This is when it starts to get interesting.
In mid-April, the Sydney Jockey Club, for the first time, is going to sponsor two days of racing very similar in structure and purses to our own Breeders’ Cup. The races will be huge, the stakes high, and they will have the $2.5 Million dollar T.J. Smith (a 6 furlong sprint with the world’s largest sprint purse), the $3.0 Million dollar Doncaster Handicap (the world’s richest mile race) and the $4 million dollar Queen Elizabeth II stakes (the richest 10 furlong race on grass in the world – the Dubai World Cup at $10 Million on Tapeta/all-weather and the Breeders’ Cup Classic on dirt at $5 Million are richer).
The main preps for these big three races are going to be run this Friday night (Western Hemisphere time): The Group 1 Newmarket Handicap down the 6 furlong Flemington straight (no turns) for sprinters (Race 6A – 11:20 PM EST), the 8 furlong, Group 1 Chipping Norton at Warwick Farm (Race 5B – 11:40 PM EST) and the Group 1 Australian Cup at 10 furlongs, also run at Flemington (Race 7A – 12:00 AM EST). So, if you are curious about Australian racing you can watch the best horses from the best tracks in about 50 minutes. Can’t beat that for efficiency!
Picks! Picks! Picks!
Group 1 Newmarket Handicap
#2 Lankan Rupee has won 5 of his last 6 races since being gelded and is in top form right now. Post 13 will allow him to track the other speed horses (most likely Moment of Change) and either go to the lead or sit close. Huge chance.
#3 Samaready is the favorite with all the bookmakers but her “down the straight” form is not very strong. Admittely she has only had two runs down the straight, but she has never beaten open company at Flemington. Definitely a logical horse to complete the exacta.
#4 Shamexpress is the best closer in the race and his top races have come at Flemington down the straight. This horse is almost a lock to hit the top 3 because if the pace is quick (which it figures to be), he’ll be flying late.
Group 1 Chipping Norton
#1 It’s A Dundeel, at times, has been the top horse in Australia. His public workout on February 24th indicates he can take it to another level this season. Remember, the big money races are NEXT month, so don’t try to bet on him OR against him. Just see how he runs and try to predict where he will be in 5 to 6 weeks. Most likely he will have another run before the big money races.
#2 Boban has been a huge disappointment so far, running out of the money twice in his first two races this season. I would recommend not betting on him either, but he needs to show something soon or this season will be a washout.
#5 Monton is stepping up out of a high-level handicap (roughly equivalent to to an NW3x allowance in the States), but his form is sharp and he has tactical speed. These horses tend to hit the board in these Aussie routes.
Group 1 Australian Cup
This is a match up between #8 Shamus Award , who has all the speed, and #1 Fiorente who has the stamina. The 2013 Cox Plate was 10 furlongs, like the Australian Cup, and Fiorente was unable to catch Shamus Award when fading slightly to third. 10 days later Fiorente won the Melbourne Cup.
Looking at the past performances, Shamus Award figures to be loose on the lead again for top speed rider Craig Williams, which spells trouble for the others.