Australia's elite gallopers continue their spring campaigns this Friday night, Sept. 28, at Royal Randwick racecourse for Epsom Day, one of the most prominent race days on the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival calendar. For several horses, this weekend marks the final stop on their journey to the country's showpiece events: the TAB Everest (Oct.12), W.S Cox Plate (Oct.26), and the Melbourne Cup (Nov.5).
The G1 Epsom Handicap features D'Argento and Unforgotten and will be their final run before their showdown with Winx next month in the Cox Plate. The G2 Premiere Stakes includes six of the twelve contenders for the richest race on turf – the $13 million (AUD) Everest – and will be the key prep race for handicappers to analyze. Friday night's Randwick card also features the G1 Metropolitan Handicap and the G1 Flight Stakes.
Other group races scheduled include the G2 Australia Hill Stakes, the G3 Breeders' Plate, the G3 Keeneland Gimcrack Stakes and the Listed Dulcify Quality. The best horses in Australia will be on show and with an average field size of 14, there is plenty of value on offer for handicappers.
G1 TAB EPSOM HANDICAP
Contested over a mile at 4:05 p.m. Sydney time (2:05 a.m. EDT, or 11:05 p.m. PST on Friday night), this year's Epsom Handicap is headlined by Rosehill Guineas winner D'Argento and Unforgotten as the 16/5 and 7/2 favorites to inherit the title from the last year's winner Happy Clapper.
With Happy Clapper sidelined from the Epsom with injury, victory is calling the Chris Waller stable yet again. Having already won three of the last five Epsom races, the title slipped from Waller's grasp last year when his runner Tom Melbourne was defeated by Happy Clapper. Waller is back with a group that not only includes D'Argento, Unforgotten and Tom Melbourne (22/1) but also Shillelagh (20/1), Single Gaze (60/1), Mister Sea Wolf (25/1), Religify (70/1) and Paret (34/1). Trifecta players could even look to box the nine Waller runners as Waller has run the Trifecta over the Randwick mile before.
D'Argento's jockey James McDonald is confident and commented “He's a Group 1 winner with 52.5kg on his back, he's beaten the handicapper and is trained by Chris, which is even better.”
Pierata, the 19/5 rival for D'Argento and Unforgotten, looks to bounce back from a no-show in the Tramway Stakes. He will line up alongside the Godolphin stalwart Hartnell (19/1), who makes his first return to handicap racing since finishing 20th in the 2017 Melbourne Cup. Gai Waterhouse, the most successful Epsom trainer, is sending in Arbeitsam (25/1) and Siege of Quebec (12/1) to bring home her eighth win.
G2 PREMIERE STAKES
Reigning Everest champion Redzel, along with Trapeze Artist, are tied for the top odds heading into the Premiere Stakes, raced over 1200 meters (6 furlongs) at 2:50p.m. Sydney time (12:50 a.m. EDT, or 9:50 p.m. PST on Friday night). Both runners are listed as 2/1 in the final lead up to their ultimate spring target two weeks later. Outside of the two favorites, other Everest names on the odds list include the Gai Waterhouse-trained Invincible Star (7/1), last year's Premiere winner In Her Time (5/1), Shoals (8/1) and Santa Ana Lane (6/1).
A win at the G1 Concorde Stakes had Redzel poised to be the favorite going into the Everest but after withdrawing from The Shorts due to muscle soreness, bookies installed Trapeze Artist as 4/1 favorite after his pleasing third behind Home of the Brave. Redzel is now at 5/1 to complete a back-to-back and possibly become the second highest earner in Australian racing behind Winx.
With the Everest less than two weeks away and 11 runners now confirmed, the significance of the Premiere Stakes as a form race for the world's richest turf race is becoming more evident. With one starting position still vacant and set to be filled by slot holders Max Whitby and Neil Werrett, the anticipation will only build over the next two weeks.
G1 THE METROPOLITAN AND G1 FLIGHT STAKES
This year's G1 Metropolitan has attracted a capacity field, with a potential fifth victory for Gai Waterhouse (with Sedanzer (25/1)) and back-to-back wins for trainer Liam Howley (with Midterm (15/1)) on the cards. Chris Waller's dominance will also be felt in The Metropolitan. Two of his acceptors, Brimham Rocks and Libran, lead the market at 4/1 and 10/1, respectively. They are backed up by stable mates Patrick Erin (11/1), Alward (40/1), The Lord Mayor (13/1), High Bridge (8/1), Opposition (40/1) and Jake's Hill (70/1). The Metropolitan will serve as a crucial indicator for punters looking for further guidance ahead of the Melbourne Cup.
In the Flight Stakes, the G2 Silver Shadow Stakes winner Fiesta (13/2) and New Zealand-bred Pretty in Pink (5/1) will challenge the field favorite Miss Fabulass (1/1). This will be a rematch following their intense clash in the G2 Tea Rose Stakes in mid-September.
Live coverage from Randwick this Friday night is available via TVG, where fans can watch the stars of the turf make a run toward Australia's spring majors. The Epsom Handicap, Premiere Stakes and Metropolitan can also be streamed on ADW platforms, accepting standard US bet types, such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica. Free past performances and expert picks on all races are available at skyracingworld.com.
About David Haslett
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David was appointed President and CEO of Sky Racing World in April 2014. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company, a subsidiary of Australian wagering firm Tabcorp, provides Australian, New Zealand, South African and South Korean racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.
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