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Emancipation Stakes preview

The last of Saturday's Randwick previews comes from another first-timer on the blog, Tyson Hamilton, @tyhamilton24. Read his assessment of the Group II Emancipation Stakes below and you'll soon notice he knows his stuff...

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The Emancipation Stakes

Track: Assuming Dead or similar.

A 1600m Mares Group 2 and a wide open one at that. 11 runners with a 4.5kg weight spread, three trainers with dual runners and two Kiwis fresh off the boat makes for a difficult race to assess.

Say No More: Ex-Kiwi galloper making its 14th career start. A lightly raced mare possessing an excellent win record back in New Zealand (46%). She has had two Australian starts that can best be described as “fair”. Last start was 7th to Hot Snitzel on the Randwick slow. Positioned midfield throughout, may not have enjoyed the track and didn’t really throw a punch down the straight finishing four lengths off the winner. Will take fitness from that start but does jump 4.5kg in weight. I can’t find a runner to frank that race with Smokin Joey (2nd), See The World (3rd) and Rarefied (4th) all nominated today. In her favour is a good second up record in NZ with a win and place from 2 efforts. Sportsbet are also telling me she is $9 into $7.50. Has reportedly trialled well (via @thetrialfiles) but I think she will be battling for the minors.

Xanadu: Crap movie. Good horse. A Group 1 winner last start over 1600m on a “slow” Te Aroha surface back in NZ. Haven’t seen the footage personally but all reports suggest it was impressive. Sat last and second last throughout then powered home out wide to get the win comfortably. Finishing that way over a slow NZ surface would suggest there is absolutely no query with the 1600m. The Randwick track should also suit her nicely giving plenty of room to wind up. The trainer has suggested that she will go back again rendering her good barrier draw (4) defunct. Given her best performances (on paper) have come from further back; the small(ish) field should suit nicely. If she is sitting 7th come the 800m mark and the race has been run at a strong tempo, look for the run. Opened at $2.70, drifted out to $3.50, now back into $3.40. Whilst her recent form is compelling, those odds are short for a first start on Australian soil with a small question mark on the firmer ground. More Than Sacred didn’t perform to expectations last week and I wouldn’t be surprised if Xanadu was slightly flat. Something of note; back in mid 2012 Say No More, Xanadu and Floria did meet over 1600m, finishing in said order. Say No More giving 2.5kg to Xanadu on that occasion. Results would suggest Xanadu has improved though.

Skyerush: A tough as nails 7yo who looks to have come back in the best shape of her career. I was on her first up when she held off Riva De Lago. For that she has some equity with me. She comes into this race 1.5kg better off from her start last win over Alma’s Fury a fortnight ago. Has drawn barrier 2 which suits her perfectly, should finish a nice spot near the front with cover around Cathay Lady and Cannery Row and maybe Floria. Also very interesting to note that she has peaked 4th run in during her last 2 preps. Everything seems to have fallen perfectly for Skyerush. Then we get to her price. Currently $3.60 and shrinking with Sportsbet. I’m not going to say she won’t win the race but at $3 or so I won’t be backing her. If I was to play with some exotics (and then have a bet, boom tssh) I would certainly include her though.

Raspberries: The first of my two value runners. Last start came from back in the field to finish strongly 1.5l behind Skyerush. Goes up 1.5kg on that run but has been brought in to barrier 9 (from barrier 11). First up she finished 2.5l again behind Skyerush over 1300m at Warwick Farm however travelled wide for most of the trip and was ridden further forward that day, I do think she is a horse that prefers a slightly quieter ride early. She does need a little bit of luck and it has been a while since her last win but the odds of $8 currently available are quite attractive to me.

Shannara: Last win in late 2011. Never disgraces herself but I don’t see her winning.

Floria: The second first-Australian-soil-starting Kiwi. She does have a 0.3l 3rd over 1600m to Shez Sinsational back in her home country. Yet her overall form just looks inferior to that of Xanadu and I don’t think we will see her in the finish. A piece of advice though, watch for the very informative tweets of @racingcarrot on the Twittersphere. A guru on NZ racing. Remember your Mum telling you how good Carrots are for your health? They also work wonders on your Betfair account balance…

Cathay Lady: Another ex-Kiwi runner. Different profile to that of Say No More though having had 14 Australian starts. Preferring a spot at the front of the field, Cathay Lady has run two decent races this prep. First up was 1.6l 4th to the ultra-impressive Arinosa (who was Dundeel-esque last week) and a game 3.5l 9th in the Queen of the Turf to Appearance. She should be nearing peak fitness after those 2 runs and has drawn well in barrier 3. The inside at Randwick should still be in okay condition given this is only the 3rd race of the day. If she is to sit on the pace against the fence, or even 1 back with cover I wouldn’t be worried. I do like the distance profile of her first two starts this prep, a 1200m then a 1500m should have her primed for a nice shot at the mile. At the current quote of $18 I would say she is the value runner of the race. I am quietly confident she will find a place at least.

Scorpio Queen: I enjoy backing second up horses with good second up records after mediocre first up efforts. Didn’t do a lot when finishing a 4.8l 11th to Keith’s Legacy over 1400m. It is noteworthy that the time of 1.22.77 for that race is however pretty sharp. Keith’s Legacy has also gone onto to record another Randwick win last Saturday. My biggest worry is the 25 day gap between runs. I can’t find her attempting this before and it makes me question how much emphasis to place on her good second up record. (Note: She has been back to the trials and once again performed well, via the brilliant @thetrialfiles). The Waller stable has been in good form though so if you like her, at $26, she might be worth a few Bob.

Shamardani: Hasn’t been racing badly but I can’t see her beating all of the above mentioned runners home. She is offered at $51 and I would say that’s about right.

Plucky Belle: A winner last start over 1400m at Caulfield. However has never won over the 1600m. First time going the Sydney way as well but given she is trained by the great Pete, I won’t dare question her preparation for such. I just don’t see her form lines as being anywhere as strong as those of Skyrerush, Raspberries and Xanadu. Nor can I find an x-factor that gets me interested. Moody’s current form needs to be respected but at $9.50 I would say she is unders.

Cannery Row: Gets some nice weight relief from her last start 3rd to Westchester at Canterbury albeit that was in a much weaker class. Has drawn a decent gate and should go forward. Being honest, I don’t see her winning but what she does in the race will have a big impact on the result. If she was to jump well and get into a battle with say Cathay Lady for the lead, stretching the pace, Xanadu and Raspberries becomes the real chances. However if she is content to sit 3rd or 4th with Cathay Lady leading at a leisurely pace, advantage Cathay Lady and Skyerush.

Who to back? After 1300 words and 3 hours I’m not going to sit on the fence. I will back Raspberries EW and Cathay Lady the place at circa $5.

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