Numbers are down, but the Hill Stakes (2000m) still brings together a quality field. Three of Australia’s top trainers supply the seven runners.
Chris Waller’s four-time Group 1 winner Preferment is joined by other elite level winning stablemates – Who Shot The Barman, Grand Marshal and Group 2 winner Storm The Stars.
John O’Shea saddles two Group 1 winners – short priced favourite Hartnell and Magic Hurricane. Melbourne Cup favourite Signoff will represent top Victorian trainer Darren Weir, though surprisingly Weir is yet to train a winner in Sydney.
Expect to see most of these horses lock horns again in the big spring majors, the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup .
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Godolphin six-year-old, that is on the second line of betting ($21), for the Melbourne Cup.
Why he can: Looked the winner a long way out when he scored a dominant (7.8length) win in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m). Fitter for two runs from a break and appears set for a big spring.
Why he can’t: A dry track may bring him back to the field. He has won on a good surface, but five of his eight wins have been on rain-affected ground.
Four-time Group 1 winner trained by Chris Waller and won this race last year. The five-year-old entire is a $34 chance for the Caulfield Cup.
Why he can: Was not comfortable in the heavy going when first-up fourth, beaten 8.1 lengths, to Hartnell in the Chelmsford. Rarely puts in a bad one and won this race last year when second-up.
Why he can’t: A heavy track will greatly reduce his chances and may be looking for longer than 2000m.
WHO SHOT THEBARMAN
Another Waller runner, this eight-year-old finished 11th in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
Why he can: Out to a more suitable distance following two runs from a spell. He battled on behind Hartnell last start, without threatening.
Why he can’t: Has developed into an out and out stayer and the first Tuesday in November is where he will have his main mission.
This seven-year-old gelding won last year’s Sydney Cup in April and is a $51 chance to win the Melbourne Cup.
Why he can: Was having his second start from a spell when he ran on powerfully, coming from last on the home turn to finish second to Hartnell. Fitter for two runs from a break and out to 2000m is more to his liking.
Why he can’t: Sydney Cup was his last win. Will struggle to stay in touch and better suited over 2400m and beyond.
STORM THE STARS
Former English stayer, who finished second in last year’s Irish Derby. He appears to have come on following his first preparation under Waller, during the Sydney autumn.
Why he can: Waller would have learned a lot about the horse from his autumn campaign. He resumed from a spell with an encouraging third to Hartnell. The five-year-old led and despite racing on the fence, which was the worst part of the track, he fought on strongly.
Why he can’t: He may need another run or two to come to hand.
This Godolphin seven-year-old gelding is the stablemate of Hartnell. Won last year’s Group 1 The Metropolitan.
Why he can: Looked the winner but tired late when third at Listed level in Premier’s Cup. That was his second run from a break, so he will have taken improvement and should get the gun run from the rails draw.
Why he can’t: He had a light autumn and didn’t perform. Not doing enough to suggest he is getting back to top form.
A lightly raced seven-year-old prepared by Melbourne trainer Darren Weir. He finished fourth in the 2014 Melbourne Cup and is $17 favourite for this year’s Cup.
Why he can: Racing into fitness and two runs from a break should have him primed to be very competitive over 2000m.
Why he can’t: he is a dead-set stayer and will find this trip too short.
3. Magic Hurricane
Who Shot The Barman