While it generally fit the bill of a standard off season winter meeting on a testing track, the card did play host to a number of promising three-year-olds.
One of those was Tailleur who looked strong first up winning a 3YO Benchmark 70 Handicap (1100m).
First up on Saturday, the Shooting To Win filly is expected to continue working through her grades this prep and gives the impression she is capable of holding her own in at least lower tier fillies and mares black type events.
Stablemate Handspun continued her progression with a career best win in Race 8 which returned a figure which suggests she is also ready to chase some Listed/Group 3 Fillies and Mares black type.
Race 1: Edison - Benchmark 72 2&3YO Handicap (1300m)
This was a tough on pace effort by Edison who produced the win despite connections believing he doesn’t really get through through a heavy track.
The Fastnet Rock gelding keeps improving with each run this prep and ran an equal career peak figure on Saturday.
Post race it was suggested he is bound for the Magic Millions up on the Gold Coast in December.
That long term goal is a really positive sign for the horse considering the success Bjorn Baker has had up there. Unencumbered won the Magic Millions Classic. Redouble and Egyptian Symbol both won features for the stable there in 2019.
Travest was just given too much to do but finished the race off great.
Faretti was also good enough fresh. He was giving all of his rivals fitness and will be fitter for the run.
Race 2: Leo - Class 3 Highway Handicap (1000m)
Jamie Innes rode Leo for luck and thankfully for connections who surely took some of the 40-1 on offer, they got the split at the furlong.
Leo was trained by the Snowden’s originally and held his own at the provincials before being transferred to Mark Schmetzer. The I Am Invincible gelding ran figures for the Snowden’s better than what a Highway Handicap winner usually returns.
RACE 2 TAB HIGHWAY – Leo snuck through near the rail to cause an upset at massive odds @royalrandwick. Tickets are now on sale for #TheKosciuszko. To get involved purchase your tickets here: https://t.co/3u3MotYGtp or at your local TAB outlet. pic.twitter.com/LCseA3FlNn— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) July 4, 2020
Punters were understandably thrown off a bit on Saturday after Leo’s maiden prep for Mark Schmetzer was a shade disappointing.
Schmetzer post race said he’d put a lot of work into the three-year-old before the win but that there was more improvement to come.
An 1100m Class 2 Highway Handicap on the Kensington in two weeks time shapes as the most natural progression for the gelding who was first up on Saturday
Feel The Knight was strong in his stable debut for Matt Dale. The Knight Exemplar gelding will be fitter second up and is one to watch wherever he goes.
Race 3: Tailleur - Benchmark 70 3YO Handicap (1100m)
Moving forward this clearly shapes as the most interesting race of the day. This was a strong, determined effort by a filly with some good upside.
It was a genuine heavy track on Saturday, you could see that with the times they were running. Tailleur produced the closest time to standard for the entire meeting.
Her and Switched put five lengths back to third, that’s another indicator this could be a decent form reference.
There is an 1100m 3YO Benchmark 74 Handicap they can each go to on the Kensington in a fortnight. They may even back this girl up the following week July 25 to have one last crack at chasing a BOBS Bonus.
There is the Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1100m) at Randwick on August 22. If she builds on Saturday, striking that race fourth run from a spell could also be a potential target for her. She’d go in as a fit mare against rivals commencing their spring preps.
Tailleur stole the show but Switched was very good in defeat.
Forget Best Stone went around. They’d been trying to dodge heavy tracks for an age with her. Saturday had become a case of ‘we have to kick her off somewhere’.
Race 4: High Opinion - Benchmark 88 3YO+ Handicap (1800m)
Testament to the Kris Lees stable, they’ve had Sydney winners the past six Saturday’s now.
High Opinion has won two of his past three starts now. He’s a great off season type who’ll pop up every so often.
Toryjoy was strong running third getting out to her preferred trip.
Mr Dependable. I was 80% sure before the weekend and now I’m 90% sure he is a miler. If the stable agrees, there are a number of juicy Benchmark 78 Mile events over the coming weeks.
He could take some catching over the mile, fourth run from a spell and hard fit.
Race 5: Spaceboy - Benchmark 78 3YO+ Handicap (1000m)
Spaceboy is just racing with so much confidence now. It took ages to break his maiden however the Deep Field gelding has really matured this prep having won three starts.
The Gary Portelli-trained sprinter has time to pick off another Benchmark 78 as a BOBS eligible horse before the season is out.
Race 6: Tigre Royale - Benchmark 78 3YO+ Handicap (2400m)
Tigre Royale was a rock hard fit horse on a testing track. The son of Redwood was under riding a mile out but just kept grinding.
He’s run to a new career peak on Saturday. The four-year-olds' Benchmark goes up to 76 after the weekend.
It means he can easily pick off another 2400m Benchmark 78 Handicap. There is one for him at Rosehill in three weeks.
There wasn’t much splitting the first five across the line. They were all sticking to their guns in the straight. Most of these horses should head to that same Benchmark 78 race. They are all well into their preps, hard fit and they’ve all got about another six weeks where they can be contesting these Benchmark 78 events and bringing home a string of prizemoney cheques.
Race 7: Vitesse - Benchmark 78 Fillies & Mares Handicap (1400m)
Vitesse got her prep back on track on Saturday, rising in trip to 1400m.
It was only the fourth run of her latest prep too so she should be right at her peak now.
The calendar maps out for her nicely as well. There is another 1400m Benchmark 78 Fillies and Mares Handicap in two weeks time on the Kensington where she will meet a similar group of mares.
Race 8: Handspun - Benchmark 78 3YO+ Handicap (1300m)
It was a case of third time lucky for Handspun this prep. The Bernardini mare needed clear room in the straight but once she got it, the race was all over.
Handspun has produced a clear career peak on Saturday, one which suggests the James Cummings-trained filly wouldn’t look out of place in lower tier fillies and mares black type racing.
It’s something they’ll no doubt look at next prep with her, maybe a late spring campaign from here.
Cristal Breeze has looked great since arriving in Australia, he’s found some nice improvement on even his best UK figures and profiles like a good sprinter/miler type here.
Greenspan produced an eye catcher on resuming. He’s from an underrated stable so if you liked the look of his first up effort, you’ll probably still get a nice price about him second up in another Benchmark 78.
Race 9: Agassi - Benchmark 78 3YO+ Handicap (1600m)
It never rains it pours.
Agassi got a picnic out in front. It would have been almost inexcusable if he didn’t do what he did.
With back to back Saturday wins now under the belt, his prizemoney is now closing in on a quarter of a million.
Kiss The Bride is likely the one to watch from the race. The son of Savabeel did well running on nice off a slow early tempo.
There is an 1800m 3&4YO Benchmark 78 Handicap on the Kensington in two weeks time. He might be a bet there third run from a spell and rising in trip.