Thursday, April 12, 2018

Winx & Day Two of The Championships

qe stakes_winx 1
Winx on her way to winning the 2017 Queen Elizabeth Stakes

Much as I would like to be there to witness Winx match Black Caviar’s record of 25 straight wins, economic prudence compels me to forgo the pleasure.

In her final appearance for the autumn racing carnival, Winx will be aiming to win her second Queen Elizabeth Stakes, 18th Group 1 and 25th race in succession.

It’s hard to believe that the wonder mare has finally reached this milestone, as it seemed so distant back in 2015, when I first had the thrill of seeing her winning her first Cox Plate. That was her fifth consecutive win, and now twenty races later, she hopefully will remain unbeaten. Go Winx!

Winx faces nine rivals in the 2018 edition of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and has drawn the outside gate. That should not be a problem with her pattern of racing, midfield and generally a bit wide, to avoid interference.

The most threatening of her rivals are Happy Clapper, Humidor and Gailo Chop, all of whom she has thrashed in the past.  Of the rest, Japanese import Ambitious and her stable mate Comin’ Through, on form, could be in the finish.

As well as the  QE Stakes, there are three other Group 1 races on the card - the Australian Oaks, Sydney Cup and Coolmore Legacy Stakes.

First up is the Australian Oaks, run over 2400 metres. Last year it was won by New Zealand filly Bonneval who previous to that victory had won the New Zealand Oaks.  This year’s New Zealand Oaks winner, Savvy Coup is aiming to emulate Bonneval  and three previous New Zealand winners (Sofia Rosa, Gust of Wind and Rising Romance) on Saturday, and on that effort looks a top chance.  The NZ Oaks runner up Contessa Vanessa is also worthy of consideration. 

Of the local girls Vinery Stud winner Hiyaam and last week’s Adrian Knox Stakes winner Luvaluva could well turn the tables on the NZ fillies.

The Sydney Cup, like its Melbourne counterpart,  is run over 3200 metres and a hard race to assess, with the majority of the field hailing from outside Australia, albeit  adapted to Australian conditions.  Last year, the race was declared void after the unfortunate breakdown of Almoonqith shortly after the start, which caused Who Shot Thebarman to lose his rider and raced riderless.  Let’s hope that scenario is not repeated this year. 

Top pick is 2016 Melbourne Cup winner Almandin, who looked back to his best winning the Group 1 Tancred Stakes, and is proven over the distance. Likewise old Who Shot Thebarman who has finished second in the Sydney Cup on two occasions in 2015 and 2017. Even at his age (nine) he could well run a place again. Almandin is the class stayer in the race, but he is top weight on 57 kilos, and there are lighter weighted horses who will aim to topple him, such as the New Zealand stayer Sir Charles Road and Japanese visitor Pre Stwick, along with the usual suspects Auvray, Aloft , Libran and former New Zealander, now with the Chris Waller stable, Patrick Erin.

A classy field of 16 mares and one filly will contest the final Group 1 race of the day. This is the Coolmore Legacy Stakes, formerly known as the Queen of the Turf Stakes, and it is run over 1600 metres.

Foxplay won it last year from Zanbagh and Dixie Blossoms. These three are all in the field with new challengers such as Victorian mare Spanish Reef who has won her last three starts.  Others likely to be in the finish are Daysee Doom, Silent Sedition, Oregon’s Day and Prompt Response. The sole filly Alizee has been somewhat disappointing this autumn, but does have a 2.5 kilo weight advantage and is being touted as a live chance by her trainer James Cummings.

It looks to be another fabulous afternoon of racing that will be run on a good track, quite a contrast to the usual wet tracks that generally plague Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival.

I’ll be watching with interest again, especially the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

*Update Saturday Evening*

What a fantastic afternoon of racing from Sydney it was, with Winx achieving her 25th win in succession in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and doing so with consummate ease, defeating race leader Gailo Chop by almost four lengths. She gave the field a big start, racing at the tail  until near the turn into the straight, where, as she usually does, she came wide around the corner and tore away in a trice to score another amazing win. Happy Clapper ran third a half length away.

Chris Waller had a very successful afternoon winning three of the four Group 1 races, with Unforgotten winning the Australian Oaks from Hiyaam and Miss Admiration, and tough old trooper Who Shot Thebarman winning the Sydney Cup at his fifth attempt, beating outsider Zacada by a whisker with Sir Charles Road running third.

The Coolmore Legacy was won by the filly Alizee who took the prize by a comfortable two lengths from Prompt Response and Heavens Above.

Happily there are no immediate plans to retire Winx, so we’ll hopefully get to see her again in the spring where one of her targets will no doubt be a fourth Cox Plate.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Doncaster– Derby Day 2018

race 5_ryder_kementari 6
Kementari – Doncaster Favourite photographed at Rosehill 24/3/18

The first Saturday of Sydney Racing’s  pompously named The Championships takes place this weekend at Randwick racetrack and features four Group 1 races -  the time honoured Doncaster Mile and  Australian Derby as well the Inglis Sires and T J Smith Stakes.

There’s something for everyone in the schedule with the Inglis Sires being a race for two year olds over 1400 metres, the Derby, a 2400 metres race for three year old stayers, the Doncaster a top class 1600 metres competition for middle distance runners, and the T J Smith a sprint over 1200 metres.

The first of the Group 1 events to run is the Inglis Sires and has attracted a field of 12 colts/geldings and 3 fillies. I’m interested in seeing how Encryption performs and whether he can emulate his ancestors and take home the Group 1 prize. His dam Guelph won the Sires in 2013, his granddam Camarilla in 2007 and his grand sire Octagonal won it in 1995. So it would be fitting if Encryption could do the family proud.

He’ll have to beat classy fillies Oohood and Seabrook, the former in particular who ran third in the Blue Diamond Stakes and second in the Golden Slipper at her last start and surely deserves a win.

The Australian Derby has been won over the past three years by New Zealand invaders  - Jon Snow (2017) Tavago (2016) and Mongolian Khan (2015) so it’s quite likely that Kiwis will take home the prize this year.

There are 7 New Zealanders in this year’s  Derby with the Murray Baker trained New Zealand Derby winner Vin De Dance being the pick of them. He’s one of the few runners to have won over the distance. Victoria Derby winner Ace High has been a tad disappointing so far this autumn, but he is proven over 2400 metres so has to be the best of the locals, along with Levendi, and Tangled and Furore who ran second and third in the Rosehill Guineas.

Redzel, who narrowly lost to Redkirk Warrior in the Lightning Stakes, is the top pick for the TJ Smith Stakes. Chautauqua won the race the last three years in succession, but is not part of the field, after he refused to leave the barriers in several trials recently, and has subsequently been sent for a long spell.

Despite Chautauqua’s absence it looks a classy field with mares, In Her Time, Global Glamour and English being Redzel’s main rivals. Also in with a chance is Brave Smash and Trapeze Artist, both with good recent form.

Happy Clapper, Humidor and Kementari are the three top chances in the Doncaster Mile, though one of the other runners such as Tosen Stardom, Lanciato or Prized Icon could steal the show. The last three year old to win the Doncaster was Triple Honour in 2008, so can the beautiful Kementari, with a generous weight advantage over the older horses, succeed ten years later?

It looks a great day of racing, run on a good track, which I shall watch at home with interest. 

*Update Saturday Evening*

As expected is was an interesting race meeting with one sensational result, when 100/1 shot El Dorado Dreaming took out the Inglis Sires, winning by a nose from the favourite Oohood, with 50/1 shot Outrageous finishing third.

Ace High, fighting out a thrilling finish in the Derby, was defeated by a nose by Levendi with Tangled several lengths behind running third.

Redzel was rolled in the TJ Smith by the three year old Trapeze Artist. In Her Time ran third.

And the Doncaster was won by the tough Happy Clapper from Comin’ Through and Arbeitsam.

So my analysis above was not all that out except for the Inglis Sires.