VIDEO: Marshall’s Mail – The Championships Day 1

Welcome to the first day of The Championships at Royal Randwick where it looks to be an outstanding race day with four Group 1 races on the card. In this week’s blog, I will be looking at the AJC Derby, the TJ Smith Stakes for sprinters and the magical mile, the Doncaster Handicap.

In the $2 million, 2400 metre AJC Derby we see the Victorian Derby form taking on the New Zealand Derby form with both winners, Prized Icon and Gingernuts, looking like terrific chances in this year’s race.

Prized Icon, heading in to his fifth start of his preparation, should be primed stepping up to his pet distance of 2400m. He wasn’t suited by the heavy track last up and it’s important to remember back to his fast-finishing second in the Australian Guineas behind Hey Doc over the less suitable mile. Despite his class and the rise in distance, the conditions mean I’m prepared to risk him.

New Zealand Derby winner Gingernuts proved he is a serious animal and can match it with our best horses. As long as he’s taken no harm from his most recent run on the heavy 10 when he saluted in fine fashion, he looks to be one of the main chances again.

While the two aforementioned horses should be around the mark I’m sticking with Inference, who ran second to Gingernuts last start. Tommy Berry aboard gives me real confidence as he is one of the best jockeys in the land and the horse showed in the Randwick Guineas that he can get through the heavy going.  I’m prepared to say he can turn the tables on Gingernuts and think he’ll go very close to winning. If you’re looking for value in your multiples throw in Anaheim, who I strongly believe will thrive over the 2400m.

The $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes has attracted a super field of high class sprinters with seven of them being Group One winners. Chautauqua is back in distance from a run over 1500m where he finished third behind champion mare, Winx. It is far from an ideal preparation for him, but I think he can surprise his supporters and run very well remembering his two best wins have been in big high-pressure sprinting fields like this.

That said, I’m leaning towards the fresh horses on the scene in Malaguerra, Spieth and three-year-old Astern, who is first up after a break. Malaguerra’s fresh form is outstanding and after having been tested over 1400m back in February, he has been freshened up with a nice trial at Cranbourne and is set for this race.

Finally, the $3 million Doncaster Handicap over 1600m is always a jigsaw puzzle of different form lines, which makes finding a winner extremely difficult. The top weight is Hauraki, carrying 57kg, and the bottom weight will be Euro Angel who will carry 51kg.

Hauraki, Le Romain and McCreery all come through the George Ryder Stakes and the only one to handle the heavy 10 on that day was Le Romain. With the continued rain and another heavy track, you’d have to think that Le Romain will look the winner at some stage.

Prior to the rain I was prepared to make the bold statement that I am A Star could become the first three-year-old since Sunline in 1999 to win the Doncaster. She won the Myer Classic at Group 1 level in the spring and her form this preparation suggests she is on an upward spiral, however I think she is much better on top of the ground and, as such, I’ll have to dismiss her prospects in this year’s event.

Given the heavy conditions I’m going to tip a boil over. I believe that It’s Somewhat from the John O’Shea yard can win the race. While his record says he’s had one start on the heavy and was unplaced, he was only beaten by two lengths in a race won by Hauraki over 1400m.

To my Superpicks:

AUSTRALIAN DERBY    Inference – Profit Plus – 50% (WIN)

DONCASTER MILE   It’s Somewhat – Profit Plus 50% (Place)

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