Racing Saturday April 22 Preview: A Polarising Sydney Cup Finally Takes Off


Royal Randwick will host the premier race meeting in NSW for a fourth consecutive weekend with the rescheduled Sydney Cup (Race 8) the headline act of Saturday's meeting at headquarters.

For the first time in history, the two-mile event has to be re-run following the controversial decision of stewards to enforce a mid-race abandonment following the life-ending injury sustained by Almoonqith.

While Assign and Venger Masque will stay at home, the remainder of the original field are back for another crack at it.

Total numbers have swelled to 14 through the inclusion of three additional runners.

Darren Weir's Big Duke (pictured at top) was one of a number of horses pulled up a long way from home.

While there's been an interesting change of jockey (Glen Boss replaces the suspended Craig Williams), there's been no significant alteration to his position atop betting markets.

While there's no faulting what the horse has done since arriving in Sydney, we're inclined to think his trainer's reservations about the three-week gap since his Chairman’s win are well founded and are looking to take him on.

Corey Brown was one of a number of jockeys to criticise the stewards after riding Polarisation to 'victory' in the no-race and would love nothing more than asserting his horse's staying superiority for a second time.

He'll start a lot shorter in betting than the double figure quotes that were once available and looks pretty durable despite a minor fetlock complaint earlier in the week.

The stable's other runner, Penglai Pavilion, also figures prominently in betting and should benefit from the addition of winners for the re-run.

The new inclusions should add a different dimension to the race with Lasqueti Spirit (pictured above) likely to take up a front-running role in the same fashion that carried her to victory in last year's Crown Oaks.

While she has plenty of race fitness on her side, we can't help but feel she'll struggle to run out a strong two miles against some proven stayers.

Boom Time, meanwhile, enters this off the back of an emphatic win at Caulfield last weekend and will be making his first ever start in the harbour city.

Elsewhere, the Adelaide autumn carnival kicks into gear this weekend with Saturday's Morphettville card featuring two Group 3 races.

The RN Irwin Stakes (Race 6) over 1100m has attracted a capable field of nine sprinters with favourite Illustrious Lad (pictured above) hoping to find some winning form ahead of a probable tilt at The Goodwood.

Peter Gelagotis' charge will surely appreciate the drop in opposition here after finishing a fair way off the pace in both the William Reid Stakes and Newmarket of late.

His chances weren't helped after he drew the outside gate at Wednesday's draw and at the prices we’re also keen to lay him.

His main opposition is expected to come from Lloyd Kennewell's mare Viddora, who caught the eye when finishing second to Karlovasi in the Mahini recently.

It's worth noting that the last two winners of this race, Nostradamus and Daytona Grey, have also come out of that race.

While he is keeping his options open at present, the visiting brigade may also include Ciaron Maher's Petits Filous, who returned from a long lay-off with a moderate fourth behind Beau Rada at the Valley last month.

Later, the Auraria Stakes (Race 7) over 1800m serves as a trial for the Australasian Oaks with Kenedna (pictured above) expected to take plenty of beating after a determined win over a similar field last time out.

Tightened for room behind Zunbaqa and Peninsular Links, jockey John Allen drove the horse through a narrow gap and she responded in style to gun down With A Bit Of Dash in the final 100m.

The extra furlong here should suit and our Adelaide traders are bracing themselves for a concerted push come raceday.

Out of the same race, we also liked the run of Pretty Punk, another horse who is likely to appreciate the longer trip and might be the biggest danger to the favourite.

Down south, Saturday's Caulfield card is headlined by the Bel Esprit Stakes (Race 7) over 1100m with the speedy Rocket Tommy (pictured above) searching for a fourth straight win in town.

Handled by Gwenda Johnstone, a trainer vaguely remembered for the exploits of Goodwood winner Shadoways, this horse has exceeded all expectations this preparation. 

While his front-running style seems suited here, there's arguably a bit more talent amongst this field relative to what he has met of late and we're against him.

Top weight Mahuta comes off a mixed Spring campaign that saw him placed in the Memsie behind stablemate Black Heart Bart before a lacklustre effort in the Feehan.

While he generally acquits himself well first up, we reckon he'll be better once he steps out to 1400m.

Instead, our traders had the West Australian galloper Malibu Style on top.

His run behind Crystal Dreamer was sound here a fortnight ago, he meets that horse better at the weights and looks capable of measuring up in this.

Good luck and good punting!

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