With fourteen of the eighteen runners entered in this Saturday’s Tramway Stakes at Randwick, punters are faced with a stiff challenge in finding the winner. Only three entrants among the capacity field are a single figure price in early markets with First Seal the favourite at $3.80. Her price has drifted though after opening at $3.30 with punters obviously concerned about her drawing the widest gate. Messene ($6.00) will be out to end what has been a frustrating month for the Hawkes Racing camp and looks set to produce his best at this, his third run back from a break. The last of the trio is Arabian Gold ($7.50) who’ll be making her first appearance for new owners and her new trainer, Gai Waterhouse. Formerly with David Vandyke, Arabian Gold has been working smartly on the track and the early support in betting will only fuel the speculation that she is set to run well.
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1. PROTECTIONIST – C Reith (8)
Failed to run a place in four start during his Autumn campaign but connections’ confidence of a return to form for last year’s Melbourne Cup winner were buoyed when he was pushed out over the final stages to win a trial at Newcastle recently. He has only competed at this distance once previously and that was when he made his debut as a 2yo in Germany. Whilst that effort resulted in victory, his four other wins have been at or beyond, 2200m and would think he’ll need this run and further.
2. FAMOUS SEAMUS – (16)
Resumes from a four month spell and for the first time in eight first up runs, of which he has won one, he’ll kick off his campaign over 1400m. Started his last two campaigns with third placings in both the G2 The Shorts (1100m) and G2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) and reports from his trackwork during the week have been promising however, he is yet to win beyond 1300m and has drawn very poorly, which would seeing him facing a task here.
3. LUCIA VALENTINA – B Avdulla (11)
Flew home in the heavy conditions to win this race last year first up from a spell and is back, fresh from a five month break, to see if she can repeat the effort. Her most recent fresh run was in February of this year where she produced an eye-catching fourth in the Apollo Stakes (1400m) behind Contributer. Looks set to continue her strong first up performance of late, even more so should there be some cut in the ground.
4. MESSENE – J Ford (10)
Big drifter first up from a spell in the Missile Stakes (1200m) ($3.20 out to $6.50) and despite the right run in the race, could only manage fifth (1.9 lengths) behind Burbero. He took good benefit from that run and was much better at his next and only start since, finishing third (1.8 lengths) in the G2 Warwick Stakes (1400m). Ready to peak now and looks well placed here. Should be left with no excuses.
5. HOOKED – T Angland (17)
After an encouraging fourth (1.5 lengths) first up last campaign in the G1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m), the John Thompson trained stallion didn’t go on with it last campaign, finishing unplaced in three further runs. Angland has partnered the 5yo in two trials and although he has looked good in both, would imagine he has too much work early in the run from his horror draw if, as he regularly does, he was to take up a forward position.
6. RUDY – K McEvoy (14)
Put together a great campaign last time in, winning the G2 Villiers and running well in races such as the G3 Liverpool City Cup and G1 Doncaster Handicap. The Queensland galloper returned to racing a fortnight ago at Doomben, finishing third (0.9 lengths) to Cum Dividend, whom he was giving 4.5kgs to and who also dominated from the front. Strips much fitter for that; has a great second up record and whilst the draw is less than ideal, cannot be dismissed from running a race on that factor alone.
7. FLAMINGO STAR – J Bowman (3)
Thought the former import was ok in his Australian debut – the G1 Doomben 10,000, when producing his best work late to run eighth (4.6 lengths) behind Boban, before running Strawberry Boy to a head when second in the Listed Wayne Wilson Handicap. Will have derived great benefit from those runs and the short break since. Stable obviously have a good opinion of him and with two trials under his belt, a good draw and Hugh Bowman in the saddle, would think it’s best treat him with respect.
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8. SWEYNESSE – J McDonald (12)
A promising stayer from the Godolphin camp who returns to racing with a solid record behind him. He ran a great second first up last prep in the G3 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) when closing strongly behind Hollowed Crown. Taking on the older horses here for the first time and whilst longer distances are more to his liking, would expect to see him running on well late here.
9. FIRS SEAL – T Berry (18)
She was all set to return to racing in the G2 Warwick Stakes, where she dominated the early betting, but was scratched race-day morning. The multiple G1 winner hasn’t been dealt any favours here though, coming up with the widest gate in a big and competitive field. Outstanding filly sure to run well but would think she needs to produce something outstanding to win from out there and being first up.
10. STRAWBERRY BOY – J Cassidy
Front-running type who enjoyed the smaller Doomben track during the winter, rounding out last prep with consecutive wins in the G3 Lord Mayor’s Cup and Listed Wayne Wilson Stakes – both over a mile. Only had brief let-up since and two trials in recent weeks, so would expect him to be forward in condition. The 7yo goes well for Cassidy but he’ll be kept honest in front here with a big field and need to fend off many challengers inside of the last furlong.
11. IT’S SOMEWHAT – G Boss (9)
Settled in a nice position, three back the running line, when resuming from a spell in the Warwick Stakes.
Caught a little flat-footed when the pace picked up upon straightening and had to ease off heels of one inside the 200m, before finishing the race off under hands and heels riding to run eighth (3.8 lengths). Expected more from him from his position in the turn last start but would be happy to give him another go second up over the mile and expect a sharp improvement.
12. KIRRAMOSA – R Hutchings (7)
The VRC Oaks winner from 2013 returned to racing after almost a year on the sidelines with a great effort in a BM 90 (1200m) at Rosehill three weeks ago, when fifth (1.4 lengths) behind Peeping. Had 59kgs that day but was warming up nicely late over the unsuitable 1200m. The extra furlong, more genuine tempo and drop in weight, are all in her favour and will not be without a place hope.
13. ARABIAN GOLD – B Shinn (15)
The 5yo mare will be stepping out for the first time in four and a half months as well as for new trainer Gai Waterhouse on Saturday. Finished eighth (4 lengths) in the G3 Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) first up off a similar break last campaign, won by Danesiri, and has trialled well recently. From a wide draw though and with her best efforts generally coming over further ground later in her campaigns, would be happy to see what she can produce here at her current price.
14. ECUADOR – J Collett (5)
Lightly raced but talented 6yo from the Waterhouse yard who hasn’t raced since finishing a close second to Reigning over 2000m back in June of this year. The son of High Chaparral was given an easy time of his in a recent and has drawn perfectly in barrier five for a horse that likes to take up a forward position. Only had a couple of starts at this level in the past but has performed well, running fourth in the Ajax Stakes and finishing a close up sixth (1 length) in the 2013 Epsom Handicap.
15. GYPSY DIAMOND – (4)
Seems to save her best for Randwick, two of her four wins have come at this track. Ran a slashing third (1.6 lengths) in the G3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m), closing from a long way back in the field, and heads in to this race off a similar break. Inside draw mean she’ll need luck but there should be could pace here and if she can find some luck from the 600m, will finishing hard again.
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16. HAURAKI – S Clipperton (6)
Really started to put it together toward the end of his three year old season early this year, winning the G2 Tulloch Stakes in convincing fashion and beaten all bar Mongolian Khan home in the Australia Derby. Given two well-spaced trials in readiness for his return and although we won’t see the best of him until he gets beyond a mile, with freshness in his legs a good tempo here likely, could run a race better than his current price would suggest.
17. MALICE – T Huet (2)
Although winless in four starts during his autumn campaign earlier this year, the 5yo gelding was never far away from the winner in races such as the Lord Mayor’s Cup (2000m) and Scone Cup (1600m). Picked a very tough race to resume in here and would think he’d been needing some a little longer, and a lot easier than this, before being considered a winning chance.
18. SENSE OF OCCASION – T Clark (1)
Continued to make good improvement last campaign for trainer Joe Pride, graduating out the Benchmark grade to win the Listed WJ McKell Cup before being nosed out on the line by Jetset Lad in the Brisbane Cup. If he were to get a start here though, he’d found it tough and is best suited in something longer and easier than this.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Where does one start?! Strawberry Boy leads, First Seal would have to push forward you’d think, Messene goes forward along with Ecuador and Hooked. Good speed will give a few who can find a spot behind the speed, and not settle too far back, the perfect run. Couple that fit the bill for mine are Flamingo Star and It’s Somewhat. Stable have a good opinion of Flamingo Star and he showed enough in each of his two Queensland Starts that, in such an open race as this, he’s worth specking at double figure odds. It’s Somewhat has had the benefit of a run and would expect him to take good improvement from that, especially with a good speed on up front. Nothing wrong with Lucia Valentina’s fresh form, she’ll be giving them a start but hard to let the $13 about her go past without having a bit of it.
1. IT’S SOMEWHAT
2. FLAMINGO STAR
3. LUCIA VALENTINA
4. FIRST SEAL