Day 1 of The Championships at Royal Randwick is upon us with a mammoth 10-race card featuring four Group 1's, with total prize money for the day close to $10 million!
There is plenty to look forward to with such outstanding fields but none more so than the $3 million Doncaster Handicap which of course is headlined by the superstar mare Winx.
Sydney has received a substantial amount of rain throughout the week which forced the track into the Heavy range on Wednesday. The track remains in the Soft 6 range but with clear skies and warm weather predicted for Friday and Saturday we could see that improve into the Good range, however I suspect we may start the day somewhere around the Soft 5 range.
We've got tips for every single race on the card, with in-depth previews of the Group 1's including a runner-by-runner analysis of the Doncaster Handicap!
I think the Godolphin colt Astern can bounce back from his Slipper failure here. Draws wide but he's done the job in the city and has won a trial on Soft ground. The value in the race might be Hostwin Legend at 50/1. He trialed very impressively (beat the likes of Defcon) but failed on debut after settling at the rear and overracing. Zac Purton booked to ride from barrier 4 could see him improve sharply. Happy to back Astern with a penny E/W on Hostwin Legend.
Interested in backing two here - Odyssey Moon and Montauk. Odyssey Moon comes into this third up and ready to peak after two good runs this prep. Draws well and has performed well in Soft ground before. Montauk never got clear first up and looked to have plenty to give. Draws barrier 1 here so will get a dream run. Slight query with Bowman opting to ride Data Point but the odds are appealing.
Can't see Libran getting beat here despite the weight he has to carry. He's flying and the step up to 2600m will be the perfect lead up for the Sydney Cup next week. Draws perfectly in barrier 4 and he will probably appreciate a little bit of give in the track.
Really not a race I'm interested in betting on, especially after it was declared that the favourite Clearly Innocent will be wearing bar plates on both front feet following some stone bruising. He would have been my selection but the bar plates are a huge concern and for that reason I would side with Lofty's Menu who has proven ability on soft ground and ran a good race behind High Midnight in town last start.
Nice race this. Lady Sniper looks like she is capable of winning this at a good each way price of $7. She has form behind Ghisoni and she beat home Hellbent last prep too. Bounced back to form with a good win in the Gosford Guineas last start and gets a great run from barrier 5 here. Expect Egyptian Symbol to run very well in a race with several chances.
First Group 1 of the day is the Inglis Sires' for the two-year-olds over 1400m.
Really happy to be on the filly Yankee Rose after her tremendous first up run in the Golden Slipper. I earmarked her as one of the main chances in the Slipper at a big price and she nearly pulled it off. She might not sprint as well here with the freshness taken out of her but her run put the writing on the wall and the step up to 1400m is the key. Zac Purton retains the ride; the only slight query could be how she handles a bit of give in the ground. She is currently $3.60 but I wouldn't be surprised to see her backed in to around $3.00.
Telperion is her main market rival after his luckless 4th in the Slipper. He maps to get a much better run from barrier 4 here which will give him every chance but I'm not willing to back him to turn the tables on Yankee Rose.
Seaburge is an interesting runner coming over from Melbourne. Looks a very talented colt and put in a good performance when winning the Sires Produce in Melbourne last start. Draws awkwardly here and the stable's record of runner in Sydney has been quite horrible in recent times but he's one to include in trifectas and first fours.
Omei Sword is the one I am wary of. She won on debut (which is rare for a Waller runner) and backed that up with a big run behind Calliope in the Magic Night last start at Gr2 level. Draws to get a perfect run and I think she is a big winning chance.
Others to consider at longer odds are Detective and Chimboraa.
1st YANKEE ROSE
2nd OMEI SWORD
The Derby looks at the mercy of Tarzino, with very few other genuine winning chances.
The Mick Price colt is absolutely flying and the step up to 2400m will only see him improve further. He has drawn an ideal barrier (6) and a bit of cut out of the ground won't worry him as he's won on a Heavy track before. He won the Rosehill Guineas dominantly last start and with the good draw, set weights, extra distance and a spacious track he will be incredibly hard to beat.
If he is to get beat it could be the very progressive Godolphin horse Tally that upstages him. I didn't think he was quite up to it until I saw his dominant victory over Palentino last start in the Alister Clark Stakes. He handled the 2040m without a fuss and 2400m looks no issue for him. That was on a Soft 6 so he's proven he can handle the ground and if Tarzino isn't at his best then this could be your winner.
I don't think the winner will come outside of those two, but place chances go to Jameka and the Kiwi What's The Story. I think Jameka has been crying out for 2400m and she finally gets it today. She's drawn wide but she'll roll forward and the rain probably enhances her chances after her demolition job in the Oaks last prep on a Heavy track.
What's The Story ran 2nd in the NZ Derby over 2400m on a Soft track last start. He has sharply improved as he continues to step up in trip and from barrier 4 he will get every chance. There's been a delay to his flight but if he arrives in good order he could be competitive. We saw the NZ fillies last week run well behind Single Gaze.
4th WHAT'S THE STORY
Outstanding edition of the TJ and I think the big Godolphin colt might stamp his authority here. Exosphere really does shape as a terrific winning chance despite his recent failures at Flemington. The last time we saw him at Randwick he bolted in just about untouched to win by over 3 lengths. He's adept on soft tracks and from barrier 4 he'll have a headstart on Chautauqua.
Chautauqua is much better suited at WFA than under handicap conditions that he faced in the Newmarket. The wide barrier is no problem for him as he will go back anyway and he's more than capable of flying home to win like he did in the TJ last year. If Chautauqua is held up or isn't at his best then it's hard to see Chautauqua not winning.
Flamberge has had two starts this prep for two Group 1 wins and you can't knock his form coming into this. This is a much tougher race and he's up against it at WFA against the best horses in this race but he's in career best form and can go well again.
Delectation could be the big improver here. He didn't settle at all in the Newmarket and ran last but he can bounce back here. Bowman chooses to get back on him rather than stick with Terravista and from barrier 2 he will be smothered up nicely. He won't mind a bit of give in the track and he's beaten Chautauqua before so you can't write him off. Will need luck but keep him safe.
Our Boy Malachi maps to get a soft enough lead and he can bounce back after bombing the start last time out.
Others to consider in exotics at longer odds are Shiraz and Fell Swoop despite not being suited at WFA conditions, Knoydart can fly fresh while English faces a tough task from barrier 14 and Terravista was horrible last start.
3rd OUR BOY MALACHI
KERMADEC: Winner of last year's Doncaster and I'm prepared to back him to make it back-to-back Doncasters and upset his stablemate Winx here! His run behind Winx in the George Ryder was huge and I think he's going to improve even more heading into this. Has to carry top weight but he actually gets a 1.5kg weight swing on Winx. Drawn perfectly, will appreciate any rain, huge chance and a big price at $9!
TURN ME LOOSE: He's very good but his run last start was an absolute shocker and while I think he can bounce back I'm not prepared to back him after what I saw last start.
WINX: She's a superstar and continues to prove it with every run. Now won 8 on the trot and despite carrying only 0.5kg less than the top weights, she looks pretty well handicapped. Deserves to be the raging hot favourite and she's clearly good enough to win. My slight concern is the barrier.
STRATUM STAR: Disappointed that he didn't win last start when he looked very well placed but The United States has since backed that form up with a Gr1 win. Loves the distance, good on any surface and draws to get a gun run so he can run a place.
BOW CREEK: Big win two starts ago but his bad habit of bombing the start possibly cost him a win in the Australian Cup last start. Needs the ground to be firm if he is a chance of fighting out the finish here but he is capable of doing so if he jumps with them.
FIRST SEAL: Will appreciate the weight drop to 53kg and gets the blinkers on for the first time here. Draws barrier 1 so will be somewhere up near the speed and will try and catch a break. Place chance.
VOLKSTOK'N'BARRELL: Has bounced back into form over in NZ with two Group 1 wins in his last two starts. Flies at this distance and the drop back from 2000m to 1600m shouldn't be too much of an issue. Very light weight means he can definitely be competitive.
GOOD PROJECT: Looks well suited off only 52kg and drawn to get a good run from barrier 7. Very good record at the distance and at the track but needs to improve on his last run if he is to feature here, though he did pull up lame last start.
ECUADOR: No luck last start and looks up against it here from barrier 14. Will need to work forward from the gate which could inject some speed into the race. Needs to improve significantly though.
HAPPY CLAPPER: Plenty of talk about this horse in this race for some time now following his win in the Villiers last prep. Gets in with the featherweight of 50.5kg and gets an 8kg weight swing on Winx from the George Ryder. Should get a good run from barrier 8. Ready to peak 3rd up, think he needs to improve on what he did last start but will get his chance.
AZKADELLIA: Huge run in the Coolmoore Classic last start. Drops 3kg from that run and will only carry 50kg. The strong 1600m could be a test but she did fly home in the Myer Classic over 1600m last prep. Wide barrier will require a good ride from Boss but she's in this with a good chance.
HE OR SHE: Good win in the Blamey last start at Gr2 level and the form out of that race has really stacked up with The United States since winning a Group 1. Down 5kg from that run and in with 50kg here. Wide barrier hurts and this is certainly the hardest test of his career.
RUDY: Very good run when finishing 3rd in the Doncaster Prelude. Good record 3rd up and would appreciate a bit more rain. Probably a tick below this level despite carrying only 50kg.
AOMEN: Not good enough for this.
VERGARA: Good win in Gr3 level last start but not god enough to feature here.
4th HAPPY CLAPPER
Really interested in Alaskan Rose here who has improved with every run this prep and will really appreciate the step up to 2000m. She was good last start over 1600m behind Felicienne without much luck, an despite the wide barrier she rates a big chance in a fairly weak field. Has also won on Soft ground, which won't suit her main market rival Sacred Eye. Daisy's Joy for the Snowdens can bounce back.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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