his fourth J.J. Atkins trophy having prepared three previous winners with: Pressday (2010), Press Statement (2015) and most recently Prince Fawaz (2019).

The master Sydney-based horseman originally had four final acceptors in this year’s J.J. Atkins field but his contingent is down to two following the early scratching of Robusto (16) and Amati (8).

Along with Political Debate he is still represented on Saturday by fellow last start winner Basquiat drawn the rails for jockey Tim Clark.

Rated a $15 chance, the Snitzel colt shapes-up as potential value having broken his maiden status as the odds-on favourite at Doomben on May 30.

There, on a Heavy (8) track, he posted a half-length win over 1615m and gets a shot to enjoy another mile victory this time on firmer going.

The other best in J.J. Atkins betting meanwhile sandwiched between The Phoenix quinella in the markets at $4.60 meanwhile is the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained filly Sheeza Belter.

In-form WA hoop William Pike partners the daughter of Gold Standard who comes off a one-length win at big odds here in the Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

She was good against the boys there and gets the chance to beat them home again on Saturday up in distance chasing the double last completed by Sizzling (2012).

Linky Dink (2009) meanwhile was the last J.J. Atkins winning filly, and there is money to suggest Sheeza Belter can be the next.

The J.J. Atkins 2022 is scheduled as Race 7 at 3:13pm (AEST) on Saturday’s nine-race Eagle Farm card.

About The Author

Lucy Henderson

Lucy is an experienced horse racing journalist that has been a crucial member of the horseracing.com.au team for the better part of a decade. She has taken great delight in covering champion mares Black Caviar and Winx throughout their careers and always has a soft spot for a winning filly.