Champion trainer Chris Waller has won the last three Epsom Handicaps (1600m) and holds the ace hand here with four runners, Mackintosh, McCreery, Vanbrugh and Torgersen. Arch rival John O’Shea relies on one, Hauraki, while top Victorian trainer Darren Weir strives to win his first Sydney Group 1 with Palentino.
Dual group 1 winner, won Makybe Diva Stakes last start.
Why he can: Capped off a great start to his four-year-old season with a strong win in the Makybe Diva Stakes 1600m, beating subsequent Underwood Stakes winner Black Heart Bart.
Why he can’t: Having first start the Sydney (clockwise) way of racing. His trainer Darren Weir is yet to prepare a Sydney winner.
Godolphin five-year-old Group 1 placed. Jockey James McDonald to ride.
Why he can: Consistently around the money in top grade. Has been solid in his two runs this preparation, and was second to Winx in the George Main Stakes (1600m) last start.
Why he can’t: His first-up win in the Tramway was his first since March last year. Prolific placegetter, but often finds one or two better. Carries 56kgs and weighted to best.
Jockey Hugh Bowman to ride. He won the Group 1 Randwick Guineas in March.
Why he can: Three seconds this time in and drops 3.5kgs after latest second in Cameron Handicap at Newcastle. Races well this track and fourth up he should be peaking.
Why he can’t: Has had every chance in three starts since a spell. Had the gun run when second to Hauraki in the Tramway, but was well held.
Lightly raced six-year-old gelding, the Group 2 Villiers was his biggest win. He finished second to Winx in the Doncaster in April.
Why he can: Followed super first-up run with luckless sixth behind Sons Of John in the Bill Ritchie Hcp (1400m). Was doing his best work late in both those races and out to 1600m should work in his favour.
Why he can’t: Just below top class and from barrier one he could strike traffic.
Provincial trained, won the Group 2 Lord Mayors Cup in Brisbane earlier this year.
Why he can: Races well this track and has a good second-up record.
Why he can’t: Outclassed.
European import and he is yet to win in Australia.
Why he can: Finished second to Winx in Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes during the autumn. Did all the chasing last start and run down by Hauraki and Le Romain in the Tramway Stakes. He didn’t shirk the task and will be at peak for this.
Why he can’t: Around the money, but rarely wins, with two wins from 27 starts hardly a solid record.
SONS OF JOHN
He won this year’s Hawkesbury Cup and was third in this race last year.
Why he can: Fitter for two runs from a spell and 1600m to his liking. Suited, when ridden quietly last start and fought on strongly to win the Bill Ritchie.
Why he can’t: Took a copybook Blake Shinn ride to get him home last start. From the outside gate he will find it hard to get the same sort of cushy run as he enjoyed last time out.
This Chris Waller-trained four-year-old won two Group 3 races during the Brisbane winter carnival.
Why he can: Resumed from a spell and was a game first-up winner of Theo Marks Quality (1300m). This is toughest test to date, but he is only lightly raced and there is every indication he has a big race win in him.
Why he can’t: May not be seasoned enough to match it with the top grade just yet.
English import, having second preparation for Chris Waller. He has met with good support.
Why he can: In form with two wins in a row. Latest was career best in Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes, beating Sir John Hawkwood and Allergic. Carries just 51.5kgs and has drawn ideally in four.
Why he can’t: Having his first start at Group 1 level and may not be up to the task at this stage of his career.
Consistent Group 1 placed mare prepared by Tim Martin.
Why she can: Turned in a powerful finish to win Group 3 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) two starts back. Prior to a spell she was second to Azkadellia in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes at this track and distance.
Why she can’t: She backs-up here after a disappointing run last week and best runs have been against her own sex.
A four-year-old Group 1 winning entire prepared by Waller.
Why he can: Two runs this time in have been sound. Latest was beaten 4.8lengths when fourth to Winx and Hauraki in the George Main Stakes. He drops 7.5 kilograms here and meets Hauraki on 4.5kgs better terms.
Why he can’t: His Group 1 win in the Champion Stakes was over 2000m and he may be looking for longer than the 1600m here.
This Waller lightweight has been placed at Group 2 level.
Why he can: racing consistently this preparation. He will appreciate the extra distance here after a strong-finishing second to Sons Of John in the Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m).
Why he can’t: Has struggled in the past in the top grade and this looks too tough.
Up and coming five-year-old, trained by Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Botte.
Why he can: Bolted in by four lengths in a Benchmark 85, this track and distance last start. Will lead these a merry dance and will take running down with just 50kgs.
Why he can’t: Five wins from eight starts have been in much lower class and he faces a massive rise in grade.