The Group 1 George Main Stakes headlines an impressive nine-race program at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The rail will remain in the true position around the entire course and the track is likely to be rated in the good range.
Race 1 - 12:15pm
Quincy Seltzer Handicap (1200m)
Zakat has returned to the races in excellent form this time and strikes another winnable race at Randwick on Saturday.
The Lonhro gelding has only missed a placing a couple of times in twelve career starts so far, and he resumed this time for third in BM72 company at Canterbury before winning a Saturday race at this track and distance two back.
He was last seen finishing a nose second in virtually an identical race last time out, and he can go one better in this.
4 Units Zakat
Race 2 - 12:50pm
Highway Class 3 Handicap (1000m)
It’s Me puts an unbeaten record on the line in this week’s Highway race, and understandably looks the one to beat again.
The Shamus Award mare put the writing on the wall with a dominant win in maiden company at Scone on debut, before making a successful step up in class with a two-length win in a Highway race here last month.
Fitter third-up, she’ll take beating.
5 Units It’s Me
Race 3 - 1:25pm
Shoot Out Mile (1600m)
Opacity clearly needed the run when he finished at the tail of the field in the Tramway Stakes when resuming, but he is a horse that tends to enjoy sharp improvement with a run under his belt, and this is obviously a big drop in class.
The Ocean Park gelding has so far recorded five wins and a second placing from his eight career starts and as that record suggests, he was outstanding last time in.
He is two wins from as many starts at this point of his preparation previously, and I’m happy to give him another chance.
2 Units Opacity
Race 4 - 2:00pm
Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m)
Hungry Heart will take good improvement into her second campaign start and the Tea Rose Stakes looks a lovely race for her.
The Frankel filly raced well during her two-year-old season, but she always gave the impressive that she’d be better at three, and she was unlucky not to win when she stormed home to finish second in the Furious Stakes.
With the improvement from that effort and out to the 1400m, she is my best bet on the program.
4 Units Hungry Heart
Race 5 - 2:40pm
Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m)
Roheryn has been excellent this preparation and he looms as a key winning chance in the Bill Ritchie Handicap, at a nice price ($7.50 at publish).
The Lonhro gelding won a BM94 race here in late June and finished second behind Eduardo in the July Sprint, before returning from a brief freshen-up to beat many of these horses in the Group 3 Show County Quality last time out.
He’ll enjoy good improvement for that effort and I like that he has had a trial in the lead-up to this race.
2 Units E/W Roheryn
Race 6 - 3:15pm
Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m)
A small but classy field of seven milers will step out in Saturday’s feature race at Randwick.
I concede that race favourite Verry Elleegant will be very hard to beat, but when considering that the Ladbrokes Cox Plate is her major target, I think that there’s a chance trainer Chris Waller has backed off her a little bit here, and I am going to take her on.
Her stable mate Kolding has improved for two starts back from a spell, and this does look like his best chance of recording another Group 1 win this prep.
He didn’t come up in the autumn, and while Kolding clearly needed the run when he finished down the order in the Winx Stakes, he only just missed winning the Tramway, last time out.
Fitter third-up and out to the mile, he could very well prove over the odds at around the $13 mark.
1 Unit E/W Kolding
Race 7 - 3:55pm
Group 2 The Shorts (1100m)
It only holds Group 2 status, but once again The Shorts shapes as the best race on the George Main Stakes card, with some of country’s best sprinters eyeing a berth in The Everest and tuning up.
Multiple Group 1 winner Bivouac will resume and should prove difficult to beat.
Bivouac won the Golden Rose last spring, but went to another level in the autumn and added the Newcastle Handicap to his mantle.
He’s returned two very eye-catching trials in the lead-up to this race and with even luck from out wide, I think he’ll be winning.
3 Units Bivouac
Race 8 - 4:35pm
Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m)
Almost every black type-quality stayer in Sydney will go around in the Kingston Town Stakes, and is shapes as one of the day’s most open race.
Taikomochi has been a model of consistency this campaign, and I am more than happy to stick with him in this race, at around the $13 mark.
Taikomochi placed in both the Winter Stakes and the Winter Challenge when resuming this time, and he was rewarded for his form with a lovely win in the Premier’s Cup Prelude third-up.
He was last seen finishing a length and a half behind Mugatoo in the Group 3 Premier’s Cup, and I think that this looks like a perfect opportunity for him to bounce back into the winner’s stall.
2 Units E/W Taikomochi
Race 9 - 5:15pm
Tresemme Handicap (1400m)
Criaderas has recorded three wins from as many career starts so far, and he can continue his rise through the grades in the last race at Randwick on Saturday.
The four-year-old son of Lonhro won at Newcastle and Kembla Grange during his debut prep, and resumed late last month for another comfortable win on the Kensington course here.
With the improvement from that effort, he looks well placed to go on with the job.
2 Units Criaderas