This Wednesday, we head to Sandown Lakeside, where we near the end of the twilight and night racing season. It’ll be an eight-race card, with the feature coming in the last race, a Benchmark 70 handicap.
The best of the racing is in Brisbane at Doomben this week, and that’s where we’re heading for a number of our best bets.
Doomben Race 7
The Kingsford-Smith Cup is the key weight-for-age lead-up race before the Stradbroke Handicap, held at the same unusual distance of 1350m.
Impending won last year’s Stradbroke as a three-year-old and is proving himself something of a Queensland specialist. His record in the sunshine state is 5:2-1-1, with his only finish outside the placings a fourth in the Kingsford-Smith last season on a heavy track.
Impending is flying, and while he didn’t win the Doomben 10,000 last start, just shaded by English into second, his run was every bit as good as that of the Waterhouse mare and a drier track this week should favour the handsome Lohnro stallion to turn the tables.
Impending has had seven Group 1 starts, finishing in the top four each time and has proven himself an excellent and somewhat underrated sprinter. Expect him to record his second victory at the highest level here, with $4.60 at Crownbet currently on offer.
Doomben Race 8
The Queensland Oaks is the second Group 1 race on the Doomben card, and the market expects the top handful of saddlecloths to provide the winner.
Chris Waller’s Youngster is the warm favourite, and it’s hard to deny her claims given she profiles to well for the race.
She’s a lightly-raced, progressive filly that has now strung together three wins on end with the promise of more to come.
Her first two wins this prep were in very restricted grade, but the second of those was a track record by a widening margin against older horses at Newcastle and she parlayed that win into taking out the Roses here last start in a performance of authority.
A few main rivals are coming up from the Australian Oaks in Adelaide a few weeks ago, but these horses have all been going around for a while and Youngster is the fresh horse on the scene.
She’s $2.75 on Crownbet currently but has eased during the week, and we might see a better price yet. It could be a gift.
Doomben Race 6
Sticking with Chris Waller, Shillelagh looks an enticing each-way play at lucrative odds in the Glenlogan Park Stakes in what shapes as an even race.
Shillelagh has been allocated 60kgs, which is likely to turn many punters away, but the gap between those at the top of the weights and those at the bottom isn’t what it used to be. On ratings alone, she’s actually well in compared to if this was a handicap.
Last time Shillelagh was first-up, earlier this year in the Orr Stakes, it reads in the form guide as 10th, but she was an eye-catcher in what was a messy race. She was only a couple of lengths behind genuine stars like Hartnell and Single Gaze, and a repeat of that run would see her right in the finish here, if not winning.
Shillelagh does get well back and needs both speed and luck, which is a weakness of her racing pattern, but if she gets them, she has the talent and acceleration to round up most fields. Crownbet is offering $13 the win and $4 the place, which are great prices on a Group 1 winner, particularly the latter, and there is every chance we will see better on the day.
Randwick Race 7
It’s been 16 months, but it’s time for Ecuador to return to the winner’s stall, which can happen in the McKell Cup at Randwick on Saturday.
Somewhat reminiscent of Tom Melbourne, since Ecuador’s last win he has run a placing seven times, with four of these seconds. All three runs this prep, he has found only one better on the day and is poised to break through now that he is at peak fitness.
We know how he rolls by now – he’ll take up the running and defy all others to get past him. That’s exactly what he did two years ago when winning this race, and he’s going even better now, given the weight he’s being forced to carry this campaign and what he will again on Saturday.
Our Century got the best of Ecuador last start but now meets him 2.5kgs worse, which can be enough for the tables to be turned. If nothing else, we’re going to get a super honest run for our money, which is an underrated commodity in racing.
There’s a special thrill about a renowned leader hanging on in the straight when the challengers are attacking them from all corners, and Ecuador can provide that on Saturday.
Cranbourne Race 7 (Friday 25th May)
It’s going to be cold and wintry down at Cranbourne on Friday night, but that won’t prevent them from paying out if we can find a winner.
Silvera pleased in his return at Caulfield a fortnight ago, beaten less than a length in a blanket finish in a sign that we can expect him to have good preparation.
First-up at 1400m into second-up at 1600m is a proven formula for this horse, given that this is the fourth campaign it has been applied to him. In the other three, his second-up record has been two wins and a third placing he would have won if he wasn’t so slowly away from the gates.
Barrier six will give him every chance to get the trailing position he desires, just worse than midfield and it will be a shock if he isn’t right in the thick of it when the whips are cracking.
Silvera has also accepted for Sandown Lakeside on Saturday, and would still be worth a value bet if running there instead but it’s worth noting that race is over 1400m and not his preferred 1600m.
Odds correct as of 1pm (AEST), Thursday, May 24.