The Concorde Stakes at this Saturday’s Randwick meeting will be familiar territory for many of the participants set to contest this 2015 edition. Last year’s winner Wouldn’t It Be Nice is entered, as is 2013 and 2011 victor, Decision Time. Trainer Joe Pride won this race in 2012 with Tiger Tees and is back with Tiger Tees’ half-brother Ball Of Muscle, as well as the promising Craftiness, both resuming from spells. Whilst not much chance is given to Wouldn’t It Be Nice or Decision Time adding another title to their account, they are $51 and $41 chance respectively in early markets; Craftiness and Ball Of Muscle are among a group of five runners vying for favouritism in a very open spring. Ball Of Muscle and Craftiness are $4.40 and $4.60 respectively with Shiraz ($4.40), Atmospherical ($4.80) and Fell Swoop ($5.00) the others in contention.
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1. BALL OF MUSCLE – G Schofield (3) 59kgs
Consistent galloper who rounded out last prep with a win over That’s A Good Idea and Kuro in the G2 QTC Cup. He looks set to pick up from where he left off too judging by his recent barrier trial at Warwick Farm which he won. Drawn ideally, does have a hefty weight but his record earns it, and will be right in the mix again.
2. DECISION TIME – C Reith (9) 58.5kgs
Got down in the weights (54kgs) for the first time in a long time last start and back on a firmer track, was able to lead then dig deep over the final stages to score in the G3 Show County Stakes (1200m) last start, hanging on by a neck. Goes back up in weight here, drawn much wider than last start too, and would think he’d find this a little harder than last outing.
3. SHIRAZ – J Bowman (8)
Took his good Sydney form, which had seen him win both starts this campaign in good fashion, to Melbourne for the G3 Aurie’s Star last month which he narrowly won from Play Master. Given a nice freshen up since then of four weeks but does creep up a little in the weights here and would think this is a smarter field than the Aurie’s Star. He tagged a good speed into the straight and present well over the rise but will have to be at the top of his game to pick them up.
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4. WOULDN’T IT BE NICE –
A back-maker who needs race and track conditions to be in his favour before he is able to produce his best. At his best, he has won the Listed June Stakes and ran a close third in the Winter Stakes behind Rugged Cross. Whilst he’ll get the speed on up front that he requires would probably also need a wet track if he were to be able to finish over the top of this lot.
5. UNANIMOUSLY – (4)
Last run for this 8yo gelding was well over a year ago now – in July 2014. Whilst he is a Listed winner of 1100m and drawn well here in gate four, trainer Matthew Dale, who is in form, and horse would have to produce something extraordinary to be winning here you would think.
6. AEROUNAUTICAL – J McDonald (1)
The one-time G1 place-getter returns to racing here off a fourteen week spell. He has contested some slick races first up in previous campaigns, the most recent resulting in him running sixth (3.2 lengths) of ten behind Lumosty in the Listed Straight Six (1200m) at Flemington earlier this year. At his best, he’d be steaming home and rate a place chance here but predicting when he is going to produce his best has proven hard for punters to get right in recent seasons.
7. CRAFTINESS – B Shinn (5)
Went from strength to strength at the start of this year, winning five starts before running second in the G3 Hall Mark Stakes behind Our Boy Malachi and then spelled after an unplaced run as favourite in a BM 95 (1350m). That run was early May so trainer Joe Pride has given his Starcraft 5yo plenty of rest over the winter and appears to have served him well if his recent barrier trial is anything to go by. Sits in the box seat from gate five and will give this a shake.
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8. HAPPY GALAXY – W Costin (2)
Tried his hand at a few Stakes races last campaign but on each occasion the then 5yo stallion was well accounted for, finishing unplaced. For his return to racing trainer Gary Moore has given the son of Nadeem two barrier trials, the most recent a strong and close second to Bounding – smart winner last week at Caulfield, but, until he proves himself at this level again, hard to see with any confidence he can.
9. FELL SWOOP – (10)
Posted two impressive wins and was extremely unlucky in another, from his three starts this campaign. Winner of six of his eight starts, the Not A Single Doubt 4yo possess a good turn of foot and there is no better time for trainer Matthew Dale to try him at this grade. Will enjoy the solid speed on up front and despite the much stronger grade, will have his fair share of admirers here.
10. ATMOSPHERICAL – T Berry (7)
Ran some great races last campaign and was right on the place-getter’s heels in events like the G1 Oakleigh Plate and G2 Sapphire Stakes. He rounded at that preparation with a close third (0.9 lengths) in the Listed Ortensia Stakes at Scone behind That’s A Good Idea – who went on to push Ball Of Muscle in the QTC Cup. Has had the benefit of two barrier trials – the latest under Tommy Berry, which he won, with Berry sticking with him here a positive.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Competitive edition of the Concorde with several legitimate hopes. Going with Ball Of Muscle, purely because from gate three, I think he gets to the best opportunity to adjust to the pace of the race. He’s also a real trier and will dig in late for the fight. Shiraz and Fell Swoop will stalk the speed and whilst this is the biggest test to date for the pair, they are in great form and if the leaders are feeling the pinch late, be steaming home late.
1. BALL OF MUSCLE
3. FELL SWOOP