TURNBULL STAKES - 2000m, Flemington R8
The Turnbull Stakes has traditionally been a fork-in-the-road race for aspirants heading toward the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, and Cox Plate, and the catalogue of true champions to have won the race is as long as any in Australian racing. The day itself is often known as “moving day” given horses should be near enough to peaking in early October, and stamping their claim for spring riches over the next six weeks.
International runners are rarely seen in the Turnbull, and two of them in the race this year means it has taken on a different complexion. They are also two of the top three favourites.
Romantic Warrior has done all of his racing in Hong Kong to this point of his career, winning three Group 1s among his 10 career wins, also running second at the highest level three times as well. The best line on his form for racing in this country is the Queen Elizabeth Cup back in April, which he won as $1.60 favourite while leaving Dubai Honour two and a half lengths in arrears – that horse was coming off two Group 1 WFA wins by a combined seven lengths in Sydney, over the likes of Anamoe and company.
Romantic Warrior is a heavily backed favourite, almost into even money, and rightly so.
A rule of thumb worth observing for when internationals run in Australia, is to back them at 2000m and beyond, and bet against them at 1600m or below. Which means the other international runner, West Wind Blows, must be taken seriously as well. His credentials aren’t as pronounced as Romantic Warrior, but he does have very good 2000m-2400m form in Europe and the UK, and while he’s never won at Group 1 level, he hasn’t been far behind some serious horses over there.
Of the local contingent, Osipenko and Soulcombe look the toughest to beat, while Gold Trip and Right You Are make appeal as blowout chances.
Osipenko has been within a length or two of Mr Brightside, Alligator Blood and Fangirl at WFA in all three starts this campaign, and they are arguably our three best mile or mile and a quarter horses right now. He drops to 56kg’s here thanks to the set weights penalties format of the race, and can’t do anything but run well from a perfect draw.
His stablemate Soulcombe also has only 56kg’s, and his two runs this prep have been a sizzling win in the Heatherlie first-up, followed by another eye-catching effort when a fast-finishing fourth in the Underwood Stakes. He could go to another level out another 200m and at Flemington, which was the scene of his career-best win.
Right You Are was just behind Soulcombe in the Underwood, and just keeps getting better and better. He’ll love the drop to 55kg’s after some of the weights he’s been carrying, and could spring a surprise the same way stablemate Smokin’ Romans did in this race last year.
Gold Trip won last year’s Melbourne Cup, finished second in the Caulfield Cup, and should have finished a length or two closer in the Cox Plate when only beaten three lengths behind Anamoe. He was superb first-up with 62kg’s, and can’t be written off.
Selections: 1.Romantic Warrior 2.West Wind Blows 3.Osipenko 4.Soulcombe
* Odds Correct At Time Of Posting. Check Playup Website For Latest Odds