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Only a small field will contest the staying feature at Randwick this Saturday, the Ascend Sales Hill Stakes, but it’s still proving difficult for punters to pinpoint the best hope in the race with a very competitive betting market offered.

Early favourite for the race is Entirely Platinum ($4.40) but that position is hotly contested with a further five runners in the eight horse race, also quoted at double figures. Criterion ($4.60) is expected to improve after a flat run in the Chelmsford Stakes whilst Entirely Platinum’s stable-mate La Amistad, and last year’s winner of this race Moriarty, are $5.00. Moriarty is one of three horses in the race for Chris Waller with Bagman ($9.00) and Junoob ($7.00), also well in contention.

Hill Stakes Form Guide

 

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1. MORIARTY – J Collett (7)

Two runs back from a spell have been very good and he looks set now to produce his best. First up over an unsuitable 1200m, the 7yo found the line well from the back of the field to run fifth (3.4 lengths) behind Terravista in the G3 Show County. He backed that up by closing well again in a race and on a track that lent itself to those up on the speed, finishing fifth (1.7 lengths) behind Hawkspur and Royal Descent in the Chelmsford Stakes. Fitter again for last start, jumping from six to eight furlongs and on a firmer track, should be right in the mix here.

Odds: $4.80

 

2. BAGMAN – B Avdulla (6)

8yo gelding who, although well into this preparation, continues to race well. After consecutive victories in Melbourne at Moonee Valley (2040m) and Caulfield (2000m) – where he started favourite and carried 60kgs on both occasions, he returned to Sydney and stepped up to Group company when contesting the G2 Chelmsford Stakes. He settled near the tail in the Chelmsford before making good ground late along the fence, to run third behind Hawkspur and Royal Descent, the pair having dictated the race from up on the pace. That effort reads well for here as does his record at this trip (4:2-1-0)

Odds: $9.00

 

3. JUNOOB – B Shinn (4)

Not surprising to see him finish last over an unsuitable 1200m first up in the Show County won by Terravista. The Group 3 winner then stepped up to a mile in the Chelmsford Stakes but again, from the tail of the field, couldn’t make much of an impression in the run home given the heavy condition of the track and that the races favoured those closer to the speed. A further 400m here and a drier track should see him produce a much improved effort. When his races reached this distance last prep, he was in very good form and finished the campaign with a third (1 length) to Streama in the Doomben Cup (2000m). Not to be dismissed lightly.

Odds: $7.00

 

4. ENTIRELY PLATINUM – J McDonald (3)

Returned to racing as the odds on favourite in an Open class race at Rosehill (1400m) and gave his supporters little to worry about. He found the box seat and always had control of the race, doing only what he had to in recording a half-length win over Mighty Lucky – who ran third in Wedneday’s G3 Cameron Handicap at Newcastle behind Hooked. He then faced is toughest test to date, the G2 Chelmsford Stakes at WFA but failed to live up to expectations, weakening from an on-pace position in the heavy conditions to finish last of seven, seven lengths from the winner Hawkspur. Sticks to WFA again here but a good draw and a drier track should see him bounce back with an improved run.

Odds: $4.40

 

5. HONORIUS – J Lloyd (2)

Found a good spot in the run for his first up run in an Open class event (1400m) at Rosehill last month and tracked favourite and eventual winner Entirely Platinum, into the straight. The David Payne trained galloper maintained his position in the run to the line, finishing fifth (2.4 lengths) in an encouraging return. Found the box seat again at his only start sine then, the G2 Tramway Stakes but wasn’t happy in the heavy conditions, dropping out as soon as the pressure went on and he finished second to last in the field of twelve. Drawn to get yet another lovely run in transit and his latest win came in last year’s Craven Plate, a Group 3 WFA race run over this same course and distance.

Odds: $14.00

 

6. MULTILATERAL – SCRATCHED

 

7. CRITERION – C Brown (5)

The Australian Derby winner returned to racing as a 4yo with a very good third (1.5 lengths) behind Tiger Tees and Royal Descent in the G2 Warwick Stakes (1400m). He then lined up in the Chelmsford Stakes, drifting from 7/2 to 9/2 in betting, and produced a flat effort, finishing second to last and almost six lengths from Hawkspur and Royal Descent. Jumps to 2000m now and his record at or beyond this distance is near flawless. Another who can turn around a disappointing last start outing with no surprise.

Odds: $4.60

 

8. LA AMISTAD

As a half sister to champion galloper Makybe Diva, this 5yo mare has a lot of focus and pressure to perform placed on her. She rounded out last prep with three strong wins – including the Listed W McKell Cup (2400m) and returned with a very good third (0.7 lengths) to Mr Chard in the Listed Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury last month. Her only run since came in last week’s G3 Kingston Town Stakes and despite being second up with a three week break between runs, and jumping to ten furlongs, she started the dominant 11/4 favourite. Found the one/one position in the run but was quickly joined and headed in the straight. Jockey James McDonald didn’t punish her over the final stages, aware that she is still in the early stages of prep and she was urged to the line, finishing seventh (4.3 lengths) from He’s Your Man. Bit too much expected from her last start and although she steps up in grade again here, facing WFA conditions for the first time, would expect a much better run.

Odds: $5.00

 

RACE OVERVIEW

Competitive race and in tactics will play a huge part in the small field. Happy to go with Moriarty here to make it back-to-back wins in this race. He has followed a very similar path into this race as he did last year and if anything, is going better. He is also only one of two runners in the race (Honorius the other), that has won under WFA conditions. Bagman’s last start in the G2 Chelmsford – a good pointer to this race historically, was strong, as has his overall form recently and represents good value at $9.00. Entirely Platinum may get the soft lead here – would expect something to but pressure on him early but if they all wait for each other, he may get enough of a break to be right in the finish here.

  1. MORIARTY
  2. BAGMAN
  3. ENTIRELY PLATINUM
 
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