Thursday, April 26, 2012

Autumn Racing Grand Finale – Sydney Cup Day

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Black Caviar back this week in Adelaide gunning for her 20th successive win.

The razzle dazzle of first class racing continues this Saturday in the final race meeting for the Sydney Autumn racing carnival, and what a grand meeting it is with four splendid Group One races on the program.  The stars will be out in force – Atlantic Jewel in the All Aged Stakes, Manighar, Americain & More Joyous in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Pierro in the Champagne Stakes. In Adelaide Black Caviar will be out to make history in the Group One Sporting Bet Classic to a sell out crowd, aiming for her 20th win in succession, a modern record.  Morphettville will also feature the Group One Schweppes Oaks – more on that later.

The first Group One of the day is the Champagne Stakes, a race over 1600 metres for two year olds. The unbeaten Pierro will be trying for the triple crown of Golden Slipper, Sires Produce and Champagne – a feat rarely achieved. Dance Hero was the last to do so in 1984.

Pierro should accomplish this on his ear, barring unforeseen circumstances.  His likeliest rivals appear to be the two fillies Flying Snitzel and Dear Demi, and colts Limes and Raceway.

The All Aged Stakes (1400 metres) will be a big test for outstanding filly Atlantic Jewel. It is her first race in open company and she faces stiff competition from the likes of  Rain Affair, King Mufhasa and Ofcourseican.  If she is as freakish as we all think she is, Atlantic Jewel should win easily. It’ll be certainly an interesting race.

The hardest of the races to assess is the Sydney Cup, which is run over the same distance as the Melbourne Cup – 3200 metres. It’s a wide open race as far as likely chances go, with quite a few in the field having form over the distance.  You’ve got Efficient as top weight. I’d love to see him win, but I doubt he can, though he hasn’t been all that far away in races over shorter distances. Drunken Sailor, an International stayer who is another who remained in Australia after the Cup last year, has good recent form, running second in the Adelaide Cup in early March and finishing third behind Manighar and Americain in the BMW. Stand To Gain won this race last year at big odds, but hasn’t won anything since. Older Than Time is a good chance; she ran second in the 2011 Sydney Cup and second also to Permit recently in the Chairman's Handicap. Permit is another import and is the favourite, having two recent wins to his credit.  Also throw in Niwot,  who is not without hope.

The final Group One of the day in Sydney is the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, run over 2000 metres. It has a really classy field with Manighar, Americain, More Joyous and New Zealand star Jimmy Choux in the field.  This is a test for More Joyous, backing up after her Doncaster win last week. I rather doubt she can beat Manighar or Americain, but she could easily run a place. The big question is, can Americain beat Manighar this time around. He has yet another jockey on board this time, after his disappointing second in the BMW, when ridden by Gerard Mosse. Top Aussie jockey Craig Williams has the ride this week, and that could make all the difference.  Mosse’s ride was criticised by the stewards and punters alike, after he rode Americain three wide over the 2400 metre trip. Manighar will be ridden by Damien Oliver, as his regular jockey Luke Nolen will be in Adelaide with the star mare. Also in the picture is Secret Admirer, too good to overlook, and Rekindled Interest who has been racing very well this autumn.

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Empress Rock after winning Fillies Classic at Moonee Valley 23 March 2012

Moving on to Adelaide, the Group One Schweppes Oaks is a race for three year old fillies over 2000 metres.  Empress Rock (pictured above) is trained by the master Bart Cummings and is current favourite. I witnessed her winning the Fillies Classic at Moonee Valley back in March, and she did it easily. However, at her first start at Morphettville she ran fifth to Crucial, Rahveel and Crimson Lady, though it must have been a close finish as Empress Rock was only 1.6 lengths from the winner. The three abovementioned are also contesting the Oaks, along with a further twelve competitors, so  it’s anybody’s guess who will actually win.

And finally the race everyone will be watching – Black Caviar starring in the Sporting Bet Classic, a sprint over 1200 metres. Black Caviar’s closest rival out of a total of ten runners, appears to be Lone Rock the only other Group One winner in the race – she won the Goodwood last year. Apparently Black Caviar’s  race will be televised live  on Channel 7, who will interrupt the football to bring it to the people on free to air TV.

Track conditions in Sydney this weekend should be good, as there has been little rain there this week. Down here in the south, Melbourne has been shivering and wet, with a cold snap dominating the weather most of this week, so the same applies to Adelaide who experience a similar weather pattern to us. The Morphettville track will most likely be dead to slow, and hopefully not heavy.

UPDATE – Viva Les Girls

What an absolutely wonderful day of racing it was, and so good to see the three star girls, Black Caviar, Atlantic Jewel and More Joyous win their races with such ease and style.  It was also great to see Pierro take out the two year old triple crown, by winning the Champagne Stakes. He looks the real deal and uncannily like his dad Lonhro, so it will be fascinating to see how he comes back in spring.

Niwot won the Sydney Cup narrowly beating dear old Efficient who ran a terrific race. Good to see the old boy back, still with life in his legs. 

It was a fitting and spectacular finale to the Autumn racing carnival.

The Group One action will continue for another month or so in Adelaide and Brisbane, and Black Caviar, having now won twenty from twenty, and ten Group Ones, may be back in the Goodwood at Morphettville in a fortnight.

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