The Grand Annual Steeplechase over 5500m is the featured event on Day 3 of the 2021 Warrnambool May Racing Carnival. The track is rated a Heavy 9 at the time of writing, but with an ever-improving forecast we could be back in the soft range come Thursday. HorseBetting.com.au brings you the best bets, top odds and free quaddie numbers for the final day of The ‘Bool.
Grand Annual Steeplechase: Zed Em
Yet to finish outside the trifecta in the Grand Annual, the Patrick Payne-trained Zed Em is back for his fourth crack at the famous steeplechase. He was beaten a nostril by race favourite Yensir when they met at Oakbank in the Von Doussa Steeple on March 31. That was his first run for the campaign in Australia, and getting back to the ‘Bool will only help his cause. He has four wins and three minor placings from seven starts at the track, and with five wins from eight starts on heavy going, he will almost certainly handle the conditions. He gives away 7kg in weight to some of his rivals, but with the runs on the board, he will prove hard to hold out in the Grand Annual.
Having come back from close to two-and-a-half years off the racing scene, the Mick Price-trained Fighting Harada is yet to taste defeat in his three runs this time in. The son of Fighting Sun has tended to settle close to the speed before putting his rivals away in the home straight. He drops 2.5kg off his last-start win at Bendigo on March 27, and the five-week freshen up suggests he has been set for this run at the ‘Bool. He has a win on a Soft 6 to his name, and with a bit of class on his side, he should be too good for this field in the second leg of the quaddie.
Declared by jockey Tom Ryan prior to his maiden hurdle win at Hamilton on April 11 as a good thing, the Dabernig & Hayes-trained Valac did not let favourite punters down. He goes around as a short-priced favourite in the opener on the last day of the ‘Bool and looks to be not only the best jumper, but the best runner in the race. From barrier one, we expect Ryan to have him close to the speed throughout, and as long as he shows a clean pair of heels, he should be the one this lot needs to beat in the Champion Novice Hurdle.