Chris Waller is well positioned to claim is second consecutive George Mains Stakes, and his third in the past four years, when he saddles up track specialists Kermadec and Royal Descent in this year’s renewal at Randwick on Saturday. Between them Kermadec and Royal Descent have contested ten Randwick Miles for one win, seven seconds and two third, including two second by Royal Descent in this race the past two years. The pair look set to enhance that amazing record after each recording two excellent runs back from a spell and they head the market with Kermadec ($3.00) and Royal Descent ($4.40) Pornichet ($5.50) and Lucia Valentina ($6.50) are the only other runners under double figure odds.
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1. PROTECTIONIST – C Reith (2)
Returned from a spell in the G2 Tramway Stakes and although last year’s Cup winner, who had an ordinary Autumn campaign, finished second last in the field of thirteen, his last furlong effort would’ve pleased trainer Kris Lees. Expect him to make further improvement again here but the mile still well short of his best distance.
2. PORNICHET – B Shinn (9)
Drew wide but pushed forward and gave Royal Descent plenty to run down when returning in the G2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) before finishing sixth (3.3 lengths) to Complacent in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m). Settled wide but with cover just off the pace last start, peeling out at the top of the straight and presenting well at the300m however, he didn’t go on with and actually tired late, dropping from third to sixth on the line. Has the runs on the board to be able to overlook that run and would expect him to bounce back well here, especially on a firmer surface.
3. HOOKED – T Angland (6)
Shot to the lead from a widest draw when resuming in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) and defied all challengers to register a half-length win over Ecuador. Excellent return and was not far off a world-class field when contesting the G1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) second up last campaign, finishing seventh (2.7 lengths) behind Real Impact and Criterion after a lovely run in transit from the inside gate. Drawn six here, so should be able to settle on the speed without too many problems but can he see off the challenges over the mile?
4. MORIARTY – J Cassidy (1)
As expected, the 8yo found the quality of opposition too good and the distance of the Chelmsford Stakes too short last time out, failing to make an impression from the back of the field when fourteenth and ten lengths from the winner. That was his second run in and neither would suggest he’s close to being in the right kind of form to be winning here.
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5. KERMADEC – G Schofield (5)
After hitting the line nicely first up in the Warwick Stakes (1400m) when fifth to stable-mate Royal Descent, the Doncaster Handicap winner was sent out a leading chance ($3.50) for the G2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at his only run since. He draw awkwardly (13) in the Chelmsford and was caught three deep just off the pace, which was set by Complacent. He was cuddled over the rise and look to be travelling strongly but the leader was able to maintain the advantage to the line, winning by 1.3 lengths, with a further 1.5 lengths to third placed Royal Descent. The 4yo lost no admirers last start being second up, caught deep over the tough Randwick Mile and easily make amends here.
6. SWEYNESSE – J McDonald (4)
Made is return to racing in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) but enjoyed no luck from a wider barrier and was posted three deep on the past for the majority of the race. Not surprisingly, his effort was short-lived in the straight and he weakened to finishing ninth, 3.2 lengths behind Hooked. Nothing went right last start and can expect a sharp improvement here, especially with a much more comfortable run from a good draw.
7. HAURAKI – S Clipperton (10)
Blew dramatically in the betting for his return effort in the G2 Tramway Stakes, $6 – $11, and ran accordingly. He settled midfield but never looked like his improving his position when the pressure was applied rounding the turn, struggling into tenth spot, 4.2 lengths behind Hooked. No genuine excuses given and impossible to include him here on that effort.
11. ROYAL DESCENT – J Bowman (7)
Secured a lovely run to record a much overdue victory in the G2 Warwick Stakes first up before running third, again after getting a good run in transit from an inside draw, when third (2.8 lengths) to Complacent in last fortnight’s G2 Chelmsford Stakes. That effort took her record at the Randwick mile to seven placings (five second, two thirds) from seven starts, including a third in this year’s Doncaster handicap when third up from a spell, as she is here.
9. LUCIA VALENTINA – B Avdulla (3)
She really caught the eye flashing home through the centre of the field first up in the G2 Tramway Stakes, finishing 1.6 lengths behind Hooked who led throughout. The Savabeel mare finished sixth in this race last year after winning the Tramway first up from a break at her previous start, and ninth when second-up last prep in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes. In fact, from three second-up runs, surprisingly, she’s yet to place. Surely with some cushion in the ground she’ll be able to improve that record here.
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10. KIRRAMOSA – T Berry (8)
Thought her return effort under 59kgs in a BM 90 over 1200m was excellent under the circumstances and she backed that up since with a lovely finishing effort in the G2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at her only run since, finishing fifth (1.4 lengths) behind Hooked. It’s been a while since she’s been at the top of her game but certainly looks headed back in that direction now given her two runs back and although 2000m would be more to her liking, would still expect to see her finishing strongly here.
RACE OVERVIEW –
If Hooked races in Friday’s Cameron Handicap instead of lining up here, hard to find a natural leader for the race. Royal Descent will position up handy to the speed, as will Kermadec from gate five, Pornichet from wider or out or maybe Godolphin’s Sweynesse will take up the running – it worked wonders for their galloper Complacent in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes recently. Given the question mark over the pace, sticking with the Waller’s pair of Kermadec and Royal Descent. Each of their respective runs back from a spell have been first class and their individual records at this track/trip our outstanding. The two mares at the bottom of the field, Kirramosa and Lucia Valentina will be hitting the line strongly.
2. ROYAL DESCENT