“Place chance, but with a lucky ride who knows”.
That’s how I described Rekindling’s chances in my ‘not-so-expert analysis’ of last year’s Melbourne Cup, so as far as I’m concerned that’s as good as having tipped him, which basically means you can take what I’m about to offer up to the bank.
Actually, maybe take it with a grain of salt because even though I liked Rekindling I didn’t actually outlay anything on him.
Anyone who read my thoughts on last year’s race that stops the nation will know my punting’s usually restricted to the first Tuesday in November each year, maybe a few Group 1 and 2 races on the calendar as well depending on whether I’m following a runner or not.
Not anymore, though.
Saturday is Royal Randwick’s biggest day of the year, with the $13 million Everest fantastically now being run alongside its country-restricted brother in the $1.3 million Kosciuszko, and it gives me the chance to once again try and pass myself off as a racing guru for a day or two.
Before we go on, one on the latter race, it’s a brilliant concept.
Although it’s somewhat disappointing from a personal perspective to only see one Central West chance in the field, The Kosciuszko is an incredible opportunity for country-based trainers and owners who are often overlooked when it comes to bigger, richer events.
Now for the good stuff.
As per my 2017 Melbourne Cup guide, I’ve put together a cheat sheet on both The Everest and The Kosciuszko fields, with an insight into which runners I like and which I don’t, and why.
Once again I’m putting my betting strategy out there too, so don’t hesitate to give it to me if my picks end up being duds.
I will at the very least clarify that I’ve followed a lot of these horses with an eye on the Everest and thanks to The Kosciuszko being a country-restricted race I know a bit about those horses too, so this might not be an entirely useless analysis. At the very least it might help the not-so-regular punter, but maybe I’m getting too big for my boots there...
Oh god, I’m starting to second guess myself already and we’re only a third of the way through this, maybe I should join Marge Simpson in the wuss bets line.
On a serious note. I make light of having a punt here but gambling addiction is a very real thing which can have devastating consequences, so if you do have a bet, please do so responsibly.
DISTANCE: 1200 Metres; PRIZEMONEY: $13 million (first $5.8 million, second $1.425 million, third $800,000, fourth $400,000, fifth $250,000, sixth-12th $175,000); TIME: 4.15pm
THE FIELD (slotholder, jockey, trainer, barrier, weight)
1 REDZEL (S: Yulong Investments; J: Kerrin McEvoy; T: Peter, Paul Snowden; B: 1; W: 58.5kg)
Major wins: Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m), Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m), The Everest (1200m)
2 SANTA ANA LANE (S: Inglis; J: Ben Melham; T: Anthony Freedman; B: 9; W: 58.5kg)
Major wins: Group 1 Stadbroke Handicap (1400m),Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m), Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m)
3 LE ROMAIN (S: GPI Racing; J: Glyn Schofield; T: Kris Lees; B: 11; W: 58.5kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m), Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m), Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m)
4 TRAPEZE ARTIST (S: Aquis; J: Tye Agland; T: Gerald Ryan; B: 6; W: 58.5kg)
Major Wins: Group I Golden Rose (1400m), Group I TJ Smith Stakes (1200m), Group I All Aged Stakes (1400m)
5 VEGA MAGIC (S: James Harron; J: Damien Oliver; T: David, Ben Hayes, Tom Dabernig; B: 7; W: 58.5kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m), Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m)
6 BRAVE SMASH (S: Chris Waller; J: Hugh Bowman; T: Darren Weir; B: 4; W: 58.5kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m)
Barriers done for The @tabcomau#theEverest !— Australian Turf Club (@atc_races) October 9, 2018
1. Redzel (1)
2. Santa Ana Lane (9)
3. Le Romain (11)
4. Trapeze Artist (6)
5. Vega Magic (7)
6. Brave Smash (4)
7. Osborne Bulls (5)
8. US Navy Flag (3)
9. In Her Time (8)
10. Shoals (2)
11. Viddora (12)
12. Graff (10) pic.twitter.com/gOdA6CV3mN
8 US NAVY FLAG (S: Coolmore; J: Ryan Moore; T: Aidan O’Brien; B: 3; W: 58kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 Middle Park Stakes (six furlongs), Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes (6f), Group 1 July Cup (6f)
9 IN HER TIME (S: Tabcorp; J: Corey Brown; T: Kris Lees; B: 8; W: 56.5kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m)
10 SHOALS (S: The Star; J: Tim Clark; T: Anthony Freedman; B: 2; W: 56.5kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m), Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m), Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes (1200m)
11 VIDDORA (S: Damion Flower; J: Joe Bowditch; T: Lloyd Kennewell; B: 12; W: 56.5kg)
Major Wins: Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m), Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m)
12 GRAFF (S: Max Whitby and Neil Werrett; J: Brenton Avdulla; T: Kris Lees; B: 10; W: 53kg)
Major Wins: Group III San Domenico Stakes (1100m)
17 OSBORNE BULLS (S: Australian Turf Club; J: Tommy Berry; T: James Cummings; B: 5; W: 58.5kg)
Major wins: Listed Regal Roller Stakes, Listed Luskin Star Stakes
13 CLEARLY INNOCENT (T: Kris Lees; W: 58.5kg)
14 DOTHRAKI (T: Peter, Paul Snowden; W: 58.5kg)
15 JUNGLE EDGE (T: Mick Bell; W: 58.5kg)
16 PIERATA (T: Gregory Hickman; W: 58.5kg)
18 SPRIGHT (T: Garry Frazer; W: 56.5kg)
THE TOP PICKS
This is a ridiculous field, one that includes 10 individual Group 1 winners and boasts a combined $33 million in prizemoney.
With that in mind every runner arguably has a claim on the $5.8 million winner’s cheque, but for me there’s a handful that do stand out above the rest.
1 REDZEL ($7)
Even though he’s gone nowhere near recapturing his form of last year it’s impossible to discount the Snowden’s star, which is part-owned here in Orange and is the reigning champion. Plenty are questioning him after he drifted outside the placings in the Group 2 Premiere Stakes a few weeks ago, I’m discounting that result though.
The Snowdens have always been targetting the Everest and Kerrin McEvoy was reasonably pleased with how he was tracking regardless of that result. He had the headwind there too, so the pace was strong.
The six-year-old likes wet tracks, and if he gets easy on-speed sectionals he’ll be incredibly tough to run down.
I was leaning toward this maybe being slightly too big a task for the champion earlier in the week, until the barrier draw. He won from barrier four last year but is a noted front-runner and has drawn the inside this time around.
He’s rocketed back into joint favouritism thanks to that, and there’s value in the odds he still has too.
2 SANTA ANA LANE ($9.50)
Probably wasn’t given as much thought as he deserved prior to his Premiere Stakes win but that run, which was very, very impressive and broke the 1200 track record, put the entire field on notice.
He’s in this up to his nose.
Granted he had some favours in winning that Group 2 but you need a certain degree of luck to win any big race.
The three-time Group 1 winner has drifted a bit in the market since drawing barrier nine, jockey Ben Melham made no secret of the fact he wanted a lower gate.
Some thought will need to be put into the race plan as a result, but is more than capable of producing again because he’s been known to handle wet going.
3 LE ROMAIN ($21)
The more I look at the field, and the conditions, the more I like Kris Lees’ six-year-old.
He was one of the last picked up for the race, replacing Invincible Star, and he’s constantly underrated too.
The big thing for me is the weather, and the track. Lees was quoted during the week saying “the wetter the better” and with the track a heavy 9 at time of publication, that looks to be a box ticked. His record shows that too, with three wins and two seconds from six runs on heavy ground.
Then consider the fact he loves Randwick too, with 16 starts there for five wins and seven second finishes, and has Winx form too, and you’ve got a real contender in my eyes.
The long odds do nothing to scare me away, a perfect each-way bet for me.
10 SHOALS ($7.50)
Loved her for the Premiere Stakes and she didn’t disappoint, coming within inches of rolling over the top of Santa Ana Lane after running down the likes of Redzel and Trapeze Artist in an eye-catching run at almost 10-to-one.
Her victory in the Group 1 Sangster Stakes over this distance in Autumn was equally impressive, she should come in at full fitness and there’s plenty suggesting she’ll only be better for her run in the ‘mini-Everest’ three weeks ago.
Whether she can do that is the biggest question mark, because she’ll have to in stronger company.
Likes softer ground though, she’s unbeaten on soft tracks and has won on the Everest course on heavy ground too.
THE NEXT BEST
I’m sure there’s a few people out there now saying what about the likes of 4 TRAPEZE ARTIST ($8), 5 VEGA MAGIC ($7.50), 9 IN HER TIME ($14) and 8 US NAVY FLAG ($8.50), all of which look the goods leading in.
As I said, this field’s very, very tough to pick from, and you could certainly do worse than backing these four, I just have a few queries around them.
With 8 US NAVY FLAG and 9 IN HER TIME it’s about the weather and the track, they’ve both done reasonably well on soft ground but have no form to speak of on heavy tracks even though they’re both tracking very well.
With 4 TRAPEZE ARTIST the thought of that heavy track comes to mind as well and he hasn’t been at his brilliant best recently, although he’s a noted third-up star.
In terms of 5 VEGA MAGIC, I actually really like him. Was the hard luck story in last year’s run but still finished second and looks in as good a form as then, I just don’t like him as much as the other four I’ve picked.
I’ve got $100 to play with here, no more, no less.
I can’t bring myself to leave Redzel out so I’m looking at him to win, a couple of others each-way and my usual, jam-packed flexi trifecta because as I said leading into last year’s Melbourne Cup – I need combinations, dang it, combinations!
ON THE NOSE
Le Romain ($10/$20)
FIRST: 1, 2, 10
SECOND: 1, 2, 3, 5, 10
THIRD: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10
That’ll come in at around 50 per cent.
DISTANCE: 1200 Metres; PRIZEMONEY: $1.3 million (first $685,000, second $260,000, third $130,000, fourth $65,000, fifth $32,500, sixth $20,000, seventh $16,000, eighth $16,000, ninth $16,000, 10th $16,000, 11th $8,750, 12th $8,750); TIME: 2.50pm
THE FIELD (jockey, trainer, barrier, weight)
1 THE MONSTAR (J: Tye Agland; T: Brett Cavanough; B: 9; W: 60kg)
2 SHARPE HUSSLER (J: Jason Collett; T: Cameron Crockett; B: 12; W: 58kg)
3 AFTER ALL THAT (J: Robert Thompson; T: Rodney Northam; B: 7; W: 57.5kg)
4 BELFLYER (J: Adam Hyeronimus; T: John Shelton; B: 11; W: 57.5kg)
5 VICTOREM (J: Ben Looker; T: Jenny Graham; B: 4: W: 57.5kg)
6 DON’T GIVE A DAMN (J: Kerrin McEvoy; T: Danny Williams; B: 10; W: 57kg)
7 SUNCRAZE (J: Corey Brown; T: Melanie O’Gorman; B: 5; W: 57kg)
8 SNITZ (J: Brenton Avdulla; T: Matthew Dunn; B: 2; W: 57kg)
9 RUTHLESS AGENT (J: Mitchell Bell; T: Kurt Goldman; B: 3; W: 56.5kg)
10 FUEL (J: Jay Ford; T: Wayne Wilkes; B: 8; W: 56kg)
11 O’SO HAZY (J: Brooke Sweeney; T: Scott Spackman; B: 6; W: 55kg)
12 AWESOME PLUCK (J: Tim Clark; T: Jenny Graham; B: 1; W: 55kg)
13 COOLRING (J: Kathy O’Hara; T: Joe Cleary; W: 58.5kg)
14 PRINCE MAYTED (T: Colt Prosser; W: 57.5kg)
15 ZARHRON (J: Damien Oliver (late alt); T: Andrew Molloy; W: 57.5kg)
16 CAERLESS CHOICE (T: Paul Messara; W:57kg)
THE TOP PICKS
Another excellent field, which was blown open somewhat when Matthew Dunn was forced to withdraw long-time pre-race favourite Care To Think after he pulled up with an elevated temperature after trackwork on Wednesday.
I probably could’ve included five or six runners here because like The Everest, there’s a reason to like them all, but there’s a couple of obvious front-runners I think people will find it very hard to look past.
5 VICTOREM ($3.80)
Won the $500,000 Country Championship final at Randwick in April and the four-year-old will start as a deserved favourite on Saturday afternoon because, simply, everything is working in his favour.
His record first-up is impeccable with three runs for two wins and a second and he comes in from a 20-week spell with two promising trials under his belt, he’s unbeaten at Randwick and over this trip as well, so ignore the fact the country championship win was actually over 1400.
Victory for Victorem!!— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) April 7, 2018
The rails run was true for Victorem as he races up on the inside and pulls clear with a mighty to kick to win the @NewhavenPark Country Championship Final @royralrandwick for @JGrahamRace & #TeamPortMacquarie!! pic.twitter.com/MB6yv7kjSX
Trainer Jenny Graham has said she’s a little cautious of her favourite in the wet although he’s won on a heavy track before, that was a maiden at Kempsey though, a far cry from this company.
He’s adaptable though and that’s not really enough to scare me off. He’s drawn barrier four too, one lane inside where he won the Country Championship.
6 DON’T GIVE A DAMN ($4)
I can’t say anything about Danny Williams’ star that hasn’t already been said.
Has an excellent record with 10 starts for six wins and was strong running second behind Victorem in the Country Championship final, an effort made all the more impressive by going through that preparation battling corns.
Williams said during the week this is the best he’s worked and it’s the first time they’ve had him fully fit, which is a dangerous thought.
Maybe questions over whether he’s looking further than 1200 and whether he’ll handle the wet, but was reportedly comfortable on it during work last week.
12 AWESOME PLUCK ($17)
An 11th hour call-up in Care To Think’s place, and is an even more lightly-raced stablemate of Victorem that gives Jenny Graham two chances at the $685,000 winner’s cheque.
He’s an outsider, there’s no doubt about that and the fact he’s only had six starts makes it somewhat difficult to judge.
But here’s the main reason I’ve included him – he’s a swimmer.
With a heavy track expected form in the wet has to be looked at closely, and this four-year-old has it.
He’s only failed to place in one of his six starts and three of them have come on tracks rater soft or worse, with his only start on a genuinely heavy track resulting in a win – although, admittedly, that was on debut at Taree midway through last year.
Still, there’s more than enough working his favour for me to be interested, especially after drawing the inside lane too.
THE NEXT BEST
I can’t not include Cameron Crockett’s 2 SHARPE HUSSLER ($14) because he’s the only Central West chance in the final field and he does have heavy form, so it’s not a complete heart-over-head decision.
Outside the Mudgee-trained gelding I’m looking at the likes of 3 AFTER ALL THAT ($7.50), which has worked well on rain-affected ground in the past, and 8 SNITZ ($11). The latter's slot resides with Bathurst’s Terry Roberts which is nice, but he’s been reasonable in the lead-up so should be kept in mind.
Right, $75 being put down on this one.
I’m not looking to go straight on a winner here, while $3.80 and $4 aren’t Winx odds, I’m going to look for a bit more value across this one.
Awesome Pluck ($25)
FIRST: 5, 6
SECOND: 3, 5, 6, 12
THIRD: 2, 3, 5, 6, 12
I’ll get around 140 per cent from that, if it comes off.
So there you have it, now let’s just hope this doesn’t end up like Krusty The Clown’s trip to the track...
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