Jockey Hugh Bowman will get the perfect opportunity to turn his recent Epsom Handicap fortunes around this Saturday aboard warm favourite Winx ($2.80). Bowman has gone close to winning his first Epsom in each of the past two renewals, finishing the narrowest of seconds aboard Streama and last year, Royal Descent. It’ll be fitting Bowman wins aboard a Chris Waller trained galloper, especially in each of the above-mentioned races, it was Waller runners how denied Bowman victory. Waller has two great back-ups in Lake ($8) and Silverball ($11). The only other runner in an open race outside of the favourite is Lucia Valentina ($8.00) who’ll be looking to register who first place in four starts over the mile in Australia.
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1. HOOKED – T Angland (2) 58kgs
Returned from a spell with a gutsy all-the-way win in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) before stepping up to WFA company in the G1 George Main Stakes (1600m) where he again he took up the running, but offered little resistance on the Soft 7 track in the run home, finishing last of nine and over seven lengths from the winner Kermadec. He has drawn well here and not badly off at the weights given the unique circumstances of this year’s race. Ran third in this race last year (carrying 52kgs) but recent history tells us that it’s hard to bounce back to a form in a race such as this.
2. LUCIA VALENTINA – Z Purton (4) 57.5kgs
Ran an eye-catcher first up in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m), finishing sixth (1.6 lengths) behind Hooked – whom she meets better at the weights on that run, before closing steadily for fourth to Kermadec in the G1 George Main (1600m). Didn’t have the same zip in her finish second up but third up, over a mile, with the possibility of some cut in the ground, looks ideal. Won the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) third up last spring campaign.
3. ENTIRELY PLATINUM – T Berry (14) 57.5kgs
Has returned in much better form than he displayed earlier this year during his autumn campaign, and been heavily involved in tight finishes in both the G1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at his two runs back from a spell. Being two WFA events, he drops in weight here and despite the wide draw here, which may see him do some early work or in need of some luck, going too well at present to overlook.
4. WINX – H Bowman (13) 57kgs
First up victory in the Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) three weeks ago at Rosehill, had to be seen to be believed. The Queensland Oaks winner was still last of a big field heading inside of the 300m mark but unleashed a big finish to catch Sons Of John and Ninth Legion – both of whom enjoyed perfect runs just off the pace, right on the line. Freakish effort first up and although she rises 2.5kgs in weight, plus 300m in distance, still dominates the market.
5. MESSENE – J Ford (8) 57kgs
After two solids runs back from a spell, the Hawkes Racing runner was disappointing in the G2 Theo Marks (1300m) at Rosehill three weeks back, where he finished eighth of fourteen after securing a good run throughout. He did bounce back with a much stronger effort last week though, running third to Vashka in the G2 Shannon Stakes under 58.5kgs. Did get every chance last start to run the winner last start though and will find this no easier.
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6. RUDY – L Tarrant (9) 56kgs
He has finished strongly in each of his three runs back from a spell as the Helen Page trained galloper. Just couldn’t pick up Saddler’s Lake and Heart Testa, who he was giving 4kgs and 2kgs to respectively, last start in the G3 Bill Ritchie (1400m) with that pair being both on the speed. Drops 2kgs on that run and last two starts over the Randwick mile have seen him win the G2 Villiers and run fourth in this year’s Doncaster Handicap.
Great each-way hope.
7. SILVERVBALL – B Avdulla (5) 56kgs
Made the favourites backers sweat it out last start in the G3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) whereas the $1.70 favourite, who took most of the straight to get the of his opponents and record a half a length win over Maurus. Following the same path as last year’s winner He’s Your Man who also won the Kingston Town Stakes in the lead-up to his success. With gate five, four wins from six starts over the mile and minimum weight, no surprise to see him run well.
8. ECUADOR – G Boss (7) 56kgs
Chased Hooked valiantly when running a narrow second to him first up from a spell in the G3 Tramway (1400m) before leading in the Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle, where he stuck on gamely late to run fourth (1.9 lengths) behind the in-form Forget. Won third up last prep, in a race easier than this, and finished fourth to Messene in the G2 Ajax Stakes his third run back his campaign prior to that. Will push forward – both trainer and jockey have won this race numerous times however, think he’ll have plenty of company on the pace here and be vulnerable late.
9. KIRRAMOSA – B Shinn (10) 56kgs
She has finished fifth in each of her three runs back from an extended spell and all performances have been good. Was winding up nicely late when fifth (1.4 lengths) to Hooked, who dominated from the front, in the G3 Tramway before closing steadily behind Kermadec in the G1 George Main (1600m), finishing three lengths in arrears. Better suited back to these conditions and whilst 2000m would be ideal, there should be enough speed in the race to see her charging home late here.
10. SWEYNESSE – J McDonald (11) 56kgs
Resumed in the G3 Tramway Stakes but was caught three wide just off the pace from a wider gate and after looming up briefly over the rise, weakened late to run ninth (3.2 lengths) to Hooked. He then took on the big guns in the G1 George Mains Stakes and battled to maintain his spot in the run home, finishing sixth of nine (4.5 lengths) to Kermadec. Gets to a suitable race for the first time this campaign and could be one to show big improvement at double figure odds.
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11. SADLER’S LAKE – J Cassidy (3) 56kgs
Recorded his fifth career win from only ten starts when getting the better of Heart Testa late and claiming the G3 Bill Ritchie Stakes last start. Secured a lovely run along the fence on that occasion and has drawn to get a similar run in transit here behind what should be a solid tempo. Improving all the time but goes up 2kgs on last start win and would have to take another step up here.
12. SONS OF JOHN – J Penza (15) 56kgs
Put together a very solid campaign last time in, culminating in a win in the G3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) and returned in the same manner, only being caught on the line by a freakish effort by Winx in the Theo Marks Stakes (1300m). Enjoyed the run of the race on that occasion but hard to see him afforded the same opportunity here from the widest gate. Underrated galloper but will find this hard.
13. MALICE – J Moreira (1) 56kgs
Just didn’t go a yard first up on the Soft 7 track when contesting the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) before a sharply improved run on a firmer surface in the G3 Cameron Handicap (1500m), when second (1.5 lengths) to Forget. Secured a lovely run on that occasion and will be afforded the same here but this is his first attempt at Group 1 level and not well in at the weights.
14. TERONADO – J Collett (6) 56kgs
Mixed it with the best of his season during his 3yo autumn campaign last year, running third in the G1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) but only win in six starts since then has been a Class 6 at Doomben. He has had three runs back from an extended spell in Brisbane in preparation for Saturday’s race, the best effort coming two runs back on a dry track when closing strongly from the tail of the field to Steel Zip. Needs a drier surface and speed on to be figuring here.
15. PRESSING – G Schofield (12) 56kgs
Mick Price’s 4yo started $21 last start in the Listed The Sofitel (1400m) where he get every chance in the run before finishing third (1.4 lengths) to Disposition and Akavoroun. Both of those horses have run well since and he must be pleasing trainer for them to make the trek from Melbourne but he rises in weight here, draws awkwardly and hard to see him figuring.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Interesting race this year with the significant adjustments to weights meaning only 2kgs separate’s the field in this year’s edition. All being equal, can’t go past Winx. Her first up win was outstanding as were the two victories that wrapped up her 3yo season in Queensland earlier this year. Rudy is the next best for mine. Good speed is in his favour and thought his last start third, giving the conditions of and the way the race was run, was the perfect hit-out for here. Kirramosa’s three runs back from a spell have been great, she’s ticking over nicely and the harder they go upfront – the better it will be for here. She’s a great each-way option at $16.00