Fri, Aug 19, 9:22am by Bren O'Brien
Saturday’s meeting at Royal Randwick sees the return to racing of Winx in the feature race of the day, the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m). Chris Waller has won the Warwick Stakes twice (with Metal Bender in 2010 & Royal Descent in 2015) and this year he’ll saddle up a total of four runners – all who are first-up from a spell.
Not surprisingly Winx has been installed a short-price favourite ($1.32 with William Hill, $1.35 – Sportsbet, $1.40 – Crownbet) as she looks to make it ten victories in a row. Her most recent prep included wins in the Group 1 Doncaster (1600m) and George Ryder (1500m) with the campaign before that ending in a Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) win. Waller’s other runners (Vanbrugh ($31), Who Shot the Barman ($81) and Grand Marshall ($151) begin their staying campaign on Saturday and are all at long odds.
A three-time Group 1 winner in her own right, Lucia Valentina ($6 with Sportsbet, Crownbet, $5.5 with William Hill) went to the paddock after a scintillating Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) win in the autumn. First-up last campaign she was a 1.6L fourth to Peeping in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) with her overall fresh record at two wins and a minor from six starts. The Kris Lees-trained mare will jump from barrier one with Kerrin McEvoy – who has two wins, including a G1 on her – back aboard.
Hartnell ($12 Sportsbet, William Hill, $11 Crownbet) began his career in Australia with a close second and two wins from his first three starts ‘Down Under’. His fourth run was a 7L fourth in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) when an odds-on favourite and he’s not been in the placings since. He resumes on Saturday after a five-month break with jockey James McDonald also first-up from a break after a successful stint overseas. Rebel Dane ($8 Sportsbet, William Hill, $10 Crownbet) is the only horse already into a campaign and he comes into the Warwick Stakes second-up after finishing behind Tycoon Tara when a short-priced favourite last start.
Omei Sword ($2.80) has opened favourite in the Group 2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m), a set weights and penalties for three-year-old fillies. The Chris Waller-trained filly has the one win – at maiden level – from her three career starts but she was a 0.2L second in a Group 2 after that. Manaya ($3.80) is a half-sister to Hot Danish and a Listed winner at her only race start while Thyme For Roses ($10) has a Group 3 Flemington victory against her name.
James Cummings’ Prized Icon ($10) is a Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) winner in the autumn and he will carry top weight of 61kg in race four, the Group 3 Up and Coming Stakes (1300m). Derryn ($3) (Team Hayes/Dabernig) and Thronum ($3.80) (Waterhouse/Bott) are both last start winners and are fighting out favouritism with Divine Prophet ($4.80) (for Team Hawkes) on the next line.
The Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) has attracted a field of nine runners with Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) winner, Le Romain ($4.40) the favourite. Tycoon Tara ($5) was victorious over Rebel Dane when first-up while Decision Time ($18) won this race last year at 30-1. Vashka ($4.60) is first-up for Godolphin and has one win and three minor placings from five fresh starts with stable mate Generalife ($10) also beginning his campaign here. Vashka is yet to win from three starts at Randwick while Generalife is none from six.
Betting: With over 20 horses first-up from a spell in the five black-type races alone, this time of year can always spring a few surprises. In saying that, expect there to be plenty of support for plenty of ‘first-uppers’ including the likes of Omei Sword. While Chris Waller’s horses aren’t generally wound up for a first-up tilt, Omei Sword looks hard to beat.
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