Racing returns to Randwick for the third successive week. With the rail being in the +3m and +6m positions at the previous two meetings, the inner most lanes should be fresh. However, with rain about for the last two weeks and strong headwinds predicted in the home straight they may not be the place to be. Expecting them to use plenty of the track by this stage of the day.
Very tough to map but should be a truly run affair. Redzel (1), US Navy Flag (3) and Vega Magic (7) should be the first three in-run. Expecting either US Navy Flag or Vega Magic to cross, giving Trapeze Artist the 1-1. Looks very hard from here, the next trio could be Shoals on the inside of In Her Time and Le Romain posted. Brave Smash and Viddora may show slightly more speed than the remaining 3.
1. Redzel (Barrier 1) (K. McEvoy 58.5kg): $7.50*
Coming off a last-start 5th in the Premier Stakes (track and distance) where he led then faded in the final 150m. He meets all those that beat him again here. With two solid trials prior to that second-up effort, it’s hard to see him deriving further benefit from that run. Is however proven in the mud with a 9:3-2-1 record in the wet and will make his own luck from an on-pace position. Tough to see him going back to back.
2. Santa Ana Lane (Barrier 9) (B. Melham 58.5kg): $8.00*
Narrowly won the Premier Stakes last-start, defeating 4 of her rivals here in the process. Received a charmed run up along the inside on that occasion, such a saloon passage may be more difficult to find here. This gelding’s biggest drawcard is his G1 Stradbroke Handicap win over 1350m on a heavy 8 at the end of last preparation. That bodes well for a fast run 1200 on a bog. Also presented with a stack to come last start. Right in the mix.
3. Le Romain (Barrier 11) (G. Schofield 58.5kg): $21*
A last-minute entry who was last seen running a 4.1L 3rd behind Winx in the George Main. Map looks tough, but he does receive the services of good-Glynn, who’ll inevitably turn up in a $13 million race. Another one who relishes the heavy going with a record of 6:2-3-0. Could find the 1200m a bit sharp after a 1600m run only 4 weeks ago. Around his right price.
4. Trapeze Artist (Barrier 6) (T. Angland 58.5kg): $7.50*
The three-time Group 1 winner is another one who comes through the Premier Stakes where he ran on for an honest 4th. Boasts a dynamic Group 1 win in this year’s TJ Smith (track and distance) running straight past Redzel in the process. Maps perfectly and is known to produce sharp peak performances when set for a race, but whether he can produce one on a bottomless track is a genuine question mark. If somehow the track isn’t heavy he’ll rocket into contention.
5. Vega Magic (Barrier 7) (D. Oliver): $7*
Started favourite in this race last year off a dominant win in the G1 Memsie Stakes over 1400m. He ran a 0.3L 4th in that race this year after romping in the Bletchingly over 1200m. The blinkers went off in the Memsie but they’re re-applied here, a big sign of intent. Should’ve undoubtedly won this race last year after some questionable piloting but gets a better map this year. Genuine heavy is a question mark and he was defeated easily by Santa Ana Lane in the Goodwood on a soft 6 but had excuses.
6. Brave Smash (Barrier 4) (H. Bowman): $15*
Has been building nicely into this race, placing in all three starts over 1100m, 1100m then 1000m last start in the G1 Moir. Only had the two starts on the wet for two seconds (one of which was in Japan) is slightly inconclusive and could need some Bowman magic (when Winx is around?) from 4 with speed all around him. Does possess a very similar profile to last year when running third to Redzel he may be the forgotten horse in the market at $15*.
8. US Navy Flag (3) (R. Moore 58kg): $9.50*
The highest rated international sprinter to hit our shores creates massive intrigue in this race. Comes here on the back of an all-the-way victory in the Group 1 July Cup over 1207m. Realistically only a 3yo he won a further 2 Group 1’s as a 2yo over 1207m (on soft going) and 1408m. He’s been racing with mixed success over a mile prior to breaking through in the July Cup, highlighted by running a bold 2nd in the Irish 2000 Guineas two starts after running 15L last (on a heavy) in the lead-up to that race. He’ll go to the front and make this a truly run affair, but whether leaders will be suited to the wind and whether he can handle the bog is another thing.
9. In Her Time (Barrier 8) (C. Brown): $12*
Resumed in the Premier Stakes last start on the back of one trial behind stablemate El Dorado Dreaming who goes around in the Thousand Guineas. Paraded with more to come and raced accordingly. Hitting the front with 150m to go before yielding to Santa Ana Lane and Shoals by the smallest of margins late. Has enough tactical speed to find a good spot behind the leaders. Is yet to see a heavy track and possesses a 7:2-0-0 record on soft, though one of those wins was a Group 1 Galaxy 4 starts ago, the ground is a query.
10. Shoals (Barrier 2) (T. Clark 56.5kg): $8*
Paraded with improvement last start in the Premier Stakes and looks to peak here. She was the run of the race in that main lead-up, charging down the middle only to be denied by Santa Ana Lane stealing ground up the inside. Having won the Group 1 Myer Classic over 1600m she should relish the strong tempo. Shows up on song for the big races; 4:3-1-0 in Group 1 events and is arguably the biggest mudlark in this event being 3 from 3 on wet ground, two of which were in Group 1’s and the other Group 2 class. Only missed a place once in 12 starts, she goes on top.
11. Viddora (Barrier 12) (J. Bowditch 56.5kg): $16*
Another late inclusion after a dashing win in the Group 1 Moir Stakes over 1000m last start, defeating Brave Smash by 1.25L in the process. She could need some luck from her alley, looking to slot in off mid-field. Furthermore, last time this dual Group 1 winner saw 1200m on a soft track she was easily held by 6.9L by Santa Ana Lane in the Goodwood. Also having never seen a heavy track there are enough queries to look to others.
12. Graff (Barrier 10) (B. Avdulla 53kg): $18*
The lone 3yo of the field faces by far his biggest test to date. After smashing the clock first-up winning the San Domenico over 1100m at Rosehill, he started a warm favourite in the Group 1 Golden Rose over 1400m at Rosehill. He was narrowly defeated in that event by The Autumn Sun who’s been installed a $1.90 favourite for this weekend’s Caulfield Guineas. Tempo suits, holds top line 3yo form, proven in the wet (2:1-1-0), but it’s tough to foresee him giving the older horses a start and a beating here.
17. Osborne Bulls (Barrier 5) (T. Berry 58.5kg): $18*
Scratched from a very winnable race last week to end up here, could be set. Turned in a solid performance last start when running 1.3L 5th in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke over 1400m. That was his only start in Group company and it doesn’t get any easier here. However, he does look to relish the going; unbeaten on soft from 2 starts and being a Street Cry he’ll get through the mud. Berry might take hold from gate 5 which will give him a mountainous task. Looking at others.
Given the rain seems to be sticking around, you'd want to be looking at horses that perform well in the wet like Redzel, Shoals, Santa Ana Lane and Le Romain. If somehow the track is on the better side of soft Vega Magic, Trapeze Artist and US Navy Flag come into the fray.
It's a ridiculously open race so it's probably a race where you'd want to be betting on the conservative side and just watch this great spectacle unfold. If you are looking to have a punt you can check out our betting preview here.