Autumn Racing Carnival is well and truly in full swing now and the best are all back in business. Racing writer, JUSTIN DEVINE, highlights some of the biggest names making headlines with his answers to these ‘Burning Questions’.

1. Who is the second-best horse in Australia? 

Over the last few weeks, a number of horses have put a case forward to be regarded as Australias’s second-best racehorse behind superstar Winx. In last weeks Chipping Norton Stakes, HAPPY CLAPPER made Winx chase him for the majority of the race before proving too strong late. It was the fourth time HAPPY CLAPPER has been runner up to Winx. With 8 wins from 17 career starts including three Group 1 wins, Godolphin trained mare ALIZEE is making a strong argument to be considered the “next big thing” in Australian racing. Her win in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes last start, when caught wide throughout silenced any doubters that she might have had. She looks something special.

With 6 wins from 7 starts including 3 from 3 at Group 1 level, THE AUTUMN SUN is the heir apparent of Australian racing. After a superb first-up win in the Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (below) the three-year-old looks to have the Autumn at his mercy. This week he starts $1.60 favourite in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas and only bad luck can stop him from winning. The path after Saturday will be interesting. The Rosehill Guineas and Doncaster Mile are on the radar at this stage and he will take some beating in any race he starts in.

THE AUTUMN SUN is a ready made replacement for when WINX retires.


2. Is the All-Star Mile going to meet the Hype? 

YES. The critics will tell you that the All-Star Mile entry process is flawed. While accepting that a popular vote is a different method than normal, the reality is that with wildcard entries, the race is as star-studded as any race on the Australian racing calendar. ALIZEE, HAPPY CLAPPER, AMPHITRITE, MYSTIC JOURNEY and HARTNELL are all proven at the highest level. ALIZEE was awesome travelling wide and winning the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (below). HAPPY CLAPPER made WINX work for her win in the Chipping Norton Stakes last weekend (below).

With $5 million in prize money on offer, there can be no doubting that all entrants will be trying to peak on the day. Bring it on!


3. Do fairytales come true?

If you watched the Group 1 Australian Guineas at Flemington (below), your answer is a resounding yes. MYSTIC JOURNEY, the 3-year-old filly purchased for $11,000 and trained in Devonport on the North West Coast of Tasmania took on the cream of Australian racing and won. The mighty Godolphin Team and the Waller stable (amongst others) could only watch on as the filly zoomed away under the urgings of forgotten jockey Anthony Darmanin. Trainer Adam Trinder had bought her thinking that she could more than pay her way, winning races around the apple isle. After a growth spurt, he thought she could above average. He was right!

MYSTIC JOURNEY is currently a $3.70 second favourite for the $5 Million All-Star Mile. She gets in beautifully, and if she wins the $2.25 Million first prize, you will be able to hear the cheering from Devonport all way to Flemington.


4. Can the Blue Army be Stopped?

Godolphin racing and head Australian trainer James Cummings have made a habit of winning big races in Australia. The Blue Army dominated the Spring Racing Carnival last year and look to have a strong hand again this Autumn. With a stable containing ALIZEE, OSBORNE BULLS, HARTNELL, KEMENTARI, BEST OF DAYS and RANIER itis not hard to see why Cummings is always smiling. That is not to mention the endless supply of two-year-olds dominating juvenile racing.

The week, import AVILIUS ($1.85) jumps a short-priced favourite in the Group 1 Australia Cup. Since coming to Australia AVILIUS has been sensational winning 6 from 8. His only defeats were in the Cox Plate (behind Winx) and the Melbourne Cup when severely hampered in the run. The 5-year-old gelding has tuned up beautifully for this week’s run with a dominant win in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes last start (below). He looks a Spring Cups horse and continues to impress. The Australia Cup looks headed to the already cramped trophy cabinet of Godolphin.


5. Who fits into this year’s Golden Slipper?

The Golden Slipper is the richest 2-year-old race in the world. The Royal Blue silks of Godolphin racing have a dominant hand with four of the top five in betting markets. The Gary Portelli trained TIME TO REIGN($8) is the only non-Godolphin trained runner in the top 5 in betting and with 3 wins from 4 starts he looks capable of upsetting the party. After a strong Silver Slipper win last start (below), TIME TO REIGN ($3.2) will have his final Golden Slipper hit out in the Group 2 Todman Stakes at Randwick this week.

With TASSORT, MICROPHONE, EXHILIRATES and Blue Diamond winner LYRE (and more!), Godolphin has an embarrassment of two-year-old riches this season. If TIME TO REIGN can’t crash the party, ANOTHER big race looks set to go Blue!