Summer racing in Sydney is always exciting and Rosehill Gardens will play host to 2018 Festival Stakes Day on Saturday.
Three of the nine races on the Festival Stakes Day card boast black type status, but every race has drawn a quality field and there is plenty of value to be found in betting.
ELDERTON HOMES MADE YOU LOOK SPRINT (1100M)
An eleven-strong two-year-old race will launch Festival Stakes Day and only four of the confirmed starters have race experience.
Gary Moore-trained debutant Nuclear Summit has opened the $3.80 favourite after showing potential at the trials. Nuclear Summit is by Spirit Of Boom and out of Limealicious, and is drawn ideally in barrier 6.
These two-year-old races dull of first starters are not for me and I am happy to watch with a view towards future targets.
HAPPY 21ST MADELEINE SPRINT (1100M)
The field for the second is wide open in betting and there is a case to be made for several horses.
Victorian raider Lagerfeld ran through traffic to finish a credible fifth at Flemington last time out and looks over the odds at his current price ($13 at the time of publish). The Denman gelding can go straight to the lead from barrier 4 and will give them something to chase. Ciaran Maher and David Eustace have a good recent strike rate in Sydney and Lagerfeld is good enough to continue that run of form here.
Godolphin mare Regimen has been charged with overcoming the outside barrier, but she has improved with racing this time and should be ready to peak third-up. The Sepoy mare flew home to finish second at this track and distance last time and has the advantage of Hugh Bowman aboard this time.
I’ll be happy to have something on Regimen straight out, as well as something small each way on Lagerfeld.
HIGHWAY HANDICAP (1200M)
This week’s Highway Handicap will be contested at a sprint trip and has drawn a quality field of seventeen country horses.
Coup De Main ($4.70) has been charged with carrying topweight, but he is a notable first-up performer and can fight out the finish of this. The Reward For Effort gelding won each of his first two career starts upon debuting in April and finished a close second at this track and distance most-recently. Danny Williams is terrific at placing his horses in these races and Coup De Main can continue his record.
LISTED ATC CUP (2000M)
Only seven horses will step out in Festival Stakes Day’s first black type feature, but it looks set to be a competitive edition of the ATC Cup.
Our Century ($5) returned to the races for a smart win in the November Topaz (1900m) here two weeks ago and will only improve second-up. The Montjeu gelding won the Listed Premier’s Cup at this track and distance and at this point of his prep last time in, and a repeat of that performance would see him extremely difficult to beat again.
ATC TIPPING COMPETITION HANDICAP (2400M)
The fifth has drawn a decent crop of Saturday-grade stayers, but it does look like The Bandit’s race to lose. The Bandit ($3.90) has returned to the track in career-best form this time and will carry winning form into the race. The Empire Maker gelding proved far too good for a field over 2500m on the Kensington course at Randwick last time out and beat his closest rivals by close to four lengths. This is a step up in class, but his last performance was bullish, and James McDonald will retain the ride. I’m confident he’ll make it two in a row.
GROUP 3 FESTIVAL STAKES (1500M)
The feature race is the final stop on the traditional path towards the Group 2 Villiers Stakes in a fortnight and a decent field of ten has been confirmed. Two horses that have caught my eye at their current prices are the Chris Waller-trained My Nordic Hero ($5.50) and the ever-consistent Victorian raider Chamois Road ($12).
My Nordic Hero typically improves with racing, but he hit the line extremely well to finish second in the November Handicap (1400m) first-up and will strip fitter for that run. Hugh Bowman will take the ride from the ideal barrier 5 and will be hard to hold out.
Chamois Road has continued his competitive run of form through his current campaign and looks over the odds at his current price in Festival Stakes betting. The Choisir gelding took up the running in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) last time out and boxed on well to finish fourth.
LISTED STARLIGHT STAKES (1100M)
A quality edition of the Starlight Stakes with the likes of Invincible Star ($4.20) and Marsupial ($3) confirmed for starts, but I am more than happy to be with the resuming Deploy ($5.50). Deploy has broken several track records throughout his career and gave his rivals windburn over 1300m here at Rosehill in last year’s Theo Marks Stakes. At his best, he has a big edge over these horses and he could receive the run of the race from barrier 3.
SUMMER RACING HANDICAP (1300M)
This is one of the better fields on Festival Stakes Day and there is a case to be made for nearly all twelve runners.
Drachenfels ($9.50) ran on well to finish fourth over 1250m at Canterbury last time out and looks ready to do something here. The former Godolphin galloper seems to have enjoyed the change in scenery since transferring to Bjorn Baker’s care and importantly, has handled heavy going previously.
Revenire ($4.50) was luckless at Flemington last time out but flew home late when finally offered clear running and he looks well placed for a return to winning form here. The Lonhro entire finished second at each of his first two starts this time and is rock-hard fit for this.
TAB REWARDS HANDICAP (1500M)
Chris Waller will saddle several runners in the last on Festival Stakes Day, but I think that Sexy Eyes ($3.90) can continue her outstanding run of form. The Written Tycoon mare finished second each of her first two starts this time before recorded a couple of impressive wins over 1400m and 1500m most-recently. This is another tough ask, but she’s rock hard fit and should be fighting out the finish again.