The Group 1 George Main Stakes headlines another outstanding ten-race program at Royal Randwick on Saturday, September 18th.
The rail will be set out seven metres 1600m-W/Post and four metres the remainder, while at publish, we’re faced with a track rated in the Soft (7) range.
Race 1 – 11:40AM – Highway Handicap, (1000m)
Ahead Start hasn’t been seen at the races since May, but he flies fresh and races well on a rain-affected track.
The Dream Ahead gelding has had just five career starts for three wins and a placing, and he is yet to miss at this point of his prep.
James McDonald rides from a good draw, and the horse has had the benefit of a couple of trials leading up to his return.
Race 2 – 12:15PM – Peachester Lodge Shoot Out Mile, (1600m)
I’m confident that the Kiwi import Atishu will take further improvement into her third campaign start, and I am happy to give her another chance.
The Savabeel mare has been nothing short of outstanding since debuting, and she arrived in Australia for a smart win in BM88 company here before finishing fourth in BM94 company last time.
I’m also going to have a saver on her stable mate, Charms Star.
Charms Star enjoyed an impressive rise through the grades during her three-year-old prep, culminating in second placings in both the NZ Oaks and the Queensland Oaks.
She didn’t show a lot when resuming, but her second-up record is good, and she’ll relish the rise in trip.
Race 3 – 12:50pm – Midway Handicap, (1600m)
This is a rise in class, but he was pretty impressive at Wyong last time, and I am going to have something on Akihiro each way in this week’s Midway Handicap.
Akihiro has hinted at ability since making his debut, and he has noticeably improved for each of his three starts back this time.
He’ll need some luck in running after drawing the carpark, but James McDonald is the right jockey for him, and he can barrel home late.
Race 4 – 1:25pm – The Agency Handicap, (1400m)
This is an open race with several live chances, including the resuming Cape Breton.
Cape Breton enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence during his debut preparation, winning each of his first two starts in Sydney before stepping out in the Group 1 JJ Atkins in Brisbane, albeit a bridge too far at that point of his career.
He has reportedly flourished in his time away from the races and Kathy O’Hara can give him a nice steer from the ideal barrier 6.
Race 5 – 2:00pm – Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap, (1400m)
The day’s first black type feature – the Bill Ritchie Handicap – has drawn a smart field of thirteen, and I think that the drop in class will benefit a horse like Archedemus.
It is fair to say that Archedemus has mixed his form throughout his career, but his best efforts are outstanding, and he returned one to win the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup at the conclusion of his autumn prep.
So far this time, he has finished seventh and eighth respectively in the PB Lawrence and the Group 1 Memsie Stakes, finishing a little over three lengths behind the winner on both occasions.
Fitter third-up and under and experience hoop like Josh Parr, I think that this looks an ideal race for him.
Race 6 – 2:40pm – Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes, (1400m)
Several of the leading fillies in this year’s Tea Rose Stakes field are yet to find their best form, and really has blown the race wide open from a betting perspective.
Swift Witness was quite impressive when winning fresh, and while she was a little flat in Group 2 company last time, I’m happy to give her another chance here.
The Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained filly was a notable performer during her two-year-old season, and she does have plenty of upside.
I think that the bookies might have been a little over the top in seeing her quote out to $12 this week (at publish), and we can have an each-way play at that price.
Race 7 – 3:15pm – Group 1 George Main Stakes, (1600m)
Only nine horses have accepted into the George Main Stakes field, but there is a genuine case to be built for all of them, and it shapes as an outstanding race.
That being said, Verry Elleegant remains one of the country’s best gallopers, and she simply has to go on top of my George Main Stakes tips.
The eight-time Group 1 winner resumed with a typically bold effort for second in the Winx Stakes a few weeks ago, and she will only improve for that run and getting out to a mile.
Winx Stakes winner Mo’unga franked the form with an eye-catching effort in last week’s Makybe Diva Stakes, and the Zed mare will take beating this week.
Race 8 – 3:55pm – Group 2 The Shorts, (1100m)
What a race this is.
The Shorts is always used as a tune-up point for sprinters targeting races like The Everest, but this year’s field is particularly impressive, and boasts some of the world’s best short coursers.
I have fast become a big fan of Masked Crusader, however, and the $4.80 about him at publish could prove big overs.
The Toronado gelding broke through for a deserved Group 1 win in the William Reid Stakes earlier this year, and he already owns one of the standout performances of the new season so far when charging home from the tail of the field in The Heath.
With improvement, he’ll take a power of beating again.
Race 9 – 4:35pm – Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes, (2000m)
The Kingston Town Stakes shapes as a very winnable race for Montefilia.
She was a standout of last year’s Spring Carnival, recording consecutive wins in the Flight Stakes and Spring Champion Stakes most notably.
She wasn’t able to return to winning form in autumn, but Montefilia still returned several eye-catching performances and filled the minors in the Rosehill Guineas most notably.
She kept all of her best work for late when third, beaten a little over two lengths in the Group 2 Chelmsford when fresh, and with benefit from that hit-out and getting out to 2000m, she is my best bet on the program.
Race 10 – 5:15pm – Heineken Handicap, (1100m)
Equation makes his eagerly awaited return to the races in the last on George Main Stakes Day, and he looks to be the runner to beat.
The Press Statement entire has recorded four wins from just five career starts so far, and he remains undefeated since transferring to the care of Annabel Neasham.
This is a drop in class from his most recent win in Listed company, and the booking of James McDonald is a bonus.