It’s one of the biggest Autumn Carnival cards each year and The Championships Day 1 will take place at Royal Randwick on Saturday!
The rail will remain in the true position around the entire course and at publish, we’re faced with a track rated in the Soft (7) range.
Race 1 - 11:35am
Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m)
This is a typically open edition of the Kindergarten Stakes and a horse like King Of Sparta has claims on winning at a lovely price ($8.50 at publish).
King Of Sparta has had three trips to the races and is still a maiden, but he finished off well for third in the Silver Slipper last time out after being hampered in the run.
He has been kept fresh for this race and we can have an each-way play at the price.
2 Units E/W King Of Sparta
Race 2 - 12:10pm
Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m)
This is a decent rise in class for Kiku, but she has returned two impressive efforts back this time and is worthy of a crack at some black type.
The Zoustar filly comfortably won in BM68 company at the midweeks when fresh and continued her rise through the grades with an even better performance in a BM72 race last time.
Fitter third-up and under Tommy Berry, she looks a touch of overs at around the $8 mark.
2 Units E/W Kiku
Race 3 - 12:45pm
Country Championships Final (1400m)
This is always a wide-open contest with plenty of chances and form lines to consider from all over New South Wales, but I’m more than happy to stick with race favourite Art Cadeau.
Art Cadeau hasn’t finished worse than second in ten career starts since debuting, and as that record would suggest, he has returned to the races in excellent condition this time.
He won a Highway race here in January and comfortably won the Goulburn qualifier in February, and he has been kept up to the mark with a nice trial since that effort.
4 Units Art Cadeau
Race 4 - 1:20pm
Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m)
She brings a unique form line into the race and I am confident that Chequerboard can return another good effort in the Adrian Knox Stakes.
Chequerboard has been a good horse for Lindsay Park since making her debut, and has recorded three wins and four minors from her ten career starts.
She continued to improve with each effort back this time, culminating in a lovely win in the Listed Tasmanian Oaks in late February, and a recent Tatura trial suggested that she is primed for another big run.
2 Units E/W Chequerboard
Race 5 - 1:55pm
Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m)
Quick Thinker is yet to show his best form this time, but I’m happy to give him another chance under the conditions of the Chairman’s Quality.
Quick Thinker was an impressive winner of the Australian Derby on this day last year, and while he is yet to return to those heights, he continued to race well during his spring preparation.
He has stripped fitter for three starts back this time, will relish getting further out in trip and races well on a rain-affected track.
1 Unit E/W Quick Thinker
Race 6 - 2:30pm
Group 1 Inglis Sires' (1400m)
The Inglis Sires’ looks the perfect Group 1 race for Anamoe.
Anamoe has been a star for Godolphin since making his debut and is unlucky not to have already won a Group 1 race since resuming, having charged in for third in the Blue Diamond Stakes and second in the Golden Slipper.
Given that he has always won the Todman Stakes at Group 2 level this prep, he is clearly in the top echelon of his age group, and I can’t find a reason why he won’t be in the finish on Saturday.
5 Units Anamoe
Race 7 - 3:15pm
Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m)
Montefilia is the sole filly in this year’s Australian Derby field, and I think that she’ll take plenty of beating.
The daughter of Kermadec enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in spring, winning both the Group 1 Flight Stakes and the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes before ending her campaign third in the Kennedy Oaks.
She has improved noticeably for two starts back this time and is primed for a big run on Day 1 of The Championships.
4 Units Montefilia
Race 8 - 3:55pm
Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m)
It’s always a good race, but this is a particularly strong edition of the TJ Smith Stakes, and there is a case to be made for nearly every horse.
Given the speed engaged, I think that the race will be set up for a horse like Masked Crusader, and I am keen to take the $9 about him at publish.
Masked Crusader has always hinted at top-line ability, but he has finally started to realise it this time, winning two of his three starts back, highlighted by a maiden Group 1 win in the William Reid Stakes last time out.
That was one of the carnival’s most impressive performances and he looks capable of replicating it on Saturday.
3 Units Masked Crusader
Race 9 - 4:35pm
Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m)
Given its position in the carnival and its Grand Final status, the Doncaster Mile has drawn another world-class, capacity and open field, and there is value around every single runner.
I’m going to have a bet on a couple of chances here, including Rock.
Rock has been a great black type horse for Team Hawkes throughout his career, and has consistently raced well around some of Australasia’s best gallopers.
He has improved for two starts back this time and notably made up plenty of ground in last week’s Doncaster Prelude, on a day in which it was almost impossible to.
Fitter third-up, from the good draw and with only 52kgs in tow, he is over the odds at around $26.
The other one I’m eager to back is Aegon.
Aegon won each of his first five career starts in impressive fashion, including a Group 1 race in his native New Zealand, and the Hobartville Stakes when arriving in Australia this time.
He was flat and suffered his first defeat in the Randwick Guineas last time, but I am more than happy to give him another chance under the conditions of this race, and at around the $25 mark.
2 Units E/W Rock
1 Unit E/W Aegon
Race 10 - 5:10pm
Group 3 PJ Bell Stakes (1200m)
I am a big fan of Macroura, and she looks tough to beat in this year’s PJ Bell Stakes.
The Maher & Eustace-trained galloper has been a model of consistency since making her racing debut, and she resumed in February for an impressive win in the Typhoon Tracy Stakes at The Valley.
Remaining fresh looks to be the key to this filly and she is drawn to receive every chance under Jamie Kah.
3 Units Macroura