He has won two of the past three Group 1 races put on at Randwick so it should come as no surprise that trainer Chris Waller is well position to make it three from four when Vanbrugh contests the Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick on Saturday. Despite being rolled as a short-priced favourite twice earlier this campaign, Vanbrugh has repaid those who stayed with handsomely by winning his past two starts in an authoritative manner. He’s $1.80 in early markets with the main danger being Queensland visitor, Too Good To Refuse ($5.00) Like Vanbrugh, Too Good To Refuse is coming off two good wins that followed a third placing behind Honesta, who has ran narrow seconds in the G2 Tea Rose Stakes and G1 Flight Stakes, recently. Tatoosh, who has only finishing outside of the top four once in nine starts this campaign, is at $10.00 with Man Of Choice at $8.00
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1. VANBRUGH – G Schofield (6)
The Encosta De Lago colt hasn’t looked back since stepping up in distance and comprehensively winning a BM 70 (1600m) at Warwick Farm followed by the G3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) a fortnight ago. Rounded them up in good style last time out from the second half of the field and held off the challenge of Tatoosh late. Will eat up the 2000m and clearly the one to beat.
2. TATOOSH – C Brown (4)
He finished the runner-up for the third consecutive start – all at Group company, in last fortnight’s Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill. Got back to near last from the widest draw in the Gloaming and closed well late but was held on the line by winner Vanbrugh. Maybe another furlong will help him break through but enough so that he can turn the beaten margin (1.8 lengths) of last around?
3. DEVIL HAWK – T Angland (2)
Surprised most when, as a 12/1 shot, he was well ridden to score in the G3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle but didn’t back that up when tenth to Vanbrugh in the G3 Gloaming Stakes at his next and most recent start. That effort has continued his mixed bag of results this time in and it’s hard to take him with any confidence.
4. TOO GOOD TO REFUSE – R Fradd (3)
Queensland colt who recorded his third win from seven outings with a demolish job on his five rivals in an Open 3yo race (1600m) at Doomben three weeks back. The son of Rothesay made light of the 59kgs weight to win by three lengths with Arthur Le Roi second. Trainer no stranger to success in Sydney having previously campaigned with smart sprinter Adebisi and this colt should make the trip south worthwhile for his connections.
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5. MAN OF CHOICE – S Clipperton (1)
Taken to Kembla for a comfortable Class 2 (1600m) win after a fair effort in the G3 Up And Coming Stakes (1300m) at his previous start, with his most recent outing being in the G3 Gloaming Stakes. He settled on the fence and just worse than midfield as they passed the 800m before angling out around the turn and getting onto the back of eventual winner Vanbrugh. Try as he may, he just couldn’t match it with the winner and finished third (3.3 lengths) away. Gets every chance here from gate one for the in-form Sam Clipperton but would think place chance still his best hope.
6. GOLD AMBITION – B Avdulla (10)
Kept closing late to get within a long neck of winner Devil Hawk when third in the G3 Spring Stakes at Newcastle before finishing fifth (5.4 lengths) in the Gloaming Stakes (1800m). Enjoyed a nice run in the Gloaming, three back the running line and peeling out as they turned for home, but simply wasn’t good enough and struggled the last furlong. He has an extra 200m and the widest gate to contend with here.
7. FLYING ACHILLES – J Parr (7)
Made it back-to-back wins with an all-the-way victory in a Class 1 at Newcastle (1600m) before finishing ninth (4.3 lengths) to Zayam in a BM 75 at a recent mid-week Rosehill meeting. He settled midfield in the running line last start and briefly loomed up before being squeezed out just inside the hundred which made the beaten margin more than it should’ve been. Had to be winning that event in good style to warrant consideration here.
8. JADEER – T Berry (5)
Chased home Vanbrugh at Warwick Farm two runs back before being taken to Moonee Valley by Hawkes Racing where he led throughout to record a comfortable 1.3 win in a BM 64 (2040m). Obviously the trip should be of no concern and he’ll make his own pace on the speed from gate five. Will give most of them something to chase but still think the leading chances will have his measure.
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9. I’M BELUCCI – T Clark (9)
Broke his maiden with a win at Beaudesert (1300m) last month with his only run since being in Open Class at Doomben last weekend, when third (3.2 lengths) to the promising Manrose Hattan. He closed from well back in the field and being his first run in a month, and jumping from 1300m to a mile, it shouldn’t be judged too harshly but think he’s is here as more of a companion for stable-mate Too Good To Refuse rather than as a realistic chance of coming away a winner.
10. HIERARCHAL – J Collett (8)
High Chaparral colt that debuted for trainer Anthony Cummings mid-September over 1550m at Canterbury where he was holding his ground late, finishing eighth (3.4 lengths) to Balmain Boy – who has since won again at Warwick Farm. He then lined up at Kembla Grange and enjoyed the long run home, out-lasting Our Uncle Archie in the BM 60 (1600m). Will develop into a stayer and trainer doesn’t shy away from testing his runners in this company but it would be a big upset to see him winning.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Jadeer should take up the running, and get a good time of it but hard to see anything but two horses winning this for mine – Vanbrugh and Too Good To Refuse. Both appear to still be improving whilst the others appear to be struggling to take the next step up and both come off two strong wins. Tatoosh may try and settle closer here from gate four – let’s hope so. He’s been threatening to win a race like this for some months now and at $8.00, can’t let him go now without a little something on him. Man Of Choice for fourth with a sweet run from the inside gate.
2. TOO GOOD TO REFUSE
4. MAN OF CHOICE