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Canterbury Stakes preview

The Sydney Carnival hits top gear this week with three Group 1s and three Group 2s at Rosehill Gardens. The first of the previews comes from regular contributor Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85, and it is an absolute gem of a race.

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Canterbury Stakes (1300m)

Running on the first day of the Sydney Carnival, this is the first year that this race has been run at Group 1 level and the field that has been entered does not disappoint, with a field of black type winners including a showdown between the two stars of last Autumn: the great mare More Joyous and exciting young colt Pierro. On a cracking day of racing at Rosehill Gardens, the Canterbury Stakes should be one of the day's highlights.

Happy Trails Resuming for his first run after a successful spring campaign that culminated with a win in the Group One Emirates Stakes. In his favour, he has run okay the Sydney way before, has the champion jockey Glen Boss on board who raced him to victory in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes in September, and runs reasonably well fresh. However, he will need to have that career-best form from spring with him here if he is to match it with this field.

Rain Affair After a strong Sydney Carnival last year, Rain Affair was spelled and raced twice in the spring with mixed results. However, he is a quality horse and should not be underestimated, having beaten and placed against strong opposition in the past including beating Shoot Out and running second to Atlantic Jewel while carrying 4.5 kilos more than her in last year's All Aged Stakes. I would keep an eye on Rain Affair but a win might be too much to ask for.

Moment of Change Moment of Change is in very good form at the moment, having run a strong second to Black Caviar in the Lightning Stakes and then just being edged out in the Newmarket Handicap by Shamexpress. His sectional times this prep have been excellent and the distance suits him well. While he has drawn an outside barrier in a race that should have a quick pace, he is running fit and fast at the moment, and has experience going the Sydney way. He could be a definite surprise here and I wouldn't rule him out.

Solzhenitsyn Another horse resuming after a successful spring campaign. After racing out of Queensland, Solzhenitsyn performed well in Melbourne although his campaign ended disappointingly when he ran out of puff running to the line in the Emirates Stakes. He is a quality horse and is up to performing at Group One level, however his first up form is mixed and against this field he should be outclassed. I would look for a solid performance to build up his fitness and keep an eye on him over the Sydney carnival.

Fontelina While a proven black type performer, Fontelina has been found wanting at this kind of elite level, with disappointing performances in the past in the Newmarket, the Patinack and the Australian Guineas. His second-up form is mixed and while a drop in class may suit, he will find it too tough here.

Aeronautical He likes Rosehill and recently finished third in the Newmarket, but Aeronautical is out of his depth here. Although he has drawn well, has Craig Williams on board and has form at Rosehill, this is a strong field and he does not have the depth that you want to see here.

More Joyous Seeking to become the first horse to win this race 3 years in a row since Holdfast (1930-32). More Joyous was a star of last spring, winning 3 Group One races and, despite the cries of some critics, cementing her place as a legend of the turf. She is racing first up after mixed results last spring, however she flies first up and is unbeaten at this track. The question with More Joyous is whether she is past her prime or not and there is no way of knowing this. Although her age comes into question in this field, she has delivered in the past when people had written her off, and in a race, track and distance where she has proven herself amply it would be foolhardy to dismiss her.

Secret Admirer A horse that tends to place but has trouble breaking through. I like Secret Admirer but see her winning above this distance, at a mile and above. She should have a good prep this autumn but this distance is too short for her against a field better suited to it.

Mid Summer Music The perennial surprise packet. She has strong second-up form and likes this distance. A look at the form indicates that Mid Summer Music is outclassed here but she has beaten or run second to very good horses before and to write her off here would be folly and she represents good value for a place bet.

Pierro Pierro is, quite frankly, the most exciting young racehorse of the last twenty years. If not longer. It is simply a pleasure to watch this horse race. His record is outstanding for a horse of his age – 11 starts for 9 wins, with a second place in the Caulfield Guineas against proven performer All Too Hard and a third place in Australia's greatest race the Cox Plate. With the blinkers back on after his first-up win at Warwick Farm last start, Pierro will be right up there and should be hard to take on.

Suggested Bet
It seems romantic to suggest that More Joyous and Pierro will battle this out but this should be the case. This will be a cracking race run at a fast pace, and no one is out of contention. The wildcard in the race is Moment of Change, with the other potentials being Mid Summer Music and Secret Admirer. However, the more proven performers should get the better of them on the day. In a very tough field, for me it will be Pierro taking the honours from Moment of Change, with More Joyous edged out for third place and Rain Affair behind her. Be cautious with your betting but enjoy the show, it will be a cracker.

Pierro
Moment of Change
More Joyous
Rain Affair

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