Generally held at the tail end of the Sydney autumn carnival, this year’s Rowley Mile has only attracted a small field, highlighted by the return to racing of The Offer. This will be the first step in another campaign aimed at the Melbourne Cup, a race he was one-time favourite for last year, but if he is to make a winning return, he’ll have to register his first career win below 2200m. He’s rated a $5.00 chance in what shapes up as a very competitive betting race with less two points separating the first five in the market. Narrowly leading the way is Dragon Flyer who registered a commanding and long-overdue, win at Canterbury last week at $4.20.
The Offer, Rugged Cross and Campania are all at $5.00 in early markets with Footy Fan at $5.50.
1. THE OFFER – B Shinn (5) 61kgs
Only the one start for Gai Waterhouse’s G1 winning stayer since last year’s spring campaign; that was on the Gold Coat this June in the Listed Southbank Insurance Stakes (1800m). He finished a credible sixth (2.9 lengths) behind Addictive Habit under the steadier of 61kgs, the same weight assigned to him here. Has had a trial since that run, resulting in a solid third over 1250m behind Amanpour (entered for Saturday’s Warwick Stakes) three weeks ago. Whilst this isn’t a race of great depth, he’ll be doing well to pick them up late on a track that generally favours though closer to the speed.
2. RUGGED CROSS – B Avdulla (7) 57kgs
The 7yo gelding has been a model of consistency this campaign, which has been highlighted by his win in the Listed Winter Stakes (1400m), finishing outside the top four only once in nine starts, four of which have been in black type events. Settled closer to the speed than he normally does last weekend in Open company and stuck on well to be nose out of third place, finishing 2.7 lengths behind Centre Pivot and Countryman. Chris Waller has him racing in great style at the moment and sure to be right in the mix here again too.
3. CAMPANIA – T Berry (2) 54kgs
The Dubai Destination mare has continued to improve steadily this campaign and graduated from BM 70 grade to winning a BM 85 (1900m) at her most recent outing, three weeks ago. Enjoyed a lovely run in transit last start and toughed it out well late, defying the many challengers late to score a head win over Zayam. Drawn to get a similar run here, is rock-hard fit – her current campaign commenced in early March, and will be there at the business end.
4. FOOTY FAN – C Nutman (1) 54kgs
The front-running grey mare has, as always, been giving her all in her four starts over the past six weeks, finishing inside of the top five positions on each of those occasions, the most recent resulting in a fourth (0.9 length) behind Bring A Ring. Surprisingly took a sit last time out but from gate one, around the Hawkesbury circuit where she already has two wins and a second from only five starts, that certainly won’t be the case here. Going well and Trainer Wayne Slinkard is a genuine hope of claiming a feature race on his home-track.
5. UNCLE SUGAR – W Costin (3) 54kgs
Lightly race and improving gelding from local trainer Terry Vigouroux’s yard, the son of Danroad’s last race was back in early June when he was narrowly beaten (long neck) in a BM 75 (2400m) at Rosehill by Doukhan. Given a nine week freshen up since then and a good hit-out in a recent Randwick trail over 1200m, which he won comfortably by a length and a half. Draws well and should take up an advantageous position in the run. Strike Rate for the former New Zealand galloper isn’t great (4 from 27) however, he was ticking over nicely before the let-up and if he’s continued to improve at the rate, could produce a cheeky effort here.
6. DRAGON FLYER – K McEvoy (4) 54kgs
Repaid patient followers – finally, with a dominant 3.8 length win last week at Canterbury in a BM 70 (1550m). That was only his third win of his career but will serve as a confidence booster and it also demonstrated why this Pendragon gelding always starts in a well-supported commodity in betting. He maps perfectly for this and capable of improving the strike rate figure again.
7. VITE LONI – C Reith (6) 54kgs
Finished strongly at Wyong first up off a ten week let-up to run a long neck third to El Sasso before a plain effort behind the promising Golden Falls at Rosehill in a BM 75 (1400m). Stepped out again just last Saturday in a BM 80 (1500m) but after securing a lovely run in transit, was no match for the contenders inside the final furlong and finished eighth (2.9 lengths) behind the in-form Dylan’s Rojo. Does like this track, hasn’t missed a place in three starts, but would think he has to make too much improvement in too little time.
8. COLOUR PURPLE – J Ford (8) 54kgs
You have to go back, way back, in the form to find the most recent win for this 9yo gelding. It came at Cowra in January of 2011 and that probably says enough about his chances in this race. He did come close to breaking the drought for his long-suffering connections last start though, with 0.9 lengths fourth at Kembla Grange in a BM 60 last Saturday, but would be surprised to see him finish anywhere near that close of the winner of this race.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Small field but pace should be honest with Footy Fan leading the way and the likes of Campania, Dragon Flyer and Uncle Sugar all settling close. Footy Fan is the one for mine. She gave up the lead to eventual winner early in the piece last weekend and could very well be heading into this race a last start winner. She drops 2kg in weight and her racing pattern lends itself well to Hawkesbury. Dragon Fly will be left with no excuses whilst Campania and Rugged Cross are both in good form, rock hard fit, and rate legitimate chances.
1. FOOTY FAN
2. DRAGON FLYER
4. RUGGED CROSS