RACE 9 – QUEEN ELIZABETH STAKES
The best middle distance gallopers from Australia and New Zealand will attempt to thwart the might of the Japanese in the $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Godolphin’s Contributer ($3.40 favourite) is the one to beat after resuming from a short spring campaign with victories in the Apollo Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on February 14, Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 and Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 21.
Japan’s To The World ($4 - $4.40 - $4) had his first start since running second in the Arima Kinen (2500m) at Nakayama on December 28 two weeks ago when he found Contributer’s stablemate Hartnell a shade the better in The BMW (2400m) at Rosehill Gardens.
Fresh off training Kermadec to victory in the Doncaster Mile, Chris Waller will saddle up Adelaide ($7 - $6) who resumes after winning the Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 with Ryan Moore steering the Galileo horse once again.
Criterion ($8 - $7) will be aiming to go one better after finishing second to Doncaster Mile runner-up Real Impact in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 21 while Tosen Stardom ($8) will derive plenty of benefit from his second to Contributer in the Ranvet Stakes as he hopes to continue the impressive streak of horses visiting ‘Down Under’ from the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.
Suggested Trifecta: 1. Contributer | 2. Criterion | 10. To The World | 11. Tosen Stardom
Bets of note: $1200 @ $4.40 on To The World | $500 x $1000 @ $101/$21 on Fiveandahalfstar
RACE 8 – SYDNEY CUP
Intrigue surrounds the 150th running of the $1.6 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday as up-and-coming stayer Hartnell faces Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist and placegetter Who Shot Thebarman.
The John O’Shea-trained Hartnell ($2.50 once Red Cadeaux was scratched; now $2.20 favourite) has followed up his second to stablemate Contributer in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 with emphatic victories in the Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 14 and The BMW (2400m) at the same venue two weeks later.
Who Shot Thebarman ($4.20) showcased his liking for the two miles by winning last year’s Auckland Cup and finishing third in last spring’s Melbourne Cup and the six-year-old bay gelding should be at his peak following his fourth-place finish in The BMW a fortnight ago.
After thrashing his rivals in the Melbourne Cup, Protectionist ($5) has been crying out for the longer trip after failing to flatter in the Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 28 and Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 14 and his last start fifth in The BMW behind the likes of Hartnell and Who Shot Thebarman was encouraging.
The forgotten horse could be Dominant ($11) who returned from his third placing in the Centenary Vase (1800m) at Sha Tin on February 7 with a fifth-place run in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 21 for Hong Kong-based trainer John Moore.
Suggested Trifecta: 6. Hartnell | 4. Who Shot Thebarman | 1. Protectionist | 12. Don Doremo
Bets of Note: $10,000 @ $2.20, $5000@ $2.40 and $4,000 @ $2.20 on Hartnell
RACE 7 – QUEEN OF THE TURF STAKES
Will favourite punters give First Seal one more chance to atone for her two slender – but costly – defeats in the $1 million Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday?
First Seal ($3.40 equal favourite) looked to have races for her gender at her mercy following the triumph in the Surround Stakes (1400m) at Warwick Farm on February 28 but she has since gone down as an odds-on favourite to Plucky Belle in the Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 14 and Fenway in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at the same venue on March 28.
The Robert Smerdon-trained Noble Protector ($3.40 equal favourite) ventures to Royal Randwick in fine form having won the Matron Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 14 and Sunline Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on March 27 which follows on from an impressive second to Queen Elizabeth Stakes favourite Contributer in the David Jones Cup (2000m) on Caulfield Cup Day last spring.
Despite winning three of her four starts this campaign, the Ingham-owned Catkins ($5) has still been unable to shake off the ‘bridesmaid’ tag at Group 1 level after finishing second to Cosmic Endeavour in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Randwick on March 7.
Diamond Drille ($15) is on the quick back-up after finishing 15th of 20 in the Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick last Monday but was third in the Coolmore Classic the start prior and won this event last year at $41.
Suggested Trifecta: 6. Noble Protector | 2. Catkins | 14. First Seal | 12. Telepathic
RACE 6 – ATC AUSTRALIAN OAKS
An even line-up of three-year-old fillies will test their future staying credentials in the $1 million Group 1 ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The Chris Waller-trained Winx ($4.60 favourite) resumed with two indifferent runs before taking out the Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on March 14 before closing late for fifth in the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at the same track on March 28.
Boston Red Sox fans would be on good terms with themselves after Fenway ($6 - $5.50) held off First Seal in the Vinery Stud Stakes in what turned out to be an emotional victory for the training partnership of Lee and Shannon Hope plus jockey Blake Shinn who had been booted off First Seal after finishing runner-up to Plucky Belle in the Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill on March 14.
Thunder Lady ($6) showed her staying potential during the Spring Racing Carnival when victorious in the Wakeful Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 1 and second to Set Square in the Crown Oaks (2500m) at the same venue on November 6 and is finding form after running third to Fenway and First Seal in the Vinery Stud Stakes.
Winx’s stablemate Ballet Suite ($8 - $7) will be looking to win her fourth race from seven starts and the High Chaparral bay filly wasn’t disgraced at longer odds when finishing fourth in the Vinery Stud Stakes.
Suggested Trifecta: 1. Thunder Lady | 3. Fenway | 4. Savaria | 2. Winx
GROUP 1 TRIFECTA OFFER
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RACE 3 – PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
After a series of heats around the provincial areas of New South Wales, the best gallopers will venture to ‘Headquarters’ for the $300,000 Provincial Championship Final (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The Tony McEvoy-trained Harmonic ($4.60 equal favourite) secured his place in the Final by winning the Hawkesbury heat over 1400m on March 26 with Electric Power ($26) and Unequivocal ($26) filling the minor placings.
Three-year-old chestnut gelding Sure And Fast ($4.60 equal favourite) booked a berth when he was victorious at Wyong over 1350m on March 5 with Selectify ($15) running second and Radical Impact ($51) finishing third.
Bede Murray trains Sure And Fast and will also saddle up Darci Magic ($6.50) who accounted for O’Reilly’s Revenge ($8.50) and Parraay ($15) in the Kembla Grange heat over 1400m on March 13.
Oxford Poet ($8.50) was unsuccessful in his first attempt to reach the Final when finishing sixth at Wyong behind Sure And Fast before running second to Magic Of Dreams ($11) in the Newcastle heat over 1400m on March 18.
Suggested Trifecta: 2. Darci Magic | 1. Harmonic | 10. Magic Of Dreams | 8. Sure And Fast
LEES LINES UP SIX IN PROVINCIAL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
Gun Newcastle trainer, Kris Less, has six runners lining up in the Provincial Championship Final at Royal Randwick this Saturday.
TAB has some performance-based markets on Lees for the race including ‘Kris Lees 1st Runner Home’ and ‘Kris Lees v Field’.
Lees also lines up Protectionist ($5) in the Sydney Cup and Lucia Valentina ($15) in the Queen Elizabeth.