The Doncaster Mile - 1600m, Randwick R8
Racing NSW has done some great things over the last decade, and the introduction of The Championships is certainly one of them. All roads lead to eight Group 1 races, held at Royal Randwick over the first two Saturday’s in April.
Day 1 is upon us, and we couldn’t have asked for any more with the fields that have been assembled.
A full 20 horse field will greet the judge in the Doncaster this year and stare down the Randwick mile.
Alligator Blood and last year’s winner Mr Brightside are at the top of the weights, as the proven quality in the field.
Mr Brightside is coming off a deserved All Star Mile win, and knows nothing but how to race in great heart. He goes up 5kg’s from last year’s Doncaster win, but is certainly a better horse. With eight wins at the mile, you couldn’t put it past him to go back-to-back.
Alligator Blood got beaten a length and change behind Mr Brightside in the All Star Mile, but beat that horse in the Cantala Mile back in the spring. Don’t forget his 1600m starts also including winning an Australian Guineas and being beaten a lip in the Makybe Diva Stakes. He’s got 57.5 for a reason.
A few other horses representing the Victorian form are heading up the highway.
Gentleman Roy gets 3.5kg’s off his stablemate from the All Star, but is he better at 1400m or 1500m at this grade?
Nugget is an interesting case – he’s meeting Mr Brightside and Alligator Blood 4-6kg’s better; finishing a few lengths behind them at his last two starts, but has a horror barrier to contend with. My Oberon is well out of form.
Fangirl has been one of the favourites for this race ever since pre-post betting opened. She hasn’t won as a four-year-old, but has run four placings behind Anamoe and finished second in the Golden Eagle this season, so isn’t too badly treated with 53.5. Barrier 19 has seen her price ease, but she is a genuine gun and would be a worthy winner.
Others that have taken on Anamoe on the weight for age path to the Doncaster are Kirwan’s Lane, Converge, Lion’s Roar, and three-year-old’s Golden Mile and Communist.
Kirwan’s Lane and Lion’s Roar don’t have the class to beat them all. Converge won the Randwick Guineas at this track and distance, but didn’t come up in the spring. Dry tracks are the key to him, and he appeared to regain confidence in the George Ryder last start with this third behind Anamoe and Fangirl. He meets the latter 3.5kg’s better for finishing right alongside her.
Anamoe continued its winning form in the George Ryder. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Communist hasn’t had a lot of respect this campaign, having started double figures all prep. He ran third to Aft Cabin first-up, beat subsequent winner Lindermann in the Randwick Guineas, and was only a length behind Anamoe and company in the George Ryder when on the slower inside lanes. Only 49kg’s on his back…
Golden Mile was hopeless in the George Ryder and can only be taken on trust now. Lindermann is here too, dropping back in distance from his Rosehill Guineas win. Osipenko is a threat if he gets a run as first emergency.
Zougotcha is the only filly in the field. She’s won four of her last five starts, all of them at Group 1 or Group 2 level, with the only loss coming in the Surround by a bare margin. This is the first time she’s tackling the older horses, and we’ll see how good she really is.
We have two horses running on Australian soil for the first time, albeit having been handed over to local yards. Chris Waller’s name is next to Going Global, a mare that has often run rings around her American rivals over eight or nine furlongs. Maher & Eustace have taken over the handling of Duke De Sessa, a European whose winning credentials are over further distances.
Protagonist is another raider, under the astute eye of William Haggis, a man that rarely misses when he brings them over from Europe. Last time out, this horse beat Zeyrek, who has won races either side of that defeat and is in flying form himself. Can he beat our horses dropping back to the mile from 2000m?
Then there are a handful of old-fashioned handicappers, in with 50-51kg’s.
Bandersnatch is a handy conveyance that has often mixed his performances, but is racing very well and hits this on the back up and in winning form. Cephus beat a nice field at decent odds in the Ajax three weeks back, but this feels a bridge too far.
Mustang Valley could be a sneaky hope at big odds if the rain really pours, given her La Crique form in New Zealand and wet ground credentials. Hope in Your Heart is a dead-set ripper of a mare that you know will be somewhere in the prizemoney. If she can reproduce her Golden Eagle run from the spring, she can win this.
There’s no doubt the speed will be genuine with Gentleman Roy in the race. Alligator Blood will be somewhere around, and the three-year-olds Lindermann and Communist will use their light weights and push over from wide barriers to settle on the pace too.
Selections: 1.Converge 2.Fangirl 3.Communist 4.Mr Brightside
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check Playup Website For Latest Odds