After a solid result last week, Sydney racing takes a dip behind an exceptional Moonee Valley card.
Super Saturday has arrived at Randwick, in what used to be Sydney’s biggest race day. It is still the best for overall quality, but there’s a little event called The Everest that has taken its place as the marquee race meeting. Let’s have a look at three even Group 1s.
Australian racing does the big handicaps so well, and the Epsom usually delivers on its promise. The Randwick mile is just about the fairest course and distance in the country, barriers are often of little consequence, and every horse should get their chance.
Many punters are drawn to looking at the weight-for-age lead-up form when heading into a big handicap, to find horses that have run well at the elite level and are dropping significantly in weight.
Riodini is the exact horse in question this year, having pushed Verry Elleegant all the way in the George Main last start, and just being nailed by Think It Over in the Chelmsford the start before.
He’s right in the zone, is in the flying Waterhouse and Bott stable, and has been rated perfectly by Rachel King who is engaged again. He’ll lead this race along, and dropping a whopping 7.5kgs is going to be mighty hard to beat when he skips clear at the famous Randwick rise.
Chasing Verry Elleegant and Riodini home in the George Main last start were Doncaster winner Cascadian, veteran Star of the Seas, and four-year-olds Lion’s Roar and Hungry Heart.
The latter, a talented Chris Waller mare, is by far the most likely of these, but still has to find a couple of lengths while meeting Riodini 3kgs worse. Another niggle is whether she’ll be looking for further than 1600m now.
The Bill Ritchie is the traditional lead-up for those taking the handicap route to the Epsom, rather than WFA.
Atishu was the winner there, a grinding win while having every favour. She can be more dynamic when ridden off the speed, though. Harmony Rose was fairly plain behind her in sixth, despite being fancied to run well.
The two runners to be with out of the Bill Ritchie are Aramayo and Private Eye. Aramayo was sniffing around the edges of Group 1 company before a stint in Singapore, and looks perfectly placed to attack the mile with a lovely weight drop third-up here. Private Eye is a progressive 4-year-old with Joe Pride that went wide all the way last start and still had the temerity to be there at the end. Big winning chance.
The Cameron Handicap has been dismissed as a quality lead-up for the Epsom. Ashman had been a benchmark horse before winning it when $26 was available, and has been posted $101 here. Rock’s time appears to have passed.
Sky Lab raises an eyebrow though after his strong second – let’s not forget he split Mo’unga and Montefilia in the Rosehill Guineas back in March. He’s on the radar now, and it rarely pays to ignore these four-year-olds on the rise in this sort of race.
Discharged and Reloaded ran second and third respectively in the Shannon Handicap last start, and deserve their place in this field. They’re both more than capable of popping up looking at their form around the likes of Think It Over and Homesman from earlier in the year.
Which leaves us with three horses bringing different formlines in.
Mo’unga is second favourite despite carrying the number one saddlecloth and the 57kgs that comes with it – he’s proven his development and class this prep winning the Winx and splitting boom horse Incentivise and Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet down in Melbourne.
Dalasan has also made his way up the Hume after a sneaky good first-up run in the Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield. His Randwick runs in April, third in both the Doncaster and Queen Elizabeth behind world-class opposition, must have him right in the game.
Icebath has come back as well as ever, but is certainly due another win. Second in the Golden Eagle last year, second in the Doncaster, and has been within a length or so of the winner in all three runs this prep. If she track comes up soft 6 or worse on the day, elevate her in your thinking because she gains lengths on wet ground.
While there’s a big field assembled, there aren’t a lot of noted on-pacers. Stablemates Riodini and Discharged will be right on the premises, as will Ashman, and they won’t look to be dawdling.
Dry: 1.Riodini 2.Aramayo 3.Private Eye 4.Mo’unga
Wet: 1.Riodini 2.Icebath 3.Private Eye 4.Dalasan
The Metrop isn’t the most significant race Group 1 race on the calendar these days, but they don’t come much more time-honoured. We do have a good line-up at the top end this time around.
Three horses are vying for favouritism, She’s Ideel, Montefilia, Entente, and they ran the trifecta in that order in the Kingston Town two weeks ago. Entente has since won the Colin Stephen last week, and is racing three weeks in a row.
This is a handicap, so how do the three chances stack up at the weights from their previous meeting, bearing in mind there was just under two lengths between them all? She’s Ideel goes up 1.5kgs, Montefilia comes down 1.5kgs and Entente drops 3.5kgs.
Entente has drawn perfectly in four, and will happily set the pace or tuck in behind it if others want to come across and take it up. She’s Ideel has drawn tricky in 15 and Jason Collett will almost certainly have to snag her back. Montefilia has drawn even wider in 17 and will surely settle at the tail.
No stable is hotter than Waterhouse and Bott after last week’s heroics, and the barrier draw probably makes it advantage Entente. All three main chances handle all conditions, but wet probably favours She’s Ideel the most, while Entente is probably most comfortable on top of the ground.
Looking for those longer in the market, Warning makes appeal at around the $26 mark. Primed to tackle this race second-up after a pleasing first-up performance, he loves the cut out of the ground.
Mirage Dancer won this last year, but needs it firm. Angel of Truth could certainly pop up on wet. Zeyrek was on the heels of the main three last start, and is still improving. The rest of these have been chasing each other around for years, and would need to jump out of the ground to win.
Selections: 1.Entente 2.Montefilia 3.She’s Ideel 4.Warning
All season it’s been noted what an even crop of fillies we have in both Sydney and Melbourne. This is borne out in a big field and competitive betting race here. Can one explode out of the pack and take out the Flight Stakes this weekend?
Startantes has an easing grip on favouritism at this point in the week. This is understandably so after her eye-catching Golden Rose sixth last Saturday against the boys. The Golden Rose is the hottest three-year-old form race year after year.
But Startantes is bred to be a pure sprinter, with Lightning Stakes placegetters on both sides of her family tree. How far can her class carry her stepping up to a mile for the first time?
Four Moves Ahead got her win in the Tea Rose last start thanks to a decisive Nash Rawiller ride, making the most of her jumping beautifully to position her handy to the speed. He’ll likely do something similar from a wide barrier this time around.
Swift Witness was third there, having to do some work early. Three runs in now, rock hard fit, will go forward with Tim Clark riding. This has In The Congo vibes all over it.
Mallory kept coming up the inside in the Tea Rose, and has been knocking on the door all season, building to a win. She’s All Class hasn’t looked likely so far, but we can’t doubt Waller’s ability and must keenly note the blinkers being applied for her grand final.
All of the fillies mentioned above are by genuine sprinting sires, so all must be a query hitting 1600m. Can something a bit more stoutly bred knock them off?
Von Trapp makes plenty of appeal at the $21 mark. This Frankel filly was eating up the ground late in the Tea Rose, and will undoubtedly be craving an extra 200m to show her best work. Barrier 14 is the knock though, meaning she’ll have to get back to last again, possibly off a slow or even tempo, and either pick her way through the field or swoop around them all.
Fangirl has the Waller polish and is coming off a five length maiden win. Warning bells are ringing here. Stray has been taking on the boys and is backing up from the Gloaming into this. Anthony Cummings has been known to be unorthodox, and sometimes it works.
Selections: 1.Von Trapp 2.Mallory 3.Swift Witness 4.Startantes