Timeform Preview – Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Champion mare Winx will bow out of racing with another win in this afternoon’s Group One Queen Elizabeth Stakes ending her career with a 33 run winning sequence and a world record 25 group one victories.
It seems as if Winx has been around for ever, and she has - in fact she has remained unbeaten in almost four years - last tasting defeat in the 2015 ATC Oaks, a race also on the undercard of the Randwick meeting this afternoon.
On weight adjusted Timeform ratings Winx, who chases Randwick win number 20, has a sizeable edge on her rivals today that include two old racetrack “punching bags” in Hartnell and Happy Clapper.
Happy Clapper has raced Winx 10 times for five second placings while Hartnell has been runner up four times from seven match ups.
It is great to see them in the field for one last try to spoil the great mare’s farewell party.
Apart from those old warriors, Winx will meet former UK stayer He’s Eminent who was fourth in the 2017 Epsom Derby and placed in the Irish Champion Stakes, dual Australian Cup winner Harlem and Japanese visitor Kluger who ran a creditable race in last Saturday’s Doncaster.
While there is plenty of depth against her, none of those rivals pose any serious threat to Winx who will start from the outside barrier in Saturday’s feature.
For many, the prospect of no Winx at the track will be a surreal experience – she has been a wonderful advertisement for racing and created so much interest. Her departure will leave huge gaps in the lives of those most close to her like trainer Chris Waller and his staff, her owners as well as her rider Hugh Bowman who has partnered her in 31 of her wins to date.
A win this afternoon will give Winx another record of three consecutive Queen Elizabeth Stakes – something that has never been done previously. The mighty Tulloch won three but not in succession.
Three Queen Elizabeth Stakes’ trophies will sit nicely alongside her four Cox Plate wins, four George Ryder Stakes, four Chipping Norton Stakes and three George Main Stakes – an amazing record.
Winx sits with a Timeform master rating of 134, just two pounds behind Black Caviar, Allez France and Habibti as the highest ever rated filly or mare in the history of Timeform.
It would be a fitting finale that if circumstances permit, Bowman gives everybody one last look under the bonnet and just maybe she will give that 134 Timeform rating a nudge.
Timeform Preview - Sydney Cup
For the first time in five years the Sydney Cup will be run without Who Shot Thebarman but it still promises to have a familiar feel to it with the Godolphin Blue expected to be to the fore.
Trainer Charlie Appleby came to Sydney in 2017 and won the Sydney Cup with Polarisation – in fact he won it twice! – and now he returns having spent the two years since evolving into the best trainer on the planet based on strike-rate in Group races.
Appleby has become a force like no other and he has done it on the back of Dubawi – a super stallion who is challenging the dominant Galileo in Europe.
And so it is fitting that Appleby returns with a son of Dubawi - out of a Galileo mare no less – in Dubhe.
Dubhe has strong form claims in the Sydney Cup, but a Timeform rating of 114p is hardly dominant. However, it’s not the 114 that appeals, it’s the ‘p’. Dubhe has achieved that rating in just 7 starts.
The Sydney Cup field is largely made up of exposed stayers with the mares Semari and Rondinella the pair with the fewest miles on the clock away from Dubhe, and they’ve had 12 starts.
Dubhe comes from a strong family and a family that has improved with age. He is bred to stay and he is with the right yard to draw the best from him. Essentially, there is plenty to like here and he is very easy to back despite his place at the top of the betting.
Gallic Chieftain stayed well in the Chairman’s last week and, along with the runner up there Shraaoh, he should run another good race on the quick back up. In a very even contest away from the favourite that quick back up could be an all-important edge.
Big Duke is the pick off the Tancred and he stayed the trip fairly well as favourite back behind Appleby’s Polarisation in 2017. Dubhe looks a stronger rival and Big Duke is two years older, but he has been as good as ever this time in and should run well again along with Yogi who warmed up for this with a closing fifth in the Tancred and has won over two miles.
Midterm also comes off a strong staying effort and might be putting it together now having shown plenty of promise early doors in the UK.
The other horse in the race with a rating to match that cluster of Dubhe chasers is the Kiwi Glory Days who won the Auckland Cup last time out. That race launched Who Shot Thebarman to become the Sydney Cup stalwart of recent years and she should give a good account with a true test at the trip certainly no concerns for her.
Timeform Preview – ATC Oaks
The ATC Oaks has been won by some outstanding fillies in the past such as Light Fingers, Analie, Leilani, Bounding Away, Triscay and Bonneval to name a few.
This afternoon’s renewal boasts a capacity field with some above average fillies engaged heading by the exciting Verry Elleegant who stormed to victory in the Vinery Stakes at Rosehill last start and VRC Oaks winner Aristia who is ticking over nicely.
Timeform ratings analysis clearly point to Verry Elleegant becoming the first filly to complete the Vinery – ATC Oaks double since Heavenly Glow in 2008.
Generally regarded as “work in progress” Veery Elleegant has made steady headway this preparation taking the Phar Lap Stakes two back then with some gear changes and Waller magic scored a emphatic win in the Vinery running to a new Timeform peak rating of 120 – the highest rating returned by a Vinery winner since Mosheen in 2012 who also ran to 120.
In the Vinery Veery Elleegant settled beautifully in midfield under James McDonald until she was called upon at the 600m where she accelerated sharply to have the race in her keeping passing the 200m mark.
Despite running around, she won with something in hand and only has to run to that figure again to prove the horse to beat. One slight query is that all her five wins have been on rain affected going and she will get firmer footing this afternoon, so that may assist in bringing her closer to two of her rivals in Aristia and Frankely Awesome.
The last filly to complete the VRC -ATC Oaks double was Serenade Rose in 2005-6 so history tells us it is not an easy double to pull off and some very good fillies have tried.
However, Aristia does seem to have a sense of timing about her this afternoon coming into the race fourth run back from a spell.
Like Veery Elleegant, Aristia came through the Phar Lap Stakes two runs back when third then was a solid third in the Vinery Stakes, he rider reporting she struggled in the heavy ground.
All the same, Aristia ran a new master Timeform rating of 114 and with firmer ground to her advantage, appeals as having scope for more still.
Frankel filly Frankely Awesome has always shown ability and last campaign contested the G1 Spring Champion Stakes where she acquitted herself well at only her third race start.
This campaign she has been more mature has been a steady improver in her ratings profile also reaching a new peak rating last start when a late fast finishing second to Veery Elleegant in the Vinery Stakes.
That was her fourth run from a spell and with ATC Oaks winning rider Hugh Bowman going back into the saddle today looks set to appreciate the conditions of the race.
Bowman has won five of the last ten ATC Oaks including the last three.
Timeform Preview - Coolmore Legacy
Talented mare Dixie Blossoms is going better than ever and appears well placed to notch up her second career Group 1 in Saturday's Coolmore Legacy Stakes.
A dominant winner of the Coolmore Classic 1500m two back, Dixie Blossoms held her own in the Doncaster last weekend, working home well to finish sixth.
Forced to go back from the wide draw, her performance held plenty of merit and she appears suited back against her own sex.
Rated 120 by Timeform, there is little between her and star mare Alizee, both on the quick back up.
Since 1981, only three horses have won the Coolmore Classic by a bigger margin and she is noted flier at both Randwick and over this distance range.
The wide draw is likely to see Dixie Blossoms get back in the field, however with good speed engaged she should get her chance to work home over the top.
Alizee won this race in dominant fashion last year, when dropping back in trip, after finishing fourth in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes 2000m.
She has never backed up before, however it does appear a key plan given she's had three weeks between all her runs this preparation.
Some query whether she could be over the top (sixth run this preparation), however with a Master Timeform rating of 121, she is the class mare and a return to her best would see her very hard to beat.
Trainer Mark Newnham will be hoping to replicate what Alizee did last year, with his star filly Nakeeta Jane.
An impressive winner of the Group 1 Surround Stakes [1400m] three back, she went on to finish fourth in the Vinery Stud Stakes 2000m last start behind Verry Elleegant.
The first time she has missed the money in her career, her performance was still solid and should give her a good grounding for the mile on Saturday.
Her effort to finish third in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas sees her rated 115 by Timeform with a hint of a bit more to come.
Fellow three-year-old Amphitrite comes here on the fresh side (28 days), unseen since finishing sixth in the All Star Mile.
Not beaten far there behind Mystic Journey, she returned a rating of 117, a figure which sees her very competitive on Saturday.
She has the fresh legs and looms large with Williams sticking aboard.
Worth nothing three-year-olds have won 10 of the past 38 renewals, while providing 19% of the participants.