I’ve spent so much time on the Bureau of Meteorology website over the past few days you could be forgiven for thinking I was preparing the nightly weather report. But my fascination with weather science this week is related to something extremely important – day two of the Championships at Royal Randwick On Saturday.
After last Saturday’s Day 1 washout and subsequent postponement I suspect many trainers, owners and jockeys have done a lot of forecast checking this week too. Thankfully there is only a few showers predicted through to Saturday with no significant rain fall. Saturday’s meeting will go ahead as planned. Naturally after the drenching Sydney copped last week the track will still be rain affected – probably in the slow range.
With four Group 1 races and one race alone worth $4 million it will be a great day to be tuned into Sky Racing – or trackside if you can make it!
The first of Saturday's Group 1 events is the A.T.C Oaks for fillies over 2400 metres. Many of the top fancies in TAB betting are coming out of the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill on Golden Slipper day. Fenway ($5.50 with TAB.com.au) ridden by Blake Shinn led them home in an emotional family affair win. However the fillies storming home for 3rd and 5th placings were eye catching runs. Thunder Lady ($6) has had 3 runs this campaign and steps up to the 2400 metres on Saturday. Remember she ran 2nd in last years VRC Oaks so the distance this weekend will be perfect.
Winx ($4.60), trained buy Chris Waller was also running on strongly in the Vinery Stud Stakes. At her previous run, when winning the Phar Lap Stakes, she defeated handy Godolphin 3 year old Hauraki. He has since won the Tulloch Stakes and run a gallant 2nd in the ATC Derby on Monday. It's great form and I think Winx can be right in the finish.
In the Queen of the Turf Stakes for fillies and mares, fans of popular Sydney mare Catkins ($5) will be hoping she can finally land her first Group 1 win. And she certainly deserves one. Catkins has won 15 races so far with plenty of "black type" wins but she hasn't been able to crack one of racing's majors. Although Catkins record at Randwick is nowhere near as good as Rosehill, she did manage to run 2nd in a Group 1 race here recently when placed behind Cosmic Endeavour in the Canterbury Stakes. The prospect of a rain affected track and the engagement of Joao "Magic Man" Moreira suggests to me that Catkins is finally ready to join the Group 1 club.
First Seal ($3.40) has been very costly at her last 2 defeats but is a quality filly that won her only start at this track and distance. Imported mare Noble Protector ($3.40) has flourished in Australia and must be respected.
Check out all the TAB.com.au markets for Day 2 of The Championships here.
The Sydney Cup at 3200 metres is an international affair with former German, English and Hong Kongs runners. No doubt our kiwi friends will claim it as a New Zealand win should Who Shot Thebarman be successful!
Overall, I've been disappointed with Protectionists ($5) Autumn campaign but I'm prepared to stick with him one more time in the Cup. He's had 3 runs to reach peak fitness and I'm banking on the 3200 metres being the key factor for a return to winning form. It is time for the Melbourne Cup winner to stand up.
Hartnell ($2.20) has excellent wet track form overseas and looked brilliant winning the BMW stakes at Rosehill last start and there was a lot to like about Who Shot Thebarman's ($4.20) effort in that same race. Both are proven 2 milers.
For $4 Million in prizemoney the Queen Elizabeth stakes has quickly become Sydney's weight for age classic.
Contributor ($3.40) would be a deserving winner after his sensational recent form. Another imported horse, Contributor has had a perfect preparation winning the Apollo, Chipping Norton and Ranvet Stakes at his 3 Autumn runs. His record at 2000 metres impressively reads 6 starts for 5 wins and he has some wet track form. Contributor is a serious horse with a great future and can give the Godolphin operation their biggest Australian success.
Adelaide ($6.00) is one of the more interesting runners of the day having not raced since winning the Cox Plate in October. The four year old has trialled twice this year for new trainer Chris Waller and will be reunited with Cox Plate pilot Ryan Moore on Saturday. Chris Waller has achieved some amazing things during his career but should he win the Queen Elizabeth stakes with Adelaide it would have to rank as one of his greatest training triumphs.
The Japanese stable mates To the World ($4.00) and Tosen Stardom ($8.00) have both settled in well to Australia judging by their last start performances. Expect both to strip a lot fitter for the Queen Elizabeth.
My best bet for the day is in another Championship race - the Provincial final for horses not trained at city racetracks. Harmonic, to be ridden by Tim Clark won his spot in the race by winning the Hawkesbury qualifier on March 26th. He's a great 1400 metre horse and thrives in the wet. He might just need an ounce of luck from a wide draw. At $4.60 with tab.com.au I think he can win the big final for likeable trainer Tony McEvoy.
It's a great day of racing and we'll have it all covered across our Sky network this weekend. Don't forget Racing Retro will have a special 90 minute review of Saturday's Championships meeting on Sunday morning at 9am (Eastern). I hope you can tune in.
G1 - The Bet365 Celebration Steeple Chase (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gold Cup Steeple Chase (handicap) (class 1)
G1 - Aes Champion 4yo Hdle
Grade B - Setanta Sport H'cap Hdle
Grade B - Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe H'cap Chase