Sydney Preview: Golden Eagle draws strong field

October 28th, 2022

As Victoria Derby day holds its traditional center stage in Melbourne, Sydney’s upgraded and upstart spring carnival has its own massive offering this weekend in the form of the A$10 million ($6.4 million) Golden Eagle, for four-year-olds over about 7 1/2 furlongs.

The Golden Eagle doesn’t have black type status after four years, but its huge purse — richer than every event at the Breeders’ Cup, even the Classic — means it’s drawn an outstanding field.

The day also features the A$3 million Nature Strip Stakes for sprinters over about 6 1/2 furlongs and the A$750,000 Rosehill Gold Cup over about 1 1/4 miles.

All 10 races at Rosehill are subject to the TwinSpires Rest of the World Bet Back offer for those that opt in. Let’s look at some plays for the features.

Race 6, 12:20 a.m. Saturday ET: Rosehill Gold Cup, 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up

It says a bit about the sprinting bias of the Australian Thoroughbred that the 17 declared runners for this rich 2,000-meter contest include just one Australian-bred horse, #15 Honeycreeper. Nine of the runners were bred across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, while the remaining seven were bred in the Northern Hemisphere, including U.S.-bred #3 Yonkers.

Despite this bias, Honeycreeper is not without a strong chance. Her second to Hope in Your Heart in the Angst (G3) was a strong effort and with a drop to 52kg (about 115 pounds), she looks an outstanding chance.

As usual for a big race in Sydney, there’s a huge team from the Chris Waller yard, including Yonkers and the possible favorite, #8 Quality Time. The German-bred has won his last three and should be competitive, though he hasn’t faced this class of horse previously.

The most intriguing runners are three that have yet to race in Australia. Listed stakes placegetter #17 Athabascan runs for trainer John O’Shea for the first time, while #10 Star of India has his first start for Annabel Neasham, who has had success with imports such as Zaaki.

The best of the trio may be the one that’s still with its European trainer. It’s a long way for Marco Botti with #7 Bois d’Argent, but the son of Toronado has run well in three 2022 appearances to date and should be ready for this. He could be at very good value.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Bois d’Argent

Race 7, 1:00 a.m. Saturday ET: Nature Strip Stakes, 1,300 meters (about 6 1/2 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

Sydney authorities couldn’t get the horse this race is named after to start, but it’s still an outstanding field of sprinters. The second and third finishers in the Everest, #2 Private Eye and #3 Mazu, are both present and look set to be very competitive.

However, this race could be about the horse forced out of the Everest due to injury. Prior to that, #7 Lost and Running had been in great form, finishing third to Nature Strip in The Shorts (G2) before beating Mazu and another of tomorrow’s rivals, #4 Masked Crusader, in the Premiere (G2).

Lost and Running would have been strongly fancied in the Everest and without having been stretched in that race, he might have too much speed at the end of this race.

I agree that Lost and Running will be hard to beat, but I’m going to stick with Private Eye. He has already shown he can stay beyond six furlongs, and he should relish this opportunity.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #2 Private Eye
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 7 with 2, 7 with all

Race 8, 1:45 a.m. Saturday ET: Golden Eagle, 1,500 meters (about 7 1/2 furlongs), 4-year-olds

As could be anticipated, there’s a fantastic field for this race. It’s hard to know where to look in the 20-horse field, with formlines from sprint and mile races in Sydney and Melbourne.

The most interesting runner, however, is another Australian first-starter. #12 Light Infantry arrives after finishing runner-up in two Group 1 events in France at his last two starts, the Prix Jean Prat and the Prix Jacques le Marois. The horses that beat him those days were top-class multiple Group 1 winners, Tenebrism and Inspiral.

If Ciaron Maher and David Eustace can get Light Infantry into Sydney at his best, he looks a fantastic shot to take the major share of the huge purse.

The best chance for the locals looks to be #14 Hinged. Her last two starts produced third-place finishes in the George Main (G1) and Epsom H. (G1), and this looks a great opportunity for her. She has a horror draw of 20, but may be able to find better ground out wide toward the end of the race day.

There are many other horses with claims in the event, but I’m going to focus around Light Infantry and Hinged.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #12 Light Infantry
  • $1 trifecta: 12, 14 with 12, 14 with 4, 5, 6, 14, 16, 20