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Canterbury Stakes preview II

The Canterbury Stakes at Randwick today is so good, it needs two separate previews! Actually, I've screwed up and double-booked the race so I've posted both of them. An interesting point to note since these were written is that Chris Waller, trainer of Zoustar, has revealed there is a $2m bonus for the original owners of Zoustar if the horse wins another Group 1.

This preview is written by regular Sydney racing contributor Tom Stewart, @tstewcav26.

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2014 Canterbury Stakes

The Canterbury Stakes is a Group One event held under weight for age conditions. Run over 1300m it has proved a benchmark race for many horses heading towards the George Ryder Stakes and the Doncaster Handicap. Over the years it has provided a launching pad for star horses such as More Joyous and Pierro, thus the reason it was elevated to Group One status last year. This year’s edition is enough to make my mouth water. The array of stars lining up in this field will make for a great contest. Star three year old Zoustar looks to ascert himself as racings next big thing, while the progressive Notlistenintome will be out to spoil the party along with veterans Red Tracer and Appearance.

#1 My Kingdom of Fife (5) – Glyn Schofield, Chris Waller (59kg)
Group One winner returning after a long injury lay off of two and a half years. Looked to be a serious talent when he won three of his first four Australian starts, including the G1 Queen Elizabeth stakes. However, a career threatening injury saw him sidelined for over two years. Under the careful and masterful eye of Chris Waller he has been back in work and two recent barrier trials have got him fit and ready for his first-up assignment Saturday. Waller stated during the week that he didn’t expect much from the galloper first up and he was just happy for him to get through the race and build towards 2000m plus.Regardless of the good draw these horses will be to quick for him over this distance and I expect him to settle at the rear of the field and stay there. Not this race.

#2 Sacred Falls (2) – Tommy Berry, Chris Waller (59kg)
Last year's Doncaster winner looks to atone for a below average spring carnival and regain the same form that saw him beat Pierro last autumn. His recent trial suggested that he may be back at his best and ready to fire this autumn carnival. First up with the blinkers on I believe he will run a cheeky race and especially if there is rain about come Saturday. His first-up record suggests that he can run well, having won two of his four starts first up.

From barrier two he looks to get a good run with Rain Affair drawn inside him. Rain Affair looks to be the only horse that will be gunning for the lead and with the blinkers on and from barrier two I would be hoping that Berry would look to take a sit behind Rain Affair and tag him into the race at the top of the straight. If he can produce the same run that saw him capture the Doncaster last year then he might be able to skip away from some of the back markers up the rise. My concern for him is that he may be looking for further and during the spring he failed to produce the turn of foot we know he is capable of. Sneaky place chance.

#3 Toydini (9) – Blake Shinn, Guy Walter (59kg)
One of my favourite horses who has got me out of trouble more than a few times. Despite his first-up performance he generally runs a competitive place and always gets a cheque for his owners. Although his first-up record is poor, he generally does his best work late but he was a bit disappointing first up and this was backed up by Guy Walter who was puzzled by the geldings performance. Second up now and back to Randwick where he has had most of his success, including a third in last year's Epsom Handicap, I expect him to run a lot better. Barrier nine doesn’t give Shinn many options rather than to go back and hope that the speed is put on for him. Considering how far back he might be, the distance of this race and the poor first up performance I would be wary of backing him in this race because he may not be 100%. Hes a quality galloper and at his best he would be competitive in this race for sure but I'm just worried after his lacklustre first-up performance. Not this race.

#4 Speediness (4) – Damien Oliver, Colin Scott (59kg)
Ran a huge race in the Apollo and has had a month off since that run. Like Toydini he is an ultra consistent horse and no doubt he will be competitive here in this race. Big plus getting the in form Damien Oliver on board and barrier four will be perfect for this horse. From the barrier I expect Oli to look to settle midfield or just off the pace. With Rain Affair setting a decent tempo up in front he might be able to get a nice drag into the race and if he is handy to the speed, possibly sneak away at the top of the straight. Cant really fault him here because he always runs a good race, maybe he isn’t up to this class but he always runs well and will be around the mark towards the finish. Place chance.

#5 Rain Affair (1) – Jason Collett, Joseph Pride (59kg)
Ran a horrible race first up in the Expressway finishing last. Since then has had a barrier trial which he won by 11 lengths over 800m at Warwick farm. His second up records suggests that he can atone for his average first-up performance, with two wins and a placing from five second-up runs. Barrier one looks perfect for him in a race with very little speed. He is at his best when he is allowed to roll up in front and if Collett allows him to do so and find his Rhythm then he will be very hard to chase down in the straight. Despite having a lot of favours in this race I couldn’t possibly have him in my top four after his first-up run. Not this race.

#6 Appearance (10) – Kerrin McEvoy, Guy Walter (57kg)
Highly underrated mare who continues to prove her worth with two wins from two starts this preparation. Made Boban look like a Kembla Grange maiden horse when she won first up in the Expressway Stakes and continued that form with a classy win in the Apollo Stakes. That form has been franked with Boban winning the Chipping Norton Stakes last week in dominant fashion and certainly reads as a good form line for Appearance. Barrier ten doesn’t help her causes but she has been getting back in both her races this preparation and I expect McEvoy to do the same again. Although Rain Affair is the only real speed horse, he will set a solid tempo and that will bring Appearance into the race and she will be doing her best work late. The barrier will be her only obstacle and if she gets to far back then she might have to much work to do and the bird will have flown. She is absolutely flying this preparation and although I was surprised with her first two runs I wont be surprised if she wins here. Big chance.

#7 Streama (8) – Glen Boss, Guy Walter (57kg)
Stable mate to Appearance who comes into this race second up after an average first up run in the Breeders Classic. Her second-up record suggests that she will be running a lot better here, having won three races and placed in two from six starts. She loves Randwick and although untested at 1300m there is no doubt that she will be competitive over this distance. Barrier eight is an awkward one for Boss to deal with but based on the way that she raced last preparation I expect him to be positive and look to go forward and settle in a top four position. She knows how to find the line and I expect her to be around the mark towards the finish but I'm just not sure if she will have the dash to beat the top three favourites. Place chance.

#8 Red Tracer (7) – Nash Rawiller, Chris Waller (57kg)
The last 12 months has seen Red Tracer go from a consistent group performer to an absolute star. There really isn’t anything to fault this mare. Over two million in prize money, 15 wins from 33 starts including two group one wins in the Tatts Tiara and the Myer Classic. Her first-up win was arrogant with Nash Rawiller barely touching her as she coasted past her rivals at the 200m to go on and record a two-length win. Despite beating only inferior opposition, the way in which she did it was the sign of a really classy horse. From barrier seven I think Nash will settle midfield and try and hold her up as long as he can before he lets her rip down the centre of the track and descend on the field. I think if there is a chink in the armour of the favourite she will be the one to expose it. Big danger!

#9 Zoustar (3) – Jim Cassidy, Chris Waller (56kg)
Star galloper who set the racing world alight last spring with two dominant Group One wins in the Golden Rose and Coolmore up the Flemington straight. Looks to assert himself here as the next big thing and considering the gap between now and his second up performance in the TJ Smith Stakes in April I expect that he will be ready to win first up come Saturday. First up last time he wasn’t ridden all that well and exposed three wide throughout the race. First up this time from barrier three Cassidy will be giving him every chance to win and certainly wont be getting stuck three wide. I think Cassidy will look to settle midfield and let Zoustar build momentum up the rise and let him rip around the 300m mark. The only concern for me is race fitness, but he has had two easy barrier trials leading into this and Waller believes he is “ready to rock ‘n’ roll”. Considering what he is worth and his lucrative stud deal he will be there ready to win. The one to beat.

#10 Notlistenintome (6) - James Mcdonald, Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes (56kg)
Progressive three year old who showed that he may be up to the A grade with a dominant and arrogant win first up in the Zeditave stakes. Second up last time won easily by two lengths defeating the consistent Sistine Demon with ease. From barrier six I think Mcdonald will look to be handy and be up around the top four horses in running. 1300m will be no problem for him and if he shows the same turn of foot that saw him win first up than he might be hard to get past. My concern is whether he would be better suited under handicap conditions at this stage in his career as opposed to weight for age. Wayne Hawkes has gone as far to say that he is a star in the making so he may prove me wrong Saturday. Definite chance.

Summary:

Absolute cracker of a race which will no doubt be a close contest. The rising three year olds up against veteran group one performer’s. I think Zoustar will prove his worth and put on a big performance to win first up Saturday. He is a real professional horse and has a serious turn of foot that will prove superior to this field if he is on his game. Odds of $3 look enticing and I think it will be the last time you will be able to associate him with odds of $2 or more so I suggest a bet on the nose of Zoustar. If there is a chink in his armour I think that Red Tracer will be the big threat, but I expect Appearance and Notlistenintome to be right up there in the finish as well.

1- Zoustar
2- Red Tracer
3- Appearance
4- Notlistenintome

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