Championships Day 2: Group 1 tips and previews
Day 1 of The Championship didn’t let us down last week, with Nature Strip thrilling once more, the Doncaster providing another Jamie Kah gem, history through the exploits of Explosive Jack, and the arrogant class of Anamoe on display. Can this Saturday match last for storylines and drama? We shouldn’t bet against it. Queen Elizabeth […]
Day 1 of The Championship didn’t let us down last week, with Nature Strip thrilling once more, the Doncaster providing another Jamie Kah gem, history through the exploits of Explosive Jack, and the arrogant class of Anamoe on display.
Can this Saturday match last for storylines and drama? We shouldn’t bet against it.
Queen Elizabeth Stakes
When The Championships was devised, the Queen Elizabeth was identified as the jewel in the crown. If the Sydney autumn carnival was to be spoken of in the same breath as the Melbourne spring, this race was to be the Cox Plate. Winx’s string of victories in both races helped cement its status.
How lucky are we that after the retirement of Winx and her three wins, the following two Queen Elizabeth’s have given us a rivalry that has captured the imagination of racing fans. Addeybb and Verry Elleegant have met three times, all at 2000m WFA, and have run the quinella on each occasion.
Addeybb leads 2-1, with his wins coming last autumn, while Verry Elleegant got the best of him last start in the Ranvet.
They are a fascinating match-up, not least because they are arguably the best wet-trackers in their respective hemispheres, and this is the first time they will meet on a good track.
Verry Elleegant has better credentials on firm ground, and might also be peaking for this in a different way to a year ago when coming off a win in the BMW over 2400m.
Are the two stars destined to fight out the finish again, or is there a threat within the rest of the field?
Sir Dragonet and Mugatoo are the obvious contenders.
Sir Dragonet was two lengths behind the two favourites in the Ranvet and has since won the BMW by a wide margin, importantly ticking the dry track box in the process. He’s getting better with reach run this preparation, and if he improves again…
Mugatoo is in a purple patch of form. He couldn’t quite win with top weight in the Doncaster after taking out the All Star Mile. This followed on from his Cox Plate fourth in the spring, and there’s a strong case to make he could have beaten Verry Elleegant in the Caulfield Cup if he’d gone that way.
The three-year-old Mo’unga adds a bit of spice getting back to his Rosehill Guineas winning distance after getting too far back in the Doncaster. Dalasan is worthy of a spot in the field coming off a placing in the Doncaster, beating Mugatoo home – don’t forget he was only a long neck from Verry Elleegant in the Turnbull on good ground back in the spring. Think It Over won the George Ryder and loves the Randwick 2000m.
Addeybb will lead, with Verry Elleegant likely to stalk him, perhaps with Think It Over or Dalasan somewhere around, with the others sorting out their order. What a spectacle it should be.
Selections: 1.Verry Elleegant 2.Addeybb 3.Mugatoo 4.Sir Dragonet
Gosh, the Sydney Cup looks an open affair this year, with every horse conceded a decent chance.
Exactly half the field is coming off a lead-up run in the BMW won by Sir Dragonet.
She’s Ideel is the in-form “weight” horse out of that race, having run second and dropping 7kg’s into this, following on from an outstandingly consistent campaign. Tackling 3200m for the first time, has she been too good all prep over shorter distances to be a true stayer?
Miami Bound was third in the BMW, but is hard to trust and hasn’t inspired in two 3200m runs. Shraaoh won this race in 2019, and is one of a few that has been around and can mix his form. Sound is one of these, as is Chapada. Southern France is due to deliver again on Australian soil and is sure to have admirers.
The one to keep an eye one out of the BMW might well be The Chosen One. Second in the Sydney Cup last year and fourth in the Melbourne Cup earlier this season, he is proven at bouncing off an average performance and is ready to run a huge race. Spirit Ridge should be respected back to a handicap too – if he gets the trip, he’s right in the mix.
The market-elect is lightly raced European visitor Favourite Moon, a formula so successful in Melbourne Cups. He won first-up in the Manion Cup, and should be better for that run in Australia. It’s impossible to think he won’t be in the finish with Kerrin McEvoy on board.
Realm of Flowers couldn’t quite run Favourite Moon down last start, but has always relished getting out in trip and has a touch of class about her. She could turn the tables. Rondinella tackled the Sydney Cup a couple of years ago with a fourth behind Shraaoh, but is a far more seasoned horse now and is building nicely.
Selections: 1.Favourite Moon 2.Realm of Flowers 3.The Chosen One 4.Spirit Ridge
Queen of the Turf
While the Sydney Cup shapes as an open affair, the Queen of the Turf has a ruling favourite with two other horses at single figures and rough odds the rest.
Probabeel is purely and simply a dry track star. Her last six runs on the good have produced six wins, and she hasn’t been beaten on firm ground since September 2019. She’s won four of her last six races, with the only two losses being on wet tracks in the Cox Plate and All Star Mile. She couldn’t have drawn anymore perfectly in gate six, and Kerrin McEvoy may be in charge of a sit and steer job.
If Sydney was swamped in heavy downpour and the track came up towards the heavy range, the odds of Probabeel would swap with Colette. The Golden Eagle winner hasn’t run a place in four good track runs in open age company, and can’t beat the favourite given those conditions.
Thousand Guineas winner Odeum is an interesting prospect back up to a mile – she’s had two runs at the distance for a Group 1 win and Group 1 second, so is right in her wheelhouse here. She’s gets nice weight relief from her last start second behind Isotope, but it’s been a funny prep – 1400m down to 1200m up to 1600m has to be a query.
Vangelic is another three-year-old that is Group 1 proven but is less suited at WFA than she was in a handicap in the Coolmore Classic.
The trifecta from the Emancipation Stakes will be around the mark, particularly Greysful Glamour if she can peel off some uncontested sectionals from the front mid-race. Nimalee has more upside, while Quantum Mechanic is proving herself a very talented mare and should get a dream run.
Selections: 1.Probabeel 2.Odeum 3.Greysful Glamour 4.Nimalee
Four horses have a stranglehold on the betting in an Australian Oaks that shapes as an intriguing contest earlier in the day.
Harmony Rose holds onto favouritism despite going under at $2.30 in the Vinery. She was very, very good though, leading at a quick enough tempo to set the race up for the swoopers but still only getting caught in the shadows of the post.
Hungry Heart was the filly that ran her down in that race, in what was a truly thrilling battle. She gave them all a start and a beating, and had to circle the field to do it. She’s a dry track star and a peak performance can be expected at 2400m here under the care of Chris Waller.
Montefilia started favourite in last week’s Australian Derby against the boys, but meets her own sex here and could start as fourth pick.
This will be her seventh run in a row at Group 1 level, and she’s already got two wins and two placings at the highest level. Her fourth in the Derby and third in the VRC Oaks might have some saying she’s had her chance and doesn’t quite stay.
We’ve been waiting for a New Zealand three-year-old to stamp themselves on the autumn carnival, and Amarelinha might be the one to do it. She was even money back in Jan when just rolled by Aegon, who came over and won the Hobartville Stakes but has been quite plain since.
She’s actually still in her first prep, which started back in November, so it’s a tough ask.
Bargain is the best of the rest after her barnstorming finish in the Adrian Knox, but it looked a weak affair on paper, and the top quality fillies really do look to have a mortgage on the race.
Selections: 1.Hungry Heart 2.Montefilia 3.Harmony Rose 4.Bargain