Timeform Preview : 2020 Chipping Norton Stakes/Surround Stakes

The Timeform team at Racing and Sports take a look at Saturday’s Randwick group one double.

Leading trainer Chris Waller has saddled up eight of the last nine winners of the Chipping Norton Stakes with star mare Winx winning the last four.

Verry Elleegant (left) and Te Akau Shark at trackwork
Verry Elleegant (left) and Te Akau Shark at trackwork Picture: Darryl Sherer

Verry Elleegant  appears the most likely of his runners this year, though she is well down the pecking order in what shapes up as a very competitive Chipping Norton Stakes [1600m].

Star New Zealand galloper Te Akau Shark  is the pronounced favourite and while unable to win in Australia last preparation, his resume is still very impressive.

Dreamforce  Picture: Racing and Sports

A game third in the Cox Plate [2040m] prior to a break, he returned with a bang last start when simply dominant in the Group 1 Waikato Sprint [1400m].

Once again he displayed his trademark turn of foot when coming from well back to score easily by close to three lengths.

Rated 121 by Timeform, he still has room to move on that figure, rated 126 when narrowly beaten in last year's Group 1 Epsom Handicap [1600m].

Avilius  Picture: Racing and Sports

The wide draw is a slight query as he is likely to get a fair way back, however Opie Bosson just needs a back to follow coming into the straight and he should prove hard to hold out.

The John Thompson trained Dreamforce only went down narrowly last start behind Alizee and gets two key pointers on Saturday, the blinkers go back on as does Blake Shinn (2/2).

Nothing between he and Te Akau Shark off their first up runs and Dreamforce does have a big map advantage.

Admittedly he lacks the X-factor of the former, but he'll be in this for a long way and will give them a decent marker to run at.

The James Cummings trained Avilius did more than enough fresh over 1400m and can improve sharply on Saturday.

He's never missed the money second up in five attempts and his win in the George Main Stakes last year sees him rated just below Te Akau Shark.

Avilius notably beat Dreamforce by 2.3L on that occasion and was sent out the 2-1 favourite.

Like Te Akau Shark he is expected to get back, but should be very strong late.

Of the rest the old boy Happy Clapper cannot be ignored.

His record at the Randwick mile is second only to Winx, his first up effort was rock solid and he shouldn't be far away.

Timeform Preview – Surround Stakes

Flit will look to follow in the footsteps of Nakeeta Jane by winning the Light Fingers/Surround Stakes double at Randwick this weekend.

Nakeeta Jane became the sixth filly to complete the double last year, following Office (1992), Skating (1993), Staging (1998), Gold Edition (2007) and More Joyous (2010). 

Becoming number seven will be no easy task for Flit as this year's Surround is a deep edition boasting no less than four Group 1 winning fillies, of which Flit is one, plus the Karaka Million winner from New Zealand in Probabeel. 

Flit won a muddling edition of the 1000 Guineas in the spring but looked to have come back even better when winning the Light Fingers first up, showing pace at both ends and recording a new peak Timeform rating of 115.

With that under the belt she is the one they have to beat on Saturday, but interestingly she doesn't have the highest rating in the field.

That belongs to Flight Stakes winner Funstar who ran to 117 when winning by 3.3 lengths and backing up her high-rating Tea Rose win in the process.

The Tea Rose was over the Surround course and distance and looks a key form reference heading into Saturday. The obvious query is that Funstar concedes the similarly talented Flit race fitness but the clash should be something to savour all the same.

Probabeel chased Funstar home in both the Tea Rose and the Flight and has since impressed back home winning the Karaka Million.  Her Timeform rating of 113 makes her the equal of Light Fingers runner-up, and Blue Diamond winner, Lyre who is another of the established stars set to line up.

From the less established, How Womantic generates some interest up from Melbourne where she is unbeaten in four. A Timeform rating of 104p shows the leap that will be required to mix it against the better ones this time but she is clearly untapped and of the potential improvers, who do run quite deep, she looks the most likely to cause the big guns some trouble.  

Racing and Sports