Top 10 horses to watch at Autumn Racing Carnival 2021


As we enter the 2021 Autumn Carnival, the team at have delved into 10 horses you should keep a close eye on this season. The first of the Group 1 races is only a week away at Caulfield, so the big guns aren’t far away from being unleashed. This list covers some proven performers as well as a few who we think can break through at the highest level this autumn.

10. Isotope

Queensland filly Isotope looks in for a big Autumn Racing Carnival in an attempt to jag riches in New South Wales. The three-year-old from the Tony Gollan yard has won four from eight in Queensland, with her most recent run ending in disaster for punters who took the shorts when she fell at the top of the straight. She came through that well according to her trainer and will now be targeted at the Listed Darby Munro Stakes and Group 1 The Galaxy in Sydney later in the autumn.

9. Dirty Work

Dirty Work has come into contention for some nice sprint races after what was a very good Spring Carnival for the four-year-old entire. He put in a great performance first up in the Concorde behind Gytrash and Nature Strip, then was only 1.5 lengths off Classique Legend in The Shorts before winning the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield and placing in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes. This campaign he is likely to be targeted at races like the TJ Smith and The Galaxy, while events like the William Reid Stakes and Newmarket Handicap wouldn’t be out of his reach.

8. Mugatoo

Kris Lees’ Mugatoo stamped his claim as a potential Group 1 winner when second in the Metropolitan and fourth in the Cox Plate last spring. The seven-year-old gelding is a winner of eight from 16, with six of those coming in the last 12 months since his arrival in Australia from the UK. His staying prowess and sharp turn of foot should see him competitive in the likes of the Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Tancred Stakes this campaign.

7. Young Werther

Three-year-old Tavistock gelding Young Werther might have made his way onto this list by process of elimination, but he can only beat what he’s faced with. The up-and-coming stayer ran third in the VRC Derby as the favourite when slightly outstayed by Johnny Get Angry and Hit The Shot, two horses who will be out of the autumn. Ain’tnodeeldun is another budding star who won’t feature in the carnival, which could potentially allow Danny O’Brien and connections of Young Werther to have one hand on the trophy of some Group 1 three-year-old staying races like the SA Derby and the ATC Derby as well as the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas. He’s only very lightly raced, so he will no doubt improve as he matures.

6. Remarque

Based on what we saw at the trials and in his race debut on January 16, the Hawkes team have a promising two-year-old colt in Remarque. The son of Snitzel dominated his two trials prior to his debut and then lived up to the hype, justifying his $1.40 quote to win by two lengths despite doing a lot wrong. He was wide early, so Tommy Berry worked hard to get outside the leader; he then over-raced and laid out in the straight, yet he still won comprehensively. The Golden Slipper looks his logical target, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see him knock off the likes of the Inglis Sires Produce or the Champagne Stakes as well.

5. Aegon

New Zealand three-year-old Aegon is on a path across the Tasman to compete in some rich races over the autumn. The unbeaten son of Sacred Falls is trained by Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman and is on track for an assault on middle-distance races for three-year-olds in Sydney and a potential bid towards the Doncaster Handicap, which his father won in similar circumstances back in 2013. His big scoping action will be ideal for 1600m at Randwick, and his wet track form will come in handy for this time of year in Sydney. He can go better than Catalyst.

4. Athiri

Godolphin mare Athiri has enjoyed a real purple patch of form over the summer, winning four of her last six starts which culminated in a narrow defeat in the Magic Millions Fillies & Mares Classic. James Cummings places his horses perfectly over the Sydney Carnival, so we suspect that this improving mare could be towards the top of his list. The four-year-old daughter of Lonhro will likely be targeted at the Coolmore Classic and Queen of the Turf Stakes.

3. Sir Dragonet

The 2020 Cox Plate winner was dominant in the Moonee Valley feature in October and then ran reasonably well in the Melbourne Cup given it was probably a distance too far for him. The European import trialled exceptionally well at Geelong on Thursday and looked to stamp his claim as one of Australia’s top middle-distance horses. Glen Boss, who won the Cox Plate aboard this horse, declared that he is excited for what the future holds for him. The six-year-old son of Camelot currently sits eighth in All Star Mile voting and is a $5.50 equal favourite for the Australian Cup, which looks winnable en route to the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

2. Crosshaven

The Lindsay Park-trained Crosshaven has hit the ground running early in his career, winning five of his seven starts, including the Exford Plate, Caulfield Guineas Prelude and the Carbine Club Stakes. He was luckless in the Group 3 McNeil Stakes when sixth and did it tough to hang on for fourth in the Caulfield Guineas after dealing with a torrid run. The three-year-old gelded son of Smart Missile looks an ideal Australian Guineas horse as he is two from two at Flemington and is a tough on-pacer, while we also believe that if he gains a start in the All Star Mile (currently 12th in voting), he could be dangerous around Moonee Valley. He is often underrated by the market, so keep a close eye on this tough three-year-old.

1. Bivouac

Bivouac stamped himself as one of, if not the, best sprinters in the world last season with a second in The Everest and an absolutely dominant display in the VRC Sprint. That backed up his bullish win in last year’s Newmarket Handicap and his victory in the Golden Rose 15 months ago. He has trialled the house down in recent weeks and looks right on track for the Lightning Stakes at Flemington, where he heads back to the scene of multiple crimes. He will win that and then prove very hard to beat in every race he heads to after, both in Australia and abroad, with potential races like the Diamond Jubilee on the cards at Royal Ascot. Back him, keep backing him and laugh all the way to the bank this campaign.

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