With the Spring Racing Carnival fast approaching, racing analyst Justin Devine takes a look at the big races in Sydney and identifies the leading hopes as well as a roughie or two.
The Golden Rose is the first Group 1 of the Spring for the 3yos and is a much sought-after race for owners looking to secure a lucrative stud deal. For that reason, the race has been dominated by male horses, with only one filly winning in the last 18 years. Recent winners include In The Congo, Ole Kirk, Bivouac, and The Autumn Sun with superstar sire Zoustar winning in 2013.
The race has been a good one for punters with only two winners paying more than $10 in the last 18 years, Last year’s winner In The Congo led all the way to win the race, holding off a fast finishing Anamoe in the shadows of the post. This year’s bunch of three-year-olds look just as good and the race should be a cracker!
🥇 BEST OF BORDEAUX ($11) led them into the straight and held on for second placing in the Golden Slipper earlier this year and can improve as a 3yo. He had no luck when resuming in the San Domenico Stakes and wasn’t tested in the run home. He likes it at Rosehill and looks ready to tackle 14oom.
🥈 With wins over 1000m, 1100m and 1200m in his 2yo season SEJARDAN ($12) showed plenty to suggest that his future is bright. Had he not been disappointed for a run at a crucial stage in the Golden Slipper he would have finished in the top 3 and his racing style looks suited to the pressure of a tough 1400m for the Golden Rose. Expect him to feature.
💰 The Godolphin stable has been building nicely in recent weeks and looks set for a big spring. The filly OJAI ($101) made up good ground when resuming in the Quizette and with a touch of luck, she could have won the race at big odds. She will be competitive in any race that she tackles in the spring and while fillies have struggled in the race, the $101 on offer might be worth a small investment.
The Group 1 Flight Stakes is a 1600m race that is run on Epsom Handicap Day at Randwick for the 3yo fillies. Gai Waterhouse has trained the winner of the race a remarkable 10 times including last year’s winner Never Been Kissed @ $41. The 2020 winner Montefilia went on the beat the boys in the Spring Champion Stakes over 2000m seven days later.
🥇 SHE’S EXTREME ($5) won the Group 1 Champagne Stakes in the Autumn, defeating the up-and-coming star Fireburn in the process. She went through her gears nicely to place in the Furious Stakes first up and will be ready to peak for the race. She can add another Group 1 to her CV.
🥈 With ten wins in the race it pays to include a horse trained by Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott. NORTH STAR LASS ($7) was a tough winner of the Furious Stakes on a heavy 9 when she shared the early lead and held off all the challenges in the straight. She will be rock hard fit on race day and will give them something to catch.
💰 Scone based trainer Luke Pepper looks to have a quality galloper in OPAL RIDGE ($31). She was an eye-catching Highway Handicap winner recently and hasn’t been far off them in Black Type company. She can improve when she steps up to a mile and will appreciate getting onto some firmer surfaces in the Spring. She is one to watch.
EPSOM HANDICAP – Randwick – 1600m – Saturday 1st Oct.
The time-honoured Epsom Handicap run over the Randwick mile is one of Australia’s most prestigious races. Punters should note that only three mares have won the race in the last 30 years, with no horse carrying more than 57kgs to victory in that time. Chris Waller has trained four winners in recent years with Gai Waterhouse having the best record of current trainers with seven wins.
🥇 New Zealand galloper I WISH I WIN ($16) was very impressive winning on his Australian debut for new trainer Peter Moody He has already placed at Group 1 level in NZ and can improve with the “Moody polish” applied. Down in the weights, he profiles beautifully for the Epsom.
🥈 I’M THUNDERSTRUCK ($21) won the Golden Eagle last year and was beaten by less than a length in the Doncaster Handicap during the Autumn. He made up good ground when resuming over 1400m and looks set for a big Spring. He will be hard to beat in any race he contests and the Epsom might be his Grand Final.
💰 The Waterhouse and Bott trained CROSS TALK ($26) was run down in the shadows of the post in the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury recently after leading with 57.5kgs and is likely to sneak into the Epsom with a postage stamp weight. Gai loves this race and he is her best chance this year.
Run over 2400m on Epsom Handicap day, the Group 1 Metropolitan is the premier staying event of the Sydney Spring Carnival. The race has been a tough one for punters with only two favourites winning in the last 15 years, with a host of big-priced winners in the period. Montefilia was the first mare to win the race in over 20 years when she won the race last year.
🥇 Emerging stayer BENAUD ($4.5) will not be headed to Melbourne for the Spring, with The Metrop his main target this year. He was the runner-up in last year’s ATC Derby and has looked like a true stayer in both of his runs so far this prep. His trainer John O’Shea is sure to have him trained to the minute for the race and BENAUD can bowl over his rivals in the run to the post!
🥈 Imported stayer SUREFIRE ($13) missed the start in the Chelmsford Stakes and was then hampered when looking to make ground in the run to the line. It would pay to forget that he went around in that race. His Australian form prior to that had been very good and he has won over 2400m back in the UK. He will run boldly.
💰 ZEYREK ($41) finished 4th in the Metrop last year with a lightweight despite being caught in the worst part of the track and followed that run up with a 3rd placing over 2400m in the Tattersalls Cup. He will come back this prep with more maturity and held his ground well in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes when resuming over an unsuitable trip. He is definitely worth an each-way ticket at odds.
THE EVEREST – Randwick – 1200m – Saturday 8th Oct.
With its unique entry system and $15 million in prizemoney on offer, “The world’s richest race on turf “, The Everest has become a game-changer in Australian racing. The race features the best 12 sprinters in the world who battle it out over the 1200m at Randwick in front of a capacity crowd. Star sprinters Redzel (twice), Yes Yes Yes, Classique Legend and Nature Strip have saluted since the race’s inception back in 2017. Who will win the 2022 version?
🥇 The Chris Waller-trained NATURE STRIP (2.8) held off the fast finishing Masked Crusader to win the race last year, after absorbing the on-speed pressure of Eduardo in the early stages of the race. He has since gone on to win the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in the winter and can lay claim to being the best sprinter in the world. He is the clear top pick.
🥈 MASKED CRUSADER ($16) came home like a rocket to finish second in the race last year with many thinking that the Hawkes-trained sprinter was unlucky in the run. That is his racing style, to get back and finish strongly which can lend itself to some heartbreak for his followers. With plenty of speed early on in the race, he will once again power to the line. I expect him to run well.
💰 A red hot leaders bias at Randwick on Champagne Stakes Day FIREBURN ($26) the 2yo triple crown in the Autumn and her connections have a number of options available to them heading into the Spring. At the time of writing she does not have a slot in The Everest, but with 51kgs and proven over 1200m she must be in the mix for the vacant spots available.
The Golden Eagle is a $10 million race run over 1500m which is restricted to 4yo gallopers. The race has been a great success since it was first run in 2019 and has helped keep 4yo horses racing in good numbers.
🥇 High-profile owners Ozzie Kheir and Brae Sokolski travelled to Europe and purchased LIGHT INFANTRY ($8) with this race in mind. He was placed in a Group 1 at Deauville in France recently and has the 2023 Cox Plate as his main target. The owners have the “Midas Touch” and this horse ticks all the boxes. I can’t wait to see him race!
🥈 2020 Blue Diamond winner ARTORIUS ($13) looks to have refound his zest for racing, recording back-to-back Group 1 placings in the UK and connections have hinted a return to Australia for a crack at the $10m race. He likes to get back in his races and will find the line strongly. He is good enough to get the prize.
💰 The Godolphin racing team won the 2020 Golden Eagle with COLETTE and PAULELE ($21) looks like the Blue Army’s best chance this year. He was placed twice in Group 1 company during the Brisbane winner carnival and is very consistent. If he can stretch out to 1500m he will be hard to catch.