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2014 TJ Smith Stakes: Live updates, preview, tips and results

12th April, 2014
Buffering
G Lord Byron
Lankan Rupee
Spirit Of Boom
Rebel Dane
Tiger Tees
Bel Sprinter
Shamexpress
Fontelina
Famous Seamus
Sessions
Aeronautical
See The World
Snitzerland
Steps In Time
Zoustar
Sweet Idea
Villa Verde
Irish Fling
Flamberge
Peron
Zoustar ridden by jockey Jimmy Cassidy (centre) wins the $1 million De Bortoli Golden Rose Stakes at Rosehill Gardens in 2013. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Expert
12th April, 2014
58

All eyes are on the greatest sprinting prize in the land as we gear up for the $2.5 million T.J Smith Stakes which remarkably features 12 Group 1 winners. Join us from 3.15pm AEST for a detailed preview, live blog and post-race analysis.

Formlines converge for the pinnacle of Australian sprinting with runners coming into today through plenty of different races to add intrigue to the spectacle.

Having won the two Melbourne autumn Group 1 sprints in dominant fashion, Lankan Rupee heads the market as the deserved favourite.

Since being gelded, he is undefeated and has not put a hoof wrong in the past 12 months. Although his wins have been breathtaking, two crucial question marks still hang over his head.

The first is that this will be his first attempt at a Group 1 weight-for-age race. Both the Newmarket and Oakleigh Plate were won under handicap conditions but having won both with a reasonable weight on his back, this step up in class may hamper other more than Lankan Rupee.

The other issue will be the wet track. Having raced in Melbourne his entire career, this will be the first time he meets a wet track and the only indication we have about his ability to handle the muck is his breeding.

His sire’s progeny have had no issues in the mud while his dam only ran once of a slow track but ran well enough to suggest her offspring should handle it.

Gordon Lord Byron and trainer Tom Hogan will be out to spoil the party once more, just like they did in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes. Flying the flag for the internationals, Gordon Lord Byron is a Group 1 winner in England and France and showed a fortnight ago that he relishes the wet ground.

His win in the George Ryder was good but he needed every stride of the 1500m to catch the leader and he steps back in distance considerably here. From barrier 11, Craig Williams cannot go as far back in the field as he did in the George Ryder if he wants to be a winning chance.

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It is quite remarkable that Buffering is not the favourite here after conquering all before him in spring. The markets have reacted to his poor first-up showing in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes but plenty still consider him a winning chance.

He has an excellent second-up record, missing the places just once in six attempts, and no horse in this field has a better record on rain affected ground than the Buff.

Punters may be put off by trainer Rob Heathcoate’s suggestion that Buffering is not targeting this as his grand finale with the Brisbane carnival on his agenda.

Anyone who gives Lankan Rupee a chance would be silly not to give Spirit Of Boom one.

Spirit Of Boom finished runner up behind Lankan Rupee in both the Newmarket and the Oakleigh. More telling however may be the win Spirit Of Boom had in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes under weight-for-age conditions which was bypassed by Lankan Rupee.

It means Spirit Of Boom achieved something Lankan Rupee failed to an judging by that form, it is strange that the two are not closer together in the markets.

Fontelina finished a nostril behind Spirit Of Boom that night but it is his stablemate, Villa Verde, who has attracted the attention of punters.

Given a generous weight advantage here, the three-year-old filly carries just 54.5kg and has shown a stellar turn-of-foot to win the Group 2 Challenge Stakes and run third in the Group 1 Galaxy.

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Connections of Villa Verde think very highly of the filly who they are considering a Royal Ascot tilt with. Having shown steady improvement with each run of her career, she has impressed enough to be competitive here and with further improvement can be considered a winning chance.

Form out of The Galaxy remains the most questionable of the lead up sprint races. It attracted a Group 3 quality field and was won by Tiger Tees who would struggle to be competitive in any Group race on dry ground.

What the race did show us however, is how different certain horses are in the wet and Tiger Tees was one of them. Fortunately for him, he once again strikes a bog track but has to make the leap up to weight-for-age class.

But within this enormous field of Group 1 winners, no horse carries more expectation on his shoulders than the one sold for a reported $20 million – Zoustar.

His run in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes was incredibly disappointing for a horse valued as high as he but the wet ground didn’t help. Connections have made it clear they will consider scratching their prized colt if conditions don’t suit but he’s running out of time to justify the mammoth price tag.

As you can probably tell, just about every horse in the field has a winning chance and we haven’t even mentioned Snitzerland, Shamexpress, Sessions, Sweet Idea, Steps In Time or Rebel Dane.

It’s a big field and it’s also probably the best field we will see in Australia this season.

Good luck if you’re having a punt!

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The T.J Smith Stakes will jump at 3.50pm AET.

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):

Alfred Chan’s Tips – Roar Guru and today’s live blogger
1. Gordon Lord Byron
2. Lankan Rupee
3. Steps In Time
4. Villa Verde

Justin Cinque – Roar Racing Editor
1. Lankan Rupee
2. Gordon Lord Byron
3. Rebel Dane
4. Buffering

Cameron Rose – Roar Expert
1. Lankan Rupee
2. Villa Verde
3. Snitzerland
4. Gordon Lord Byron

Brad Durrant – Roar Guru
1. Rebel Dane
2. Villa Verde
3. Gordon Lord Byron
4. Buffering

Brent Ford – Roar Guru
1. Gordon Lord Byron
2. Lankan Rupee
3. Snitzerland
4. Villa Verde

Points tally after Golden Slipper day
Brent Ford – 29
Cameron Rose – 18
Justin Cinque – 16
Alfred Chan – 15
Brad Durrant – 14

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