Great Esteem set to lead Winx in George Main Stakes

There are few scenarios where an interstate trip for a Group One race against a superstar is an easier option than a Group Three event on your home track.

But that’s what faces Great Esteem and trainer Stuart Webb ahead of Saturday’s George Main Stakes (1600m) at Randwick.

Webb is not expecting to deny Winx an 11th straight victory but he wants natural leader Great Esteem to be in front for as long as he can manage it.

“I’m hoping he’s not there to inject pace,” Webb said.

“I’d love for him to go forward in a small field and get away with some easy sectionals.”

The alternative was to run the same day in the Group Three Naturalism Stakes at Caulfield.

The strength of the Naturalism field was one of the deciding factors in taking on Winx at the top level.

“It’s going to be a real high pressure race down here on probably a wetter track,” Webb said.

“This smaller field with the possibility of a couple of runners coming out will be a lower pressure race.”

Webb’s is not the only stable which concedes the task before them may be insurmountable.

Godolphin assistant trainer Darren Beadman is hoping Hauraki can get a nice run to set the horse up for the Epsom Handicap in two weeks.

“He’s got a little bit of a hurdle ahead of him in Winx, but in saying that, the horse is in really fine form,” Beadman said.

Waller put the finishing touches on Winx with a track gallop at Rosehill on Wednesday morning.

She trialled at Warwick Farm on Friday to make up for missing a run in the Chelmsford Stakes where she was scratched because of a wet track.

“She’s very much a natural athlete,” Waller said.

“I don’t think it has too much effect on her what we do in the mornings, what lead-up runs she has.

“She looks like she’s come back very well – a bit bigger and bit stronger. Hopefully that makes her a bit better.”

Tosen Stardom’s Victorian trainer Darren Weir has never won a race in Sydney despite breaking the Australasian record for most winners in a season last year.

The Japanese import will have to cause a boilover to break Weir’s duck and shares the second line of betting with Hauraki at $11.

Le Romain is set to run in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle on Friday, reducing the field to a maximum of seven runners.

If Winx holds her $1.15 quote, it will be the shortest price she has been sent out in her career.


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