The Queen is a big chance to win her own race here with her horse, Carlton House, the favourite for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes – the feature race of the The Championships carrying prize-money of $4M. Second line of betting is the in-form mare Silent Achiever who, if successful, will win her third Group 1 win in a row after claiming the G1 Ranvet Stake and G1 The BMW in the past month. Chris Waller has five entered including last week’s Doncaster’s representatives Sacred Falls, Royal Descent and Hawkspur. Royal Descent is rated is best chance at $7.50, the only one of his runners under double figure odds when markets opened on Tuesday evening.
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1. BOBAN – 59kgs (9)
After sailing through the spring with six undefeated runs, including two Group 1 wins, plenty was expected of this 4yo when he returned to racing in February. Not much went right for him in his first two starts back but third up, in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) where he was re-united with regular rider Glyn Schofield, he bounced back to form with a good win over It’s A Dundeel. Expected him to go on with it after that but a wet track thwarted any chance he may have had at his next and most recent start, the George Ryder Stakes, where he settled near the tail of the field and then came widest in the straight. Given he finished 4 ½ lengths from winner Gordon Lord Byron, who made his winning run closer to the fence, it wasn’t a bad effort but he is just not as effected on wet ground compared to dry and unfortunately for connections, will face same conditions on Saturday.
2. IT’S A DUNDEEL – J McDonald (1)
Despite being first up over a mile in the Chipping Norton Stakes, punters believed the High Chaparral stallion would be able to meet the challenge and sent him out the 9/10 on favourite. He produced a good run but Boban, who had the benefit of two runs leading into the race, got the better of him late and beat him by a length. He then had every chance second up in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) when third (1.9 lengths) behind Silent Achiever and Carlton House before closing late from last on a heavy track to run second to Silent Achiever again, in last fortnight’s BMW Stakes (2400m). Has been right on their tails the last two and connections have always claimed this was the only race they were targeting him with. Interesting to note though, that in the seven races he has contested against older horses since winning the ATC Derby last year, his record reads 1 win, and 4 places.
3. SACRED FALLS – (12)
Won his second consecutive Doncaster Handicap last week by producing virtually the same run that saw him successful in 2013. He settled back on the fence but with a liking for soft tracks, he was happy to stick closer to the rails as the rest of the field fanned around the turn in search of better going. He finished strongly, claiming stable-mate Royal Descent late to win by half a length. This will be only the second time the stallion by O’Reilly has contested a 2000m race with the first resulting in him running second (6 ¾ lengths) to It’s A Dundeel in the G1 Rosehill Guineas as a 3yo. His trainer has confirmed he is a stronger horse this time in and he was did hit the line well at the end of last week’s Doncaster. With the chances of this track being rated heavy again this weekend likely, he cannot be ruled out.
4. GREEN MOON – J Bowman (8)
The 2012 Melbourne Cup winner returned from an average spring campaign last year with two good runs this time in. He took up a forward position first up in the G2 Peter Young Stakes and stuck on well to run fourth (0.9 lengths) behind Fiorente before running second to the same horse in the G1 Australian Cup where again, he was only claimed in the dying stages of the race. That run was six weeks ago now and in three starts on slow rated tracks, he hasn’t filled a place. Combined with fact that Fiorente didn’t fire in two starts subsequent to the Aust Cup, it’s hard to include him among the top selections.
5. CARLTON HOUSE – T Berry (5)
He lined up for his first start in almost a year eight weeks ago when he contested the G2 Expressway Stakes (1200m). Not surprisingly, he found the competition too slick and ran ninth of eleven before stepping up to a more suitable 1900m at his next start in the Listed Parramatta Cup. Carrying 61kgs, he led and after being able to dictate a comfortable pace throughout, was only collared in the final stages of the race by Opinion – who had a 7kgs advantage. It was a similar effort at his next and most recent start in the G1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m), leading by several lengths down the back straight before finding another effort on the home turn as the field closed in on him. In a tight finish, Silent Achiever, who has won another G1 race since, grabbed him right on the line. Showed significant improvement at his last two outings and will give them something to catch here.
6. HAWKSPUR – (4)
After a poor effort first up in G1 C. F. Orr Stakes in Melbourne, the Chris Waller runner returned to Sydney a month later and produced a much better effort to run third behind Boban and It’s A Dundeel in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m). He was good again in his following start, the G1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m), closing well through the centre of the field to run fourth (2.4 lengths) in a race dominated by those up on the speed. His next and most recent start came in last week’s Doncaster Handicap where again, his best work was late in the race, finishing fourth (5.5 lengths). Would think the return to 2000m is a plus but would have some queries over the quick back up from last week effort on a heavy track.
7. MY KINGDOM OF FIFE – (10)
The 9yo gelding returned to racing last month after a break of two and a half years and in his three starts since, hasn’t indicated that a race like this would be within his reach. He ran second to last second up in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) before holding his ground in last week’s Doncaster, running tenth (9.7 lengths) behind Sacred Falls. He faces a tough task.
8. TOYDINI – B Shinn (2)
Guy Walter’s 4yo is going well but is just not able to produce his absolute best on the soft tracks he has faced in recent months. He worked home well second up behind Appearance in the G1 Canterbury Classic (1300m) when fifth (3 ½ lengths) and finished fifth again (2 ¾ lengths) in the George Ryder Stakes run on a slow track. Never handled the heavier conditions of last week’s Doncaster Handicap and finished almost a dozen lengths from the winner in fourteenth spot. We would see a significant improvement on a drier surface but unfortunately for connections that will not be the case this Saturday.
9. LE ROI – C Williams (3)
He has won six of twelve races for trainer Tony McEvoy including the G3 Summer Cup (2400m) on a slow track last year and, at his most recent outing, an Open handicap at Moonee Valley over a mile. That was only his second run back from an eleventh month break so expect further improvement to come but not nearly enough you would think to see him make the huge step up in class he faces here, successfully.
10. SILENT ACHIEVER – N Rawiller (7)
The New Zealand mare has been a regular visitor to Australian in recent years and always threatened to win a good race but this time, she has fulfilled that promise and claimed both the G1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and G1 The BMW (2400m) at her two most recent outings. She really knuckled down late in the Ranvet to catch Carlton House on the line and proved it no fluke by comfortably winning The BMW by 1 ¾ lengths on a heavy track a fortnight ago. Drawn awkwardly in gate ten but that’s the only concern with her heading into this race – she’s flying at the moment.
11. ROYAL DESCENT – (11)
She caught the eye second up coming from last in an unsuitably run Coolmore Classic (1500m) before looking all over the winner at her next and most recent start in last week’s Doncaster Handicap (1600m). She drew wide but was able to track into the race nicely before being produced to make her run as the field topped the Randwick rise. Hitting the line with a furlong to go, she was being hailed the winner just as stable-mate Sacred Falls, who had secured a lovely run closer to the fence, snuck up on her inside and finished too well, winning by half a length. Honest mare who handles the wet tracks and hasn’t missed a place in five starts at Randwick but another who is on the quick back-up after a big run last week.
12. DEAR DEMI – K McEvoy (6)
She put together an excellent campaign during the spring including a third in the G1 Caulfield Cup and a second in the G1 Mackinnon Stakes. When the Clarry Conners trained mare returned with an excellent third to Catkins in the G3 Wiggle Stakes (1300m), it looked like another profitable campaign was in front of her however, not much has gone right in two runs since. She was caught deep and without cover in the Coolmore Classic, running eleventh (3.6 lengths) before never raising her connection’s hopes in last week’s Doncaster Handicap, finishing last of the twenty runners and over twenty lengths from the winner. On that effort, with similar conditions predicted for this week, she’s impossible to have.
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Carlton House to lead away with Silent Achiever coming across and as she did in the Ranvet Stakes, track him throughout. Cannot see any reason not to stick with Silent Achiever here – she’s in form, handles the wet, has a top jockey onboard and is delivering on the potential she has always promised this time in. Carlton House should be able to suit himself in front and with three runs under his belt and a recent soft trail to top him off, he’ll be cherry-ripe for this race. It’s A Dundeel had his chance last start in The BMW and would’ve liked to have seen him win, or at least finish closer still to Silent Achiever, before selecting him to turn the tables here. Cautious about horses backing up, especially after competing on a heavy track but think the best chance of an upset comes from Waller’s pair Royal Descent and Hawkspur.
- SILENT ACHIEVER
- CARLTON HOUSE
- IT’S A DUNDEEL