Trainer Chris Waller has had another stellar season; training fourteen Group 1 winners to date however you get the feeling that he’d gladly cash them all in if it meant Catkins could earn a victory at the elite level. The ultra-consistent mare has been placed on five occasions from her seven starts in Group 1 company, finishing second in each of her last two attempts – the Canterbury Stake (1300m) and Queen Of The Turf (1600m). Catkins is prominent in market ($4.00) after drawing well for Saturday’s $500k feature, shading Stradbroke Handicap winner Srikandi who didn’t fare at all well at the barrier draw, coming up with the extreme outside gate. Srikandi is $4.60 but both mares are behind Gai Waterhouse’s exciting filly Najoom ($3.80), who is still not assured of a run given she is currently the second emergency.
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1. SRIKANDI – K McEvoy (20)
After a disappointing effort in the G1 Doomben 10,000, the Victorian mare bounced back to her best in last fortnight’s G1 Stradbroke Handicap, scoring an impressive 1.8 length win over in-form pairing of Boban and Generalife. That was her fifth win from eight starts in Queensland and she is two from two at the Gold Coast. Perfectly placed back to her won sex at set weights and even with the horror draw, has be rated a leading hope.
2. HAZARD – B Melham (14)
Made it three wins on the trot and four from five starts this campaign with a strong win in the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes at her most recent outing, defeating Catkins by 1.3 lengths. Meets Catkins 2kgs worse at the weights this week however, the daughter of Flying Spur has been returning improving figures with each run this campaign and could still be on the upward curve. Stable report she has trained on well and will be again charging late here.
3. DIADEME – (13)
New Zealand mare who has now joined the Warwick Farm stables of Bjorn Baker and she was doing her best work late on debut for her new trainer, running sixth (2 lengths) behind Divertire in Scone’s Listed Dark Jewel (1400m) under the steadier of 59kgs. That was her first run in over a month and since a touch run in the G1 Queen Of The Turf (1600m) at Randwick. Kept up to the mark since Scone with a recent barrier trial but only has the one win from five outings in Australia and meeting a quality field here, she would need to produce a career-best.
4. CATKINS – H Bowman (3)
Ultra consistent mare who for her tenth consecutive outing, filled a place when second to Hazard in the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes (1350m) a fortnight ago. That was the 5yo’s first run in almost two months and being over the 1350m, the latter stages of that race were always going to be her toughest however, she’ll strip much fitter for here and trainer Chris Waller, who is desperate for this mare to win deserved Group 1 race, has set her specifically for it. Perfectly drawn and will be in the finish, as always, in some capacity.
5. REAL SURREAL – M Cahill (16)
After a winless stint with the Hawkes Racing Team, the Real Saga 4yo mare returned to original trainer Kelso Wood at the start of this campaign and confirmed she was in good order with a strong finishing fourth (3.5 lengths) in the Listed Bright Shadow (1200m) first up. She delivered on the promise that run suggested by producing a slashing final furlong to claim last weekend’s Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich. The 2012 Magic Millions winner has returned in top order and whilst this field is a significant rise in class on last week’s event, she’ll get a solid tempo up front to help her finish strongly again.
6. AVOID LIGHTNING – T Clark (1)
She was given a month off after being caught deep throughout from a wide gate in the G1 William Hill (1200m) and returned with a courageous second in the Listed June Stakes a fortnight ago, carrying 60kgs compared to winner’s Wouldn’t It Be Nice’s 54kgs. She ran a neck third in this race last year after winning the June Stakes and given her strong record on rain-affected ground, the 6yo mare looks well placed to repeat last year’s effort. She’ll need a touch of luck from the inside gate but will only need a half a chance to be competitive.
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7. SOLICIT – T Angland (7)
Gerald Ryan has been able to get this 4yo mare, formerly with the Ellerton/Zahra stable, back to her best in a handful of starts for the Rosehill trainer. She finished strongly to claim the G3 Darley Crown before being narrowly defeated by stablemate, whom she gave 4kgs to, in the G3 Glenlogan Park Stud Stakes (1350m) four weeks back. She has missed a place at her last three attempts at the elite level but from what shapes as a favourable draw and in her current form, she’s well placed to improve that stat here.
8. THUMP – G Colless (9)
Given three weeks off after returning from a spell with a disappointing effort first up in the Listed Ortensia Stakes and returned with a much stronger fourth (0.9 length) in the Listed Hinkler Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago. She is a Group 2 winner but as the starting price of her latest two wins suggest ($26 and $12), she can be a hard mare to catch. At her best when able to camp on a favourable tempo but with a quality field of runners sure to keep her honest, hard to see her on recent form, being to hold off the challengers late.
9. ESTONIAN PRINCESS – P Hammersley (2)
Much more has been expected from this 4yo mare in her last two starts after producing an outstanding first up effort in the Listed Silk Stocking (1200m) for her new trainer Gerald Ryan. A disappointing tenth (5 lengths) in the BRC Sprint (1350m) was followed by an even worse result when last of eleven in the G3 Lord Mayor’s (1600m), beaten over a dozen lengths. It’s hard to have her included among the better hopes here on her recent form.
10. POLITENESS – (5)
Very good win first up at Caulfield and again at her following start when sixth (1.4 lengths) in the G1 William Hill (1200m) but the Robert Smerdon trained mare has finished well out of the placings at her two most recent starts – the G1 Goodwood Handicap and Dane Ripper Stakes. She drew wide in the Goodwood and settled back in a race favouring those closer to the speed before over-racing in the early stages of the Dane Ripper and from an awkward spot on the fence, finding limited room in the straight. Better horse than her last two runs would suggest and does love a wet track, but will need plenty of luck given her racing pattern, in the run home.
11. BOUND FOR EARTH – T Bell (8)
Like most runners at present from the Toby Edmonds stable, this mare is going very well. She was very good on pace and from a wide gate in the Listed Dark Jewel (1400m) at Scone two starts back before running third to Hazard in the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes. She just couldn’t match Hazard’s sprint at the top of the straight last start but was closing strongly late to finish 1.8 lengths from the winner. Might get her chance in the run from gate eight, which should see her camped off a good speed but still only two wins to her name and this is a quality field.
12. ROSE OF CHOICE – D Browne (15)
Although first up for five month spell, punters were keen on her in the Listed Dark Jewel Stakes at Scone, sending her out the 11/4 favourite. The former WA mare, who is still looking for her first win in the eastern states after seven starts, over-raced early and was posted three deep in the run, knocking up late to finish fifth behind Divertire. It was a similar story at her only start since, the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes when again she got caught wide and stuck on tenaciously for fourth (2.3 lengths) behind Hazard who followed her through in the run. Always threatened to win a good race like this and a change of fortune in her races, should see her go class her but again, luck on her side in terms of the barrier draw.
13. PERON – B Avdulla (18)
Peter Moody’s mare was looking for a change of fortune after two luckless runs in the G3 Darley Crown and G3 Glenlogan Park Stud Stakes but connections were again left frustrated after she contested the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes. The 5yo mare, whose last win came a year ago in the Eye Liner Stakes, settled handy the lead but as the field fanned turning for home, she was left with nowhere to go behind a wall of leaders and was never able to get a clear crack at them in the straight. Going better than her recent record reads would suggest but a poor draw will make this a hard task for here.
14. DUBLIN LASS – (19)
Made it two wins from three starts this campaign and four victories from her past six starts, with a well-deserved Stakes victory in the Bright Shadow Stakes (1200m). She was ridden a treat last time out by Tommy Berry, settling midfield in the running line and biding her time behind a hot pace before finishing strongly to record a length victory. Fourth in that race was Real Surreal, impressive winner of last week’s Eye Liner Stakes. She’s as honest as they come and could not be in better order for this challenge but a horror gate may make it a difficult one for her to meet.
15. PEGGY JEAN – Z Purton (17)
Drew wide in the Listed Queensland Day Stakes (1200m), her first start in nine weeks and for new yard Snowden Racing, and was caught wide throughout in the running, turning for home five deep. Although her run peaked with a 100m to go, the filly did well to stick on for seventh placing (1.6 lengths) behind Mohave. Has missed a place her last two second up runs but the services of world-class hoop Zac Purton and the likelihood of a soft surface, will see her with her share of supporters.
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16. LUMOSTY – M Zahra (10)
The daughter of Fastnet Rock gained the start but couldn’t fulfil punter’s expectations, who backed her into favouritism, running tenth (4.1 lengths) behind Srikandi in the G1 Stradbroke Handicap. She was posted deep midfield in the Straddie with limited cover and had to make her move at the 600m which saw her make the turn 5 and 6 deep. She could only hold her ground in the run home, finishing tenth (4.1 lengths) behind Srikandi who enjoyed the perfect run. Not much went in her favour last time out and could easily eat into that margin with a better run in transit.
17. TARLOSHAN – L Tarrant (11) (1st EM)
Given a nine week freshen-up after leading the field before finishing tenth (3.5 lengths) in the G1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) and returned by running second-to-last in the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes. The Istidaad mare had no luck in the running though from her position of three back on the fence. As the field bunched up soon after straightening, she ran out of room approaching the 200m and took no further part in the race. Should’ve finished closer than she did last start but whilst she’s a multiple Listed winner, still might find a few too good for her at this level.
18. NAJOOM – T Berry (12) (2nd EM)
Registered her fifth win from only seven starts in emphatic style at Doomben a month ago, dominating her rivals to win the G3 Fred Best Classic by 3.3 lengths. Has had a meteoric rise through the grades since winning her maiden first up this campaign back in March and still appears to have more to offer. Missed a run due to a minor injury after the Fred Best but was clearly over it judging by her impressive trial win here on the Gold Coast earlier in the week. Maybe not quite as effective on the wet ground but, if she gets a start, will live up the expectation that have been put on her.
19. JAZZ SONG – J Byrne (4) (3rd EM)
Caught deep for the final three furlongs of the G3 Glenlogan Park Stud Stakes two runs back (tenth, 5.6 lengths) before, from a wide drawing, pushing forward and helping to set the pace in the G2 Dane Ripper Stakes. She battled on ok there, finishing fifth (2.5 lengths) behind Hazard and whilst she’s drawn to get a sweeter run here from gate four, still think she’s a length or two off the top class mares, especially on wet conditions.
20. VERGARA – SCRATCHED
RACE OVERALL –
Typically tough Fillies and Mares Group 1 and regardless of Najoom making the field or not, speed here should be good with Srikandi having to go forward from her wide gate along with Dublin Lass, whilst Catkins and Thump will also be handy. Settled on Solicit here at good odds who with any luck, gets the right run from gate seven. Appears back to her best and enjoys the sting out of the track. Nice little weight drop too on each of her last starts. In an open race, happy to go with her each-way. Srikandi, despite the draw is hard to go past whilst Catkins just doesn’t run bad races.
A few at value who could be steaming late are Peron ($17) – no luck at all in recent runs, Politeness – loves the wet – has a win over Cosmic Endeavour on a heavy track, and the same price about her attracts attention – especially if track is playing into the hands of back-makers.