I missed previewing Golden Slipper day last week, due to multiple distractions (renovations) destroying my concentration and desire to write. However, I did watch the splendid race card that featured five Group One races.
Despite the slow track, it was mostly a day for favourites to win. The Gai Waterhouse trained filly Overreach won the Golden Slipper, Norzita won the Vinery Stud Stakes, Fiveandahalfstar won the BMW, Pierro won the George Ryder Stakes and Appearance was victorious in the Queen of the Turf Stakes, where the favoured More Joyous, was blocked for a run when it counted and failed to run a place.
This week, the newly (only partly) renovated Randwick racecourse features three Group One races – the Sires Produce Stakes for two year olds, the Australian Derby and the T J Smith Stakes, which will, weather permitting, star Black Caviar gunning for her 25th win in succession, and 15th at Group One level.
The first to run of the Group One races is the Sires Produce Stakes, which is run over 1400 metres. Can Overreach, who is backing up in this race, take her winning streak to four? It seems a hard ask after the arduous Golden Slipper, but one assumes she is fit for it. Several of her opponents are in the same boat. Guelph, Charlie Boy, Villa Verde and Windjammer all ran in the Slipper too, and Champollion contested and won the Group Three Ballieu Handicap last Saturday as well and could represent her biggest threat. There’s also Scandiva, a relation to Black Caviar who has won her last two starts and can’t be overlooked.
The Australian Derby is the seventh race on the card, and is a test of stamina for young stayers over 2400 metres. At the beginning of this week, there was keen anticipation for a clash between Fiveandahalfstar and It’s A Dundeel, with their diverse styles of racing being pivotal to the interest – the front runner versus the swooper – but Fiveandahalfstar has been ruled out with a leg injury.
So now it looks a done deal, judging by the way It’s A Dundeel won the Rosehill Guineas - by 6 lengths – and he is understandably the hot favourite. However, at his only run over 2400 metres in the Victoria Derby last spring, he failed to run a place, so there is a question mark over his ability to run out the trip. His breeding (High Chaparral x Stareel (out of Zabeel) indicates he can do it and his trainer reckons he’ll win on class alone. He was only a baby when contesting the Victoria Derby (technically two years old) and at the end of a hard campaign, so there are excuses for his failure then.
There are three other High Chaps in the Derby – High Shot, Hippopus and Kingdoms, so it would be interesting if two of them ran the trifecta, as happened when Shoot Out won the race in 2010 against Descarado.and Monaco Consul. Might be worth a modest wager on the boxed trifecta.
At the moment Philippi looks the main threat along with Bass Straight and Hvasstan if he handles the clockwise direction of running in Sydney, which he failed to do when he contested the Rosehill Guineas.
Sydney Racing has scheduled the T J Smith Stakes as the last race on the cards, basically forcing people who are attending only to see Black Caviar, to stay at the course till stumps, similar to Moonee Valley Racing Club’s strategy on William Reid Stakes night recently.
Well, she is a star act and worth waiting to see. Black Caviar, if she runs – Peter Moody has stated that she won’t run if the track is rated heavy – faces ten opponents this time. It must be the biggest field she has run in for quite some time. Old rival, Hay List fronts in this too as does Sea Siren, Rain Affair and speedy relative Bel Sprinter who was sensational winning The Galaxy a few weeks ago. Still I doubt any of them can beat the super mare, who is in top form according to Peter Moody.
As the Sydney’s weather is expected to be fine for the rest of the week, there’s every chance that the track will be rated dead to good on Saturday and Black Caviar will bag her quarter century of wins.
Update – Saturday Night
What a fantastic day of racing yet again!
The star of the show was undoubtedly It’s A Dundeel, demolishing the Derby field with a six length win. They’re calling him the “pocket rocket” as he’s only a small horse, but he has a remarkable turn of foot. Philippi ran second and Kingdoms, who led the field for most of the race, hung on for third. The High Chap trifecta didn’t happen-close though. I am feeling rather privileged to have seen him in the flesh last year. I noted at the time that he looked special.
And let’s not forget the mighty mare Black Caviar, effortlessly scoring her 25th win in succession, and breaking several more records – such as going beyond Kingston Town’s record of 14 Group One wins.
As Gerard Whateley wrote in my copy of the Black Caviar book, we are living in extraordinary times.