Chris Waller has made the Chelmsford Stakes his own in recent time, having won the past three editions, producing the quinella in 2013 and last, bettering that effort by having the first four across the line. Remarkably for this year’s edition to be held at Randwick on Saturday, Waller has eleven of the seventeen runners entered including leading hopes Kermadec ($4.60) and Royal Descent ($4.80) however, it’s the return to racing of Godolphin’s Hartnell that has punters excited the most, installing the Group 1 winner the $3.40 favourite in early markets. Gai Waterhouse’s Pornichet ($4.80) is the only other runner under double figure odds in the capacity field. Waterhouse last won the Chelmsford Stakes with Theseo in the 2010, with Juggler in 1997 before that.
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1. HARTNELL – J McDonald (10)
The 5yo made his Australian debut with a slashing second in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) earlier this year – which was his first start in five months, before going to claim the G3 Sky High and G1 BMW in consecutive starts, both in convincing fashion. Hasn’t raced since finishing fourth as the odds-on favourite in the Sydney Cup (3200m) back in April but, couldn’t have been under a harder hold when finishing a close-up third in the second of his two trials he has had in preparation for his return. He hasn’t won first up previously and not over the mile since 2013
2. PORNICHET – B Shinn (11)
Produced an excellent return to racing in the Warwick Stakes where, from a wide draw, the Doomben 10,000 winner took up the running and was only caught late by Royal Descent who enjoyed a charmed run throughout. He’ll only be fitter again for that outing, it was his first in four months, and the extra furlong is also in his favour. Drawn wide here as well so likely to push forward again you would think and is sure to be figuring in the finish.
3. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN – C Reith (16)
This will be the first appearance of the spring for this 7yo who was last seen on the track when narrowly beaten in the Sydney Cup (3200m) back in April. Trainer Chris Waller has given his charge three barrier trials since the end of July where, although not asked a great deal of, he finished at the rear of the field in each. Likely to find them too sharp over the mile first up and would need it longer than this.
4. BEATEN UP – G Schofield (3)
Former G1 winner who was starting to show signs of good form last campaign after a long absence from the track and ran third (1.5 lengths) behind Hartnell in the G1 BMW Stakes (2400m). Another spell since has seemed to further benefit the 8yo who returned to racing with a great fourth (1.9 lengths) in the Warwick Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago. Did get a lovely run from the jump in the Warwick but will be better for that outing the mile suits.
Ran second in this race two years ago and is capable of running well again off of his first up effort and drawing to get another charmed run.
5. MORIARTY – J Collett (12)
He drew wide, settled back, and no surprise that this 8yo found them far too quick over the 1400m when he resumed in the Warwick Stakes a fortnight ago. The G1 winner was only warming late when tenth (4.3 lengths) to Royal Descent. It’s hard to see him giving them a start here too though and being able to pick them up in the straight. He’ll need it longer than this again before coming into consideration.
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6. JUNOOB – J Parr (2)
Returned from his six month spell in a 1400m Open handicap at Rosehill last month and, as his $101 price suggested he would, he finished second to last and 4.9 lengths from the winner Centre Pivot. Carried 59.5kgs on that occasion and although up sharply in class on that run here, will be assigned the same weight under WFA conditions and again, struggle to make an impact.
7. GRAND MARSHAL – J Cassidy (17)
A dour type who recorded his seventh career win, and first G1, when nudging out Who Shot Thebarman in the Sydney Cup (3200m) back in April earlier this year. Each of his seven wins has been beyond 2000m and he’ll need it much longer than this to before he is able to be competitive.
8. OPINION – K McEvoy (14)
He has only been lightly raced since winning last year’s G1 Metropolitan, contesting five races with the highlight being his second to Hartnell in the G3 Sky High Stakes (1900m). The 7yo hasn’t raced since failing to finish in the G1 BMW Stakes back in March but has been tuned up by trainer Chris Waller with three barrier trials since the end of July. He ran a solid race first up last campaign, finishing eighth but only 2.6 lengths from Contributer in the G1 Chipping Norton Stakes, which was also over a mile and was also prepared for that effort with three trials.
9. HAWKSPUR – T Berry (7)
Settled at the tail of the field and only held is ground in the run home when resuming in the Warwick Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago. He has won this race the past two years but they’ve also been the only two races he has won since he dominated the Queensland winter 3yo races back in 2013. He has followed the same path into this race as previous years but just can’t see him making the improvement required off of his first up run to make it three Chelmsfords on the trot.
10. I’M IMPOSING – T Angland (15)
He wasn’t far off the money in each of his four starts during an autumn campaign that saw him claim third in the G1 Doomben Cup (2000m) behind Pornichet. A short break since of only three months, coupled with three barrier trials during August, should see the 10yo more forward in condition than expected. Placed five of his last seven starts at Group company but will need to be at the very top of his game if he is to maintain that strike rate here from such a poor draw.
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11. PRECEDENCE – T Clark (1)
Sure to be the sentimental favourite after the events of earlier this week but not even divine intervention from above will be enough to see this grand old campaigner get home over a mile. Concentrating on getting to the Cup and this is just a first step in that journey.
12. COMPLACENT – S Clipperton (6)
It was close to a year since this G1 had raced when stepping out in last fortnight’s Warwick Stakes but the 5yo from the Godolphin yard was in need of the practice, running off the track in dramatic fashion heading into the turn and dashing any hope. He finished last of the twelve and will be waiting for him to show something before suggesting he may.
13. TREMEC – (5)
Tackles this race first up from a three months spell but given he is yet to run a place in seven first up runs, most of which have been in easier company and over longer trips than this, it’s hard to seeing him being able to figure in the first half of the field over the line.
14. KERMADEC – G Boss (13)
This year’s Doncaster Handicap winner returned from a spell with an encouraging fifth in the G2 Warwick Stakes (1400m). He settled just worse than midfield and was very good late to run fifth (2 lengths) behind Royal Descent and Pornichet, both of whom settled on the speed. Improving all the time is the son of Teofilo and looks to be ideally prepared for this race, second up over a mile. Despite the awkward draw, would rate his chances very highly.
15. PREFERMENT – C Lever (9)
Started favourite for the ATC Derby earlier this year but struggled throughout on the wet track and finished eighth.
That was his most recent run, five months ago now, and whilst his a stayer full of promise, he still only has the one win from eleven starts to his name – the VRC Derby, and will more than likely find this lot to good over the mile first up.
16. ROYAL DESCENT – J Bowman (8)
Finally! After so many close calls she broke through for a much deserved G2 win in the Warwick Stakes when resuming from a spell a fortnight ago. Secured a lovely run in transit from a good draw and was strong late, getting the better of Pornichet to win by 1.5 lengths. Narrowly beaten in this race last year after running second in the Warwick Stakes and as was the case in that race recently, capable of going one better here too.
17. IT’S SOMEWHAT – (EM) (4)
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 the heels of one inside the 200m, before finishing the race off under hands and heels riding, running eighth (3.8 lengths). Expected more from him from his position on the turn last start but would be happy to give him another go second up over the mile and expect a sharp improvement.
Race Overview –
Hard to go past Waller’s record in this race and looking at its recent winners, think Kermadec and Royal Descent fit his Chelmsford profile perfectly. Both come into this race second up after performing well in the Warwick Stakes.
Feel more comfortable sticking with them then taking the shorter price about Hartnell first up over a mile. In Beaten Up, think Waller has a good back-up. He’ll get the right run from his draw and strip much fitter for his first up run, also in the Warwick Stakes.
2. ROYAL DESCENT