Sydney Preview: Spot Plays for Spring Champion Stakes day

October 20th, 2022

The Everest has come and gone, but the rich prizes haven’t in the Sydney spring carnival.

In what is a lower-key day than last week, the day still features the A$2 million Spring Champion S. (G1) for three-year-olds, the $2 million Invitation for fillies and mares, and the $1 million Callander-Presnell (G2), also for sophomores.

As has been the case throughout the carnival, all Sydney races on Friday night/Saturday morning Eastern Time are subject to TwinSpires’ Rest of the World Bet Back offer, where those who opt in can get up to $10 back on their first win bet if their horse finishes second in a race with six or more runners.

Race 6, 12:25 a.m. ET Saturday: Brian Crowley S. (Listed), 1,200 meters (about six furlongs), 3-year-olds

A useful field of three-year-old sprinters, but one that looks to be dominated by #6 Willinga Beast. She has been very competitive in graded stakes races this spring, finishing third last time behind the smart Best of Bordeaux. If she runs up to that form, you’d think she’d win.

The biggest threats are from sophomores that are still on the improve. The most obvious candidate is Victorian visitor #1 Thron Bone, who won twice in Melbourne prior to finishing fifth behind subsequent Everest winner Giga Kick in the Vain (G3) Aug. 13. Giga Kick and Jacquinot have shown the Victorian three-year-old form is right up with that of New South Wales, so Thron Bone deserves a lot of respect.

The others still have a lot of improvement to find, so I’m sticking with the favorite.

  • $20 win: #6 Willinga Beast
  • $5 exacta: box 1, 6

Race 7, 1:10 a.m. ET Saturday: Callander-Presnell (G2), 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds

All form points to this being a lap of honor for #1 Golden Mile. He’s proven one of the best three-year-olds in Australia after winning the Ming Dynasty (G3), running fourth to Jacquinot in the Golden Rose (G1), and then stepping up to a mile to take one of Melbourne’s most important sire-making races, the 1,600-meter Caulfield Guineas (G1) Oct. 8.

This race doesn’t have anything near the depth of the Caulfield Guineas, so a repeat performance should be all Golden Mile needs to win this.

Exotics are probably the best option to look for here. #4 Communist and #5 Flag of Honour, second and fourth, respectively, in the Dulcify S. Oct. 1, should be among them; also look out for the filly #10 A Lot More Love, winner of her last two. I’m also going to throw in #2 Brosnan, sixth in the Ming Dynasty before being overmatched in the Golden Rose, and #7 Token Capitalist, who lost his rider at his last trip to the races.

  • $30 win: #1 Golden Mile
  • $1 trifecta: 1 with 2, 4, 5, 7, 10 with 2, 4, 5, 7, 10

Race 8, 1:45 a.m. ET Saturday: Spring Champion (G1), 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds

A handy field of promising three-year-old stayers, though perhaps weakened a little by being moved from early October to this weekend, thus clashing with the Melbourne spring carnival and removing some horses that will instead be saved for next week’s Victoria Derby (G1).

The market is headed by #1 Elliptical, who went a bold race to beat all but Golden Mile in the Caulfield Guineas (G1). Being by Dundeel suggests he should stay the extra quarter-mile here, though his female family is more notable for its speed.

However, I’m a big fan of the New Zealand visitor #3 Sharp ‘N’ Smart. Fourth in the J.J. Atkins (G1) in Brisbane last winter, he won at home at his first three-year-old start before fighting strongly to win the Gloaming (G2) at one mile Oct. 12. Last season, he was a Listed winner in New Zealand, easily beating Mr Maestro, the current Victoria Derby favorite, after a string of victories in Melbourne.

A son of Redwood, whose progeny nearly always prefer at least 1 1/4 miles, he looks very hard to beat and has the benefit of Hugh Bowman in the saddle.

The horses behind Sharp ‘N’ Smart in the Gloaming – #5 Matcha Latte and #4 Williamsburg – are contenders again, as is the filly #12 Renaissance Woman, winner of the Ethereal (G3) in Melbourne last week. Craven Plate (G3) third #2 Promitto and Flight Stakes (G1) runner-up #11 She’s Extreme add to the puzzle.

  • $10 win/$40 show: #3 Sharp ‘N’ Smart
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 3 with 1, 3, 12 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12

Race 9, 2:30 a.m. ET Saturday: The Invitation, 1,400 meters (about seven furlongs), 3-year-old and up fillies and mares

#3 Icebath hasn’t been able to get her nose in front on the line since taking this race out last year. Indeed, it’s been like that through her career; she’s only won four of her 36 starts. However, with numerous big race placings — plus victory in this last year — she’s amassed A$4.5 million (about $2.8 million) in earnings.

It may well be that this is the race for her. Back against fellow distaffers after finishing second in the George Main (G1) and fourth in the Epsom (G1) against the males, she looks well-suited by the set weights and penalties terms and should be very hard to beat.

#2 Nimalee was only just behind Icebath when fifth in the Epsom and looks the toughest contender. The most interesting contender is the three-year-old #12 Sheeza Belter, who hasn’t raced since winning the J.J. Atkins in Brisbane in winter. She’s probably been waiting for better tracks, and may still be disappointed in that sense on Saturday. #11 Never Talk should also be respected after her last-start second in the Nivision (G3) Oct. 8.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #3 Icebath
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 3 with 2, 3, 11, 12 with 2, 3, 11, 12