With the highs and lows of Cup week at Flemington now behind us, attention switches to Sandown this Saturday for the traditional spring feature race-day with Chris Waller’s durable stayer Who Shot TheBarman in search of back-to-back wins in the WFA Zipping Classic (Race 7) over 2400m.
Formerly the Sandown Classic, the race was renamed in honour of the four-time winner (2007-10) who gave Robert Hickmott his first ever success as a head trainer shortly after taking control of owner Lloyd Williams’ Macedon Lodge operation.
That pairing though won’t have any representation this year having elected to send Melbourne Cup champion Almandin to the paddock.
Aided by a ride full of initiative from James McDonald, Who Shot TheBarman powered away to win this event by almost seven lengths last year having circled the field from the rear and taken up the running more than 1000m from home.
On the merits of that effort and his eye-catching Melbourne Cup run, where he really hit the line strongly over the final furlong, he has been installed a popular favourite in our early market.
At the Unibet headquarters, where we finished slightly in front on the final ledger after a frenetic few days of trading last week, we feel there might be a little more depth to the race this year despite the small field again and we’re encouraging punters to play their Trump cards on this horse to get the better of us.
Having elected to run in this race in preference to the Sandown Guineas, trainer Robbie Laing is hopeful the sizeable weight advantage brings three-year-old So Si Bon right into contention with the colt said to be ‘jumping out of his skin’ around the stables in the past fortnight.
After missing the kick and over-racing in the early stages, So Si Bon worked home nicely into fourth place in the Derby but up against some seasoned older horses at this stage of his career, we’re also happy to oppose him come race-day.
With four of the last six winners of this race coming out of the Melbourne Cup it provides a more than relevant guide.
At the available prices, our traders felt that Almoonqith was capable of serving it up to the favoured pair on his return to this venue for the first time since winning last year’s Sandown Cup.
Coming off what trainer David Hayes described as a ‘career best’ effort in the Melbourne Cup, where he tracked the first two placegetters into the race before finishing a creditable sixth, Almoonqith appears well suited by the drop back to a mile-and-a-half as Damien Oliver takes the reins from regular rider Michael Walker.
Of the others, the Godolphin camp will be represented by both Beautiful Romance and Secret Numberwith the former arguably more likely to measure up after a sound run in the Cup.
Fellow European Big Orange has an impressive record over this trip but would need to lift after appearing to have every opportunity last Tuesday.
2. Who Shot TheBarman
3. Beautiful Romance
4. Big Orange