The first Group race of the Sydney season – the Missile Stakes, will be held at Randwick this Saturday with punters confident that Messene can go one better than his narrow second in last year’s edition of the 1200m sprint. Opening up at $4.20 on Wednesday afternoon, the Hawkes Racing runner was immediately supported and by the evening, was in to $3.20. Winner of last year’s Missile Stakes was the Gai Waterhouse trained Sweet Idea who in this year’s representative Liberty Choice, has a legitimate chance to make it back-to-back victories. Liberty Choice ($8.00) returned to racing off a long break with a solid fourth behind the in-form Rugged Cross and like Messene, maps well for the race. Other runners under double figure odds are Weary ($5), Temple Of Boom ($4.60), Burbero ($7.00) and Lord Leofric ($7.50)
BONUS BET #1: $501 BONUS BET at Sportsbet.com.au
1. WEARY – G Schofield (9) 58.5kgs
Chris Waller turned out 6yo gelding for a spell after rounding out his autumn campaign with a second (2.3 length) placing in the G1 Doomben Cup (2000m) behind Pornichet. Generally races well fresh; he won the Expressway Stakes (1200m) first up last prep and was returning from spell when finishing a close up fifth (1.5 lengths) in the race last year behind Sweet Idea. He had plenty more to offer in a recent trial when fifth and on previous first up efforts, would have to come in for some consideration.
2. MESSENE – T Berry (3) 58.5kgs
A month short of a year since we’ve last seen this lightly race 7yo compete and the Hawkes Racing camp are sticking to a proven formula for his return. Before running a head second in this race last year first up, the son of Lonhro was given two barrier trials, the second of which was the week of the race. That’s the exact case for his preparation into this year’s edition and he travelled well within himself in Tuesday’s trial. Maps well from the perfect draw and will give a good account of himself.
3. TEMPLE OF BOOM – W Costin (2) 58.5kgs
A late nomination for this race by trainer Tony Gollan, the now 9yo returns from a brief let-up after a fruitless winter campaign that on close inspection, was better than it reads on paper. He ran second to Chautauqua in the G3 Bobbie Lewis (1200m) when off a similar break last spring and more recently, produced a solid sixth first up behind Srikandi in the leader dominated G2 Victory Stakes (1200m). He has produced two solid Sydney trials recently, winning the latest by four lengths from Speak Fondly however with only the one win from his past thirty starts, it’s hard to take him with any confidence and place chances appear best.
4. BURBERO – B Loy (6) 58.5kgs
Bjorn Baker’s gelding graduated from a BM 85 to a Group 2 winner last campaign and looks set for another promising preparation this spring after a promising return to racing in the July Sprint (1200m). He settled back in the field under the steadier of 58.5kgs but was working home nicely on the heavy surface to finish second (2.3 lengths) behind impressive winner Brook Road. Can only be fitter for that run and whilst 1200m appears to still be short of his best, wouldn’t be dismissed lightly.
BONUS BET #2: $500 BONUS BET at Ladbrokes.com.au
5. AOMEN – B Avdulla (7) 58.5kgs
Found the stronger race of the autumn carnival just beyond in his reach in a short campaign earlier this year. He was spelled after finishing seventh (3.4 lengths) to Leebaz in the G2 Hollindale Stakes (1800m) at the Gold Coast on Anzac Day and has been readied for his return with the one trial, in which he ran second to Havana, last week. Will likely push forward but was well accounted for at his only other previous attempt over this distance and being winless in ten starts at this track, it is hard to see him being able to hold off the challengers late.
6. ZARATONE – K O’Hara (4)
The 10yo hasn’t been far away during several races over the winter months however, has kept finding at least one or two better than him on the day. This race will be no easier than his previous this campaign and we’re closing in on two years since the former speedster last won a race. Couldn’t have him here at the set weights.
7. SEE THE WORLD – C Reith (4)
As always, the Danzero 9yo was seen running on well late when sixth (2.3 lengths) behind Rugged Cross in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m) at his most recent start. It was a good effort given the race favoured those close to the speed and fence but fact remains, it’s been over two years since he last won a race. Has fitness on his side, this will be his sixth run in this prep but he’ll find no easier than the previous five, and will need to produce a career best.
BONUS BET #3: Deposit $200 BET with $600 at CrownBet.com.au
8. LORD LEOFRIC – T Angland (6)
Unbeaten this time in from three starts and backed up a super impressive win at Canterbury in a BM 70 (1200m) with a tough effort on a heavy track under 58.5kgs, to oust Ourjo on the line. That made it four wins from six starts for the David Pfeiffer galloper and whilst he appears certainly destined for better races, this one might be a bit too much at this stage of his career. He was also nominated for the BM 79
9. LIBERTY’S CHOICE – N Rawiller (4)
Gai Waterhouse ensured he was ready to run a race first up in the Winter Stakes (1400m) three weeks ago by sending the 5yo out with three barrier trials in the space of a month under his belt. He camped on the speed from a good draw but the combination of the seven furlongs and a heavy track, told in the final stages and he finished a game fourth (0.8 lengths) behind Rugged Cross. It was an excellent return and he has drawn to get a gun run here – the flipside, he does rise sharply in weight here on the first up effort and still only has the one win from twenty starts to his name.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Zaratone leads out with Aomen and that pair will ensure a genuine speed and, provide the perfect trial for Messene and Liberty’s Choice who have both drawn well. No Sweet Idea’s in this year’s race and that gives Messene the perfect opportunity to register his tenth career win. Liberty’s Choice was very good first up over 1400m on a heavy track and that will serve as a perfect hit-out for her, back to 1200m and on top of the ground. Weary runs well fresh and will be charging late whilst Burbero seems set for another strong prep after a good first up hit-out.
2. LIBERTY’S CHOICE