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Epsom Handicap preview

The Epsom Handicap is Sydney's big race of the spring before all the attention heads south to Melbourne. As always, it's a strong field, and takin up the challenge of the preview is regular contributor Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85.


Epsom Handicap

1. Sincero
Sincero has an impressive record, including Group 1 wins and form over this distance. He has a strong turn of foot and is racing third up meaning he should be fully fit after almost a year off, however his two starts this prep have been uninspiring, beating just two horses home and he has faded towards the line. Based on that, I can't have him here.

2. Veyron
Running at his preferred distance (13 starts for five wins and four placings at a mile), this son of Thorn Park should not be underestimated and is paying big odds. He beat two top horses in Streama and Rain Affair two starts back (over a shorter 1400m), showing that he can match it against strong opposition. Offering more than decent odds for a place, I would not rule Veyron out of this at all.

3. Sacred Falls
The horse that beat Pierro in that champion's last race. His race two starts back in the Tramway (1400m) indicated the need for further ground for this Chris Waller-trained entire, but his subsequent run over a mile in the George Main was unimpressive, and he never really looked in it. He is down in weight from that run and while I would expect an alright race from him, I am looking elsewhere here.

4. Rekindled Interest
Despite constant hype every spring, Rekindled Interest has not won a race since September 2011. It is not really clear what he is doing here – he ran a strong second in his last start against an average field, and this race will be much too tough for him. While he will probably repeat his last place from the 2012 Cox Plate (for which he was hyped, being “unlucky” according to some in 2011 because other horses ran past him) in this race, expect the hype machine to continue into the Melbourne spring. Targeting the Cox Plate via the Epsom, a novel strategy. Lay away on this one.

5. Streama
Last start win in the George Main over this distance was a strong win, beating a quality field. Prior to that race she ran scnd in another strong field. Four wins from six at Randwick including two at the distance, she loves the big track and for mine he is the one to beat here. At the time of writing you could get $6.50 about her, huge value. Get on board.

6. Toydini
Toydini's last run in the Cameron Handicap was outstanding, coming from well back in the field to storm home. His talent is clear, but the question I have with this horse is his consistency – his last five starts read 15s4115. He is well fancied for this race but I have some doubts over whether he can beat a field like this. Definitely one to include in the multiples.

7. Riva de Lago
Won his last start against Solzhenitsyn, who subsequently came third in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, with a strong finish. Despite having champion jockey Jim Cassidy on board, he has drawn poorly and is unproven at this distance. Not this time.

8. Malavio
Also has not won at this distance, has drawn poorly and is quite an inconsistent horse. His form would indicate that anything could happen, but in a race like the Epsom, I can't have him.

9. Sizzling
Form this preparation hasn't been ideal but he did pull up sore in the Bill Ritchie last time. Drops considerably in weight from recent WFA and SWP races. His best performances have been in Queensland against lesser fields, and he has not shown enough to be considered a serious chance here.

10. Boban
The early favourite for this race, coming off two wins from two starts this prep. He is carrying a light weight, and despite drawing poorly should run well. The question mark over Boban is the quality of opposition that he has beaten however, which has not been of the standard that we see here. He is a definite contender, but I have not seen enough from this horse to back him here.

11. Lidari
A highly fancied horse this spring, Lidari has had a good campaign, with a third placing in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley coming off a win at Caulfield. Two placings from two starts indicates this horse's ability over a mile, and he has drawn well with barrier 7. He hit the line hard in his last start and could well be in the finish here. One to watch.

12. Belltone
Belltone's best performances have been against lesser horses in Queensland and he is unproven over this distance. Not here.

13. Scream Machine
A strong run to the line produced a third place for this gelding in the Cameron Handicap (won by Toydini), but he is outclassed here.

14. Your Honour
While recent runs indicate that the extra distance will suit this horse, a win would be a huge ask. Keep in mind for the future in lesser races.

15. Ashokan
With one win from 18 starts and a consistent failure to deliver at this level, I'm happy to put a line through him.

16. Ecuador
A much hyped horse of late, Ecuador produced some strong victories before finishing second in his last start in gale-force wind conditions at Rosehill. While Twitter was alive after that race with claims of bubbles being burst and other such knee-jerk reactions, his form, a significant drop in weight from his last few starts and the presence of champion jockey Tommy Berry on board give this horse a real chance, and the doubters could do worse than take the $7 about him in early markets.

17. Spurtonic
Seems outclassed at first glance, but with a light weight and the inside barrier draw, he could get a rails run and surprise. Otherwise I'd rule him out.

Suggested Bet
The serious contenders here are Veyron, Sacred Falls, Streama, Toydini, Boban, Lidari and Ecuador. It is shaping up to be strong renewal of one of Sydney's great races.



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Villiers Stakes preview

The highlight of summer racing in Sydney is the Villiers Stakes. Tasked with the preview is Mitch Fenton.


Villiers StakesRandwick, G2, 1600m
1615 local time, 0515 GMT

Form link

Twitter: @weekndkngracing
Facebook: /weekendking

The most reliable guide to the Gr2 Villiers has always been the Festival Stakes.

I’m going to stick with that form line; here’s the horses who ran in the Festival, running today.

1 I'm Imposing (55.5) 20-1
2 [0.1] Estonian Princess (54) 7-1
3 [0.3] Strawberry Boy (57.5) 6-1
5 [1.7] Sir Moments (56) 11-2
6 [2.5] Multilateral (54) 60-1
7 [3.8] Scream Machine (56) 20-1
8 [4.3] Aomen (58.5) 30-1
11 [6.8] Monton (60) 16-1
12 [8.0] Keep Cool (54) 80-1

Out of all those runs in the Festival, Strawberry Boy was a clear top pick for mine.

He worked very hard out in front with his 1500m to 600m times and was 3L quicker than the average. He was entitled to drop out of the race but instead he fought on dogged…