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Von Doussa Steeplechase: preview and tips

There will be plenty of history to be made when Steven Pateman again partners reigning champ Zed Em in Sunday's $100k Von Doussa Steeplechase (3250m) at Oakbank, not least the horse striving to become only the second galloper to claim three consecutive renewals of the iconic event.

Zed Em's first victory in the Von Doussa was facilitated by a Richard Cully steer, but Pateman combined with him for last year's win and his record on the galloper is nothing short of exceptional (7:4-3-0).

So too is his record in the Von Doussa, with Pateman already boasting four wins in the race and looking very well positioned to jag a record-equalling fifth win in the race - joining Craig Durden and Brian Constable.

The Von Doussa is one of South Australia's most-coveted races over sticks - second only to the Great Eastern Steeplechase at the Oakbank Carnival - and the unique course over which it's contested is a big reason why.

Oakbank is one of the more unique racetracks in the country, thanks largely to the iconic hill on the back stretch, something Von Doussa competitors will be asked to negotiate three times in addition to clearing the 24 fences they'll encounter throughout the testing two mile trip.

Pateman probably summed up the Von Doussa best in his post-race interview last year: "What a special race it is and South Australia's lucky to have it."


The Von Doussa doesn't always attract the biggest field and this year's no exception, but what it does invariably feature is some quality chasers with Zed Em the clear standout this year.

It's impossible to go past Zed Em (1), even if there isn't much of a price about him. Patrick Payne is an outstanding conditioner and there are very few trainers that so patiently work the miles into their gallopers legs while at the same time getting them to peak when they want to. The fact that Pateman rides is also a huge tick and when you couple that with the horse's ability, it makes it difficult to look any further. The fact that he's now an 8YO holds zero concerns for mine and in a slightly weaker renewal he is the standout galloper.

His biggest threat may well come from his stablemate Ours (4). The ex-Kiwi joined Payne's yard in 2017 and while his name isn't overly inspiring, the ability is definitely there. Ours had a 511-day spell after finishing runner-up in a 3500m chase at Morphettville Parks in September 2017, but he has been in work since November and his last-start win at Hamilton suggest he's come good. Jockey Richard Cully is another tick and if you're looking to get the favourite beat, this bloke could be the one.

The Grant Young-trained Spying On You (2) will be having his third start in the Von Doussa, having finished 4th at his previous two attempts, the first behind cult galloper Nishiazabu and more recently behind Zed Em last year. He hasn't been overly inspiring in four efforts on the flat but he is a Great Eastern winner (2017) and he'll be sticking on purposefully at the end.

Tireless campaigner King of the Forest (6) is now a 10YO but he's still charting new territory with his first trip to Oakbank. He held Ours at bay at Warrnambool last start and could provide some cheek here at a price.

VERDICT: Zed Em win, saver on Ours

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