As was the case in the Golden Slipper recently, punters are not being deterred by poor alleys in this weekend’s Group 1 Doncaster Mile with most of the leading contenders in the market drawing wide. Early favourite Hallowed Crown ($5.50) has drawn the second widest gate (including emergencies) 23, with the next three in betting, Kermadec ($6.50), Pornichet ($7.00), Real Impact ($7.50) and Royal Descent ($9.00) coming from gates 19, 13, 21 and 18 respectively. Hallowed Crown has followed a similar path to that of Sacred Falls who won the first of his two Doncaster Handicaps as a 3yo in 2013. As will be Hallowed Crown, Sacred Falls was also partnered by Tommy Berry. Between them Chris Waller (4), Gai Waterhouse (1) and Joe Pride (2), having won the last seven editions of the Doncaster and combined, will have seven representatives in this year’s race. John O’Shea won two Doncaster Handicaps with Private Steer (2004) and Racing To Win (2006) before joining the Godolphin operation last year and he’ll be hoping that It’s Somewhat ($17) can land him his third and continue the extraordinary run of success for the famous racing and breeding operation over the past month.
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1. SACRED FALLS – Z Purton (20) 58kgs
Winner of this race the past two years carrying 53kgs and 56.5kgs on his preferred wet track conditions, the 5yo has followed the same path into this year’s race as he did twelve months ago, finishing well first up in the Canterbury Stakes (5th, 2.9 lengths) before an ordinary twelfth (5.7 lengths) in the George Ryder. Last start wasn’t as good as last year’s effort though and with 58kgs to lug this year and drawn the car park, he’ll need another wet track to be given any kind of consideration.
2. HAPPY TRIALS – D Oliver 56.5kgs (2) 56.5kgs
After a good second placing behind in-form Mourinho second up in the G2 Peter Young Stakes, the consistent 7yo started the $4 favourite for the Australian Cup (2000m) at his most recent start three weeks ago. Despite a good draw, he found himself well back in the field as they turned for home from where he made good ground to finish third (1.4 lengths) to Spillway. Two most recent wins have been over 2000m but he has solid lead-up form for this race and the drop in weight combined with a solidly run mile, should see him finishing hard late.
3. WORLD ACE – N. Hall (16) 55.5kgs
A Japanese galloper who, as a $6.50 chance, was expected to run better than he did in the G1 George Ryder (1500m) a fortnight ago. He settled well back in the run and failed to improve his position finishing eleventh (5.1 lengths) behind compatriot Real Impact. That was his first run in fourteen weeks and does get good weight relief but hard to include him in the selections with any confidence on the Ryder effort.
4. REAL IMPACT – J McDonald (21) 55kgs
Took up the running in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m) a fortnight ago and showed good determination late to fight back after being headed by Criterion in the final stages, to record a nose victory. Tough effort last time and there was a good gap to the third placed, Kermadec. Drops 4kgs on that run, and has the services of James McDonald who’ll have to produce his best ride of the carnival yet to see him home from this gate but the pair pose a real threat.
5. MORIARTY – T Angland (11) 54.5kgs
Ran as well as could have been expected of him first up a fortnight ago in the George Ryder Stakes (1500m), finishing eighth (4.2 lengths) behind Real Impact. Hasn’t found himself under handicap conditions too many times over the past seasons and won’t know himself with 54.5kgs here. Last eight wins have been at 1800m or further though and despite the relative light weight, just wonder if he’ll have the acceleration to run some of these down over a mile.
6. ROYAL DESCENT – J Moreira (18) 54kgs
Has frustratingly run a close second in her last four attempts at a Randwick mile feature race, including this race last year. She made steady ground along the fence second up in the George Ryder a fortnight ago to run fourth (2.3 lengths) behind Real Impact. Back to handicap conditions, which sees her drop to 54kgs (same weight as last year) and being third up from a spell, which she tends to produce her best run of the campaign has her set as another realistic chance.
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7. NINTH LEGION – D Dunn (8) 52.5kgs
Continued to produce excellent form this campaign when narrowly defeated on the line by Burbero in the G2 Phar Lap Stakes under 59kgs. Makes his own luck in the run and will push forward as he did in last year’s edition of the race which saw him finish fifth. Tough competitor, drawn well, weighted well, and in his current form, sure to be in the firing line for most of the way. Started $51 in last year’s race and going better this time around for mine so appears to be over the price.
8. PUCCINI – C Newitt (17) 52.5kgs
New Zealand galloper who has taken an unconventional path into this race by competing in the Australian Cup (2000m), where he finished a well beaten eleventh (5.6 lengths) before competing at Bendigo in the Listed Golden Mile where he ran a good fourth (3/4 length) to Observational. Had 60kgs and a poor draw to contend with last start and although he drops considerably in weight here, he has drawn wide again and hasn’t shown enough yet at this level in Australia to rank among the leading chances.
9. COSMIC ENDEAVOUR – T Clark (15) 52kgs
Dictated the pace and scored a solid win in the G1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) two starts back but found the step up to a truly run 1500m at WFA a much tougher assignment at her following start and finished last of fourteen in the George Ryder Stakes. Back to handicap conditions in her favour but not by enough to see her win a strongly run Randwick mile, a distance she contests for the first time in her career.
10. HOLLOWED CROWN – T Berry (23) 52kgs
Stepped up to 2000m for the first time last time out in the Rosehill Guineas and although beaten as the 2.80 favourite, lost no admirers when second to Volkstock’n’Barrell and Preferment – leading contenders for the Derby. Didn’t fare well at all at the barrier draw but back to a mile, with only 52kgs and as dominant three year old of his season, hard to dismiss him on that factor alone. Handles the cut out of the track and will be charging late.
11. HOOKED – D Tourneur (12) 52kgs
As he does more often than not, the 4yo stallion produced a solid run first up to run fourth behind Cosmic Endeavour in the WFA Canterbury Stakes (1300m) before batting away to record a seventh placing in the George Ryder (1500m) after securing the perfect run from an inside draw. Just struggled under the WFA conditions of the George Ryder and ran a very big race in last year’s Epsom (this track/trip) to run third to He’s Your Man and Royal Descent. Can run a cheeky race if he finds a spot early but more often than not, finds a couple too strong for him at this grade.
12. IT’S SOMEWHAT – (4) C Williams 51.5kgs
Former European galloper who made a winning debut in Australia by taking out the Liverpool City Cup (1300m) in impressive style before being posted deep throughout in the George Ryder (1500m) and running ninth (4.3 lengths) behind Real Impact. Not a bad effort last start given his run and the tempo of the race. Drops a massive 7kgs, drawn much more favourably here and given his best form in the UK was over 2000m, a strong mile should hold no fears.
13. DIAMOND DRILLE – T Huet (22) 51kgs
Took a couple of runs this time in to reach her best but appears to be at that stage now judging by her last start third (head) to Plucky Belle and First Seal in the G1 Coolmore Classic (1500m). As is her racing pattern, she came from a long way back last start and will be coming from even further back here from barrier twenty-two. Needs to improve again off of last start to be running down a quality field such as this from that draw.
14. PORNICHET – K McEvoy (13) 51kgs
Travelled wide with cover and closed steadily in the G2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) second up from a spell to run fifth to Burbero and Ninth Legion – both of whom were on the fence and closer to the speed, but taking obvious improvement out of that run and recording a dominant win in last week’s G3 Neville Sellwood (2000m). Lightly raced import who still on the improve and give the style of last week’s win and the feather weight of 51kgs, he represents a realistic each-way chance at odds.
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15. DESTINY’S KISS – (9) 51kgs
Not a great deal of luck and should’ve finished closer to the winner when second to last to in the G2 Ajax Stakes two starts back before being posted deep through worse than midfield in last week’s Neville Sellwood and not surprisingly, struggling into sixth position (5.4 lengths). Hasn’t had a great deal of luck last two and capable of a sharp improvement here with 51kgs, especially if there’s some cut out of the track, which is probably what she’ll need to be winning at this level.
16. ARABIAN GOLD – C Schofield (5) 50.5kgs
Backed up a pleasing first up effort when eighth (4 lengths) in the Guy Walter Stakes (1400m) with an unlucky sixth (3/4 length) to Plucky Belle in the G1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) three weeks back. Had to ease off heels at a crucial stage in the Coolmore as she searched for runs through the field before hitting the line in good style. Has been kept up to the mark since with a good barrier trial win at Warwick Farm and going well enough to run a bold race here.
17. LEEBAZ – (3) 50.5kgs
Took up his favourite position as front-runner when competing in the Doncaster Prelude last start where he finished third (1 length) behind Excess Knowledge. Drops an appealing 7kgs on that run and along with being third up and drawing well (3), he comes right into consideration here. Last two attempts at G1 level have resulted in a second (Doomben 10,000 at WFA) and a fourth (Emirates Stakes, carried 54.5kgs) behind Streama and Hucklebuck respectively.
18. RUDY – L Tarrant (6) 50.5kgs
No luck as the favourite two starts back in the G2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) when posted deep throughout and finishing eighth (2.8 lengths) behind Burbero. Draw wide again at his only start since, last week’s Doncaster Prelude, and was ridden back in the field from where he stuck to the fence but only batted home, running second to last and 2.6 lengths behind Excess Knowledge under 58kgs. Won the Villiers in a good manner over this track/trip last Dec carrying 53kgs and with 50.5kgs and a much better draw compared to his recent starts, could be a sharp improver.
19. SUAVITO – C Brown (1) 50.5kgs
Nigel Blackiston’s mare has returned to racing from a prosperous spring campaign in strong fashion, landing the G1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) first up in impressive style before proving too good in the G2 Blamey (1600m). Those victories made it four wins in a row for the 4yo mare who only needs a touch of luck from the inside draw to keep her scintillating form intact here. At good each-way odds, worth a ticket that the luck will arrive.
20. PLUCKY BELLE – K O’Hara (10) 50kgs
A good ride by Linda Meech saw this 6yo mare claim her first G1 win in the Coolmore Classic (1500m) three weeks ago defeating the highly regarded First Seal. It followed up another good effort in the Millie Fox (1300m) behind Catkins. Going well this time and if able to gain a start, will not be out of place given her current form.
21. SWEYNESSE – S Clipperton (7) 50kgs
After running Hallowed Crown to ¾ of a length in the Randwick Guineas (1600m), many though Godolphin runner Sweynesse could turn the tables on that horse when they met in the Rosehill Guineas (2000) a fortnight ago. He challenged for favouritism but only managed to battle away in the straight running fourth (5.4 lengths) behind Volkstock’n’Barrell. Drops back to a mile here but hard to see him producing the finishing burst he’ll require over this distance to account for some of these.
22. KERMADEC – G Boss (19) 50kgs
Has been seen finishing his recent races off in strong fashion, including his most recent hit-out when third (2.1 lengths) behind Real Impact and Criterion in the G1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m). Drawn wide, was slowly away and had to work to the outside in the straight before hitting the line in a manner that has seen his connections and punters alike, desperate for him to gain a start in Saturday’s race. Comes from the right form race, has no weight and if he sneaks into the field, will be steaming home late.
23. AOMEN – (14) 50kgs
On pace runner whose two runs back from a two month let-up have been solid. He ran fifth behind It’s Somewhat in the G3 Liverpool City Cup and although finishing seventh behind Burbero and Ninth Legion, he was only 1.6 lengths off them on the line. Will ensure he makes the most of his lightweight if he gains a start and runs them along but this grade should find him out over in the straight.
24. MALAVIO – (24) 50kgs
Although not winning, his firm this time in is solid and he’s finished just off winner in races such as the G3 Liverpool City Cup, Group 2 Ajax Stakes and last week’s G3 Doncaster Prelude where he placed sixth (2.2 lengths) behind Excess Knowledge. Not bad late last week in a race that suited those handier to the speed then he was. Drops 7kgs on that run and ran eighth in last year’s Doncaster with similar lead up form. From the widest gate, should he get a run, would be finding hard to beat that effort this time around.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Typically tough Randwick Mile with a host of possibilities. Leading hopes according to the market have all drawn wide but given the predicted weather for the coming days in Sydney, it may not be has much a disadvantage as first thought. That’ll be enough to stick with Hallowed Crown – an exceptional 3yo who handles the sting out. Timing around Pornichet looks spot on with the former import recording an impressive win last start, his third on local soil, and getting to a mile where his record reads 3:2-0-1 with the third placing coming in a G1 in France last year under the steadier of 58kgs. Plenty of value to be had though under the handicap conditions with Happy Trials ($21), It’s Somewhat ($17) Arabian Gold ($15) and Suavito ($15.00) standing out.
2. HALLOWED CROWN
3. IT’S SOMEWHAT
4. ARABIAN GOLD