Easter Saturday used to be known by racing fans as Doncaster- Derby day, but the two races in question have, for the past ten years or so, been run on different days. This year they return on the same day, along with two other Group 1 races at Randwick on Saturday.
It’s the first day of Sydney’s pompously named The Championships, which continues over the following two weekends, culminating with the All Aged Stakes Day on 18 April.
You have to admit that this first day of The Championships offers a fabulous line up of races with top class fields. Unfortunately the track will be most likely rain affected, but you kind of expect that during the Sydney autumn racing carnival.
The first of the Group 1 races is the Inglis Sires, a race for two year olds over 1400 metres. It has attracted a cracking field that includes Blue Diamond Stakes winner Pride of Dubai, Golden Slipper runner up English, Melbourne filly Pasadena Girl who has won her only two starts and Always Allison, who looked very promising in her first two starts before going amiss in her last start. She does however have “Magic Man” Joao Moreira in the saddle, which gives her a distinct advantage.
The Sires is followed by the Australian Derby, a 2400 metres race for three year olds. The New Zealand pair Mongolian Khan and Volkstok’n’barrell look the top picks, along with Victorian Derby winner Preferment, who finished second to Volkstok’n’barrell in the Rosehill Guineas. Also in with a chance is Hauraki who won the Tulloch Stakes (2000 metres) by 2.5 lengths. He’s part of the Godolphin team who have been very successful of late, winning most of the races last Saturday.
Lankan Rupee, Chautauqua and Terravista meet again in the Group 1 T J Smith Stakes, a sprint over 1200 metres. Lankan Rupee won this race last year on a heavy track, so I’ll be hoping he can do it for a second time and finally get the better of his two classy rivals. Sweet Idea is also likely to be in the finish, and with a 2kg weight advantage, could well beat the boys.
Sacred Falls won the Doncaster Mile in both 2013 and 2014 and will be trying to create history by becoming the first horse to win three times consecutively. He has to carry top weight 58kg and beat a full field of 20 runners to do so. One thing in his favour is that he performs well on soft ground, after all he won both the 2013 and 2014 Doncaster on bog tracks. He’ll be starting at pretty good odds too, as he has not inspired confidence with his runs so far this autumn.
One of the favourites will probably be the Japanese horse Real Impact, who so impressively won the George Ryder Stakes a fortnight ago, and there is a lot of support for three year old Hallowed Crown who has a light weight advantage, though has drawn the outside barrier. There’s also a bit of hype on French import Pornichet who won a Group 3 race last Saturday at Rosehill.
I reckon Royal Descent and Cosmic Endeavour both have a good chance of taking out the race for the fair sex, the former with her excellent form on heavy tracks and the services of Joao Moreira as her jockey, whilst Cosmic Endeavour , despite her poor performance in the Ryder Stakes, is too good to overlook. There’s also Melbourne mare Suavito who is currently on a run of wins in her home state that included the Group 1 Futurity Stakes.
In Melbourne Caulfield’s Easter Saturday meeting looks interesting enough to attend, with the popular front runner The Cleaner being one of the attractions. He’ll be running in the Easter Cup, a much easier race than the last few he’s contested, so will most likely be the winner. He’s also had a change of gear – blinkers off, visor on, so that he can see other horses overtaking him, which apparently spurs him on.
Also racing at Caulfield on Saturday is Western Australian star three year old, Disposition, last seen finishing second to Wandjina in the C S Hayes Stakes in February. He’s entered in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap.
I’m also keen to set eyes again on Prince Harada who has been out of action for over a year and was gelded in the interim. He’s entered in a 1100 metre sprint, which is probably a little short for him.