The annual highlight of the Australian racing calendar, the Melbourne Cup, is imminent. In addition to the country's most prestigious and richest Thoroughbred race, the next few months will see an abundance of other world-class G1 races in Melbourne and Sydney.
The Melbourne Racing Carnival will take center stage at the Flemington and Moonee Valley race courses, hosting the Melbourne Cup and WS Cox Plate among other races. At the same time, the Sydney Racing Carnival has its own share of major races, including the Chelmsford Stakes, George Main Stakes, and Epsom Handicap.
These races will attract the stars of the Australian turf such as internationally-renowned thoroughbreds Winx and Chautauqua. As the Australian racing season heats up, race fans will be focusing on these two horses and last year's triumphant Melbourne Cup outsider, Prince of Penzance.
Winx: the World's Best Miler & Turf Horse
Today ranked the world's third-best racehorse, this five-year-old mare took the horse racing industry by storm at the 2015 World Cox Plate, where she competed in a largely international field and won by four and three-quarter lengths. She is best known for her come-from-behind racing style, which helped her achieve a remarkable 13 wins and three places from 19 starts.
Since her Cox Plate triumph, Winx has gone from strength to strength. She claimed the top spot in the 2016 G1 George Ryder Stakes, sealing her eighth-straight victory.
The Chris Waller-trained horse elevated her champion status in this year's G1 Star Doncaster Mile. There were some tense moments as her trademark turn of foot seemed to be leading her into trouble, but she fought off her rivals at the last straight to defeat Happy Clapper and Azkadellia at the finish line.
Unsurprisingly, Winx's prospects look promising this fall. Her Doncaster victory qualified her for a starting position in the Breeders' Cup, but trainer Waller says Winx will be focusing on Australian racing for what he calls “unfinished business”. Waller is getting her ready for three G2 features in Sydney: the Warwick Stakes at Warwick Farm on August 20th, the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick on September 3rd, and the George Main Stakes on September 17th, also at Randwick.
In October, it's time for the big one. Winx will travel to Melbourne, where she'll be looking to defend her Cox Plate title on October 22nd. Beside Winx's ability to accelerate quickly and shift positions in the blink of an eye, she has grown physically, which will give her an advantage in the G1 race, a weight-for-age race over 10 furlongs at Mooney Valley.
Chautauqua: The World's Best Sprinter
This 6-year-old champion sprinter, currently ranked the 11th best racehorse internationally, preserved his G1 TJ Smith Stakes title at The Championships at Royal Randwick and went on to compete in Hong Kong, where he claimed the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize for the 2015/16 season. His TJ Smith win gave him an automatic starting position in the Breeders' Cup in November.
However, Chautauqua will compete exclusively in Australia this fall, ahead of a possible stint in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint in December. So far, his line-up includes some of the most enthralling open class sprint races.
His owner Rupert Legh is considering him for the G1 Moir Stakes on September 30th at Moonee. After that, it's off to the G1 Manikato Stakes on October 21st, when Chautauqua hopes to secure a back-to-back win. To date, he has advanced his career with an impressive 12 wins and six placements in 22 starts. When he's all set for the G1 Darley Classic on November 5th at Melbourne's Flemington, he will likely have established himself as the horse to beat.
Prince of Penzance: Last Year's 2015 Melbourne Cup Winner
Seven-year-old gelding Prince of Penzance hit it big at the 2015 Melbourne Cup, when he dominated a 24-horse field in the 15 furlong race. It was a historic win for both the horse and his jockey. Prince of Penzance became one of the longest-priced winners in the 155-year history of the Melbourne Cup, while Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to have ever won Australia's biggest race.
Expectations will be running high for Prince of Penzance in the Spring Racing Carnival. He will likely test his mettle in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes over 7 furlongs at Flemington on September 10th. After that, the pressure will build until the Melbourne Cup, the world's richest 2-mile handicap race with a purse of $6.2 million AUD ($4.7 million).
Will he succeed? One thing's for sure: he won't reunite with regular jockey Payne, as she is currently inactive due to recent injuries. Whether or not Brad Rawiller or John Allen rides Prince of Penzance at Flemington, the horse may once again demonstrate his ability to go from outsider to winner, beating all the odds.
Will these champions reign supreme in Australia this fall, or will outsiders overshadow them, just as Prince of Penzance did in Melbourne last November? North American race fans can find out by visiting advance deposit wagering sites like TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, WatchandWager, and NYRA Rewards, which will be live-steaming all the races. They can also get hold of free form guides and betting tips at Sky Racing World's site, skyracingworld.com.
A former Managing Director of Sportech Racing, David Haslett 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 American racing content for simulcast horse-race wagering to multiple North America-facing ADW brands and race-tracks.
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