It’s the last section of Group 1 features for the Sydney Autumn Carnival, with the All Aged Stakes headlining a terrific 10-race program at Randwick this Saturday. The finale of the two-year-old Triple Crown will also be run and won with the Group 1 Champagne Stakes. It’s another blockbuster day to end the carnival, with plenty more stakes racing on offer for punters to sink their teeth into.
The rail will be out +7m between the 1000m mark and the winning post, and out +4m for the remainder. Paired with a course in the Soft range heading into Saturday, it should be a fair track come the first race at 11:35am AEST.
Keep reading for our free race-by-race preview and quaddie selections
RACE 1: GROUP 3 FRANK PACKER PLATE (2000M)
Osipenko looks a very good bet to kick-off the program at Randwick on Saturday afternoon and the market seems to have this a race between two. Both Ospienko and Pericles ran on Day 1 of the Championships in the Doncaster Mile (Osipenko) and Australian Derby (Pericles) in bottomless conditions. Osipenko finished two-lengths off Mr Brightside and although was fading on the wet track, we think he’s ready to make the step to 2000m – particularly against his own age group. He wasn’t disgraced by any stretch against the older horses and was clearly the best of the three-year-olds in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile, so we’re expecting a peak performance from this son of Pierro. Pericles is the obvious danger; however, we don’t love the preparation and steps back in trip after finding himself in the Group 1 Australian Derby. Osipenko should stalk Pericles every step of the way and if Nash Rawiller can get cover in the small six horse field, Osipenko should prove too good late.
Preemptory gets the nod in this weekend’s Highway and comes due to the perfect draw in comparison to some key rivals. He draws gate two with a space between runs as we haven’t seen this son of Winning Rupert since February 18 at Rosehill and should’ve been coming into this race as a last start winner. He drew the carpark on that occasion and was forced back to near last before powering to the line under an outstanding steer from the in-form Zac Lloyd. Preemptory comes here nice and fresh for the Danny Williams yard and this time can be finding a much more positive position throughout proceedings. The 2kg claim for Zac Lloyd is a bonus to meet some main opposition better at the weights in these handicap conditions, and provided he gets the breaks turing for home, Preemptory looks big odds with online bookmakers.
Floating must go on top in this Saturday’s Midway at Randwick and looks one of the better bets of the day. His first-up effort was incredible and was a good thing beaten when going down by a lip to Travest at Warwick Farm on March 29. Rachel King did her best to weave a passage between gallopers on the inside, but just couldn’t get clear until the race was over, while Floating still had the audacity to hit the line in a photo finish. He missed out on a win but lost no admirers in the process and stepping out second-up with an almost identical set up, should see Floating finish off best this time. James McDonald takes the reins and has one start for one win on this gelding out of Puissance De Lune and from an ideal mid-field barrier draw, should be making it two for two.
The fourth race on the program is full of progressive fillies and we’re taking on the short-priced favourite with Olentia. She returned a winner on protest for the Chris Waller yard on April 5 at Hawkesbury and it was a nice way to get the cobwebs out for this stylish filly out of Zoustar. We liked the intent to kick-off her campaign over the 1300m and comes into this with a good fitness run under her belt. She didn’t beat the quality of the favourite here in Magic Time but has shown classy performances going back to her Queensland form before coming back down to New South Wales for the Autumn. This is her toughest assignment to date; however, with most of the main dangers coming from the same form in the Group 3 P J Bell Stakes, we’re going to look elsewhere for a price and Olentia presents good value here. Joao Moreira takes the ride and from the inside draw should get a perfect run in behind the speed and when exposed late, she’ll give us a sight.
Vilana looks very hard to beat on resumption in the Hall Mark Stakes and it’s easy to see why he’s come up a short quote. He’s first-up after a 126-day spell after a disappointing run in the Group 3 The Gold Rush on December 10 but prior to that his form jumps off the page. He was ultra-competitive in the Golden Eagle and went on to win The Hunter on November 12 against some quality types. His first-up profile is strong as well, never missing the frame in three starts for two wins and another minor placing. That to go alongside some elite wet track form of (6:4-1-0) looks an ideal race for this son of Hallowed Crown to kick-off his campaign. He’s short enough in a quality field, but he oozes plenty of that and should be hard to beat.
Bois D’argent is worth an each-way ticket and although he was slightly disappointing first-up at Moonee Valley, we think Randwick is going to be ideal on Saturday. He’s a lightly-raced six-year-old French import and his Australian debut was impressive going back to October 29 at Rosehill. He chased home Star Of India over 2000m and was always going to need the run to acclimatise to Australian conditions but still found the line stylishly before being put away by the Annabel Neasham yard. We’re happy to put a pen through his run over the 1600m on firmer footing as this guy loves the sting out of the ground. He should be finding a soft track on Saturday and now fitter for the forgive at Moonee Valley, should be right in this wide-open race of the day at Randwick. He’s drawn barrier one and with some even luck turning in Bois D’argent can find himself capturing an Australian win to add this his resume. You’re getting a cracking price to find out and we’re happy to back him on the each-way line.
Militarize ($2.30) is a short-priced favourite in this year’s Champagne Stakes as Chris Waller seeks the two-year-old triple crown. Shinzo was too good in the Golden Slipper, Militarize was convincing in the ATC Sires Produce Stakes and now will look to replicate his performance once more. Can he do it again? Or will something cause an upset?
It’s a terrific edition of the Group 1 All Aged Stakes as Giga Kick ($3) heads the market after an eye-catching performance in the TJ Smith Stakes. The race doesn’t stop there though with chances scattered all over the page. Zaaki ($5), Jacquinot ($8) and Mazu ($8) are all sure to have plenty of admirers.
In one of the rare BM100 races held throughout the season, we think Glounthaune can make an impression on Australian debut. Now trained out of the Bjorn Baker yard Glounthaune has some nice form from overseas that if he can bring to Australia needs to be respected. He had been racing in Group 1 weight-for-age contests all over Ireland, France and even finding himself in the US behind Modern Games. He now finds a handicap race with 54kg on his back and a strong barrier trial win under his belt, we can only see this son of Kodiac running well. We might be a start early, but at the big price, we’re happy to be on his side. Tim Clark hops aboard and draws barrier nine, from there we think the instruction will be to lead and if he can pinch a break, we only need him to be finding to frame for a big result on the race.
Hellfest is great bet on the each-way to end the card at Randwick as she comes off a 119-day spell. She came back for one start last preparation, and it happened to be at this course, distance and grade against what would be a future stakes winner in the form of I Am Me. She finished less than four-lengths away into third position and was then put away by the Godolphin team, and now resumes after two very impressive jump-outs. Zac Lloyd takes the reins this time and gets Hellfest well into this race with 54.5kg and should be finding a terrific run throughout the 1200m journey. Her chances will only get better as the track dries out later in the afternoon and by the time the final race comes around, hopefully Hellfest can send punters home happy with a winner.