The curtain-raiser to the first Group 1 race of the season is the G3 William Hill Sprint Series (1200m) – previously known as the Cockram Stakes, for the fillies and mares. As always, it’s a capacity and competitive field to contest with only three runners in early markets under double figure odds – Cosmic Endeavour ($4), Hazard ($8.00) and early favourite, the lightly raced by highly promising Vezalay ($3.40). Vezalay is following the same preparation as last year’s winner of this race Gregers, who also started favourite, and tackling it second up after having won an Open handicap a fortnight early. Greger’s victory continued a stellar run for favourites in this race with the past four winners all having had saluted as the popular elect.
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1. COSMIC ENDEAVOUR – K McEvoy (9)
Multiple Group 1 winner returns to racing and given her two recent trail performances can be expected to run well. She had to lug 60kgs and was caught wide when first up last campaign and running a close-up fourth (1.2 lengths) to Thump in the G3 Triscay Stakes (1200m) at Randwick. Has an impeccable record against her own sex and sure to run well.
2. MAY’S DREAM – D Lane (13)
She has only had the one start since spring last year, but after that effort resulted in a disappointing finish in the Golden Topaz at Swan Hill in June, she was again spelled. Has run well fresh previously but generally takes a start or two before she hits top gear. Given the time away from the track over the past year, combined with the wider draw, would think she’ll be in need of this run.
3. HAZARD – B Melham (17)
Won four of six starts last campaign, including the G3 Proud Miss Stakes and G2 Dane Ripper Stakes in consecutive starts, and took her strike rate to an impressive 10 from 26 starts. The daughter of Flying Spur has only had a brief break so no major concern she hasn’t trialled prior to this race however, the gate is a worry. She’ll need plenty of luck in running from out there.
4. GRIANTE – S Arnold (14)
Shot forward from a wide gate when resuming in the Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago and being first up, under 58kgs against the males, she fought on well to finish ninth (2.4 lengths) behind winner Setinum. Again drawn poorly and although she won the G3 Wenona Girl second up last time in, can’t help but think if she does go forward again, she’ll be left a bit vulnerable late with plenty in this field sure to be steaming home.
5. ESTONIAN PRINCESS – D Yendall (3)
Not even a change of stable was able to spark this 5yo Snitzel mare into form. She struggled through the winter campaign and last start, her first for seven weeks, failed to make an impression from the back of the field in an Open Class fillies and mares race over this course. Impossible to see how she wins this on current form.
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6. GIRL GUIDE – D Dunn (8)
Although not able to register a win from her four starts last time in, she wasn’t far away in each event – all of which were quality races. She was beaten a short-priced favourite first up last campaign in the G3 Bellamaine Stakes (1200m), finishing four lengths behind Tycoon Tiara. Only the one win thus far from eight attempts at Group level but as always, will give her best and rates a place chance.
7. VIBRANT ROUGE – L Currie (4)
Spelled after finishing near the tail-end of the field in the Listed Anniversary Stakes and will return to racing off a five month break with two trials under her belt. Whilst she’s won three from five fresh, her last two first-up efforts have seen her well-beaten, in races of much lesser quality than this, and despite her mapping well and being a G3 winner and place-getter, will probably find this too tougher of an assignment first up.
8. MADAM GANGSTER – B Shinn (15)
In a real purple patch of form last campaign, winning four straight before running a great fourth (2.2 lengths) in the G2 Emancipation Stakes behind Catkins, finishing well in a leader dominated race. Hasn’t been seen at the trials but if continued to make improvement at the same rate as she did when last in week, despite the wider draw, she’ll be able to put herself right in the picture here.
9. LOVED UP – R Bensley (10)
Got a charmed run through the field from an improbable position to take out the 3yo Scone Guineas back in May, her most recent start, defeating Nayeli by 1.3 lengths. That saw the Nicconi mare, who ran sixth (4.6 lengths) in the G3 Champagne Stakes behind Eloping this time last year, take her career wins to six from only thirteen starts and she keeps improving. A back-maker, she’ll be giving most a decent start turning form home and whilst she’ll be finishing strongly, wouldn’t think over this trip she’ll be able to pick them all up.
10. JESSY BELLE – V Duric (6)
Registered back-to-back wins earlier this year at Flemington over 1400m before earning herself a seven-week let-up from trainer Luke Oliver. She has been unplaced in three previous starts this company but should get the opportunity to improve that record here given she gets down to 55kgs, had found some form and has drawn well in six, which should see her secure a lovely run from the jump. In a very open race, she’s not without some hope for mine.
11. NADEEM LASS – C Newitt (1)
Put together a string of frustrating placings before being well accounted for when stepping in grade and contesting the G3 Bletchingly Stakes and G3 Aurie’s Star Stakes. She has a poor strike rate with only three wins from thirty-nine starts and given she gets back in her races, she’ll be in need of plenty of luck from the inside gate in a big field.
12. SCARLETT BILLOWS – M Payne (16)
Wasn’t far off them when trying her hand at some of the better stakes races toward the end of her last preparation, including running second to Under The Louvre in the Listed Hareeba Stakes. That would encourage connections to have a crack at a few of these fillies and mares races and allow trainer Darren Weir to set her program for them. Drawing wide here though will see her get back in the field and probably too far back to be winning without having to produce a career best.
13. MORE RADIANT – M Dee (5)
Retuned from a brief ten week let-up with an encouraging second (1 length) to Vezalay in Open fillies and mares company a fortnight ago. Draw wider out on that occasion and settled back but seems to be just as effective when sitting closer to the speed which she’ll be able to do here from a perfect draw. Mick Price’s mare placed behind the likes of Tawteen and Earthquake earlier in her career and shapes as one that creates a bit of interest.
14. DOUBLE DEE – (12)
Have to go back to March 2014 to find this mare’s last win. Trainer Jason Warren has given her a winning barrier trial and she prepares to return from four month spell however, on her previous efforts, find it impossible to see how she figures in the finish.
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15. SOOSA RAMA – P Moloney (2)
Returned from a spell for local trainer Colin Little by running sixth (5.2 lengths) behind Vezalay in Open company. Drifted in betting that day 7/1 out to 12/1 and wanted to see more from her at the finish before warranting consideration in a race such as this.
16. PETITE DIABLESSE – M Walker (7)
Can produce a big finish but unfortunately for punters’ knowing when she will is proving a hard thing to predict. She’ll tackle this first up from a six month spell but did look well in running second, when ridden by Walker, in a recent trial at Cranbourne. Ran third in the G3 The Vanity back in 2013 behind Alzora but hasn’t been back to this grade since.
17. VEZALAY – M Rodd (11)
Promising mare who has won two of her six starts to date, including a comfortable length win when first up from a spell at Caulfield a fortnight ago. The daughter of Shamardal, who finished a close third to Wawail in the G3 Kewney Stakes (1400m) at only her fourth start, was simply too good for her rivals last start, leading all the way. Will find this harder again but will also have taken great benefit out of last start’s run and appears to be right in the thick of things here.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Where to start here??
Playing it safe and sticking to the top of the weights which always seem to pay dividends in these set weight races for the females, and going with Cosmic Endeavour. Trailed well and will trust the in-form McEvoy to find the little bit of cover she needs in the run from barrier nine. Plenty to like about Vezalay’s win last start and better races than that are in store for her but just quite come into her first go this class at the short price. Madam Gangster was a real improver last time in and could easily pick up from where she left off. She’s drawn wide but likely to get back anyway and there’ll be enough speed on here to allow her to finish strongly.
1. COSMIC ENDEAVOUR
2. MADAM GANSTER
4. MORE RADIANT