Friday, April 26, 2013

Sydney Autumn Carnival Grand Final

It’s A Dundeel – can he win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes?

The heart pounding excitement of first class racing continues this coming weekend with a total of six Group One races in two states.

The Sydney autumn carnival culminates with the Sydney Cup meeting at Randwick, and Adelaide kicks off its small autumn racing carnival at Morphettville with two Group One races for fillies and mares.

Black Caviar may be gone from the racing scene, but other champion gallopers will be strutting their stuff on Saturday.

For instance, It’s A Dundeel, surely a bright new racing star, will be taking on the older horses for the first time in the Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000 metres). He’s up against a field of tried and true stayers/middle distance runners like Manighar , who though disappointing so far this season, could return to form, Silent Achiever, who ran an excellent second to Fiveandahalfstar in the BMW recently, and the Chris Waller trained import Reliable Man. However, I think It’s A Dundeel with his lightweight advantage should win, or at least I hope so, if he repeats his performance in the Derby.

The second of the Group One races at Randwick is the Champagne Stakes, a race for two year olds over 1600 metres.  It has some very classy youngsters, including Guelph who won the Sire Produce Stakes a fortnight ago, and Scandiva who ran second on that occasion. Also in the picture is Criterion who will appreciate the extra distance, after running sixth in the Golden Slipper last start where he was not really suited. The same goes for Fast N Rocking who ran fifth in the Golden Slipper and second to Miracles of Life in the Blue Diamond. I have been following the colt Star Wars, mostly because I like his name but also because of his breeding – Starcraft by Rose O’ War, who were star performers back in their day. Rose O’ War actually beat Sunline once. Anyway, Star Wars hasn’t done anything to write home about so far, but he has been running on heavy or slow tracks most of the time, so the addition of blinkers and a good track may make a difference. Another worthy of consideration is the Gai Waterhouse trained Equator who has won his last two starts in lesser grades.

The Sydney Cup, like the Melbourne Cup is hard to assess, run as it is over 3200 metres. It is hard to go past Kelinni who won the Listed JRA Plate last week and also ran fourth in the Melbourne Cup last year.  There are two sons of Zabeel in the field – Maluckyday who ran second to Americain in the 2010 Melbourne Cup and has been racing well of late, and Tremec who recently won, at long odds, the Group Two Chairman Stakes.  Niwot won the Sydney Cup last year, so we know he can run the distance, though he is getting on in years, but may be able to repeat the feat. The sole mare in the race is Aliyana Tilde who ran third to Tremec and New Zealander Blood Brotha in the Chairman Stakes.

All Too Hard resumes his interrupted autumn campaign in the Group One All Aged Stakes (1400 metres). He was scratched from the Australian Guineas back in March, due to a virus infection but has now recovered after a longish spell. This may be his last race in Australia or anywhere; it depends how he goes in this race. We have the mouth watering prospect of him up against super Sydney mare More Joyous, who has been extremely unlucky so far this season. Also sure to be competitive is Epaulette who ran second to Black Caviar in the T J Smith Stakes and Rain Affair who ran third in the race. It will be interesting to see if All Too Hard can go out a winner like his big sister. He beat Pierro last year in the Caulfield Guineas and Pierro beat More Joyous in the Canterbury Stakes, so he has a really good chance if he handles the Sydney way of going.

The final race on the card at Randwick is the Listed Hall Mark Stakes (1200 metres) which is of interest to me due to the return of Manawanui to the race track. He has been out of action since September last year, when he was banned for three months due to a bleeding attack.  So he’s had a long break. He is running against a full field, many of whom are resuming after spells too. I’d be delighted if he won, but he may need the run. He might be worth a small wager at long odds. Whatever, I’ll be sure to watch the race.

At Morphettville , the first of the Group One events is the Sporting Bet Classic (aka Robert Sangster Stakes), which is sprint over 1200 metres for fillies and mares. Super filly Snitzerland is the top pick and will no doubt start as hot favourite. She has yet to win a Group One race, so this is her best chance to achieve it. The Peter Moody trained Kulgrinda appears to be her main danger. She won her first race for a while on this track two weeks ago, beating Platelet and Avoid Lightning who are also part of the field. Local mare Just Discreet also is worth considering.

The other Morphettville Group One is the Australasian Oaks (2000 metres) and has attracted a full field of hopeful fillies.  They appear pretty well matched, so it’s hard to pick the likely winner. Three New Zealand fillies have been sent across the Tasman for this race – Blanket Bay, Her To Eternity and Aurora Lights -  but they may be outclassed by Australian fillies Molto Bene and Global Balance.

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