Winx to continue Waller’s dominance of Chipping Norton Chris Waller will have to nudge one of his five Chipping Norton Stakes trophies won in the past six years over this Friday night, to make way for the one Winx will secure him in this year’s edition of the Group 1 at Randwick on Saturday. Winx, who is aiming for seven straight victories, and her fourth Group 1, is $1.30 favourite for the mile feature – and it looks a good price. The daughter of Street Cry had the Apollo Stakes field covered a long way out when resuming and she won with a dominance that only the good horses possess. Speaking of good horses, several maker their return here including Caulfield Cup winner Mongolian Khan, Hartnell and Preferment.
1. MONGOLIAN KHAN – K McEvoy (4)
Returns to racing after having won last year’s Caulfield Cup as the $5 favourite. Reported to have been working well throughout the week with race-day Jockey reporting “Everything this morning (Wednesday) points to him being in seemingly top shape and condition going into his first-up run.” First up last campaign he ran seventh (1.6 lengths) in the Group 1 Makybe Diva (1600m) at Flemington. Drawn well and a repeat of his the above fresh run will see him finish closer to the winner than most in this field.
2. PREFERMENT – T Berry (5)
Returned to Australia after finishing down the track in the G1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Shatin last December. Given an easy time of it in two trials this month but has been well handled at each of his two most recent fresh runs, the Hobartville Stakes (1400m) and more recently, the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m). Will only be warming up late and needs it longer than this.
3. HARTNELL – J McDonald (7)
After a great autumn last year, the 5yo gelding didn’t quite live up to expectations placed on him during the spring and the best of his four runs that campaign, was probably his second up effort in the Turnbull Stakes (1600m). Had had two barrier since the end of last month, piloted by James McDonald in both, who sticks with him here over two other Godolphin entrants, Magic Hurricane and Hauraki. Class animal at his best and a forward run would not be of a surprise.
4. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN – C Reith (12)
Rounded out his spring campaign with a fantastic seven-length victory in the G2 Zipping Classic (2400m), consolation to a degree for getting poleaxed in the Melbourne Cup his start prior. As expected, found the 1400m of the Apollo Stakes in his return a fortnight ago, way too short, finishing ninth (8.1 lengths) behind Winx. Ran an eye-catching fifth first up in this race last year and will be doing his best work late again – any sting out in his favour.
5. MAGIC HURRICANE – W Buick (11)
Only held his position in the run when resuming in the Apollo Stakes (1400m), finishing seventh (6.8 lengths) behind Winx. Winner of last year’s Metrop (2400m), he’ll be giving them all a good start here, given he’ll settle back from his wide gate and over this trip, hard to see him running them down. What for his next start before throwing him in among the better hopes.
6. GRAND MARSHAL – J Collett (3)
Dour stayer who finished last of eleven in the Apollo Stakes (1400m) when resuming from his spring campaign. Started $151 last start, and given his last six wins have been at 2000m and/or beyond, he’ll need at least that distance again before having any hope.
7. DIBAYANI – B Shinn (1)
Approaching three years since this well-travelled 6yo who now resides with the Hayes/Dabernig camp, last won a race. Given that was only his second victory of his career as well, wouldn’t think it’ll take too long to dismiss his chances however, his effort in the Apollo, where he was caught wide from a wide gate (11), to finish fourth was solid. From barrier one, he’ll get a much easier time of it, has had the benefit of a hit-out, and could a sneaky place chance at odds.
8. HAURAKI – S Clipperton (10)
Excellent effort when resuming in the Apollo Stakes (1400m), coming from a midfield position to run third (3.8 lengths) to Winx. One of only a few who made ground last time out, and the extra furlong here can only be in his favour. 4yo gelding who still improving with racing and expect another forward showing here, despite the wide draw.
9. CENTRE PIVOT – W Costin (9)
Racing well in Queensland over the summer, but found the Group 1 Apollo Stakes a class above and battled from her position on the turn to run eighth (7.1 lengths) to Winx. She’ll find this harder again and hard to see her making the necessary improvement required, even to fill a place.
10. STORM THE STARS – T Angland (6)
Imported galloper form the UK who hasn’t started since finishing fourth (2.1 lengths) of seven in the G1 St Leger Stakes (2937m) won by Simple Verse. Only the first two starts, both in maiden class and over a mile, have been below 2000m however, Waller has produced imported gallopers before in races like this and landed big results – Kingdom Of Fyfe, and no surprise to see him shorter than his form probably warrants.
11. WINX – H Bowman (8)
Sensational mare who produced the highlight of the spring for mine by winning the W. S. Cox Plate by almost five lengths. Returned a winner, as expected, in the Apollo Stakes after jumping well from an inside gate and taking up a more forward position then she regularly does. It was then a case of Bowman going when he wanted to and she won by a length – doing all she had to in the process. That made it six in a row – all Group races including three at the very top level, and probably makes it seven here.
12. GUST OF WIND – B Avdulla (2)
Last win came when producing a big finish to win the ATC Oaks almost a year ago. The daughter of Darci Brahma has been competitive since in the top grade, despite not registering a place in six starts since, including a fourth in the Caulfield Cup behind Mongolian Khan. Returned to racing in the Apollo but find it hard to keep pace with the field over the 1400m, and under the WFA conditions of this race, would need it longer than this to produce her best.
Winx wins. Just can’t see how she doesn’t. She had them covered a long way out in the Apollo, and hard to see which of her competitors here, could go with here over the mile when she hits top gear given that most need it longer. That probably gives Dibayani, with a run under his belt and an inside draw given him the right run, some hope at odds of filling a place. Hauraki’s return effort was very good – and $15.00 appeals for the multiples with class gallopers Hartnell and Mongolian Khan to do the best of the rest.