The pretty Doomben course has a straight of 354 metres. It is the smaller of the two tracks in Brisbane, but try to tell that to anyone watching the final furlong or so of the Doomben Ten Thousand. It's an easier straight than Eagle Farm's, in that you've got more chance of staying in front all the way down it than you ever have at the bigger course.

The races are run at a touch over 1000 metres (1010, give or take), 1200 metres, 1350 metres, 1600 metres, 1620 to 1630 metres, 2015 and 2020 metres (or so, up to 2030), and 2200 metres.

I am not tongue in cheek here: races do vary in length at this track, and I am at a loss to explain why. You can pick up any season's results and see all the variants. Given that the 1615 standard start is well up the chute, I assume the races of 1629 and so on can still be run from the chute, but there can't be a lot of space there behind the gates to wander about and tuck into a tuft of grass before they box you away.

The 1000 and 1100 starts are in the back straight, and there is only a short run to the home turn which is both acute and long, so any horse without speed and drawn out is in a lot of bother.

There is more room and more distance to travel from the 1200 to this acute turn, and so there is strong argument that it is better to draw the middle than the fence. If you think for a moment about being on the rail, unless a horse has abundant speed, with a whole lot of animals angling across it, you can imagine that the rail may not be ideal. Imagine the same position that can occur at the 1200 at Rosehill when the Golden Slipper is run. Although the layout is of course different, the effect can be similar. Not always, but it's a worry for bettors.

The 1350 is a marvellous start and it is host to the famous race, that one 1 called the Ten Thousand but is now the Hundred Thousand, and worth much more anyway. Times change but the start doesn't. It's a beauty. Arguably fast beginners with wide draws are still disadvantaged because the field is always jam-packed with sprinters. Horses can drop in behind the pack and the roomy straight allows them the space and the time to come home hard after the long, sharp, searching angle of the home turn. However, some Hundred Thousands are won by those able to go the early pace and skip clear.

Many legs have come to grief on this testing turn. Those who can handle it often win several races here.

There are few racetracks where I am so eager to see a "C" ("won at the course at this distance") next to a horse's name in the formguide!

The 2000 and 2200 starts are equally well-placed, with plenty of galloping space. The Rough Habit types love this kind of track, where you can drop out, lope along, let everyone else work, and even let them forget you're there ... then swoop home.

Really top horses win Doomben's Cup, and even if they are not the best at that time then they often become the best, so this race provides a fine guide to prospects. Besides Rough Habit's three wins on the trot, we have seen (this year) Danewin from Danasinga and Turridu, (in 1994) Durbridge from Paris Lane, then three years of Roughie, and then a list of excellent winners including Sydney Cup, Brisbane Cup, Gosford Cup and Caulfield Cup winners. The giant killer of the Australian Cup, Dandy Andy, won this race, and so on. It's a VVho's VVho of good Australian stayers.

The Doomben Ten Thousand (we still call it that) has its list of toffs, too. Top dasher Chief De Beers won this year, beating a certain All Our Mob (second in successive years). We all know what the remarkable All Our Mob did to top fields in the Newmarket, the Stradbroke and the Turnbull Stakes. There's Campaign King, Charlton Boy, Winfreux, Black Onyx twice, and back in 1