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All Aged Stakes preview

Yet another Group 1 feature on the closing day at Randwick. I'd write a longer intro but there's a better version below! Entrusted with the preview of this mouthwatering contest is another blog debutante, longtime equine enthusiast Lara Pocock. Follow her on Twitter, @lara_pocock and read more of her musings on her blog. She's not afraid to throw out an opinion on equine matters - always entertaining reading!

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All Aged Stakes

It was pipped to be the race of the Sydney Carnival, a possible clash between the wonder siblings Black Caviar and All Too Hard, with other Australian stars Hay List and More Joyous set to contend the 1400m feature on the final day of the Autumn carnival. However with the retirement of Black Caviar last week and the withdrawal of Hay List on Monday due to a viral infection, the field will only feature eight horses, but what a quality packed field it is.

After heavy rain left last week's track testing, sunshine and minimal rainfall have the left the course this week at a perfect Good3 yesterday evening. All eyes will be on the Hawkes Racing-trained All Too Hard, who will be embarking on an international campaign before standing at Vinery Stud. Therefore this race will be his domestic farewell.

1. Rangirangdoo - Chris Waller-trained veteran who will be making his reappearance after a long lay off. He was second to New Zealand Derby winner Silent Achiever on his most recent start, over 1600m last October,

2. Fiorente - Second in the Melbourne Cup last year to Green Moon who has been off the track since that race. He trialled at Randwick earlier in the month but will probably need further to shine and this is likely to be a pipe opener for him.

3. Rain Affair - Fair sprinter who has won three Group Two races but has been out of the winners enclosure since March 2012. He prefers rain affected tracks (lives up to his name!).

4. Rolling Pin - Outsider of the field. Has won over 1500m in Group Two company but could only manage fifth first up on his last start in lower class company.

5. Smokin' Joey - Has run two decent races in stakes company over 1200m this preparation but this is a steep step up in class for him. He finished fifth in the Group One Rupert Clarke Stakes last year over this distance.

6. More Joyous - Top older mare who has won eight Group Ones. Maybe showing signs of her age (six) with lacklustre performance in the Group One Queen Of The Turf Stakes when fifth, could be retired at the end of the season.

7. All Too Hard - Has won three Group Ones and will forever live in the shadow of his older sister Black Caviar. Missed the Group One Australian Guineas due to a high temperature but connections say he is on top form and recovered well.

8. Epaulette - Another three-year-old who was second behind Black Caviar in the Group One T J Smith Stakes on his last start first up. He was third behind All Too Hard and Pierro in the Group One Caulfield Guineas and is due a big victory.

Obviously if all eight do go to post there is definitely each way value in the race. All Too Hard and More Joyous are battling for favouritism, with More Joyous currently the slim favourite at $2.50 with the TAB and All Too Hard on $2.70. Epaulette is next in line at $4.60 and the only runner in single figures.

Australian racing has seen some short-priced favourites turned over recently, with More Joyous 4-6 odds-on favourite for the Queen of the Turf Stakes when getting beaten and I think the same could happen today. Therefore my winning selection will be All Too Hard, if he is good enough to make it on the international circuit he should win this easily, and connections clearly think he is having planned the Royal Ascot trip for a while. The only other concern to have regarding this horse is whether he recovered from the illness that kept him out of the Guineas but after winning a barrier trial two weeks ago I think we can safely say he has.

Next up will be Epaulette, he has some great form, will also be getting weight as a three-year-old, and should win a big one soon, however he has run into yet another good one. The Darley team have been in great form this carnival, taking many of the major races so this is another major positive him.

My third selection is Rangirangdoo. If More Joyous disappoints again this horse could make the frame at a good price. The Chris Waller-trained veterans can often pull a big one out of the bag and he is another yard in form.

7. All Too Hard
8. Epaulette
1. Rangirangdoo
TIP - Lay the favourite (More Joyous).

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