The 2016 Winterbottom Stakes is the feature event at Ascot on Saturday and is the penultimate Group 1 of 2016 in Australia.
The Winterbottom Stakes is always an interesting race as the best sprinters in Western Australia take on some of the best sprinters from the Eastern States of Australia in conditions that generally favour the locals.
Eastern State Raiders Terravista and Malaguerra currently dominate betting. Will they deliver the Eastern States another Winterbottom Stakes victory or can the locals record an upset?
I have analysed all 12 horses in the 2016 Winterbottom Stakes field and you can find my thoughts in every single runner below.
Terravista has the chance to record a second win at Group 1 level in the Premiere Stakes. Photo by: Steve Hart
There is no doubt that Terravista is the class horse in the 2016 Winterbottom Stakes field and the question is whether he can recapture his best form. He returned to the races with a close second behind Redzel in the Mumm Stakes at Flemington on Crown Oaks Day and it is fair to say that he would have won if he was in the better part of the track. If he is able to improve on that performance he is the horse to beat in this race, but he has developed a habit of taking a step backwards second-up before bouncing back to a semblance of his best form third-up. There is no doubt that he is a leading contender, but he looks to have found his right price.
Malaguerra returned to the races with a credible effort in the Schillaci Stakes and he produced the best performance of his career to win the Darley Classic last start. The form coming out of the Darley Classic generally stacks up well in the Winterbottom Stakes and he still has improvement in front of him being only third-up. Barrier one is somewhat of an issue. He generally doesn’t ping the gates and it will be tough to win this race if he is any worse than two pairs back on the rail. He is another horse that should be in the finish, but there is no value at his current price.
Takedown could be the value runner in the Winterbottom Stakes field. He comes into this race off a flat effort in the L’oreal Paris Stakes at Flemington on Crown Oaks Day, but he was found with lacerations after the race and did have excuses. Before that he produced a string of impressive efforts in The Shorts, the Premiere Stakes and the Moonga Stakes and if he is able to get back to that form he will be right in this race. I like the fact that he will be dropping back to 1200 metres and Tim Clark should be able to press forward from the wide barrier draw. He is a touch over the odds at his current price.
Rock Magic is the best local chance in the Winterbottom Stakes and he is arguably the most consistent sprinter in Western Australia. He always rates at around the same level. This is below the quality of the Eastern State raiders, but he has the advantage of taking them on at a track where he has a great deal of experience. He has not missed the placings in his past seven starts and he could be the beneficiary if the visitors don’t bring their A-games.
Keen Array was a touch outclassed in the Darley Classic. Photo by: Ultimate Racing Photos
Keen Array failed to fire in the Darley Classic. He is a better horse than that performances suggests, but he has been going backwards at his past two starts. In saying that, his best form would make him competitive in this race and he is a better chance than his current price of $19 suggests.
First Among Equals
First Among Equals comes into the Winterbottom Stakes off the back of a couple of lacklustre efforts in the Prince Of Wales Stakes and the Colonel Reeves Stakes. It is tough to see him turning-the-tables on the likes of Vega Magic and Rock Magic.
Battle Hero returned to the races with a good effort in the Prince Of Wales Stakes, but he was never able to get into the race in the Colonel Reeves Stakes. It is tough to back him in this race off that performance.
Vega Magic is a progressive sprinter and he was narrowly able to beat Rock Magic in the Colonel Reeves Stakes. It is fair to say that he had the run of the race in that event and he still needs to find a couple of lengths improvement to win a race like the Winterbottom Stakes.
Regal Commander is the outsider of the field and it is easy to see why. He would need to hit a mammoth new peak to win this race.
State Solicitor is the most exciting sprinter in the 2016 Winterbottom Stakes field and he goes into this race on the back off six straight wins. There is no doubt that he is a sprinter with a big future, but this is easily the biggest test of his racing career to date and his rating don’t indicate that he is up to winning a race of this quality at this stage of his career. He is a horse that must be respected, but I can’t get him as short as his current price.
Sheidel has the chance to record a maiden win at Group 1 level in the Winterbottom Stakes. Photo by: Ultimate Racing Photos
Sheidel returns to Perth after a very successful year in Victoria with the Lindsay Park team. Sheidel is a horse that I have a big opinion of. The question is whether she is up to winning a Group 1 event at weight-for-age level and her performance in the Darley Classic would suggest that she is not. In saying that, she was forced to lead into a headwind and she is a better horse than that performance suggests. She is a mare that represents a touch of value at her current quote.
Military Reign was very poor in the Colonel Reeves Stakes and she has never given the indication that she is capable of being competitive in this grade.