Darley have won three of the past four editions of the G1 Champagne Stakes (Guelph, Helmet and Skilled) and, trainer John O’Shea will hope to continue the tradition under their new banner of Godolphin this Saturday, when saddles up Tarquin. A $6 chance in a competitive market, Tarquin is one of nine to contest the race, including two fillies Pasadena Girl, early favourite at $3.40, and Mine Two. The fairer sex has won the past two Champagne Stakes with Go Indy Go and Guelph. Contesting favouritism is Odyssey Moon ($3.60) who has been competitive and consistent at the highest level all campaign. Gai Waterhouse, who won consecutive Champagne Stakes with Hasna and Dance Hero in 2003/4, will be represented by Street Rapper who if successful, will round a very big week for owner Mr E Coluangco whose mare Amanpour, also prepared by Waterhouse, took out the G1 Queen Of The Turf last week.
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1. THE BARRISTER – T Berry (7)
Recorded a tough all the way win at the Metro Mornington meeting two starts back before Trainer Jason Warren travelled the son of Star Witness to Sydney for last week’s Listed Fernhill Handicap. Again he jumped to the front and relished the soft conditions, topping the rise full of running and pulling away from his opposition, headed by Chachapoyas, over the final stages to win by 2.3 lengths. Impressive win under 58kgs last start and continues to improving with each run.
2. ODYSSEY MOON – D Oliver (5)
Snitzel colt who has contested the leading 2yo races this season and although not yet to win one, has made his presence felt by finishing among the placings in the Pago Pago Stakes, Skyline Stakes, and most recently, second in the G1 Sire’s Produce Stakes. Add to those efforts his 2.2 length eighth, from barrier 12, in the Golden Slipper and the Rod Northam trained galloper has had a very successful season. He’ll again be right in the mix as he faces a field weaker than his past couple and will be in the box seat for a long way according to the speed map. Appears to be standing up to the racing well and deserves a big victory – this could be it.
3. TAKEDOWN – K McEvoy (9)
Continues to impress does the Stratum gelding who after winning the G3 Black Opal Stakes (1200m), made three wins from only four starts with a strong 1.3 lengths win in the G3 Schweppervesence Stakes (1400m) three weeks ago. Sat on the speed from a wide gate and was simply too strong late last time out. Form out of that race and stood up well enough. George Moore’s runner ran third, beaten 6.1 lengths, when making his debut on a soft rated track and that would be the only factor of concern heading into this race.
4. TARQUIN – J McDonald (3)
Angled into the clear from a midfield position and really knuckled down late to land the G2 Pago Pago Stakes (1400m) two starts back, defeating Ragesse and Odyssey Moon. Meet those two horses again when contesting the Group 1 Sires Produce Stakes at his next and most recent start but, was posted deep without cover throughout and rounded the turn 5-6 deep. Stuck on well given his run to finish 2.8 lengths behind Pride Of Dubai with Ragesse and Odyssey Moon again filling the places. Drawn to get a sweeter run this time out and a firmer surface will suit.
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5. STREET RAPPER – B Shinn (2)
After two starts in town for Gai Waterhouse, the Street Boss colt was taken to Wyong and was never in doubt leading from the front, taking out the 1350m event by a comfortable 3.3 lengths with Ideal Express and Rhode Assassin filling the places. Three weeks after that run, he lined up in the G3 Schweppervesence Stakes (1400m) and was given the perfect run by Damien Oliver before running second (1.3 lengths) to the in-form Takedown. He beat home Mine Two and Cartier Rock who both were not far off in last week’s G3 Percy Sykes Stakes.
6. RHODE ASSASSIN – J Collett (8)
Third run back from a spell, the son of Lookin At Lucky broke his maiden status with a sweeping win at Newcastle, winning the 1500m event by 2.5 lengths from Gai Waterhouse’s Mjolnir. He then lined up in last week’s Fernhill Handicap but didn’t appreciate his first look at wet conditions and struggled into fifth place, 6.7 lengths from the winner. Needs a firm surface and should he get those conditions on Saturday, could be improver but doubt not by enough to be winning a Group 1.
7. RECKLESS RUSSELL – J Cassidy (1)
A maiden heading into last week’s Listed Fernhill Handicap and jumping from 1200m to a mile, it was no surprise to see the Noel Mayfield-Smith trained galloper start big odds. He was three back the fence heading into the turn, trailing the eventual quinella pairing, and with a clear run home managed to jag third place. Better for the run over a mile, he peaked late after looking like he’d get second place, but still has several lengths to make up on the winner and now meets him at level weights.
8. PASADENA GIRL – J Bowman (4)
The Savabeel filly posted two impressive victories – in the Talindert Stakes (1100m) and G3 Thoroughbred Breeders (1200m) – from as many starts for trainer Peter Moody before heading north to contest the G1 Sires Produce Stakes where she again applied herself exceptionally well. She was last rounding the turn and angled wide but, being her first go the Sydney way, wanted to drift back in behind runners. She continued to make ground though and on the line, finished 1.4 lengths behind Pride Of Dubai. Will be much better for that experience and comes out of the strongest form reference for this race.
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9. MINE TWO – (6)
All three runs in this campaign for Gary Frazier’s filly have been solid. She ran fourth (1.3 lengths) in the G2 Riesling Stakes first up, came from well back to claim third (1.8 lengths) in the G3 Schweppervesence Stakes behind Takedown, before trying hard in the G3 Percy Sykes. Whilst she had cover, she was deep throughout last start and given it was a leader dominated race plus her first look at a soft track, her effort shouldn’t be judged too harshly against some of the better fillies. Won’t be far off them again here, more so if a firmer surface is presented.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Most new to the mile but with The Barrister, Street Rapper and Takedown all having been at their best when setting or sitting up on the speed, the pace here should be genuine. This plays into the hands of Tarquin and Pasadena Girl – both coming out of G1 Sires Produce, for mine. Tarquin was solid with a tough run last time out and a drier surface will see him go better again whilst Pasadena Girl was excellent. She’ll benefit from having had the experience at the Sydney way of going and prove very hard to beat if she produces a similar finish to that of her last start.
1. PASADENA GIRL
3. THE BARRISTER
4. ODYSSEY MOON