Tony McEvoy is hoping for rain-affected ground to boost the chances of Shiraz in the $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes.
The last-start Group One Galaxy runner-up takes on a star-studded field in Saturday’s weight-for-age sprint at Randwick.
Shiraz made his run down the outside for second to Griante in The Galaxy at Rosehill last Saturday week to earn his shot at the TJ Smith Stakes.
“He galloped beautifully this morning at Hawkesbury, so he’s as good as he can be,” McEvoy said.
“We just need some rain. He’s sort of a four-length, five-length better horse on a rain-affected track. So if he got the conditions to suit he could run a really good race in the TJ.
“It can rain in Sydney at this time of the year, so we’re just hoping it does.”
There was rain in Sydney on Tuesday and Randwick was rated in the soft range although the weather is expected to clear.
Shiraz is at $26 and has drawn barrier nine in a field of 15.
“This is a weight-for-age 1200-metre race. Obviously he’s better off in a handicap,” McEvoy said.
“But the race that’s there is a weight-for-age race and he’s in the right form so we thought we’d go there.”
Hong Kong-based Australian Brett Prebble rode Shiraz in The Galaxy and takes the ride again on Saturday.
“He really liked him and said he felt like a Group One horse,” McEvoy said.
“He felt he was looking for 1200 metres now.”
Chautauqua firmed from $4.20 to $3.40 in the TAB’s fixed odds market after drawing barrier 11 while Exosphere, who returns to Sydney racing after his fourth in the Lightning Stakes, tightened slightly from $2.80 to $2.70 after drawing barrier four.
Tommy Berry has the ride on Chautauqua while Dwayne Dunn will be aboard stablemate Our Boy Malachi.
Berry reunites with Chautauqua having won the TJ Smith and Manikato Stakes from three rides on the gelding.
His other ride on Chautauqua was a third in last year’s All Aged Stakes.
The former Peter Moody-trained Flamberge, who won the William Reid Stakes last Thursday night, is set to make his debut for the Mathew Ellerton and Simon Zahra stable and has barrier eight with Damian Lane to ride.