Day one of The Championships is one of the best on the Australian racing calendar and it has again served up a cracking 10-race card at Royal Randwick.
The day is highlighted by four Group 1 races – the Inglis Sires Produce, Australian Derby, TJ Smith Stakes and Doncaster Mile.
Our partners at Racepal have deep dived into the form to provide their assessments of every race on the Randwick card.
They’ve also provided a run down of the full meetings at Caulfield and Toowoomba on Cup/Guineas/Weetwood day.
Track: Soft 7
Rail: True entire
Weather: Possible showers Thursday & Friday, fine Saturday
It wouldn’t be The Championships without rain and once again it has arrived in the lead up to Day 1. Depending on the intensity of the rain, we’re looking at anywhere from a Soft 6 down. The rail is in the true and in recent years that’s meant a slight rails-in-run advantage.
Speed map/race shape: A good test for the two-year-olds in the Kindergarten. Expect each of All Cylinders, Cardiff, Evening Slippers and No Feint Hearted to go forward and run along.
Advantaged runners: BIVOUAC looks to get an ideal crack at them from a cosy midfield spot following the good tempo. He was tough in the Todman and beat Cosmic Force prior on wet ground. He’ll be making his run alongside stablemate ATHIRI who was last seen finishing a length off Kiamichi as favourite! She was the market elect in the Blue Diamond before that and has basically never done a thing wrong. EVENING SLIPPERS looks the best of the on-pacers while NOT FEINT HEARTED proved he’s a real racehorse on debut.
Speed map/race shape: The speed comes from out wide in the Carbine Club and we look set for a genuinely run mile. Look for Agassi to drag Fun Fact and Home Made across from deep, with The August and Purple sector settling handily also.
Advantaged runners: There’s a handful of these who will appreciate significant class drops and a genuine tempo being set in front. None more so than RINGERDINGDING who couldn’t keep up with Winx or handle the Heavy. If rails-in-run is the go he’ll be hard to hold out. DEALMAKER suffered a similar fate in the Rosehill Guineas but finished alongside the toppy at his previous two outings. Both RANIER and PURPLE SECTOR have comparable stories to tell. THE AUGUST is also building towards a win but unlike the others this is a step up.
Speed map/race shape: Despite the 2000m start being an awkward one, expect the wider runners like Pressure and Amangiri to go forward. For any pace to be injected, the likes of Maracaibo and Welsh Legend would need to kick up and make them work for the front.
Advantaged runners: This is the traditional Oaks lead up and there’s a real eye-catcher here in AMANGIRI. It would be quite some effort for her to go from debut to Oaks win all in one prep but she looks an outstanding filly with professional racing. This is a serious step up for her and she may end up dragging a couple of her key rivals into the race. They include MARACAIBO who was huge in the VRC Oaks and won well last start, as did PRINCESS JENNI in the Alexandra Stakes when swooping at The Valley. The Waller pair of ZALATTE and ROMANI GIRL will spot those key rivals a start but have claims.
Speed map/race shape: The product of many high-pressure qualifying races is no out-and-out leaders have made it to the Country Championship Final, leaving us with a messy map. Safe Landing and Lady Mironton can go forward, but expect a big beehive bunch in running.
Advantaged runners: What a great event the Country Championship Final is. The obvious starting point to assess the race is NOBLE BOY who looks the best horse, BUT could well be back in the run. There was a question mark over his trackwork and he was on the drift earlier in the week – it had more than a touch of Clearly Innocent circa 2016 written all over it. He’ll be slicing through the pack in the straight, as will LA SCOPA who brings a similar level of ability to this. We’re giving each of BENNELONG DANCER and LUCCIOLA BELLE a genuine hope, while if a leader-baised pattern develops SAFE LANDING can be difficult to reel in.
Speed map/race shape: Steady tempo anticipated in the Chairman’s Handicap with The Taj Mahal the likely leader alongside Vengeur Masque. Goathland and Rodrico can be handy.
Advantaged runners: We’re forever looking for the lightly-raced improvers in these staying events and SUPERNOVA fits the bill. He opened his Australian account in style last start and has won over this distance in the UK, but granted he will need to step up a level to win this. He’s also a run ‘behind’ SHRAAOH leading into this, who is ready to win fourth up at this trip. GOATHLAND was a tragedy beaten in the Neville Sellwood and gets in on the minimum weight, as does the up and coming mare SEMARI who is putting together a picket fence. GALLIC CHIEFTAIN deserves consideration with a soft rails run over the staying trip.
RACE 6 – GROUP 1 SIRES
Speed map/race shape: There looks two clear front-runners in the Sires, with Slipper winner Kiamichi kicking up along the rails to lead alongside Bellevue Hill. They should control the tempo with Dresden Green and Dubious settling handily. Microphone could get posted wide if he doesn’t receive any early luck, while Loving Gaby should get midfield cover.
Advantaged runners: The most obvious ‘advantaged’ runner is LOVING GABY, receives a much kinder run here after being posted wide in the Slipper. She gives the impression she’ll run 1400m but the early $5.00 quote looks tight enough. Both BELLEVUE HILL and KIAMICHI bring obvious credentials, having led all the way at their most recent starts. Slight advantage to the Slipper winner who did it in the higher pressure environment and draws inside her speed rival here. From the back, look for a major improvement from TENLEY who appeared not to handle the Heavy ground in the Slipper. She gives the impression 1400m will be ideal. CASTELVECCHIO bypassed the Slipper and has been aimed at this for some time, but he will need to circle the whole field to win which is a query in this company. Respect for MICROPHONE who may be handed an awkward run, same for PROBABEEL.
RACE 7 – GROUP 1 AUSTRALIAN DERBY
Speed map/race shape: Don’t expect a hectic Derby tempo – there may be concerns over a few of these front runners getting the 2400m. Angel Of Truth led the Tulloch all the way and may attempt to hold out Arrogant and The Chosen One for the front. Chapada, Cossetot and Yulong Tavion will all be handy to that tempo.
Advantaged runners: In an intriguing Derby field there’s lots to like about CHAPADA. He was going better than both The Autumn Sun and stablemate Arrogant in the Rosehill Guineas before getting shuffled back on the rail and being forced to wind up again. He’s cherry ripe for 2400m and lobs in a lovely trail. Obviously ARROGANT went all the way with TAS and there’s concerns he could be a little flat. GLOBAL EXCHANGE hasn’t put a foot wrong this prep and we must assume as a Dundeel he’ll handle the wet. He swooped home to nail COSSETOT and DELCARATIONOFHEART in the Alister Clark – the former was a little flat in the Tulloch and backs up here. MADISON COUNTY was impressive without setting the world on fire in that Tulloch when running on against the bias. This may be a bit of a throw at the stumps for him. Of the others, things haven’t quite worked out for VRC Derby winner EXTRA BRUT this prep and STARS OF CARRUM may just be a touch below the best ones here.
RACE 8 – GROUP 1 TJ SMITH STAKES
Speed map/race shape: The speed will be in on the TJ Smith with Ball Of Muscle and Sunlight determined to cross over from the widest alleys. Expect Vega Magic and Redzel to hold prominent positions behind them, from Fell Swoop and Trapeze Artist.
Advantaged runners: We’re anticipating those running on from midfield and beyond will be advantaged by the tempo. TRAPEZE ARTIST will be peeling out from midfield and could possibly strike the front at some point in the straight. Second up hasn’t always been his go though. PIERATA has adopted a quieter racing pattern in recent times and in The Galaxy it saw him unleash a monumental surge to the line. The wet is no concern but he may need a good ride from Berry to not get caught in the ruck. OSBORNE BULLS could be buried even further back. He was unfortunate not to win the Newmarket but that’s also a product of his racing pattern – he possesses a devastating turn of foot. Back with him will be SANTA ANA LANE who will also have his work cut out but has the ability. It is hard to knock either SHOALS and SUNLIGHT but you can’t have them all, while REDZEL needs to show a little more to come into contention.
RACE 9 – GROUP 1 DONCASTER MILE
Speed map/race shape: The carpark draw means Siege Of Quebec has little option but to press on and look for the front in the Doncaster. Of course Dreamforce and Fundamentalist won’t make it easy for him, but it may work in favour of Brutal who can follow the wide runner across into a handy spot. Le Romain should also park in a great spot.
Advantaged runners: The Handicap conditions of the Doncaster Mile means it will be a long week for some jockeys – 20 of the 24 acceptances have 53.5kgs or less. As for the race itself, it is interesting to see ALIZEE here with an extra week of work up her sleeve after bypassing the Emancipation. She’ll settle midfield or worse and may have some work to do. That could give the upper hand to horses like BRUTAL. He’s been perfectly managed into this, most recently running a clear second to Winx in the George Ryder. He’ll need Glen Boss (49kgs) to be on his game early. Of course HARTNELL is already a Group 1 winner at this track/distance and was arguably unlucky not to finish alongside Mystic Journey in the All Star Mile. He’ll receive a kind run in the first half in behind the likes of FUNDAMENTALIST and LE ROMAIN who will be prominent throughout. FIFTY STARS looks tight in early markets considering he’s drawn the far outside gate and could end up being snagged back to race alongside the likes of UNFORGOTTEN and LAND OF PLENTY at the rear.
Speed map/race shape: A few of the key chances in the PJ Bell will race forward, specifically Mizzy, Spanish Whisper and Madam Rouge. A number of the emergencies are also on-pacers but drawn wide and should inject pace if they gain a run.
Advantaged runners: It is hard to resist the overtures of MIZZY in this race. The filly took 10 starts to break her maiden but has subsequently run fourth in both the G1 Surround and Coolmore Stakes. Her fitness from events up to 1500m on wet ground should stand her in good stead back to 1200m here. SPANISH WHISPER is also back in trip and will be similarly prominent in the run. She’s Group 1 placed in New Zealand and been in top form this prep. FIESTA beat home Mizzy first up. Expect MADAM ROUGE to race in close quarters, she put in a flat one in the Surround but ran Nakeeta Jane to a long neck prior. If they go overboard then FIESTA is the main candidate to close from the rear, she can be forgiven her Coolmore failure after a severe check and has beaten Mizzy this prep.
Track: Good 4
Rail: +10m entire
Weather: Mostly fine, potential light showers
First of four consecutive Saturdays at Caulfield and the rail is out a whopping 10m here. In the circle races (1400m+) there should be a slight advantage to horses on pace/rails in run. For the shorter chute races, the far outside fast lanes could come into play.
Speed map/race shape: A fair few unknowns among the babies in race one, but expecting a reasonable enough speed courtesy of Order Of Valour, Meuse and newcomer Peak.
Advantaged runners: Six of the 10 are having their first race day outing. Our two previous winners received a few favours. ORDER OF VALOUR was suited by the pattern of the day leading all the way at Kyneton, while MEUSE stacked them up at Bendigo and turned it into a sit and sprint. Regardless, both deserve respect as does MEMPHIS ROCK returning in weaker company. PEAK was the most impressive of the debutants at the trials but both FLOSTAR and LIL’ ANGEL come from camps in superb form at present.
Speed map/race shape: Hard to envisage a situation where Mihany doesn’t push on from wide to find the front, with Intueri following him over. Key hopes Danon Roman and Heir To The Throne can secure prime trails just in behind the speed.
Advantaged runners: We’re yet to see DANON ROMAN win on our shores – in fact, his only victory was on debut in Japan in December 2016 – but he really does get all the favours here. He’ll be better for the first up fitness-builder behind KAZIO and just needs the breaks turning for him. It is a similar story for HEIR TO THE THRONE who ran on for second in a leader-dominated affair resuming. Both could have the jump on I GOT YOU who is building towards a win but may find himself in traffic, while INTUERI could find himself working hard dragging the field up to Mihany.
Speed map/race shape: Pria Eclipse looks likely to find the front in a muddling affair from Pure Scot crossing over, with Think Bleue and Remember The Name slotting in behind.
Advantaged runners: Just eight mares tackling this mile event but there’s a bit of overlapping form. Both of THINK BLEUE’s efforts this prep have been in Group company – her only start outside of Stakes grade in the past 12 months was a Flemington win. She can bounce back of a flat second up run when finishing two lengths adrift of PURE SCOT who placed in the Matron Stakes. That mare has barely put a foot wrong in recent times but may provide cover to REMEMBER THE NAME who should receive an ideal run. LA TIGRESSA will be trying to round them all up, she’ll need all of her turn of foot with this track pattern.
Speed map/race shape: Duke Of Magnus can find the front here from Smiling City and Sir Harald, Starouz and Esthetic from low draws won’t be far away either. No surprise to see the leaders stack them up here and make it a sprint home.
Advantaged runners: It is impossible to knock the record of MR QUICKIE who just keeps winning. He’s been beautifully managed (owned by Peter Moody), just easing through his grades and he strikes another winnable race here. The major query is the pattern – if they’re struggling to make ground in the circle races, his racing pattern won’t be suited. Nor will STAR MISSILE who followed him home at Mornington or WINNING PARTNER who trailed him in the start before that! If you can forgive DUKE OF MAGNUS his flop in the Mornington Guineas, he’s the one who could give some on-pace cheek.
Speed map/race shape: Back to the chute for a fillies-only sprint. News Girl is a speedy customer and she’ll pave the way for fellow wide runners Enbihaar, Lady Day, Lady Pluck and Tell Me to all follow her across.
Advantaged runners: This race will test our theory of a slingshot into the outside lanes from the chute. If it is on the money then LADY PLUCK will be hard to hold out. She’s been too good for her rivals in Tasmania and her last trip to Melbourne brought a third to Smart Melody. She’ll be hooking out with TELL ME who appeared to appreciate her Melbourne switch and featherweight winning at The Valley. Handling that tight configuration is a big tick for here and 3kg claimer Poy retains the ride. THINE IS THE POWER is threatening to win and will get the cold sit on them here, her form ties in with pace setter NEWS GIRL and APERTIF as well. FIDELIA cannot be dismissed resuming, she’s run a length off Sunlight!
Speed map/race shape: Our Gladiator and Non Paear look the pacemakers in a fairly neat speed map, with Belwazi and Mamzelle Tess following them and both Flying Krupt and Fuhryk tucked in behind midfield.
Advantaged runners: This time it is the mares only from the 1100m start. Depending on how steady the tempo is, NON PAEAR will have every chance with just 51kgs after Nugent’s claim. She seems to find herself outside the leader every start but never shirks the task. FLYING KRUPT returned well at Flemington when second, she just got over the top of MAMZELLE TESS who did it tough outside the leader. Both will be looking to peel on the turn and get the jump on LEATHER’N’LACE whose was going better than it appeared last prep, the form through Winter Bride and Booker looks good now! The Hunter pair of OUR GLADIATOR and BELWAZI will also be thereabouts.
Speed map/race shape: Couple of noted leaders here in Ashlor and Inn Keeper with Streets Of Avalon to tuck in behind over the 1200m. If they can sort themselves out without much fuss, they may set a tempo that makes running on from the second half a little tricky.
Advantaged runners: Fairly open race. STREETS OF AVALON has turned into a little beauty and this looks another race right in his wheelhouse. He may stalk these leaders and get the gun run. ASHLOR isn’t easy to run past though, as Widgee Turf found out at Wangaratta, nor is INN KEEPER – it was around this time last year he went on an ‘off-season’ winning streak. Setting out after them will be SUPERHARD who looked like a leer jet fresh then struggled on the tighter track at The Valley. Will today’s configuration suit him? Also respecting SPIRIT OF AQUADA from the back, while the ‘real’ CHAUFFEUR could blow them all away at odds.
Speed map/race shape: A bit of speed drawn across the track. How willing will Sirrconi and Hellova Street be to let Don’t Give A Damn and Princeton Spirit waltz across without fuss? Of course Naantali, Glenall and Snitzkraft will all be looking for a forward spot. Pace on!
Advantaged runners: This is another tough race with many angles. Despite the prevailing ‘circle’ pattern expecting run on horses like MANOLO BLAHNIQ to be favoured with any luck in running, Caulfield 1400m is his go. Likewise HEPTAGON, who seems to have found his sweet spot at 1400m. It is good to see NAANTALI back at this trip, she’s never missed the quinella in three goes at the track/trip. But they’ll need to get past some tough ones. HELLOVA STREET is a beauty and could get a dream run in transit, while you’ll find worse 20/1 chances floating around than SIRRCONI, SNITZKRAFT and GLENALL!
Speed map/race shape: A 200m event to round out the day. Valac only knows one way, so the big grey will go forward along with Silent Warrior and Magnapal to lead from the likes of Odeon, Sopressa and Emperor’s Way.
Advantaged runners: With weights playing a crucial role over these longer distances each of THUNDER CLOUD and VALAC must be strongly considered with 51kgs after claims. They ran second and third behind Hang Man at Flemington, with Thunder Cloud subsequently performing well at Mornington to give him an advantage over Valac who missed a run due to the washout at Albury. ODEON commands respect on the back up after a strong performance in the Golden Mile at Bendigo, this looks an ideal third up assignment and he gets a gun run. EMPEROR’S WAY is a hope at odds if he can assume a position early, while OUR LIBRETTO is lightly raced with upside and gets a soft draw.
Track: Good 4
Rail: True entire
The weather gods appear as though they’re going to smile on Toowoomba ahead of Cup day, with fine weather ensuring we’ll play on a Good track. Swooping from the rear in big fields is difficult at this tight venue, while some of the start points are quite unique.
Speed map/race shape: Expecting Gem Of Scotland, Quart Pot and Embattled to lead them up here. There’s about a furlong until the turn so they should have time to get to the front.
Advantaged runners: Just four of 13 having their first outing in the two-year-old race, that’s a pretty good ratio! There’s even six previous winners, including one multiple winner in GEM OF SCOTLAND. She put them away assertively at the Gold Cost and will look to lead all the way here. If she doesn’t run a strong 1100m then either BOLD EOS or MAGIC PALACE should be well placed to pose a threat, both scored comfortable debut wins. VIRGINIA DREAM was backed to the exclusion of all others when she scored at her first go. The chances don’t end there so watch the yard and betting moves closely.
Speed map/race shape: With the speed drawn low and a long run to the first turn, the on-pacers could have it their own way. Crusher may look to hold out Zollikon Miss from the inside draw, with Frangipani Moon, Splitter, Light Up The Room and Dream Kisses handy.
Advantaged runners: Speedy mare CRUSHER is stepping up to 1300m from consecutive 1000m victories and gets the 3kg claim for Bayliss too. She knows how to win and loves her home track, but will have some strong ones like SPLITTER camped just off her. She’s had a month off since being no match for Manaya. LIGHT UP THE ROOM resumes here, she was last seen in strong three-year-old company at this distance range and will be lurking. FRANGIPANI MOON was run off her feet last start and this distance range is more suitable. Respect for last start winner BEQUEATHED, but DREAM KISSES may not get things to suit.
Speed map/race shape: Solid tempo expected here, even more so if the emergencies Want To Bolt and Suliven gain a start. If they don’t, the likes of Marksfield, Mustafa and Tabbing can take up the running from wider draws.
Advantaged runners: BEACON scored a deserved first Queensland win at the track/distance last Wednesday. If he can follow some of the likely leaders across into a handy spot be can be a contender again. TABBING lost a shoe when weakening late at Eagle Farm, he’s better suited here as well. The start prior he just missed when beating home GREYWOLF who was only first up there, now third up he is ready to peak at his home track but will have a few to get past. SO SPIRITED bears watching on Queensland debut while emergencies WANT TO BOLT and SULIVEN have genuine claims if they start.
Speed map/race shape: They’ll go like the clappers here. Spirit’s Choice has the most early speed and can cross from wide, any of Champagne Daisy, Gypsy Toff, Racecourse Road and Rock Beat can be prominent and join her.
Advantaged runners: The fate of favourite SPIRIT’S CHOICE may be known early. She’ll attempt to ping the lids and be hard to catch in front, but her rivals will no doubt want to make her work for it. If she’s stuck working hard in the breeze, it sets things up for the likes of USMANOV, who was luckless first up and charged home, or VERANES, who has recently found himself running on against unsuitable patterns. If CHAMPAGNE DAISY isn’t the one taking on Spirit’s Choice then she can also sprint well fresh, while ROCK BEAT proved recently (in the Usmanov race) that he isn’t a one trick pony and can close from off pace.
Speed map/race shape: The Guineas jumps from the 1625m start, which takes them straight into a kink and the first corner shortly thereafter. The speediest wide runners Heaven’s High and Sogni should be still able to cross, while Nicholas can get their backs on the rail.
Advantaged runners: The locals look to have a pretty good chance here in BAREFOOT. His first up run looks in hindsight to have been little more than a blowout, and he should be judged on his best effort from last prep, running 4th 2.2L in the Magic Millions 3yo Guineas. He does concede fitness to the likes of ZOUCARA and PEPPI LA FEW who should also settle in the second half and look to make late runs. There’s been early support for COUNTESS DE GALVEZ, who draws awkwardly but can figure if getting luck in running.
Speed map/race shape: Like in Race 3 Suliven is an emergency in this, he’s also the clear leader if he goes down this path. Each of Red Prince, Reiby The Red and Ponytales could be prominent if Suliven isn’t here in no more than a steady tempo.
Advantaged runners: Back-to-back 1625m events, this one for the older BM80 horses. The most inexperienced runner here is FRANCISCA with 16 starts and surprise surprise, she’s the early favourite. She’s talented but is regularly beaten when fancied due to her racing pattern, leading us to look towards REIBY THE RED. He looked beaten on the turn last start before rallying again and he won his previous two starts at this trip. If they dawdle along he’ll be hard to get past, as will PONYTALES who has genuine excuses when dropping out last time. VELADERO is the other experienced ‘tough nut’ who will be right on their backs. Don’t discount SULIVEN if he’s here, while who knows what URBAN RULER can produce!
Speed map/race shape: They run a full lap in the Cup, with about 250m to the first turn. It should give Kubis and Singing just enough time to find the front from wide alleys. The Waller trio of The Lord Mayor, Vaucluse Bay and Xebec should secure the prime runs in transit.
Advantaged runners: The Waller trio all get favours in running but perhaps THE LORD MAYOR has the most upside. He’s ready to peak third up and the blinkers go on here, he just needs luck when it counts. Stablemates VAUCLUSE BAY and XEBEC will be in close attendance, possible advantage to the latter who is a little fresher. They will be well ahead of MISHANI VAIDRA in running, but this mare has returned in sparkling form and is expected to be the big closer from the rear. Of course they’ll all need to run by KUBIS, who has found a rich vein of form as a front runner, and SINGING who is also ready to peak.
Speed map/race shape: Lots of speed on in the Weetwood, with each of Divine Dice, Mr Marbellouz, Mishani Hustler, Hard Stride, Tycoon Ace and Boomwaa all looking to race forward! The backmarkers will definitely get their chance here.
Advantaged runners: Early markets have the two lightest-raced sprinters on top. Sole three-year-old MISHANI HUSTLER has been well managed through age group events and this is his toughest test. MR MARBELLOUZ is a sprinter with a fair bit of ability who always puts himself in the race. Both are locally trained so this is a target race, but both will find themselves up on a frantic tempo. TYZONE and MALVERN ESTATE rounded the latter up in the Goldmarket and could do the same here. SOVEREIGN NATION is a major hope on Victorian form while SEXY EYES was last seen winning smartly at Group 3 level in December.
Speed map/race shape: We end the day with a mad charge to the first turn from the 1100m start courtesy of I’ve Gotta Nel, Whycatchim, Meet Mr Taylor and others. You’d expect Capital Connection, Cool Sequence and Natch to all be handy.
Advantaged runners: The run to the first turn will determine the fate of MEET MR TAYLOR. He suffered his first defeat last start when getting stuck in the death seat, jockey Du Plessis will have an early call to make on whether he takes on the wider-drawn speedsters or takes a sit. Either way, CAPITAL CONNECTION might not be far behind him from the good draw and could have too much in the locker late. He did it tough last time and was still too good. COOL SEQUENCE should also be handy and his penalty for recent wins is somewhat negated by the Nothdurft claim. If they overdo it, the Currie pair of SNITCH and COOL DRAFTS will be charging home. Good finish to the day.