In search of the warmer weather and firmer tracks, Snitzerland will by-pass the G1 All Aged Stakes at Randwick on Saturday and instead, line up as the dominate favourite for the feature at Eagle Farm this Saturday, the G2 Victory Stakes (1200m). Only a small field of eight will contest and with many stepping up in class, Snitzerland ($1.95) is the obvious choice. Her biggest challenge will come from Spirit Of Boom ($4.50), trained by Queensland’s Tony Gollan. The son of Sequalo has been in super form this campaign and broke through for a much deserved Group 1 last start.
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1. SPIRIT OF BOOM – T Bell (7)
It’s been ten starts and almost a year since this 6yo stallion finished outside of the top four placings – all at Group 1 or Group 2 level. His form this time in has been exemplary and consists of two second placing behind Lankan Rupee in the G1 Oakleigh Plate and G1 Newmarket Handicap, and breaking through for a much deserved maiden Group 1 win when claiming the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley five weeks ago. Will get back in the run but be hitting the line well late and is the main danger to the favourite.
2. TEMBLE OF BOOM – T Harrison (8)
The older brother to Spirit Of Boom, he returned from a spell three starts back by closing steadily behind Villa Verde in the G2 Challenge Stakes, finishing eighth but within two lengths of the winner. He then contested the G1 The Galaxy where he only held his position in the run to the line (sixth, beaten 3.8 lengths) before, at his most recent start in the G3 Sebring Stakes three weeks ago, only holding his position again from the turn and running sixth (5 lengths) to Flamberge. It has been a while now since he has visited the winner’s stall – almost two years to the day, and judging by his recent efforts, hard to see him breaking that spell here.
3. SOLZHENITSYN – G Colless (4)
Group 1 winner who returns from a twenty one week spell during which time the 7yo underwent surgery for a throat compliant. He trialled well just over a fortnight ago at Doomben, winning a 1000m hit-out over six competitors and he generally performs well resuming, having been placed in G3 and G2 company at his two latest fresh runs. From gate four he should be afforded every opportunity but punters are wary about his return from the throat procedure and he has drifted in early in betting from $10 out to $13.
4. RIVER LAD – M Cahill (6)
Consistent galloper who has won eleven of his thirty-four starts and run just as many placings, including close second to the likes of Famous Seamus and Howmuchdoyouloveme in the Group races. His latest effort was possibly the best of his career. Second up off a six month spell, he ventured to Sydney to line up as an unwanted 40/1 shot in the G2 Expressway Stakes. Camping on the speed he was able to beat all but the flying Appearance home, finished second by 1.3 lengths. That run stands him in good stead for this. He has been given an eleven week freshen-up since that run, will shoot forward to tag the speed and rates a definite place chance.
5. FAMOUS SEAMUS – R Wiggins (2)
After catching the eye with a fast finishing third first up in the G2 Challenge Stakes (1000m), a lot more was expected of this 5yo Elusive City gelding at his next start in the G1 The Galaxy Stakes. He was rated a 9/1 chance for the race and after drawing well and getting a favourable soft track, was considered one of the better hopes however, he was under pressure before the turn and battled home in the straight to run ninth (4.7 lengths) behind Tiger Tees. He then lost a plate in the run and wasn’t sighted in the T J Smith Stakes last fortnight, running eleventh (7.6 lengths) to Lankan Rupee. Been disappointing at his last two start and the weight scale is not favourable. Generally races well when in Queensland and would need to see him bounce back with a better effort here.
6. SOMEDAY – C Munce (5)
5yo gelding from the Kelso Wood stable who has won seven of his twenty-one starts, including two at Listed level, and will tackle this race first up off a seventeen week spell. Hasn’t been seen at any trials but that’s been the case for this son of Falvelon prior to each return. Has gone well fresh in the past but those efforts have been in races of much lesser quality than this event. Best efforts are over slightly more ground and happy to wait for him until later in the prep.
7. SNITZERLAND – J Byrne (1)
She broke through for a much deserved Group 1 win in The Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February before running a brave second in the G2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Randwick behind Villa Verde. She comes to Queensland after failing on the heavy track that the G1 T J Smith was conducted on last fortnight, where she weakened noticeably from an on-pace position to run twelfth behind Lankan Rupee. Drawn ideally in gate one and should lead this field comfortably. Hasn’t registered a place in her last five starts over 1200m but they’ve all been at G1 level. Gets her chance to improve that record here and looks exceptionally hard to beat.
8. FIRE UP FIFI – D Browne (3)
Returned from a spell with a pleasing third under 59kgs in the Listed Falvelon Quality behind Tiger Tees (who is in good form) three starts back at Eagle Farm, before heading south to contest some of the fillies and mares races during the Sydney carnival. She settle in the right spot behind the leaders in the Wiggle Stakes but couldn’t match the finishing effort of Catkins and ran fifth (3.9 lengths) before, along with the rest of the field, she was left chasing Steps In Time in the Coolmore Classic, coming home in thirteenth spot 4.7 lengths behind the winner. Smart mare on her day and not sure the two runs in Sydney panned out to her liking. The weight scale here is not ideal but from gate three, she’ll be capable of running a good race and holding on for a place.
Snitzerland and Spirit Of Boom are the obvious stand-outs here. The six furlong is as far as Snitzerland will want but against a small field with what should be a comfortable lead, she’ll handle it well. Spirit Of Boom is flying this time and whilst he’ll get back in the run, wouldn’t think Bell will want to wait too long to apply pressure to Snitzerland and ensure she has to run the six furlongs right out out. Not sure they’ll be much between them on the line as the market currently would suggest. Local hops lay with River Lad and Solzhenitsyn for mine.
2. SPIRIT OF BOOM
3. RIVER LAD