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Canterbury Stakes preview

Not only is their magnificent racing this week at Cheltenham, but the Sydney racing carnival (yes, we call them carnivals in Australia rather than festivals) cranks right up as we head towards the inaugural running of The Championships. There's English interest in this race too, not only is it the resumption of the former royal-owned galloper (My) Kingdom of Fife after 2.5 years off due to injury, but the Royal Ascot-bound super colt Zoustar starts his 2014 campaign. There are no slouches in this field, although some might have targets later on in the autumn over more ground.

Charged with the preview is astute form student and regular contributor Manny Galouzis, @mannygalouzis.


Canterbury Stakes
Randwick $500,000 Group 1
1722 local time, 0822 GMT.
1300m, track expected to be Dead 5-Slow 7 range.
Here we go again, punters. All eyes shift from Melbourne to Sydney this week as the Sydney Autumn Carnival kicks off. Two Group 1 races, the Randwick Guineas and the Canterbury Stakes. We had a decent day at Flemington last week. Thunder Fantasy couldn't get the job done, but Spirit of Boom ran a cracking race at place odds of about 7/2 and my selections ran the boxed First 4. Hope some of you stepped into the exotics, as I suggested. No point dwelling on the past however, there is money to be made this week. Today we focus on the Canterbury Stakes, and what a race it is shaping up to be. First, as always, a bit of history.

Run as a Group 2 up until 2012, The Canterbury Stakes reached Group 1 status last year, and it is easy to see why. Year after year the fields for this race got much stronger and the winners were all genuine Group 1 performers. Pierro, More Joyous, Hot Danish, All Silent and Mentality in more recent times. If we go back a bit further, we will see such names as Placid Ark, Emancipation and Manikato, just to name a few. This year is no exception, with at least 10 Group 1 wins amongst the runners. Let's get stuck into it.

1. My Kingdom of Fife

This horse could have been anything, if not for some horrible luck with injuries. He sticks out in my mind as one of Waller's first imports to come and take Australia by storm. He is first-up here after a lazy 896 days off, so I'm tipping he might need the run. He is 150/1 and that's probably a fair price; but cast your mind back to April 2011, where he was first up over 1600m at this very course in the Royal Parma Stakes. He duly went on to get the chockies at the same odds he shows right now. I'm not saying that lightning will strike twice, but if anyone can do it, it's C.Waller. If he wins, I'll officially retire from the punt and then proceed to build a statue in honour of what a freak his trainer is.

2. Sacred Falls

Hasn't won since the 2013 edition of the Doncaster (a race I still have nightmares about, tipped him at 50/1 and didn't have a cent on him), but he hasn't been too bad since then. Beaten less than a length in the Emirates and ran 3rd in the MV Crystal Mile. Don't know about 1300m first-up, but I'd be hoping he finishes off nice enough to be a factor in later Autumn features. 33/1 I think is a fairly big price. Can't win but I think he is a rough place chance.

3. Toydini

Very average first-up, I don't know what to make of him here. He clearly has the ability, considering he was only beaten a length in the Emirates, but I don't think 1300m against this lot will suit him. Not for me.

4. Speediness

Great run last start, beaten 1.5L by Appearance in the Apollo Stakes. He has always shown he has talent, but he really stepped it up last prep with placings in the Crystal Mile and the Emirates. Would prefer to wait and see what he can do at 1600m though. 18/1 is about his right price. Place chance.

5. Rain Affair

Who knows what to make of this bloke. Ordinary in the Theo Marks last Spring, awful in the Expressway, he might need a very long stay in a large paddock. He did win a barrier trial by 11 lengths on the 28th of February, but you would expect him to do so against that lot of horses. He should get a fairly soft lead and a bit of sting out of the track will help his chances, but he really is a take-on-trust prospect. He won't be getting any of my hard earned.

6. Appearance

Fantastic in the Expressway and the Apollo; this mare is a force to be reckoned with in Autumn feature races. She has showed a devastating turn of foot in both of her wins this prep, my only issue with her here is that she is going to be a long way back off the turn on what might be a slow pace. She could come out and win, but I think she is under the odds.

7. Streama

Just fair first-up and you'd be expecting her to show her best over 1600m. A slower track will help her chance but I can't back her here.

8. Red Tracer

Won as expected first-up, but the way she ran through the line was the most impressive part of that win. Clearly she is bound for bigger and better races. Never out of a place at the trip and she should lob in nicely behind the speed, she is a big chance here. Any rain certainly only improves her chances, I've got her equal second pick.

9. Zoustar

Well, it'll be all eyes on Zoustar when the barriers open up. He proved himself to be one of the best colts in the land last Spring, taking out the Golden Rose and Coolmore Stud in emphatic style. He's trialled twice leading up to this, so he should be ready to go. I thought first-up against older horses might be too tough a task, but you have to remember that he is a VERY expensive colt owned by Widden Stud, so he wouldn't be running in a Group 1 unless Waller thought he could win. If he shows any glimpses of his Spring prep, you'd think he would be just about winning this. 2/1 is a little short for me, but I've got him on top.

10. Not Listenin'tome

He blew the field away first-up in the Zedative Stakes at Caulfield; you could not ask for a more impressive return to racing. He's got Group 1 galloper written all over him and it would be no shock if he won on Saturday. The Hawkes team is absolutely flying right now and if there are any chinks in the armour of Zoustar, he is going to be the immediate danger. He was only beaten 2L to Zoustar in the Coolmore Stud Stakes and it is quite obvious he has improved a few lengths since then. I think he will get a lovely trail into the race just behind the speed and at some point down the straight, look like the winner. Equal second pick and at odds of about 13/4, he is the right price.

Rain Affair should find the front fairly easily, with Not Listenin'tome, Red Tracer and Streama behind him. I would expect Zoustar to sit 3 pairs back, which should leave him within striking distance on the turn. The speed of the race depends on what Jason Collett does on Rain Affair here. Does he high-ball out in front or does he just hope to try and pinch a few cheap sectionals and kick on the turn? If the former, it brings a horse like Appearance right into the race. If not, horses most suited with be those right behind the speed.

A fantastic race on paper, I've actually found it quite difficult to recommend a bet here. I'm $3.70 the field in a 100% market. Zoustar could just come out and blow them all away, but at odds of $2.80, I'm not prepared to find out until after the race. I could have something small on Red Tracer and/or Not Listenin'tome, but I'd need about $5.50 to invest on either of them. Perhaps this is just a race to sit back and enjoy.


1. Zoustar 2. Red Tracer and Not Listenin'tome 4. Appearance

Recommended Bet:

No recommended bet today but if you must invest, play exotics small around 2,6,8,9,10.

Good luck punters and as always, there is no such thing as the last race.


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