Day 2 of The Championship features four Group 1s at Randwick on Saturday including the farewell appearance of Winx in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Winx’s final racecourse appearance will be the highlight of the day, with the Sydney Cup, Coolmore Legacy Stakes and Australian Oaks the other Group 1s.
We take a look at all the key races:
Queen Elizabeth Stakes
The most anticipated race of the day where we see Winx make her final racetrack appearance. There is nothing to suggest the fairy-tale ending won’t come true, and Winx will claim her third win in the $4 million showpiece, while claiming her 33rd consecutive victory and her 25th win at the highest level. But for punters looking for value, or placegetters for the Exotics, it’s hard to go past HARTNELL ($2.26 ClassicBet) for the place.
Although he hasn’t raced beyond 1600m in his past 10 starts across spring and autumn campaigns, he won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) in the spring of 2016 defeating Jameka who went on to win the Caulfield Cup. Hartnell then finished runner-up to Winx in the Cox Plate (2040m) and was also 3rd behind Almandin and Heartbreak City in the Melbourne Cup (3200m). In 2017, he was runner-up to Our Ivanhowe in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) before again finishing 2nd to Winx, but this time in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He’s improved with each of his three runs this campaign, and his gallant 3rd placing in last Saturday’s Doncaster Mile where he finished 2.5 lengths from an up-and-coming three-year-old who was runner-up to Winx at his previous start and was carrying 8.5kg less, was simply outstanding.
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has proved the man to beat in Australian Cups races. Appleby won the Geelong Cup (2400m), Sandown Cup (3200m) and Bendigo Cup (2400m) with Qewy, the Bendigo Cup (2400m) with Francis Of Assisi, the Sydney Cup (3200m) with Polarisation, the Cranbourne Cup (2025m) with Folkswood and last year’s Melbourne Cup (3200m) with Cross Counter. There is no doubting Appleby knows which horses to bring to Australia, and DUBHE ($3.51 TopBetta) might be one of his most exciting stayers to be sent here. At his most recent start, Dubhe won a 3200m race at Meydan in 3:20.88 and was quite soft to the line as he cruised to a four-length victory. All the signs are there that Dubhe is an exceptional stayer who is on the up, and with three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy on board from barrier 4, Dubhe is clearly the one to beat.
There are no doubts around VERRY ELLEEGANT ($1.71 ClassicBet)running the trip in the Australian Oaks (2400m). Despite finishing six lengths from Aristia in the VRC Oaks (2500m) in the spring, Verry Elleegant overraced fiercely for most of the race yet still managed to run the fastest final 200m (12.57) in the race. Her manners have improved in both runs for Chris Waller, and her wins in the Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) and Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) have been outstanding. Verry Elleegant looks a clear standout in the fillies staying test.
Probably the most open race on the card with 15 mares and four fillies lining up to do battle. With no clear standouts – one horse that really caught the eye last time and represents great value is KENEDNA ($20.10 TopBetta). Formerly with Darren Weir and now with Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, the five-year-old Not A Single Doubt mare is a multiple Group 2 and 3 winner and was runner-up to Egg Tart at Group 1 level. She was too strong for Miss Siska in the Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington last campaign before going for a spell, and Miss Siska heads into Saturday’s event coming off a win in the Gold Bracelet (1400m) at Bendigo. Kenedna resumed in the Frances Tressady Stakes (1400m) where she finished five lengths from Oregon’s Day who also lines up on Saturday, but it was her last start effort in the Sunline Stakes (1600m) that rates so high. She was well back in the run but absolutely rocketed home in the final 100m to just miss behind Consensus and Spanish Reef who also line up on Saturday. Kenedna now goes into Saturday’s assignment third-up and ready to peak