2021 WJ McKell Cup Day Preview

The Listed WJ McKell Cup headlines a nine-race program at Sydney’s Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

The rail will be set out seven metres around the entire course and at publish, we’re faced with a track rated in the Soft (7) range.

Race 1 - 11:30am

E Group Security Handicap (1500m)

Hundred Proof has improved for three starts since debuting and can break his maiden at Rosehill on Saturday.

The Into Mischief colt raced greenly at his first two appearances, but returned an eye-catching effort for second, beaten half a length by the promising Cape Breton here a fortnight ago.

A repeat of that performance would see him right into the finish again.

3 Units Hundred Proof

Race 2 - 12:05pm

Sharp Extensive IT Handicap (1800m)

Wicklow can record a third-consecutive win when he steps out in the second on WJ McKell Cup Day.

The talented import showed promise at the trials prior to his debut in Australia, and he stamped himself as a horse to follow with a comfortable win at Newcastle.

He franked that effort with an even better performance and stronger win at this track and distance last time, and this race doesn’t look a whole lot harder.

6 Units Wicklow

Race 3 - 12:40pm

Highway Class 3 Handicap (1200m)

Cavalier Charles looks a leading hope in this weekend’s Highway race.

The Matt Dale-trained gelding hasn’t missed placing in five career starts, and he returned to the races for a dominant win at Nowra.

This is the toughest race that he has contested, but has harbours plenty of upside and he looks to have the ability.

5 Units Cavalier Charles

Race 4 - 1:15pm

ACY Securities Handicap (2000m)

Lackeen has been kept up to the mark with a trial since his last start run for second at this track and distance last month, and he looks well placed to go one better on Saturday.

The Shamardal gelding showed some ability during his first few starts in Australia, but was certainly close to his best when second, beaten a head by Achiever last time out.

Timmy Clark rides from the ideal barrier 6 and I can’t find a reason why the horse won’t be in the finish.

4 Units Lackeen

Race 5 - 1:50pm

The Agency Real Estate Handicap (1100m)

This is one of the more open contests on Saturday’s Rosehill program and there is a case to be made for several chances, including Fastconi.

Fastconi has improved with each of his four starts back this time, and he was last seen putting paid to his rivals in a BM72 midweek sprint at Canterbury.

Given that he is stepping into Saturday company, it is something of a rise in class, but a lot of his rivals have been going around in similar midweek races, and I think Fastconi is still the runner to beat.

4 Units Fastconi

Race 6 - 2:25pm

Ranvet Handicap (1300m)

He was flat last time out, but I am happy to give Count De Rupee another chance at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Count De Rupee has been a great horse for the Price stable throughout his career, and he returned this time with a bold effort to finish second behind Marway on the Kenso course at Randwick before recording a dominant win here second-up.

Things didn’t go his way in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic, but returning to Sydney and dropping in class, he appears primed to strike.

5 Units Count De Rupee

Race 7 - 3:05pm

Listed WJ McKell Cup (2000m)

This is a strong edition of the WJ McKell Cup and typically, Chris Waller holds a very impressive hand.

There is a case to be made for several chances, but Yonkers has gone to a new level this prep, and I think he’ll be hard to beat again.

Yonkers has been a good horse for Waller throughout his career here in Australia, but he returned arguably a career-best performance to destroy his rivals in Melbourne three starts back, and he has finished second in the Listed Wagga Cup and won again at Caulfield in the wake.

He is at peak fitness, the 2000m is ideal and I’m happy to stick with him.

4 Units Yonkers

Race 8 - 3:45pm

Bowermans Commercial Furniture Handicap (1300m)

This is another wide-open race and a horse like Lady Banff has claims on winning at a lovely price.

Lady Banff stamped herself as a filly to follow during her debut preparation, and while she did go off the boil a little during a short summer campaign, she returned to the races with a nice effort to finish fourth in BM78 company here a fortnight ago.

I’m anticipating big improvement for that effort, and she gets into this race well under the conditions.

2 Units E/W Lady Banff

Race 9 - 4:25pm

Rosehill Bowling Club Handicap (1500m)

Papal Warrior has gone close to returning to winning form at his last two starts, and he gets another chance in the last at Rosehill on Saturday.

The Fastnet Rock gelding doesn’t win out of turn, but he also rarely races poorly, and he finished less than a nose second behind Zell in BM72 company last time.

He’s still sweating on a run as the race’s third emergency, but I’m happy to be with him if he does gain a start.

1 Unit E/W Papal Warrior