A capacity field of 16 will line up at Kembla Grange on Saturday afternoon for the second running of the $1 million The Gong over the mile.
Last year’s edition was forgettable at best, but we appear to be in for a wide-open betting contest this time around with Mister Sea Wolf returning to defend his crown, as well as talented gallopers like Cascadian, Rock, Dawn Passage and Purple Sector all accepting.
To help you find a winner, we’ve previewed each and every runner in our 2020 The Gong Preview below.
Mister Sea Wolf
Champion trainer Chris Waller is hoping to win The Gong for the second year in a row with Mister Sea Wolf after the old war horse beat home Quackerjack last year by nothing more than a nose.
The Irish import has since gone on to win the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes over the mile at Randwick during the Spring, although his latest efforts in the Epsom Handicap and the Yes Yes Yes Stakes left a lot to be desired.
On the plus side, he has won five-times previously over this distance, so the step back up to the mile is a plus.
James McDonald carried a similar weight and jumped from an almost identical draw this time last year, so there’s nothing to suggest the pair can’t pull off another late upset.
Olmedo was far from disgraced in just his second run in Australia running sixth first-up in the Kennedy Cantala.
James McDonald had a ton of work to do from the wide gate that day, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hugh Bowman sit closer to the speed on Saturday.
The six-year-old French import won Group 1 French 2000 Guineas over the mile two years ago at Longchamp and rarely ever races poorly over this trip.
As we know, Chris Waller often prepares his horses to peak second and third-up, so be sure to include this boy in your numbers.
Cascadian mixes his form but does look the likely improver in this race after running on late to grab second behind Yulong Prince in the Group 1 Kennedy Cantala last start at Flemington.
The Godolphin six-year-old was entitled to finish well back after finding himself second-last heading into the straight, only to make up a stack of ground on the widest part of the track.
He’s sure to be better for that run and is a proven miler with two wins already on the board.
If he can find cover early, he should be doing his best work late.
Aside from a total forgive run when wide in the Epsom, Rock has been as honest and consistent as they come.
The son of Pierro won the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle three runs back and is now heading into the The Gong fresh from a last start third behind in the Group 1 Kennedy Cantala over the mile.
This is obviously a much easier race for the five-year-old, and with race fitness and form on his side, he looks the one to beat.
Best Of Days
Best Of Days hasn’t tasted a win since he took out the Group 1 Kennedy Cantala way back in 2018 and would need to lift dramatically to win a race of this quality.
The Godolphin galloper finished in the back half of the field in both the Group 3 Moonga Stakes and the Kennedy Cantala last month and won’t find this any easier from the wide draw.
Brandenburg returned to the races in great order finding the line for third in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie back in September, but has struggled to go on with it since.
He was no match for the likes of Probabeel and Funstar in the Epsom, while he struggle to make up ground on the heavy track at Rosehill in the Golden Eagle.
John Sargent’s four-year-old has placed in three of his four runs over the mile, but would need to produce his best efforts here after drawing out wide.
Dawn Passage was far from disgraced last start in the Golden Eagle where he was only beaten over the final 100m by the fast-finishing Colette and Icebath on the heavy track at Rosehill.
The Waterhouse and Bott-trained four-year-old has found the placings in each of his two runs and looks more than ready for his first look at the mile.
He finished off well to win his trial last week at Wyong and should be one of the major players after drawing the fence under Tim Clark.
Think It Over
Think It Over has been up since August and is now looking to cap his year off on a high note.
The son of So You Think has found the money in four of his six runs this time in work, which includes a win two starts back in the Group 3 Craven Plate (2000m) at Randwick.
He was luckless last time out on the heavy track in the Rosehill Cup, but has placed in three of his four runs over the mile.
Could be worth consideration from the soft draw with 2.5 kg’s off his back.
Nettoyer won the Group 1 Doncaster Mile back in the Autumn but has struggled to find that same form since returning to work.
Aside from a runner-up to Think It Over three runs back in the Craven Plate, she’s finished no better than ninth in four of her five runs this Spring.
The wide draw only complicates matters for Robbie Dolan and the pair are tough to have.
Positive Peace looks to be one of the value runners in The Gong after drawing a low gate with plenty of weight off her back.
The mare by Stratum narrowly won the Group 3 Nivision (1200m) two runs back at Randwick and wasn’t far off Savatiano a fortnight ago in the Group 2 Hot Danish (1400m).
The way she finished off her last start suggests she’s crying out for the mile now, and with a win and three placings to her name over this trip, she might just run a cheeky race.
Purple Sector can make it three wins on the trot after claiming the Spring Mile at Randwick and the Listed Cup Day Plate (1800m) at Flemington during the Spring.
The gelding by Pins has found the money in all three of his runs this time in work and is hands down one of the top chances in the field having won at Kembla Grange previously.
He left nothing to chance two runs back in the Spring Mile winning by a comfortable three lengths, and after drawing well in barrier 5, he should be finishing off just as strongly.
It’s been a long time between drinks for Reloaded having last won back in April last year.
The son of Snitzel finished 13 of 18 last start in the Golden Eagle and is yet to show much when racing over the mile. Happy to leave him out.
Archedemus is well-deserving of another win after losing out by less than a length to Black On Gold last start in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1600m) at Hawkesbury.
The Hawkes-trained seven-year-old is a two-time winner over the mile, but the wide gate does leave Jay Ford with plenty of work to do in the early stages.
Asiago is the only horse in the field coming out of last week’s The Hunter where she hit the line well for third behind the winner Sweet Deal.
The Godolphin mare has never raced on the short backup before, but this does look a nice option for her returning to the mile after finishing off strongly for fifth two runs back over the same distance in the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes.
She’s a perfect two-from-two at Kembla Grange and is definitely worth a look each-way carrying only 52kg for the second week in a row.
Bottega strips fitter for his last start when fifth behind Colette in the Golden Eagle at Rosehill.
The son of Snitzel is making real headway towards another win, but would probably prefer a little more sting out of the track with two wins to his name on the soft.
From the wide draw, he’s a place chance at best.
Al Mah Haha
Al Mah Haha won the Goulburn Cup (1400m) in his third run back from a spell but is tough to have in what will be his first look at the mile on Saturday.