Like most forays to the Central Coast, last week’s punt at Gosford returned nothing and left me licking my wounds.
Strap yourselves in punters, because we are being treated to a smorgasbord of quality racing at Randwick this Saturday.
The start of the Championships at racing’s Sydney headquarters is top notch and is highlighted by a terrific TJ Smith Stakes field, as well as a ripsnorter of a Doncaster.
I have so many fond memories of this day, mostly because it was the scene of the best individual win I have seen on a racetrack.
The win of Chautauqua in the 2017 TJ Smith had to be seen to be believed. Racing in genuine Group 1 country, the grey gelding was all but gone at the 400m.
How he came from last to beat a field of that calibre remains to be seen. Darren Flindell’s call captured it perfectly, too.
Fast forward to 2021 and we’ve got the next generation emerging in the Australian Derby and the Inglis Sires. It’s easy to get overexcited but there is no doubt that this year’s crop of youngsters is above average. I can’t wait to see them in the spring.
Below are previews of six of the better races on the Randwick card tomorrow. Remember to gamble responsibly if you’re having a punt.
Track Heavy 9 at time of writing. Rail in true position.
Race 3 at 12:45 pm: $500,000 Country Championships Final (1400m)
This could be the toughest race of the day at any track across the nation as horses from the bush line up at Royal Randwick. The reason I opted to preview this one is that I’m a big fan of Spiranac for the Rod Northam stable at Scone. This mare has won five races in 11 starts and her qualifying win at Tamworth was full of merit.
The four-year-old is untried on the heavy track, but has strong soft form and wasn’t disgraced at her only start at Randwick back in February.
In a tricky race, you can back this mare with the confidence of a strong showing.
Suggested bet: Spiranac (#12) each-way.
Race 5 at 1:55 pm: $300,000 Group 2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m)
An obvious prelude to the Sydney Cup, this is another tough assignment for punters. British import Collide could be an improver on a wet track in what would his third start in Australia for Kris Lees.
His first-up run was solid when placing third and he was probably a little bit flat last time out at Rosehill.
This isn’t the strongest staying event and Lees has a great record with the Australian Bloodstock team, so happy to have a few dollars each-way on a double-figure chance.
Suggested bet: Collide (#9) each-way.
Race 6 at 2:30 pm: $1 million Group 1 Inglis Sires (1400m)
It’s hard to back anything but the favourite Anamoe here. This colt has been superb throughout his six starts and his second placing in the Golden Slipper was full of merit.
The only knock could be a bog track but expect this son of Street Boss to be powering down the outside to victory.
For those who refuse to back a favourite, Lightsaber could be a knockout hope.
Suggested bet: Anamoe (#1) to win.
Race 7 at 3:15 pm: $2 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m)
We were on Sky Lab last time out when he was a bold second at big odds, so there’s no reason to jump off this Saturday. This three-year-old is putting together a good record for Paul Perry and the 2400m should suit him perfectly.
The son of Real Impact will most likely be challenged by Montefilia and Lion’s Roar in a pretty good Derby. Based on the depth I wouldn’t be surprised to see an upset in this one.
Suggested bet: Sky Lab (#3) to win.
Race 8 at 3:55 pm: $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m)
This race is always in the top five on the Australian racing calendar and the 2021 edition shouldn’t disappoint. Even with just ten confirmed runners, this will still be a great spectacle.
I pondered over my selection for a while in this one because my heart says Nature Strip, my head says Eduardo and my gut says there are a few more winning chances.
In the end, I went with my heart and put Nature Strip on top. We know his best is very good, we know he’s been set for this race and we know he won it last year on a heavy track.
With that in mind, the $3.60 is good shopping and he can get the job done on Saturday.
Suggested bet: Nature Strip (#2) to win.
Race 9 at 4:35 pm: $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m)
The Doncaster has never been my favourite race – most likely because I never back the winner – but you can’t fault the quality of the event on a yearly basis.
This Saturday’s rendition is another cracker and it’s hard to split most of them on form. That’s why I’m going for the new horse on the scene, Mo’unga, who will carry just 49.5kg in this Group 1.
The three-year-old Rosehill Guineas winner could have remained in easier races against his own age but Annabel Neasham’s decision to throw him in the deep end has filled me with confidence.
He’ll handle the track conditions, will handle the class, it’s just a matter of Robbie Dolan getting a little bit of luck from a wide draw.
This colt has so much upside that I think we’ll be discussing him around Cox Plate time later this year. To be in the mix for that race, he needs to be running top three on the weekend.
Suggested bet: Mo’unga (#19) each-way.