A spectacular field of sprinters has gathered for the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes which is headlined by the most valuable colt in the country. Join us from 4.50pm AEDT for a race preview, live updates and post-race analysis.
Over the past month, no horse has been debated more amongst Roarers than Zoustar who holds the weight of the racing industry’s expectations after being signed off on a reported $20m stud deal in spring.
This is the first chance the Northern Meteor colt steps up to weight-for-age class but it is also the first chance he gets to silence all the summer doubters.
Jim Cassidy will be keen to get him away cleanly from the gates after he missed the jump in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes. Fortunately for Cassidy, the small field shouldn’t require any miracles on running if he is tardy like the past.
Since spring, Zoustar has had two barrier trials but finished fourth in both behind some average horses.
Joining Zoustar as a three-year-old taking on weight-for-age company is Not Listenin’tome, who ran second to Zoustar in the Coolmore Stud. The gelding showed he may have improved since that Coolmore Stud when he dispensed with some second-tier three-year-olds in the Zeditave at Caulfield.
With all the hype around the three-year-olds it’s amazing to think a couple of superstar mares named Red Tracer, Appearance and Streama have been overlooked in the market.
This is the Zoustar effect!
Red Tracer’s win in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes was a mere formality with the mare tearing the wet track to pieces and leaving her opposition to battle for the minor prizemoney in her wake. It may not have been against the strongest field but over the past 12 months, she has not missed a place. In fact she has won five of her six starts.
The greatest thing about this mare is here gritty consistency. She is unstoppable on a wet track but isn’t much worse on dry ground. When the markets opened, as much as $6 was on offer for her but that was quickly crunched.
Appearance was clinical in her two runs this preparation to position her perfectly for The Championships. She beat a handy field in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes before making it a double in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes.
Unfortunately for trainer Guy Walter, she pulled up very sore from the Apollo and was forced to miss the Chipping Norton Stakes where victory would have had her rated the best mare in training by all and sundry.
Walter insists all is fine with his star mare but the markets suggest that punters will not be convinced until they see her run again, and that’s fair enough.
Like Red Tracer, Streama has been a model of consistency over the past two years. She rarely runs a bad race, especially when she gets up to her favourite distance range at around 1400-1600m.
She has shown her worth in weight-for-age company with strong showings last spring when she won the George Main Stakes against the likes of Hawkspur, Royal Descent, eventual Caulfield Cup winner Fawkner and Sacred Falls, who actually lines up in this race today.
A promising Melbourne spring was expected for Streama but a trip to Melbourne wasn’t on the cards. Trainer Guy Walter wanted a fresh horse to attack the Doncaster Mile, run on April 12, with.
Since returning to training, Streama had one run in the Group 2 Breeders Classic Stakes where she was fifth, four lengths behind Catkins. Streama didn’t do enough to give punters confidence to back her here. With the Doncaster in mind, there will be plenty of interest in how she finishes off her race today.
Of the others, Rain Affair, Sacred Falls and Toydini are all capable of matching it against the super mares and three-year-olds.
Sacred Falls needs the sting taken out of the track while Speediness has been progressing nicely over the past six months to take the step up from handicap racing to run a closing second behind Appearance in the Apollo at weight-for-age.
One of the biggest question marks in this race has to be on Rain Affair. Which one will turn up? After a highly dominant four-year-old season where he took all before him, he has only won once in the last 18 months and was terrible in his autumn resumption, beaten more than eight lengths in the Expressway.
Now a six-year-old, it is now or never for the horse who bolts along from the front. Rain Affair will have no trouble finding the front in this field but Red Tracer could be right there keeping him honest. This field is packed to the brim with backmarkers capable of running on and I think Rain Affair will be caught around the 150m mark.
The Canterbury Stakes will jump at 5.22pm AEST.
Roar racing writers’ autumn tipping competition (five points if winning horse is tipped for first; three points if tipped for second; two for third and one for fourth):
Justin Cinque – Roar Racing Editor
2. Red Tracer
3. Not Listenin’tome
Cameron Rose – Roar Expert
1. Not Listenin’tome
2. Red Tracer
Alfred Chan – Roar Guru
2. Red Tracer
Brad Durrant – Roar Guru
2. Red Tracer
Brent Ford – Roar Guru
2. Not Listenin’tome
3. Red Tracer
4. Rain Affair
Points tally after week 1 (Super Saturday):
Brent Ford – 13
Alfred Chan – 7
Justin Cinque – 4
Cameron Rose – 4
Brad Durrant – 4