A good day on Wednesday for followers with our selection at Warwick Farm getting the job done at a nice price.
Saturday sees the first day of the much hyped and anticipated Championships at Royal Randwick. Hosted by the Australian Turf Club, The Championships is an initiative of Racing NSW and brings together the very best racehorses from around Australia and the world. It is seen as the ‘Grand Final’ for horses and amazingly they will be competing for prize money in excess of $18 million over the two days.
Day 1 sees the running of four feature Group 1 races including the world’s richest 1600m race, the $3,000,000 Star Doncaster Mile along with the $2,500,000 TJ Smith Stakes for the sprinters, the $2,000,000 BMW Australian Derby for 3YOs and the $1,000,000 Sires’ Produce Stakes for 2YO’s.
In all likelihood we will get another rain affected track on Saturday. Sydney in the Autumn just seems to be plagued with these conditions. Usually when that happens and the rail is true, it means you want to be getting carted up into the race, pulling to the middle of the track and swooping.
Group 1 $3,000,000 Doncaster Mile – Race 8 (1600M)
The world’s richest mile race sees a field of 20 quality horses assembled with two emergencies. It is a race won by champions of the turf such as More Joyous (2012), Haradasun (2007), Sunline (1999, 2002), Super Impose (1990, 1991), Emancipation (1983), Gunsynd (1972) and Tobin Bronze in (1967) to name a few. This year’s edition can truly be seen as the Mile Championship with the winners of nearly every major mile race in the country engaged. We have the last Doncaster, George Main Stakes, Chipping Norton Stakes, Emirates Stakes, Chelmsford Stakes, Randwick Guineas, Villiers Stakes as well as the last two Epsom winners running. A mouth-watering contest.
With a big field, they should go at a good tempo throughout and ensure all runners get their chance.
4 SACRED FALLS is looking to become only the third horse in the last 50 years to win the Doncaster in consecutive years. The 4YO son of O’Reilly is one of six runners for Chris Waller and he definitely must be respected. Last year as a 3YO he was on the weight limit of 53kg and this year has to carry 56.5kg. His fourth in the George Ryder last start was full of merit and he has no doubt been set for this race for a long time. The wetter the better for him.
The Hawkes trained 17 MESSENE has been favourite for this race since his dominant win in the Group 2 Ajax at Rosehill on March 22, beating 19 WEARY and assuring a spot in this field. He has had the perfect prep and gets into this race on the limit with only 51.5kg. Amazingly, the son of Lohnro is looking to make it eight wins straight, though this is by far his toughest assignment. Untried in wet conditions which is always a slight query but tipping he will get through it ok. If dry, he definitely looks a major player and a deserved favourite.
19 WEARY was beaten by 17 MESSENE in the Ajax but he looks to have improved since then. He has since come out and won the Doncaster Prelude in good fashion, franking the form of 17 MESSENE and showing that he too looks a live chance in this feature. The weeks back-up isn’t a massive concern and he looks another strong hope down in the weights.
Another Waller runner here is 1 BOBAN. The 4YO is the best proven horse in the race and duly carries top weight of 58kg. He has to concede every other runner in the race weight, as much as 6.5kg to the likes of 17 MESSENE and 19 WEARY. If the track is considerably rain affected his task of winning this is made much tougher. If the track is firming, he can run well.
5 HAWKSPUR is a seriously talented horse. Don’t forget he started favourite for the Caulfield Cup last Spring. His form this time in has been solid, running home well in the Ranvet on unsuitable ground. He has tuned up for this with a nice trial behind Lankan Rupee on April 4 and can run a bold race. Drawn perfectly in barrier 8 and expecting him to be very competitive.
The second emergency here is 22 GYPSY DIAMOND. She is simply flying. If she gains a start which is very unlikely, we will be including her in everything.
6 TOYDINI, 7 SPEEDINESS and 18 EL ROCA all went well in the George Ryder and look major players here. Leaning to the first two more slightly but must include all three in all exotics.
The other one to note is 9 ROYAL DESCENT who flashed home in the Coolmore. No doubting this is a tougher assignment but she drops 4kg from that run. Barrier 20 may not be the worst, especially at this time of the day and it may mean she gets out to a quote that is simply too hard to ignore. She relishes wet ground and can figure. Her recent trial behind Zoustar was good. Negative is that she hasn’t won for a while now.
A race that you can make a case for most. For that very reason, we find it hard to come into 17 MESSENE at the short price but we do admit he looks the one to beat. Same can be said about 19 WEARY who has had solid support already and is now short enough at the quote. We could definitely entertain backing 5 HAWKSPUR each way and look for value with 6 TOYDINI, 7 SPEEDINESS and 9 ROYAL DESCENT. 4 SACRED FALLS comes into calculations if really wet and not willing to write off 3YO 18 EL ROCA
Numbers: 5, 19, 17, 9, 6, 7, 4, 18
Group 1 $2,500,000 TJ Smith Stakes – Race 7 (1200M)
A sensational race with all of the best sprinters from Australia descending on Sydney to take part. We also have the added interest of the international and last start winner 2 GORDON LORD BYRON. This is actually the biggest TJ Smith (formerly Endeavour Stakes) field assembled with a whopping 18 runners and three emergencies.
The speed map for this event is fascinating with the big field and many with an abundance of pace. The favourite 3 LANKAN RUPEE has drawn barrier one which, at Randwick when the track is wet and the rail is true, is often not the place to be. 1 BUFFERING has drawn outside of him in barrier 2 and expecting him to work forward and cross but this all depends on how well they jump from the barriers. With 1 BUFFERING, 3 LANKAN RUPEE, 15 STEPS IN TIME, 14 SNITZERLAND and 17 SWEET IDEA engaged, no doubting they will go quickly here. Our full speed map for this event thanks to www.racingfans.com.au can be found online here.
3 LANKAN RUPEE is the best sprinter in Australia. He proved this beating a strong field in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate before heading to the Newmarket Handicap on Super Saturday at Flemington and dominating with a 2.25 length win. Since being gelded, this 4YO has gone to another level and has simply been in sensational form winning five on end. This however, is another challenge altogether. We are likely to be facing a heavy track on Saturday and this is a scenario yet to be faced by 3 LANKAN RUPEE. In fact, in his 15-start career, he is yet to run on a track worse than ‘dead’. From barrier 1, against 17 other rivals he must be at his best. He has had the one trial in Sydney since his Newmarket win and went very nicely beating 14 SNITZERLAND and 9 FONTELINA in the process. If he handles the conditions well, he will be extremely hard to hold out. He does look short enough at the current quote though.
2 GORDON LORD BYRON was exceptional when winning the Group 1 George Ryder at his local debut. Interestingly, he has international form around last year’s winner of this event, the one and only Black Caviar. He drops back to the 1200m here which is a little concern and he may be a little flat second-up. He handles all conditions and no doubting he looms as a chance again. Query is that he may lack the zip and sheer speed that many have here over this shorter distance.
1 BUFFERING is a warhorse. A big tough customer that recently strung three Group 1’s together. He will be out in front, bowling along, and can give a big sight. He handles wet. He is a crowd favourite and you have to respect him, just unsure whether leading or being out in front is the best place to be.
The Tony Gollan trained 4 SPIRIT OF BOOM is in career best form and deservedly won the Group 1 William Reid at Moonee Valley last start. The same form line Black Caviar came through before winning this last year. Prior to that, 4 SPIRIT OF BOOM ran gallant seconds to 3 LANKAN RUPEE in the aforementioned Oakleigh Plate and the Newmarket. Leaning to others but he definitely wouldn’t surprise and must go into trifectas.
Winning the Group 1 Galaxy last start, 6 TIGER TEES beat a number of his rivals he meets in this. He did have a lovely run in transit and conditions to suit in that event but he draws perfectly in barrier 4 again and can be around the mark once more.
The X-Factor in this event is 5 REBEL DANE. Already a Group 1 winner over 1400m in the Rupert Clarke Stakes back in September 2013, he comes into this first-up on the back of a nice trial. He is unbeaten fresh which is a huge positive and he seemingly handles all conditions. Barrier 7 should see him get a lovely run throughout and he can be flashing late. Again, can’t leave him out and if you are keen, we definitely can’t talk you out of him.
The horse that 5 REBEL DANE beat in that Rupert Clarke was 9 FONTELINA. The 5YO also was a very unlucky second last start behind 4 SPIRIT OF BOOM. Not convinced in wet but going well and if he handles it, can run well. No worse than slow.
Besides 9 FONTELINA, Anthony Cummings also has 18 VILLA VERDE who is simply flying. Her run in the Galaxy behind 6 TIGER TEES was very good, coming from 11th at the 400m mark to run third. Expecting her to run a very good race and she looks value at her current quote.
An absolutely sensational affair and the chances don’t stop there. This race may come down to tactics, luck in running and the jockeys. Concede 3 LANKAN RUPEE is the best horse in the field and we would be confident on a firmer surface. Barrier 1 and the unknown of a wet track opens this race right up and can’t dive into the price at the moment. Really feel 18 VILLA VERDE can run well again here and she looks value at the quote. But, as they often say, you can’t eat value.
Numbers: 3, 18, 5, 6, 9, 4
Group 1 $2,000,000 ATC Australian Derby – Race 6 (2400M)
A big field of 18 3YO’s contest this year’s Australian Derby. Exactly half the field comes through the Rosehill Guineas and it has been a strong form reference in past years, with Starcraft, Nom De Jeu and Ethiopia being recent exceptions. Expecting a number of horses to improve sharply from that Rosehill Guineas and to put it frankly, we don’t trust that race as a form reference all that much.
1 CRITERION was a dominant winner of the Rosehill Guineas held on March 29 and he is looking to become only the third horse since the year 2000 to do the Rosehill Guineas/Derby double. It’s A Dundeel completed this double last year with Eremein being the other.
2 PUCCINI can roll forward and lead as he did in the Rosehill Guineas. 7 SURGE AHEAD, 13 SINGING FLAME expected to be thereabouts.
The dominance of 1 CRITERION’S win in the Rosehill Guineas is definitely hard to ignore and he is a deserved favourite for this event. He did get a good run in transit on that occasion and this may not be the case here. The track was also indifferent on that day so the margins may have been exaggerated. That said, we have been a massive fan of his all prep. He handles all conditions and is simply flying at the moment. He looks a major player but is he value at the price?
2 PUCCINI comes into this race rated as the best horse in the race. This is due to his dominant win in the New Zealand Derby back in early March. His one run in Australia was the Rosehill Guineas in which he started favourite, led and weakened. No doubting he was disappointing on that occasion but he may not have handled the conditions and it has been reported that the saddle shifted on him also. Interestingly and somewhat harshly, Michael Walker has lost the ride and Craig Williams jumps on board. Expecting improvement. Monitor track conditions and weather.
We have plenty of time for the Moody trained 14 CADILLAC MOUNTAIN and he profiles and rates similar to past winner Ethiopia. He made ground in the Rosehill Guineas but was a long way off 1 CRITERION. Willing to somewhat overlook that run and trust that he can improve here. Definitely think this guy can run well as long as the track isn’t overly wet.
12 TUPAC AMARU is an out and out stayer which is rare for the Snowden stable. His run in the Victoria Derby in Spring behind Polanski was very good, without a great deal of luck. No doubt he should have finished closer on that occasion and the form from that race has continually stacked up. The favourite in this event 1 CRITERION only narrowly beat him on that occasion which is a key form reference to note. This son of Street Cry handles all conditions and can run well. Another that finished off well in the Rosehill Guineas that can improve.
The other key form reference for this race is the Tulloch Stakes which was run last Saturday on a very wet track. The first two across the line in that went superbly and both must be respected. The run of the race was by the second horse 13 SINGING FLAME who was three and four wide throughout and made a long sustained run. He was left in front a long way from home and no doubting with a better ride/luck he should have won. Major concern here is how he backs up after the gut busting run on a heavy track last week. 8 GALLATIN came from last at the 400m, weaved his way through the field and finished over the top of them. This was a superb finish and gives the impression that he should appreciate the step up to 2400m. Funnily enough he is another Snowden/Darley runner by Street Cry. Same query about backing up from last week. Also noteworthy that McEvoy who would have had the choice of the two Snowden horses, rides stable mate 12 TUPAC AMARU.
5 TERONADO has looked like a Derby horse throughout this entire campaign. He has continued to run on in shorter trips and finally gets to the 2400m which should suit him down to the ground. Barrier 10 looks ideal and expecting him to run well again.
One from left field that might represent value is the Moody trained 11 CRIME FIGHTER. Connections paid a late entry for him to get into this race which suggests Moody thinks he is going well enough to be competitive. He comes into this off two wins at Moonee Valley. The latest was over 2040m and he made up a lot of ground and won in dominant fashion. This is obviously a big step up but he looms as a bit of an x-factor and it is hard to be too critical of winning form. Something many of these don’t have.
A very competitive Derby and one that we are not all that confident about. Definitely feel 1 CRITERION is a deserving favourite and must be respected. Giving 12 TUPAC AMARU a good chance at the $15 mark. 5 TERONADO, 13 SINGING FLAME, 2 PUCCINI, 8 GALLATIN and 14 CADILLAC MOUNTAIN are all chances along with a few others.
Numbers: 1, 12, 5, 13, 2, 8, 14
Group 1 $1,000,000 Sires Produce Stakes – Race 5 (1400M)
Somewhat amazing to think, for a Group 1 $1,000,000 race that these may not be the top notch, A+ 2YO’s lining up here. This is however a very good race with some smart horses that look set to improve up to the 1400m.
We said in our preview of the Golden Slipper last week that fillies look dominant over their male counterparts and they backed this up, filling the top seven placings last Saturday in that event. That may be the case again here although a couple of the boys have to be respected. Five fillies and six colts and geldings make up this field of 11.
Speed from 3 TIME FOR WAR who looks the obvious leader as he did with an all the way win in the Group 2 Pago Pago last start. Outside of him, there looks a distinct lack of on pace types and he could control the race up front. 10 UNKNOWN DESTINY is an outsider in the field and may be best suited rolling forward from barrier 9 with Berry on board. Our speed map thanks to www.racingfans.com.au can be found here.
The son of Snitzel, 3 TIME FOR WAR couldn’t have done much more, winning both career starts. His win in the Pago Pago, along with his racing pattern definitely means he must be respected here.
It is rare to see a good 2YO race without Snowden and Darley in the mix and this race is no exception with 5 KUMAON flying the flag. 5 KUMAON also comes out of the Pago Pago behind 3 TIME FOR WAR and their races couldn’t have been much different. While 3 TIME FOR WAR led from pillar to post, 5 KUMAON was last and flashed home to grab third. The run of 5 KUMAON was superb and he looks set to relish the extra 200m of this event. Not sure the tempo of this event will allow him to get so far back this time but Randwick on a rain affected surface are positives.
Three of the field of 11 comes through the Golden Slipper last week. Clearly the horse to take out of that event was the filly 7 BELIEVE YOURSELF who ran home superbly for fourth. If she has come through that run well she is clearly a major player in this event and a deserved favourite. Both 1 UNENCUMBERED and 2 CORNROW were no match for her last Saturday. See no obvious way they can turn the tables if 7 BELIEVE YOURSELF is in good order. Interestingly, on all four occasion in the last 10 years that the Slipper winner did not run in the Sires’, the winner has come from a different form line. The run of 8 PEGGY JEAN last start on March 29 on a heavy track in the Group 2 Magic Night was very good. She was narrowly beaten by Bring Me The Maid on that occasion who was then superb when third in the Golden Slipper last week. That form reads very well for this and she looks a leading chance.
9 LUCKY RAQUIE is the other one to note. We gave her a good chance in the Black Opal in Canberra and she won in fine style. She then came out and went super against the Golden Slipper quinella when beaten 2.2 lengths. We have a lot of time for this filly and she is another that must be respected.
We were confident 6 SCRATCH ME LUCKY would run a good race last week and that he did, running second in a Group 3 over this distance. This is harder and he would need to improve again off that.
A very good race and an intriguing one at that. Risking the males that came through the Golden Slipper last week. After a super run in the Slipper last week 7 BELIEVE YOURSELF looks the obvious. Definitely feel 8 PEGGY JEAN can improve off her first-up run and that should see her be competitive. 5 KUMAON was super last start and should relish the 1400m. 9 LUCKY RAQUIE must be respected along with 3 TIME FOR WAR who can give a sight out in front.
Numbers: 7, 8, 5, 9, 3