What a sensational day of racing on Saturday as Day 1 of The Championships at Randwick kicked off with a bang. The weather was ordinary, but the racing was strong, the track played well and the best horses on the day won. A first class ride by Zac Purton saw SACRED FALLS become only the third horse in the last 50 years to win the Doncaster in consecutive years. Remarkably, Chris Waller trained the first four across the line in what is an outstanding achievement.
Those who read and followed our preview should have fared very well with our on top selections winning the $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes and the $2m ATC Derby. LANKAN RUPEE continued his dominance of late, easily accounting for one of the best sprinting fields ever assembled in the TJ Smith, while CRITERION followed up his dominant win in the Rosehill Guineas with a strong win in the Derby. With TUPAC AMARU running second, we managed to find the exacta in the race which paid handsomely.
This Saturday sees Day 2 of The Championships with another four Group 1 races on offer including the $4m Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2000m. Again, we will provide a big preview of the feature events and hopefully we can have another successful day, while for Wednesday racing we take a look at the midweek meetings from Sandown and Ascot below.
Sandown Race 7 – 3yo Fillies Handicap (1200m)
A huge field choc-full of quality will greet the starter in the seventh event on what is a very solid Sandown midweek program. In spite of persistent rain over the last week the Sandown track has held up remarkably well and with fine weather expected we should see an upgrade into the good range.
There is speed aplenty here. 7 NEW YORK RAIN and 11 BEIRUT possess an abundance of tactical speed and should press forward in search of the lead. In what could be a real smoke show through the first 400m expect 4 SRIKANDI, 9 BRACIDAME, 13 LIBERTY HILL and 16 SWING WITH ME to press forward and add some spice to the race.
4 SRIKANDI is a horse we have been keen on at both outings this preparation. She was unlucky first up when she raced on speed in a high pressure race and was only collared late by 2 PILLY’S WISH who she again meets today. 4 SRIKANDI then went to Mornington and led all the way as expected to record a strong two length victory. The win at Mornington was given further credence with the second placed LUCKY STRIKER winning at Caulfield on Saturday and the third placed PEARLY WHITES subsequently running well at Flemington. This Ciaron Maher trained daughter of boom UK sire DUBAWI looks an exciting prospect in the making and she should get every chance to make it back-to-back wins at Sandown.
11 BEIRUT is a speed machine. She resumed with an uncharacteristically poor run first up over the 1000m at Sandown, but her trainer did intimate to stewards that she would benefit hugely from the run. This daughter of Lonhro showed improvement second and third up last preparation and we expect more of the same this time in. She is going to have to work early to get across from gate 15 today with plenty of speed kicking up on her inside but we do expect a bold run second up and she is a must include for the multiples.
12 DARNEY GUB is another filly we have been following since a very nice trial leading into this preparation. She was given no hope when dragged back to the tail first up but quickly atoned with a brilliant all the way win at Cranbourne last time out. She has drawn wide here and will likely be ridden more quietly. She is up in class on her last outing and won’t get many favours in the run, but she is a filly worth following down the track.
9 BRACIDAME hails from the all-conquering Hawkes stable and that is justification enough to tip this filly! The stable has dominated the early part of the Sydney Autumn Carnival and they are masters of switching their horses between states and producing instant results. This Darci Brahma filly was dominant on debut at Kyneton back in October when able to lead all the way and record a 3.3L win. She resumed last month at Warwick Farm in a midweek race over 1200m and raced on speed when a solid third behind FORT SUMNER and FOXBAT. Dwayne Dunn should give 9 BRACIDAME every chance from barrier four and she is sure to make her presence felt over the concluding stages.
A fascinating race and we are again happy to side with the up and coming 4 SRIKANDI who has the ability to continue rising in grade. Keen to have a small save on 9 BRACIDAME.
Ascot Race 1 – 2yo Handicap (1000m)
An interesting two-year-old race to kick off the Ascot program with 10 of the 12 runners making their debut here, three of which have impressed us at the trials recently.
With so many first starters a speed map is tough, but based on their most recent trials we expect 8 JACK TO A KING and 4 HADANI LAD to spring the gates and go forward to look for the lead. 4 HADANI LAD is a rare two-year-old runner for Adam Durrant and he showed great toe in his recent trial with the blinkers on. He keeps that gear on today and expect him to fly out and most likely sit outside 8 JACK TO A KING.
We liked the trial of 8 JACK TO A KING back in December and since then he has had a brief spell. He did trial solidly last week and has the blinkers added to his gear today which he has yet to trial in. He should go quickly to try and get to the front and that is never a disadvantage over the short course early in the day at Ascot.
The other trial we were impressed with recently was by the David Harrison trained 12 MISS KITWE. She actually beat home 8 JACK TO A KING in a trial last week, but was given a better hit out. She should settle just off the pace and if the leaders cut at each other she could finish home over the top.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the three mentioned above win, but we are happy to have a small each way bet on 8 JACK TO A KING as he should be the biggest odds and the blinkers going on for the first time could see him get to the front and be hard to run down.
Sandown Race 7 – SRIKANDI (win), save on BRACIDAME
Ascot Race 1 – Small each way bet on JACK TO A KING