After a pretty tough first day of the Championships, we return to Randwick for an absolute belter of a card for day this Saturday, featuring a ripping Queen Elizabeth and very open Sydney Cup.
After a week’s delay that set Golden Slipper Day and the rest of the Sydney autumn carnival back, we’re about to kick off a sensational April of racing now.
This Saturday sees the Tancred Stakes, the premier weight-for-age staying test in Australia, as the main feature, supported by the Vinery Stud Stakes for three-year-old fillies looking to claim Group 1 glory on the way to the Australian Oaks.
While we probably aren’t seeing an all-star cast tackle the Tancred this year, it’s an even collection of quality gallopers that all have winning claims – incredibly rare in a 14 horse Group 1 WFA event.
2020 Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet heads the market, and is one of three horses backing up from last week’s Ranvet Stakes.
Sir Dragonet couldn’t match motors with Verry Elleegant or Addeybb in that event, but ran well enough for his fourth a couple of lengths from that quinella. It was the first hint of form from him this autumn after a couple of plain performances, but he still didn’t run past Angel of Truth who finished third after taking up the running.
Angel of Truth’s run was full of merit against world class opposition given he didn’t dawdle in front. He can be a bit of an enigma horse, but has been racing in great heart this campaign. Miami Bound whacked away and couldn’t make an impression well behind the first four across the line, and will improve up in trip, but not enough to challenge.
Here’s the rub with all three from the Ranvet though – they are far superior on wet tracks than they are on dry, and they are likely to face the latter on Saturday.
Another strong form-line coming through is the Group 3 Sky High at Rosehill three weeks ago, with five of the first six home fronting up here, and less than two lengths between them. Every horse had their chance too, with no hard luck stories coming out of it.
Toffee Tongue won that race, but is something of a third-up 2000m specialist and struggles to put wins together. Sprit Ridge tried to make all from the front, and just got collared – he’s flying and has never finished outside the quinella in Australia. He deserves his chance at this level.
Mirage Dancer ran well behind the first two to finish third, and creates a lot of interest as a Metropolitan winner earlier this season. On that day he had Mugatoo and Angel of Truth behind him in the placings, and strikes a similar scenario here – third-up, 2400m, dry track. He’s going to take a hell of a lot of beating from a perfect draw.
Shraaoh was only a length and a half from Toffee Tongue, and conceded all of those he meets here weight. The Chosen One is serially underrated, and his best is absolutely good enough given he finished top four in the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup in the spring. He’s ready to peak here.
Melody Belle is the class mare of the field, with a staggering 14 Group 1 wins to her credit. But she’s never even finished in the placings in six Sydney starts, and seems to save her best Australian form for Melbourne. She’s also tackling 2400m for the first time. There’s enough question marks there to make her a lay.
Nickajack Cave is the legitimate x-factor in the race, having his first Australian start and unseen on any racetrack since a couple of black type wins in Europe last June and August. There are none cannier than Peter Moody, and it will be fascinating to see if this horse is up to the level.
There are a handful of $26 shots to round out the field – Southern France, Sound, Chapada and She’s Ideel. All have something on their CV to say they can compete, and it wouldn’t completely shock to see any of them run a drum or even win. Sound has been holding his form so well through this season, and is the pick of these.
Selections: 1.Mirage Dancer 2.The Chosen One 3.Toffee Tongue 4.Sound
Vinery Stud Stakes
There is a question mark over the depth of all three-year-old’s this season, but the Vinery Stud Stakes has assembled an even bunch of fillies, none of which are without a hope here.
Harmony Rose is the fresh horse on the scene, improving with every outing, and graduating quickly from benchmark level to a Group 1 placing last start in the Randwick Guineas, a race that was franked last week. She’s short enough though, against a few that have been there and done that a few times.
Hungry Heart confirmed her preference for dry ground last start, winning the Phar Lap after not relishing soft ground at her two starts prior. She’s never been out of the quinella on good ground racing the Sydney way.
VRC Oaks winner Personal just keeps keeping on, always running well and may well be ready to fire here up to 2000m. Starelle had the best of her last start at Flemington, but both are now four weeks between runs due to the delayed calendar.
Miravalle comes off a win in the Kembla Grange Classic after making no impression alongside Hungry Heart in the Surround Stakes, and has form all around Personal in the Melbourne spring. That also ties in Elizabeel who is itching for a win and must surely be overs at $15 after jumping at almost even money last start when second to Miravalle.
Peter Moody as a mystery runner in this Group 1 as well, in the form of third-starter Princess Rhaenys. She’s coming off a maiden win over Salto Angel, and that filly split Personal and Montefilia in the VRC Oaks in the spring. She can’t be discounted at all.
What to make of the picket-fence Kiwi, Force of Will? The market is easy on her chances early. Another Kiwi-bred filly, Impecunious, is now with the Busuttin & Young stable, and has a bit of a wrap on her. Hungry Heart whizzed past her in the Phar Lap though, it must be said. Love Sensation is a few lengths behind the very good fillies and deserves to be the outsider.
Selections: 1.Hungry Heart 2.Personal 3.Elizabeel 4.Harmony Rose