The Championships Day 1 tips – Group 1 previews

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert


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    The Championships at Randwick. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

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    Welcome to Day 1 of The Championships, Randwick’s signature carnival, where there is plenty of cash up for grabs and the best horses, jockeys and trainers in the land converge on Sydney for their chance at autumn riches.

    Four big Group 1s are on offer this week – The Doncaster Mile (1600m, handicap, $3,000,000), the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m, weight-for-age, $2,500,000), the Australian Derby (2400m, set weights, three-year-olds, $2,000,000), and the Sires Produce (1400m, set weights, two-year-olds, $1,000,000).

    The Doncaster Mile
    What a “Donnie” we’ve got this year. A full 20-horse field, likely on a heavy track after two months of wet ground, and horses coming from everywhere. There are no champions among them, but it should be a fiercely contested race.

    The George Ryder is always a key lead-up, and we often look to the horse dropping in weight off a good run in it.

    Le Romain is the favourite after running second to Winx, and it’s understandable given he ticks a lot of boxes. He’s genuine Group 1 quality, and he’s proven at WFA, particularly on heavy tracks.

    Hauraki and McCreery are also coming from the George Ryder, a few lengths behind Le Romain, but look unlikely to turn the tables. They are among a host of horses at low double figure odds.

    Four horses are coming through the Ajax Stakes, It’s Somewhat (winner), New Tipperary (2nd), Testashadow (3rd), Dibayani (9th) and Arod (10th). They can be tied into the George Ryder through McCreery, given all but It’s Somewhat ran behind that horse in the Liverpool Stakes two starts back.

    McCreery is always knocking on the door in these sort of events at an attractive price, and It’s Somewhat appeals as overs if he gets through the ground. The others are wanting for form or class.

    Happy Clapper ran fourth in the Epsom at this track and distance in the spring, and appears to have come back a better horse, bolting in the Newcastle Newmarket last start under a big weight, and drops 3.5kgs into this.

    Spectroscope backs up from taking out the Doncaster Prelude last week, making it two impressive wins from two starts in Australia after proving a smart horse in France. Lightly raced and untapped, we don’t know what his ceiling is, which is exactly the sort of horse you want in a big handicap.

    Antonio Guiseppe has been trained to the Chris Waller tried and true method for winning Doncasters, dropping back from 2000m. He was average last start in the Ranvet, but will be hard fit and will enjoy handicap conditions.

    Another of the unknown quantities is Redkirk Warrior, leading the Victorian charge attempting to jump up to the mile from the 1200m of his Newmarket Handicap win at Flemington earlier this month. He won that race first-up, something that hadn’t been done in a hundred years, beating some of Australia’s best sprinters, and he only rises half a kilo for it.

    Hey Doc won the Australian Guineas, and must be respected. Three-year-olds have a great record in the Doncaster, but haven’t exactly been setting the WFA scene alight as they sometimes can. Is there strength is this years crop?

    I Am A Star is one three-year-old that has a Group 1 win over older mares to her name, when winning the Myer Classic in the spring. She also beat them last start in the Sunline Stakes, when strolling in after controlling the race from the front. She’ll be up on the speed from the squishbox.

    Palentino is a big track mile specialist, with plenty of wins at the Flemington 1600m, but flopped in his one Randwick run, in last year’s Epsom. He has some soft wins to his name, but is untried on the heavy, and his record away from Flemington is poor.

    Of the others, Ecuador is likely to have too much company on the speed, and isn’t quite good enough. Endless Drama is something of an unknown, but has the Waller touch. It’s hard to recommend a few other stragglers.

    Selections: 1.Redkirk Warrior 2.Spectroscope 3.Le Romain 4.It’s Somewhat

    TJ Smith Stakes
    The TJ Smith shapes as an open affair, despite the presence of dual winner Chautauqua.

    How to assess the grey flash? He hasn’t won at his last five starts, but has three placings to his name this time in, two of them at Group 1 weight-for-age level. He’s hardly going poorly!

    He could, should, might have won the Canterbury Stakes with a different ride, and he was extended to 1500m last start and there was no disgrace in his margin behind Winx. If you think he can bring his best, you’re getting a great price. If you think he’s finished, then you get the play around the favourite.

    There are three three-year-olds tackling the older stars.

    Astern and Russian Revolution sit on the second line of betting. Astern produced a stunning effort taking out the Golden Rose in the spring, but was then beaten twice after it, including once by Russian Revolution. He’s had three trials and must be ready to go.

    Russian Revolution claimed the Galaxy first-up after being backed like he was unbeatable. He didn’t win by a big margin, but to win it on a heavy 10 was a special effort and he is rightly respected.

    Derryn has no respect in the market, despite winning the Darby Munro in fine style on the slops against his own age group. He sailed through the wet and was home a long way out, so he must have rough claims.

    Spieth is becoming a staple in the best sprinting events, without claiming one, following in the hoof-steps of Fell Swoop, who continues to run honestly at Group 1 level without being able to land the prize. Speith is an unknown on affected ground this level, while we know Fell Swoop doesn’t like it too wet.

    English is another Sydney-sider with claims, who seems to reserve her best for this time of year. She won the Challenge Stakes on a heavy 10 first-up, but then couldn’t go a yard on a more bottomless track in the Galaxy. Inclined to risk her.

    Malaguerra proved his class in taking out the Darley Classic at WFA at Flemington in the spring, and is a devastating fresh horse. His trainer, Peter Gelagotis, has been on the spruik this week, and why not in the lead-up to a big race?

    Voodoo Lad comes into this off a placing behind Redkirk Warrior in the Newmarket at big odds, but WFA racing is a different task. Terravista, the old battle-axe, was poor in that race, but showed he can still be a presence when winning the Lightning first-up.

    Tivaci continues to indicate he’ll win a good race, but this one might be a bit rich. Japonisme lacks a few lengths at this level. Rock Magic isn’t the worst bolter, given he’s been around the mark in the Winterbottom and William Reid, but this is a step up. Rebel Dane’s admirers will be hoping wet ground brings him into the race.

    Russian Revolution looks the likely leader, and should be uncontested if he wants to take it up, but there’ll be a few horses jostling for a box seat position behind him.

    Selections: 1.Astern 2.Russian Revolution 3.Spieth 4.Chautauqua

    Australian Derby
    13 horses will great the barrier attendants in the Australian Derby, a combination of Kiwis and Vics trying to take down Sydney’s best staying three-year-olds.

    The New Zealand Derby has already held up as an outstanding form reference, with winner Gingernuts taking out the Rosehill Guineas two weeks ago, and third place-getter Jon Snow dominating the Tulloch Stakes last week.

    Both horses relished heavy ground and were simply the strongest horses in their respective fields at the end of 2000m, with no indication an extra 400m would trouble them. A word of warning though – when the Kiwi three-year-olds cross the Tasman in the autumn, their first run is often their best, followed by a flat performance in the Derby.

    Inference won the Randwick Guineas on heavy ground, but was no match for Gingernuts at Rosehill last time out. He’ll keep coming over the extra ground, and is worth sticking with if you’ve been on him.

    Anaheim kept finding the line for fourth in the Rosehill Guineas, as he always does, but has to be a little query up to 2400m out of Fastnet Rock, even though he gives every indication he’ll enjoy it. So Si Bon was third there, and has talent, but is proving to lack class enough to beat all opposition when he fronts us.

    Prized Icon has proven his class at two and three, with his last win coming in the VRC Derby. He’s been good again this prep, but is suiting up for the third week in a row, which must be a task.

    Hardham and Ruthven bring a different formline to proceedings, after they ran the exact in the Alastair Clark at Moonee Valley. It doesn’t usually stand up as a form reference, but some lesser-performed Victorians have been a presence in Sydney over the last few weeks, and they fit those credentials.

    Impavido isn’t the worst roughie if you think he can find a new level after an even effort last start. He won’t be wanting for talent in the saddle with Joao Moreira on his back.

    Selections: 1.Inference 2.Jon Snow 3.Gingernuts 4.So Si Bon

    Sires Produce
    The Sires looks the easiest race to dissect, with the fewest chances, even though it has attracted a larger field than usual.

    The Golden Slipper is always the first place to start, even though the winner of this as often as not doesn’t come through it. Eight runners from that race line up here.

    The fillies held the whip hand in the Slipper – Frolic and Tulip were well fancied when running second and third respectively in it, and are rightfully at the head of the market, especially given an extra 200m isn’t likely to slow them down.

    Frolic followed She Will Reign’s inside run in the Slipper but Tommy Berry didn’t have the wits of Ben Melham on the winner, while Tulip ran on down the outside. They’ll be the toughest to beat.

    Menari was a good roughie in the Slipper and ran well accordingly for fourth, and also has some claims, but is more of a distance doubt than the two fillies based on breeding. It would be a surprise to see anything else from the Slipper figure.

    Gunnison and Invader ran the quinella in the Todman Stakes and bypassed the Slipper to target this race, and certainly finished well in front of Menari in that race, but that horse was given a torrid time. They can win with some improvement and the right breaks.

    The Melbourne form has been dominating the Sydney carnival, so trifecta coming up from the VRC Sires Produce need to be respected.

    Sircconi won that race wire-to-wire in a muddling affair where the field basically finished in running order. Aspect was second and Feng Chu was third, and don’t be surprised to see one of them figure in the placings at bolter’s odds.

    Summer Passage is the only Group 1 winner in the field, taking out the Diamond Stakes in New Zealand a fortnight ago. Rarely do Kiwi two-year-olds come over, but rarer still do they succeed. Their record is not as strong as the three-year-olds that venture over the Tasman.

    Selections: 1.Frolic 2.Tulip 3.Invader 4.Menari

    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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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • March 31st 2017 @ 8:57am
      no one in particular said | March 31st 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

      I thought the Vinery lasy week was bad. That Adrian Knox is abysmal. The top weight got beat in a class 2 at Goulburn last start, the favourite was beaten at Scone and won a Newcastle maiden. After a 100/1 shot won the VRC Oaks, this has to be the worst crop of staying 3yo fillies in decades

      • Columnist

        March 31st 2017 @ 1:02pm
        Cameron Rose said | March 31st 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

        Seven last start winners in the Adrian Knox, all coming off maidens or class 1’s. Yuck.

    • March 31st 2017 @ 9:08am
      Razzar said | March 31st 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      Can The Chau win the TJ Smith? Coming back from a tough run in the bog of the George Ryder, slugging it out with Le Romain. Now drops back three hundred metres.

      Dr Turf remarked in his book,” it’s much harder for horses coming back in distance and win, than runners stepping up, or racing at same distance..”

      It will be an awesome effort if he can win. Definately appears to be trying in his races.

      Watching early races is essential for how boggy this track is, and how it races.

      Good luck punters.

      • Columnist

        March 31st 2017 @ 1:03pm
        Cameron Rose said | March 31st 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        I actually quite like it sometimes Razzar, with the right horse, particularly front-runners, 2400m down to 2000m, or 2000m down to 1600m, but I definitely see it as a negative over the shorter trips. It will be an outstanding feat if he can pull it off.

        • Roar Guru

          March 31st 2017 @ 3:09pm
          Nathan Absalom said | March 31st 2017 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

          I found sprinters dropping back in distance to be a very good way to punt, particularly over the 1000 and 1100m journeys.

          Nice preview though and I’m with you on three of your selections. From the grandstand I thought Inference lost the race on turning from home in the Guineas, the horse thought he was supposed to go to the outside rail like he did in the Randwick Guineas.

          I like the Kiwi a bit in the Sires.

    • March 31st 2017 @ 10:50am
      Aransan said | March 31st 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      What do you think of Arod in the Doncaster Cameron? He was 2 lengths off the winner in the Woodbine Mile, a million dollar G1 race.

      • Columnist

        March 31st 2017 @ 1:05pm
        Cameron Rose said | March 31st 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

        Not really sure where he’s at right now. Seems to be doing a bit wrong, don’t you think, or things aren’t panning out for him. He can only be a question mark until he produces something in a good field.

        • March 31st 2017 @ 4:08pm
          Aransan said | March 31st 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

          You don’t need to back many winners at his odds to finish in front. I have had success over the years with a system that picks horses from interstate or overseas that have one bad run and then back them at their next start — admittedly he doesn’t quite fit that pattern. Our sprinters are the world’s best but I believe northern hemisphere horses over a mile and further are generally superior to ours, of course Winx is an exception.

          • March 31st 2017 @ 5:38pm
            Razzar said | March 31st 2017 @ 5:38pm | ! Report

            I’m on Arod for a small return. He just looks mapped handy at odds, his runs lately have passed muster, so for mine he’s a chance. Will have no traffic issues, so if he presents himself, who knows.

            • April 1st 2017 @ 10:46am
              Aransan said | April 1st 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

              Expect a bold race from Tivaci, his run in the Newmarket was something special.

    • March 31st 2017 @ 5:04pm
      andrew said | March 31st 2017 @ 5:04pm | ! Report

      1 – do think marwood has come up decent odds here. very good fresh record and right up to this class. Had a very consistent prep last winter and was competitive around the likes of voodoo lad (level weights), duke of Brunswick, jungle edge which I think reads very well for a BM84. Certainly comparable to the formlines that the fave sebring sun brings to the race around similar horses. I think he strikes a race of good early speed which will help and off-set wide gate, and id expect him to hit the land very hard. He ran well last prep over 1500/1600 because he is a trier, but think the 1400m sees him out, and whilst id accept 1100m is short of his ‘best’ trip, I think in a good tempo race and fresh is enough to off-set this. all his 1100m runs have been good. his only miss fresh was over 1000m (2 lengths off well sprung giving it 2kgs). last 1100m was 2nd to voodoo lad at level weights. Enough positives for me to invest at $11. As for old tigidig, I think ive just about clawed back to all square and it might be time to part ways now he has to race in this higher grade, for older established horse it’s a fair jump from BM70 to BM84. Id happily back him in a BM70/BM78, but he meets horses here with listed/group 3 formlines, and I think it bridge too far, even in his current excellent form.

      5 – leodoro is having a very good prep and won well last time when 2nd up off a small freshen. Even his fresh 1000m run was good. the form aroud his recent runs of rocket tommy, chatue cheval, punt club, is very strong for BM78 grade. And he won with a lot of authority last time over a horse was in good form and is going well also. ethan brown knows the horse well, so always less scared of a 3kg kid if they have good affinity with horse. Needs a bit of luck from draw, but has two onpacers drawn just outside him and this race has numerous backmarkers, so im hoping/thinking a gap may open up if they press forward.

      6 – the stars all align for whistle baby here who has run well both runs this prep in suitable races, running above expectations each time. she now strikes a race over her best trip, against mares, favourable weight scale, 3rd up, good draw. She is 11 ratings points clear of her nearest rival on the 55kgs, so I don’t see how those below can beat here, and don’t see those below as being overly progressive leap-froggers. As for the two above her, kaniana is possibly overs, but best form is a mile and weir horse 2nd up prob just using this as stepping stone. Catch a fire can lift, but gives whistle baby 3kgs and has lower rating.

      9 – sadaqa gets his chance to win another race after building a good base of fitness this prep and running well each time. hard to have those up in weights here who have fitness/distance/form queires, so its starts as sadaqa and work down from there. Has a good weight swing on top me up from flem, and happy to back sadqqa to turn tables on top me up. bradman bobs up once in a while, but is the type of horse you risk and wear it if has his day and you are on something else. Unbreakable needs to lift of first up win when got saloon passage (he could improve though). pay up bro has good 1400m but was plain last start in weaker race, could lift, but needs to. In a race where they just about all have their share of negatives, I think sadaqa has the least, and he is genuine.

      I’ll stick with the vics who have been doing well. and start with rob smerdon duo of property and theanswermyfriend. I made some comments last week about llyods horses in syd that rang true so sticking with aloft who can be expected to improve again 2nd up and llyod must be confident it likes the wet, but ill certainly have a saved polarisation, I wont be dropping off Charlie appelby after one sour result. In the PJ Bell which is a very tough and open race, im happy to go with sweet sherry for the vics again whose 1st up run was huge with 60kgs against the boys down the outside rail when all others came along inside for the day, she beat a similar class field to this on cox plate day.

      7 – in the derby im locked in on Anaheim at $36, but outside him I do side with inference. I cant see jon snow turning tables on gingernuts. The race has a long tail. Anaheim has some hope, but I don’t need to bother with him. prized icon is a duffer in the wet. So that leaves gingernuts and inference (and to a lesser extent so si bon, although inference has beaten him in the VRC derby). Can inference turn the tables ? I think he can. Often the kiwi horses come over and with a good fitness edge at their first run here as they are fit from derby (jimmy choux and volstockbarrell both came over from Nz derby won the rosehill guin, but then were beaten faves in the derby). Whereas inference was stepping up from 1600m and shallower into his prep. im banking on a combination of inference improving (which I am confident he will) and possibly gingernuts having already peaked, and held it for 1 more run (rosehill guineas) but being at the end of a long prep. could be wrong, but that my prognosis.

      8 – im with voodoo lad here. is it really that big a gulf from hcp to WFA. I think not. We often drool over our sprinters, but I think it’s a bit overhyped (esp the 3yo’s !!). the reality is we have seen plenty of horses comfortably make the transition from hcp grade to WFA grade in recent times. Malegurra and speith instantly come to mind. Fell swoop runs just as well WFA as hcp last 18mths. Older horses can come through the ranks and mix it at WFA at present, if they are the right horse of course. You don’t need to be a ‘star’ 2yo or 3yo. There are others way to the top. It is indisuputable that voodoo last has come back at a higher level this prep than his form last prep, based on fresh run. its also indisputable that he loves wet ground (as do many of these), and indisputable that he handles syd way of going given was up here before joining weir. So lets examine his first prep with weir whereby he improved his rating from 76 to 107 !!. 10 runs for 5 wins, 4 placings and failure at end of prep over the mile. Some of his poorer runs were down the straight, yet he ran so well in Newmarket. He wound up winning at caul beating takedown who then won the wintebottom (beating shiedel and malgeurra). So, pls don’t come at me that he cant measure up class wise to WFA. That’s not to say he will win, he is $15 cos it’s a wide open race, but I think the market is under-rating him on the ‘ step up to WFA’ factor, which I think is nonsense. So, overall, I think it’s a good even race, but voodoo should be similar price to the likes of malegurra, speith, english. As for chataqua, he had a flat spring and been beaten 3 runs this prep, so 5 misses in a row. his best wins, but has to be some question mark, stable seem wavering playing around with distances. Russian revolution right in the mix and is 2nd pick.

      9 – no firm view in the Doncaster. Le romain deserved fave. Has run 1st or 2nd 13 of his 16 runs, with misses being on debut, his only run over 2000m, and a 5th in the blanket finish of the espom last year. It a pretty good record and hard to pick faults in. has mile form, G1 form, winx form, wet track form, Randwick form, middle gate, top jockey. Its entirely understandable why he is fave. I’ll probably play him in some multis to run a place top tote, as suspect you will get about $2.50 the place in the big field. tosen stardom and redkirk warrior are big unknowns with lots of question marks, but think they are quality horses are next in line.

      10 – oh what I would give to scroll down the page and find a guy walter runner in this race coming off a Kembla or gosford maiden………..

      2 – model dragon was plain first up for mine. you are being asked to take a short quote here. it’s a weaker race. blinkers go on, which may help. But I need more than a hunch to take evens. Elzette is a promising mare from a stable that home breed their horses and have success with this family dating back to sedately. She won a decent race colac cup day and won well last time. she will lead or sit 2nd and be hard to run down. Horse she beat last time had form around tenere which is good form from this grade. Back to mares grade and in winning form she is worth a bet at $4. Im on elzette to keep winning

      3 – back with stokes here on arleight who has run well without winning in some decent 3yo races, but drops back to an open age BM64 here, and it’s a pretty moderate race full of older horses who have found their mark. Should be winning

      4 – aske me how I know scored super win first up after bombing start and then was ridding upside down last time when faded in stronger race. rise in distance suits and hope they change the tactics around here.

      7 – royal rumble was a very good run 1st up in a good race and whilst has been tried over longer, it was as 3yo hoping for the derby, do think his best trip up to the mile only. In a race that looks like having a lot of pace, he can get over the top of them on his preferred parks circuit.

      9 – viddora seems short enough at face value, as it’s a decent race, but really, she has this lot covered. She has clear positive formlines over all of her rivals, and she only comes off a short break having run magic millions. She is the obvious. But im happy to take $3.

      5 – too good refuse has gone home with tail between his legs from NSW, but wasn’t disgraced. Get in well at weights here with anchor up the top and then very close to those on minimum. Out to the mile suits as does the heavy ground. Should be too good for them.

    • April 3rd 2017 @ 10:07am
      Peter Line said | April 3rd 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      Wow how good is the mighty Chauq

      Cameron, you picked both winners running 4th of the feature races!

      Next week I’ll take your 4th place picks for the win 😉

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