It’s been five years since trainer Gai Waterhouse last won the Furious Stakes with More Strawberries but in this year’s edition, to be run at Randwick this Saturday, Sydney’s premier trainer holds a strong hand to add another victory to her resume with her pair, English and Speak Fondly, dominating early markets. English ($4.60) makes her first appearance as a 3yo whilst Speak Fondly ($2.70) was the subject of solid support when markets first opened Wednesday, firming in from $3.00. Whether Waterhouse is successful or not, recent history shows the winner of this race is worth following in the future with five of the past seven winners – Winx, Dear Demi, Streama, Melito and Samantha Miss, going on to win at least one Group 1 – four of them Oaks winners.
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1. ENGLISH – B Shinn (8)
She was the winner of the G2 Reisling Stakes as a 2yo before running a tremendous second to Vancouver in the Golden Slipper. Spelled after coming up short on the wet track in the Sire’s Produce (6th, 5 lengths) behind Prince Of Dubai and has been prepared for her return with two barrier trials. Form out of last year’s Golden Slipper through Vancouver and Lake Geneva, who finished third in the Slipper, probably hasn’t held up this season as expected as yet so it’ll be interesting to see how this Waterhouse runner performs against some smart fillies.
2. OTTOMAN – J McDonald (4)
Ran second to English in the Reisling Stakes back in March and two starts later, got the bob in on the line to defeat Calaverite and Lake Geneva in the G3 Percy Sykes Stakes. Spelled after that run and looks set for a big return judging by her close second at her only trial to stable-mate Exosphere – impressive winner of last week’s San Domenico Stakes. Stable looks set for a big spring and have posted good results in the past few weeks, this Exceed And Excel filly can add to that list.
3. LAKE GENEVA – T Berry (9)
Taken to Hawkesbury last month when resuming from an excellent 2yo campaign, highlighted by her third in the Golden Slipper, and as expected, did the job easily in a Maiden race. Only start since saw her start favourite in the G2 Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) where she secured the run of the race but wasn’t able to improve her position in the run to the line, finishing third (4.1 lengths) to impressive winner Speak Fondly. Speak Fondly dominated form the front last start and a more genuine tempo in the run here will help however, it’s a significant margin to turn around and she meets last start’s winner worse at the weights.
4. LOOK TO THE STARS – L Tarrant (2)
The I Am Invincible filly kept improving with each run in last campaign for Trainer Clarry Connors, with her 2yo season culminating in a G2 Qld Sire’s Produce win before a third (2.1 lengths) to Press Statement in the G1 JJ Atkins (1600m). Generally likes time to find her feet early part of her races but with what should be a good clip up front, a big finish from her first up would not surprise. Could turn in a performance better than her current quote would suggest
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5. SPEAK FONDLY – K McEvoy (5)
The Gai Waterhouse filly was excellent in the Sweet Embrace (2nd) and Magic Night Stakes (1st) last season before heading into the Golden Slipper but, the early work from a wide gate in the 2yo premier race told late, and she knocked up to run eleventh. Returned to racing in the Silver Shadow Stakes and from the lead position, dominated her rivals, extending away strongly over the final furlong to record a 1.3 length win over Kimberley Star. Will get the option to push on or take the site from gate five with good speed drawn outside of here and will be very hard to beat.
6. CALAVERITE – S Clipperton (10)
The Lonhro filly bolted in when taken to Melbourne to contest the Penang Perl Listed Stakes, her second win from four starts, before returning to Sydney and running the narrowest of seconds to Ottoman in the G3 Percy Sykes (1200m). The Godolphin galloper has looked good in two trials she’s contested over the past six weeks, crossing the line on each occasion with plenty to spare. Has shown she can mix it with the best fillies going around but may find it too difficult first up from such a poor draw.
7. FIREWORKS – B Avdulla (3)
Back-maker who, under the right conditions, can produce a big finish, just has she displayed when taking out the G3 Widden Stakes (1100m) and finishing strongly for third (1.1 lengths) in the G2 Reisling Stakes last season. Returned to racing in the Silver Shadow stakes, trailing the leader and eventual winner Speak Fondly into the straight but over the rise, she couldn’t match the acceleration of others and finished fifth of six (6.4 lengths). A stronger tempo here will be in her favour and see a much improved effort but, the Snitzel filly will still require a bit effort to run down some very handy types.
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8. PERIGNON – J Bowman (1)
Won a Canterbury mid-week maiden – defeating Look To The Stars, before stepping up in class last season and applying herself well. She hasn’t raced since being nosed out by Speak Fondly in the Magic Night Stakes back in March, but with that horse winning well recently, connections will be expecting good things from this Gerald Ryan trained filly – especially after she looked ready to go in a recent barrier trial. Case can be made for her with Bowman and the inside gate also in her favour.
9. SERENE MAJESTY – (7)
The Snowden Racing camp has taken their time with this Fastnet Rock filly and it appears to be paying dividends.
Her first start was in late April, and her next only one since, as at Canterbury three weeks ago where the she demolished a Maiden field to win by 5.3 lengths. Really impressive victory last time out and there’s bigger things in store for her. Whilst this race may be a step too far at this point in her career, would have to respect the stables decision to have a crack at it with her.
10. CAPRICIOUS SPIRIT – W Costin (6)
Won her first two starts in good style, one at Lismore and the other at Grafton, and off of those efforts was installed the favourite for the 2yo Challenge at Scone back in May. She draw well, got a nice run in transit and on face value, appeared disappointing in running sixth (2.2 lengths) behind Sargent Doakes however, was later found to be shin-sore and was immediately spelled. She’s had two Warwick Farm trials in readiness for her return and whilst both have been good, would appear to be shooting a bit too high at this grade.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Good speed here with Capricious Spirit, Serene Majesty, Calaverite and Speak Fondly all pushing forward from the second half of the field. She had the right wrong last start, but was very strong through the line was Speak Fondly and she’ll put herself right in the race here. The return performance of Vancouver and Lake Geneva, who finished alongside of English in the Golden Slipper, has created some queries over her return. Ottoman from gate four should get a lovely run here and stable is firing at the minute. Thought she represented great each-way odds at the $8.50.
1. SPEAK FONDLY