The Queen of the Turf Stakes title is on offer today with the best fillies and mares in the land battling over the mile. Join us from 2:00pm AEST for a full preview, live blog and post-race analysis of this Group 1 which is due to begin at 2:30pm AEST.
The market is headed by Chris Waller duo Red Tracer and Catkins. Waller has made a special effort in both mares’ campaigns to ensure they would not clash until today, and punters are unsure which way to lean.
They last met in the Group 1 Myer Classic in Melbourne, which was run under the exact same conditions and distance they find themselves in today.
On that occasion they dogged it out all the way to the line, only for Red Tracer to nab Catkins in the final strides while they were well clear of third. The key difference today is that Catkins is flying even higher than she was in spring.
It has been a near-perfect preparation for Catkins, who has won three of her four starts this campaign in emphatic style. Her only defeat came in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic, where a runaway Steps In Time opened up a huge gap in transit to hold off Catkins, who was super in third.
Although good, the run can be ignored because she beat Steps In Time earlier in the year in a properly run race. Catkins relished the wet ground with five runs for four wins and, more importantly, is undefeated on heavy going.
Like Catkins, Red Tracer is just as much of a wet-track specialist, which is why she is just as fancied in the markets. Her campaign has not been as good has some of her past lead-ups, but she is has started on heavy ground six times for five wins.
She struck traffic in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes to run on for third, while her run in the George Ryder didn’t give her justice. Returning to fillies and mares class, something she has dominated for the past two years, she is a huge winning chance having beaten just about every horse in this field before.
One major element which differentiates this race from its spring counterpart is the role of three-year-olds. Solicit deviates from her Oaks path due to the wet track, which co-trainers Matthew Ellerton and Simon Zahra thought would be too testing for the filly on a heavy track.
She therefore drops down in distance after an excellent run in the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes where she ran second behind Lucia Valentina, who saved around eight lengths by cutting the corner.
Nevertheless, Solicit produced a mighty effort on the wet ground to confirm her abilities in the mud.
Gypsy Diamond joins her as another filly in the race. She’s been asked to back up off seven days after taking out the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes on Day One of The Championships. She won comfortably by two lengths and looked better in the wet than on dry, but backing up fillies tends to be fraught with danger.
Viadana and Recite cross the Tasman for a crack at today’s riches, but neither have form relative to earlier races in autumn. Both should have no problem handling the wet ground, but to take on superstar mares like Catkins and Red Tracer is a big ask.
The markets say this will be a two horse race and based on the quality of Catkins and Red Tracer, it is very difficult to argue otherwise.
The Queen of the Turf Stakes will jump at 2:30pm 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):
Alfred Chan’s Tips – Roar Guru and today’s live blogger
2. Red Tracer
Justin Cinque – Roar Racing Editor
2. Gypsy Diamond
4. Red Tracer
Cameron Rose – Roar Expert
2. Red Tracer
4. Gypsy Diamond
Brad Durrant – Roar Guru
1. Red Tracer
3. Gypsy Diamond
Brent Ford – Roar Guru
3. Red Tracer
4. Gypsy Diamond
Points tally after Day 1 of The Championships
Brent Ford – 39
Justin Cinque – 30
Cameron Rose – 29
Alfred Chan – 22
Brad Durrant – 22