All Aged Stakes and Champagne Stakes: Group 1 tips and previews

Cameron Rose Columnist

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    Randwick Racecourse (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

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    The Championships are over, but the Group 1 racing in Sydney continues for another week, which will actually turn into two when the Sydney Cup is re-run next Saturday.

    The All Aged Stakes doesn’t have the prestige, acclaim or prize-money of many other Group 1s through the Australian racing calendar, but it does possess a glittering list of winners.

    Dissident won this race two years ago on his way to Horse of the Year honours, All Too Hard and Atlantic Jewel were gun three-year-olds to take it out in 2013 and 2012 respectively, while Hay List escaped Black Caviar’s clutches to win it in 2011.

    Hot Danish, Racing To Win and Private Steer were all stars of the Sydney turf that claimed victory in the mid-2000s, Sunline won the race twice, in 2000 and 2002, and the 1990s saw winners like Intergaze, All Our Mob, Flying Spur, Rough Habit and Shaftesbury Avenue.

    This year’s edition doesn’t have any genuine Group 1 weight-for-age depth to the race, but there is a horse which I suspect won’t be out of place as a winner alongside those illustrious names.

    Le Romain is the marginal favourite, and can be considered in the conversation as one of the top half-dozen horses in Australia at the moment. Already a three-time Group 1 winner, from distances 1300m-1600m and on both good 3 and heavy 10 tracks, at the ages of three and four, at set weights, handicap and weight-for-age, his versatility and class is unquestioned.

    Le Romain has a duck-egg next to his name in the formguide, but never saw daylight from back in the ruck in the Doncaster, and will be much better placed here controlling the race on the speed in a smaller field. Expect him to win this and go on to bigger things next season.

    English is the defending champion and is coming off an eerily similar preparation through the same races as she did last year.

    Winning the Challenge Stakes first-up? Check. Flat second-up run in the Galaxy? Check. A placing behind a fast-finishing Chautauqua in the TJ Smith? Check.

    She’ll probably stalk Le Romain throughout the race, and look to use her turn of foot in the straight to get past him.

    Voodoo Lad has a second in the Newmarket Handicap and a fifth in the TJ Smith to his name this prep, handles all conditions and will be finishing hard, but it’s doubtful he has the class to beat both of the favourites.

    McCreery is another honest horse, but has proven to be a length or two inferior to Le Romain when they’ve met a few times this season.

    Tivaci has consistent formlines against a few of these, having run well in the Cantala Stakes behind Le Romain and McCreery, behind Redkirk Warrior and Voodoo Lad in the Newmarket, and not far behind English in the TJ Smith. He’s a Group 1 winner in waiting in his right race, but is this it?

    Redkirk Warrior was a dominant Newmarket Handicap winner, and moved into the Doncaster like a winning chance around the turn before stopping as if shot. Was it the ground or the bias on the day that saw him disappoint, or was he just disappointing? He looks over the odds.

    Divine Prophet is five weeks into this after an even run in the Australian Guineas, but it’s been an indifferent year for the three-year-old colts in open weight-for-age company this season.

    Japonisme hasn’t looked like a coming winner, Jungle Edge won’t be good enough, and Famous Seamus is hard to have, but can run well before a Queensland trip where he might find something more to his liking.

    1. Le Romain 2. English 3. Redkirk Warrior 4. Tivaci

    The Champagne Stakes for two-year-olds over 1600m is the support Group 1 race on the card. Strangely, it has attracted only three horses from the Sires Produce a fortnight ago, with only the winner, Invader, having run in the top five there. There is not one horse from the Golden Slipper in the field.

    Invader was too strong at 1400m in the Sires, after coming off very solid lead-up form prior, and is rightfully around the even-money mark. Hugh Bowman can settle in the second or third pair from barrier one and adjust his tactics based on the early speed.

    The Mission has some claims of turning the tables on Invader after getting too far back in the Sires. One More Honey was further back again in that race before running on, and there are worse options than these if Invader struggles at the step up in distance.

    Whispered Secret is second favourite, already claiming a win over the Randwick mile a week ago in the Fernhill Stakes. This is the exact same route James Cummings took last year with stablemate Prized Icon to win this race, so he knows what he’s doing.

    Ace High was a good four lengths behind Whispered Secret in the Fernhill. The start before that, he was down at Flemington running alongside Eshtiraak in the VRC Sires. That horse then won at Mornington, with Aberro running second. Both of these horses are engaged here, but have some work to do if the Ace High form reads true.

    Reflectivity will be hard pressed to win off getting beaten in a Newcastle maiden and jumping up 400m. Anthony Cummings hasn’t struck at big odds in a Group 1 for a while, and Memento could be that horse if you can forgive the last start flop. The Magic Night third to Tulip reads well.

    1. Whispered Secret 2. Memento 3. Invader 4. The Mission

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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