Winx returns, Hart vs Bart in PB Lawrence, and Frankel gets an Aussie winner

Tristan Rayner Editor

By , Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor

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    Will Winx secure her third Cox Plate in a row? (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

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    Winx makes her glorious return this weekend in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick. She won’t be beaten.

    I can say that with confidence. It’s Winx. But also, depending on final acceptances, it doesn’t look like she’ll be racing against too much either, just like last year.

    2016’s Warwick Stakes saw Chris Waller enter four of the seven-horse field. Winx might face just three or four horses from other stables in a replica of last year’s race, in which Waller provided all bar three of the seven-horse field.

    While there are ten acceptances at this stage, it’s likely to only be seven or eight horses in the final field as they duck and weave the mare.

    We’ll see some racing favourites like Who Shot Thebarman winding up for another big staying spring, and stablemate Antonio Giuseppe as well – but they’ll be in Winx’s wake, unless something goes very, very wrong.

    Unlike last year, Hartnell won’t be there – wisely avoiding the great mare’s likely 18th consecutive win as he takes on the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield in an intriguing race.

    Winx will be a must-watch for racing fans of course, but the PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) offers a real dogfight.

    We’ll likely see six Darren Weir runners including Black Hart Bart, Tosen Stardom, Gailo Chop, Humidor and Amelie’s Star.

    Montoya’s Secret is also entered for Leon and Troy Corstens, back from a spell after his Group 1 Vinery Stud (200m) win at Rosehill. Vega Magic, the Goodwood winner, is also entered.

    But it’ll likely be the battle of the seven-year-old geldings: Black Hart Bart and Hartnell. The Melbourne Cup third-placer is now trained by James Cummings, and the battle between he and Bart is likely only an appetiser as they both head towards the Group 1 Memsie Stakes in early September.

    Bart is an impressive four from four at the 1400m at Caulfield, with three of those at Group 1 level, and goes well first-up. They’ve clashed before in the Cox Plate, but it’s a different story without Winx.

    The pair can’t be split in betting before final acceptances, with Tosen Stardom in single figures. If you prefer anything else in the race you will get a decent price!

    hugh-bowman-winx-cox-plate-horse-racing-2016

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Frankel’s first winner in Australia
    The Frankel sire phenomenon keeps throwing up winners – stupidly early Melbourne Cup favourite Francis of Assisi was given a thrashing by one of his in the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes (2011m) over the weekend.

    You can watch Racing UK give a strangely muddled explanation of that race here.

    But Frankel got his first winner in Australia, with the $1.6m colt Merovee winning a maiden at Newcastle for Waller, with Hugh Bowman on board.

    Legendofoz, a Fastnet Rock colt, was an impressive second to beat the rest by more than four lengths.

    Sure, Tuesday maidens at Newcastle aren’t usually where we see Stakes or Group-level horses starting a Group 1 career but big things are expected from Merovee. We’ll see him face harder races in future.

    Geoffrey Freer Stakes this weekend holds Cups interest
    For the Melbourne Cup fans, the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2671m) at Newbury is run on August 19 (3:05pm local time) and sees a few horses that are keen to get into the race that stops a nation take part.

    One of those is Wall Of Fire, trained by Hugo Palmer and owned by Australian Racing Stables. Palmer confirmed to me that the owners are hopeful of heading towards a Melbourne Spring Carnival attempt so he’ll need to run well.

    He might need to be very good, though. Wall Of Fire will likely take on Defoe, a fine colt who has won three from three for trainer Roger Varian and will probably be a short-priced favourite.

    Charlie Appleby-trained Frontiersman will also contest the race, along with 2015 winner Agent Murphy, a horse that hasn’t been seen in nearly two years and was once a Melbourne Cup hopeful for trainer Brian Meehan.

    The other piece of Cup-related news is that the Charlie Appelby-trained Scottish, who was second in the 2016 Caulfield Cup, injured himself in a gallop before the Arlington Millions. Scottish will be spelled over the rest of the year to recover, which rules him out of a second trip to Australia this time around.

    With Jameka injured as well, and Almoonqith sadly no longer with us, only Exospheric out of the top four finishers of 2016 is a chance of lining up again in 2017.

    Tristan Rayner
    Tristan Rayner

    Tristan is a writer, consultant, racing enthusiast and former Editor of The Roar who has turned the Melbourne Cup into a year-round study via racingtalk.com.au.