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The Doncaster Mile

A big Group 1 handicap is the quintessential Aussie horse race and the Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick fits that bill perfectly. A crackerjack field headlined by the all-conquering Pierro makes this year's renewal a mouth-watering contest. These days it's not officially called a handicap, with a compressed weight scale, the name has been changed to Doncaster Mile rather than Doncaster Handicap. Back in the early 90s, a horse called Soho Square snuck in at the bottom of the weights, carrying just 47.5kg to victory. a full 15kg less than the topweight, the mighty Super Impose who won this race twice. We won't see that spread of weights ever again, it's just 5kg this year, reflecting a higher class of contestants - even the bottomweights have Group wins in their form. With the preview, it's over once again to Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85.


Doncaster Mile

Known as the real punter's day of the carnival, this Saturday at Randwick presents what is usually one of the highlights of the Sydney Carnival with the Doncaster Mile, and this year's field does not disappoint.

1. Shoot Out
Shoot Out is one of Chris Waller's strongest performers, and has been a Group One winner this prep in the Chipping Norton Stakes, held over this distance (1600m) at Warwick Farm. He is sheer class over the mile, and has drawn in the middle of the field. At his last start he weaved through from the middle of the field to sneak in for third behind Pierro in the George Ryder Stakes. He is carrying top weight which will slow him down a bit. He should by no means be written off but may find it tough to break through.

2. Pierro
One of the stars of the Autumn both this year and last year, Pierro is an exciting colt to watch in action. He is both unbeaten in his three starts this prep, and unbeaten in his career in Sydney. He likes racing over this distance, having only been beaten at it by another three year old champion, All Too Hard in last year's blisteringly fast Caulfield Guineas. He has drawn exceptionally well with barrier four and goes into the race a well-deserved favourite, albeit at a short price. The only thing that may count against him here is that his last three wins have all been tough runs and he may be feeling some wear and tear. However, he is a strong horse who is well positioned to add this race to his impressive record.

3. Glass Harmonium
Now seven years old, it seems that Glass Harmonium's best performances are behind him. He has been freshened up for this race which will help him, but probably needs more distance to show his best. He will run to the front but it will be a surprise if he can stay there until the post.

4. Veyron
A strong performer in New Zealand, Veyron has raced just once in Australia for a seventh placing in the Ryder Stakes, won by Pierro. He likes this distance and if he can find his Kiwi form, he could put in a decent show at big odds. Keep him in mind as a possible each-way roughie for the day.

5. Danleigh
Nine year old Danleigh is still competing at the top level, having run third in the Chipping Norton this prep, and then finishing strongly to come from the back of the field for a seventh place in the Ryder. He has drawn wide and usually prefers to run the field down from the back, which he will find difficult here with what is sure to be a fast pace and strong horses who will be hard to chase.

6. Happy Trails
After a strong spring campaign in Melbourne last year, Happy Trails has raced twice in Sydney this prep for two ninth placings. While 1600m is his preferred distance, based on his last two runs, against many of the horses racing here, he would need a big improvement to be in the placings.

7. Ethiopia
This is Ethiopia's first run since being injured in the Melbourne Cup and subsequently spelled. Ethiopia often receives a lot of good press, but racing first-up in a race like this is a big ask, and it should be kept in mind that he has only raced 8 times, for one win in Autumn last year. Although his past performances indicate that he has the potential to be a very good horse, he will find it too difficult resuming against the more experienced horses in this field.

8. Secret Admirer
Running in her third start this prep, Secret Admirer is a quality mare who often finishes in the placings, but usually can't break through. She has drawn a wide barrier here and whilst I would expect a strong run, a place bet would be the best option.

9. Solzhenitsyn
While Solzhenitsyn has produced some very good races in the past, he is somewhat inconsistent in his racing, and last start produced quite a flat run to finish at the back of the field. A strong performance here would require a big turnaround from that run and it may be too much for him.

10. Lamasery
Although he produced a poor run last start in the Ajax, Lamasery's second-up form is much better so it is likely that he will produce a better run here than in that race. On top of a good campaign last spring and strong form over this distance, at big odds Lamasery is an attractive outside chance. Definitely one to include in the exotics.

11. Appearance
One of the horses in the race that could threaten the favourite. Showing some excellent form after winning her last two starts and carrying just 53kg, Appearance is a real chance here, with this also being her preferred distance. She opened at crazy odds given her recent form and is definitely worth a look.

12. Red Tracer
Red Tracer is currently enjoying an excellent prep, however has drawn in the car park here (the widest barrier) and this makes it extra tough for her, particularly given that her best performances have been at shorter distances than this. On recent form she should not be forgotten, but a place bet would be a better option given these factors.

13. Streama
The somewhat controversial 2012 New South Wales Horse of the Year, Streama has had a mixed prep however ran on strongly in her last start to finish third in the Queen of the Turf, behind Appearance. She too has drawn widely, and will be helped if it is wet. If the forecast holds up and it is a dead track, then she would be lucky to break through.

14. Norzita
Norzita is in excellent form, having had a strong Autumn campaign, and is very well weighted here. With champion jockey Craig Williams on board, she may be able to overcome a bad barrier draw and threaten Pierro near the front.

15. Monton
Monton has been placed in his last two starts, including a very strong second in the Chipping Norton to Shoot Out, where he was just edged out on the line. Whilst he has drawn wide, he enjoys a firm track and with a light weight and on his recent form, is an attractive place bet at decent odds.

16. Alma's Fury
Alma's Fury has performed well this prep, and is carrying much less weight here than he has in his last four starts in Sydney. Whilst racing well, his strongest performances have been been against fields not as strong as this one, although his recent second in the Doncaster Prelude was against some good opposition. He is unlikely to win, but given the weight factor and his form, I would definitely include him in the exotics.

17. Fontelina
Fontelina has had a disappointing prep, which makes it hard to back her here. She would need a big improvement to get near them.

18. Sacred Falls
Sacred Falls ran second to It's A Dundeel last start, however it was a seven-lengths second. Prior to that it seemed he had left his best form in New Zealand, so it is a bit of a toss-up whether he can perform well here. Personally, I would expect a mid-field finish.

19. Lightinthenite
While he has raced at Group One level before, this horse's best performances have been against average fields, and he is usually found wanting against opposition of the calibre found in this race. He is outclassed and will find it too difficult.

20. Aeronautical
Aeronautical usually prefers to try and run down the field late in the piece, which could be quite difficult here. Having drawn the inside barrier, he may get caught up and find it difficult to break through the pack. He is a good horse but this is not his race.

21. Strike the Stars (Emergency)
A quick look at this horse's form and the average punter could tell you he is out of his depth, with one win from his 20 starts. Very ambitious to enter him here and he is under the odds at 100/1.

Suggested Bet

PIERRO is the deserved favourite, although his tough three runs this campaign may raise a question mark over the short price currently on offer. However, he is still the horse to beat and worth investing in, with the next best being NORZITA and APPEARANCE who are both very well priced. Take Pierro for the win and go a trifecta with the other two. There is good place value to be had with MONTON and LAMASERY also.



  1. With the track likely to be Heavy after recent rains, I like the look of Glass Harmonium taking them all on from the front, Streama or Alma's Fury.

  2. Big if there, is whether Glass Harmonium gets out of the gates. Can never have any confidence in him, but at 33/1 or better, that's factored in.


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