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Doncaster Mile preview

The first week of The Championships takes place at Royal Randwick on Saturday, and congratulations to the Australian Turf Club/Racing NSW for generating such a high quality day over a very short run-up. 2015 and 2016 will be the years it really should start to see international influence. I hang it on Sydneysiders regularly, so credit where credit is due...

The Doncaster has always been a fantastic race, while an honour roll including greats such as More Joyous, Haradasun, Sunline, Super Impose, Emancipation, Gunsynd and Tobin Bronze, while at the same time, the beauty of a handicap allowing the likes of Racing To Win, Grand Armee, Sprint By, Skating and Lawman win on the way to far greater ratings. This year it is worth three million dollars and what a cracker of a race it is!

Taking the reins for this preview is frequent contributor Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85.

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Doncaster Mile – 1600m
$3M Group 1 Open Handicap
At time of publication, the track was rated Slow 7.

1. Boban (19)
Arguably the star of last spring with an unbeaten prep including two Group 1 wins, Boban resumed this Autumn with two disappointing starts, followed by a strong win showing his powerful turn of foot in the Chipping Norton Stakes, where he defeated champion galloper It's A Dundeel. That win showed Boban to be one of the country's great milers, which would seem to make him ideally suited here. However, he has struggled in the wet (his last start on a slow track producing a disappointing seventh), and is likely to be scratched if the track is heavy as expected. If he runs, he will need to find his best form, running on a wet track from a wide barrier. He has drifted significantly in the odds and while his past ability to get out of trouble might make him look an attractive proposition at such a price, it is simply asking too much of him to win here. Save him for the Queen Elizabeth next week.

2. My Kingdom of Fife (7)
Formerly a very strong horse for trainer Chris Waller, this 9 year old gelding was injured in 2011 and only resumed two starts back in the Canterbury Stakes after an 18 month break. His two starts this run have been inglorious and nothing like his past form, finishing at or near the back of the field. While he has won on a heavy track before, due to his past form he has been allocated a big weight and in light of his current form, this puts him out of contention.

3. Streama (21)
A bonny mare who loves this track, quite likes this distance, and is a proven performer in the wet. Those elements would seem to make her one of the top contenders here, but counting against her is a big weight (although one she carried to win the George Main here in spring over 1600m), a wide barrier and reasonably indifferent form this prep. Her runs have been solid enough but she hasn't looked like threatening at any time, and comes up here against some horses in red hot form. It would require a career best performance for her to win, but you could certainly do worse at big odds.

4. Sacred Falls (14)
Winner of last year's Doncaster Mile (on a heavy track) where he defeated the champion Pierro, Sacred Falls has run okay since without breaking through. He carries 4kg more than last year's 53kg and on his form, I would not expect him to go back to back. The wet will be to his advantage but he has not done enough since winning last year to indicate he is up to the task.

5. Hawkspur (8)
Has been average this prep, with his best start being a third place in the Chipping Norton won by Boban. He has shown his trademark ability to make solid ground from the back, and I would expect him to do the same here. However, in a crowded field on a wet, chopped up track (the Doncaster being the second last race of the day), it may be difficult for him to make enough ground late. Reports are that he has been soaring in trackwork, but I can't have him – for mine this just doesn't look like his race.

6. Toydini (3)
Toydini has not placed in three starts this prep, but last spring had a strong campaign including a third place in the Epsom and a win in the Crystal Mile on Cox Plate day. This is the right distance for him, but the wet track puts a question mark over him and, like Hawkspur, he likes to run on from the back and may find that a tough ask here.

7. Speediness (1)
The little horse that could, it would be a great story for small stable trainer Colin Scott if Speediness (one of just four horses in his stables) won this race. He is a strong miler, and has winning form on slow tracks. He ran superbly in his last start, just being pipped at the post by Irish raider Gordon Lord Byron. His form indicates that he can do this – he ran third in the Epsom last year to Boban and then second to Toydini in the Crystal Mile, and he has been running well this prep. The rails barrier can be a trap so he will need to jump well, but the horse has done enough for me to rate him as a live chance at big odds.

8. Mouro (5)
Mouro's two starts this prep have produced a first place and a seventh. His form in the spring was strong, however the quality of horses he has beaten is largely nowhere near what he faces here. He will be fit for this and likes the distance. While I don't rate him as a top chance he won't disgrace himself and should run on well, but this is too tough for him.

9. Royal Descent (20)
Winner of last year's ATC Oaks which was her last victory. This distance is probably better suited for her, and the wet won't hurt, as she is one of a handful of horses in the race to have won on a heavy track before. I wouldn't overlook her entirely, but her inability to break through since the Oaks victory is unlikely to change here. At decent odds, a place bet is worth a look.

10. Monton (4)
A real warhorse, this seven year old gelding just keeps going – his last complete spell was a year ago but he still managed a handful of wins in the summer. His last two starts in the Ajax and the Chipping Norton (against many of the horses running here) produced two fifth placings. Monton is far from the best horse running in this race and the markets have completely written him off but he always runs so honestly and just keeps going so I might throw a few bucks on at a ridiculously big place price.

11. Dear Demi (2)
Winner of the 2012 VRC Oaks and The Roses over 2000m in Doomben last May, Dear Demi had a solid campaign last spring without winning anything. Her last start in the Coolmore was weak but two runs back she was third to a brilliant Catkins in the Wiggle Stakes. She has won at this distance, at this track and in the wet before and while she undoubtedly has ability, this seems too tough for her.

12. Fat Al (15)
After winning the Epsom in 2012, Fat Al didn't break through again until a few weeks ago in the Golden Mile at Bendigo, having changed trainers in the interim from Gai Waterhouse to Peter Moody. That was a great win over this distance, with the gelding running on strongly to win by a length. However, stepping up from that run to the Doncaster Mile, against a very strong field, is a big ask. His last start disappointment can be forgiven after he was galloped on, but he has not performed strongly enough when faced with such strong competition in the past.

13. Slow Pace (22)
Having his second start in Australia after a career in France. Slow Pace finished second when he was first-up in the Newcastle Newmarket, and has good second-up form. Unfortunately for him, he has drawn the car park barrier, although how that plays out won't really be known until the day. The soft ground won't hurt him, and while his performance in Australia is at this stage largely a matter of speculation, I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish strongly, with a very good price available. Definitely one for the exotics.

14. Hana's Goal (16)
Japanese horse who has come over for the Championships, she disappointed in her last start after jumping poorly and never recovered. While we can expect improvement from that run and she likes this distance, her second-up form is weak and she has no form on wet tracks. I'm happy to put a line through her in this.

15. Lidari (6)
Ran third to Fiorente over a mile last spring in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, and won the Blamey Stakes at Flemington over the same distance two starts back, but was poor at his other two starts in that time, his last start in the George Ryder being particularly disappointing. He should handle the soft ground and is well weighted, and while I think he is over the odds I would be surprised if he finished in the placings.

16. Dissident (11)
Has had a strong prep, with a second placing and two wins including the Randwick Guineas. He was a disappointing sixth last time in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) but finished solidly. This is more his distance. He is near the bottom of the weight scale and while this is a big ask, on his recent form it is certainly achievable. The main question mark is his ability against the older horses, but he is definitely one to include in the exotics.

17. Messene (18)
The early favourite for the race following a brilliant win last start in the Ajax Stakes, where he just ran away to win by almost three lengths from Weary. Having won his last seven starts and coming from the Hawkes stable who are flying at the moment, the favourite status is justified. The query would be the quality of fields that this Lonhro gelding has beaten, with the Ajax being the first time he really stepped up against opposition of the kind he is meeting here. Based on the outcome of that race, you would expect Messene to be right up there in this race, although the expected heavy track is an unknown quantity, with the horse having no form in the wet.

18. El Roca (17)
El Roca has had a strong prep, with one win and three placings. In fact, the only race of the young colt's career where he did not place was last year's Caulfield Guineas. He is well weighted, always goes close and has been running well. Being up against the older horses in such a strong field will test him, but I would rate him as an each way chance.

19. Weary (13)
Absolutely starred in winning the last race on Golden Slipper day, the Doncaster Prelude, on a chopped up track. Carrying a light weight and with two wins from two starts on heavy tracks, it is not hard to see why this horse has moved so dramatically in the markets over the last few days. He was second to Messene (albeit by some distance) in the Ajax, and is a big chance here. While he has never run at Randwick, with top jockey Tommy Berry on board he is a big chance and should run a great race.

20. Ninth Legion (12)
His wins have mostly not been against much, certainly not the quality of the field assembled here. While he ran third at Warwick Farm two starts back against some decent opposition, he is too outclassed here to expect much.

21. Malavio (9) 1ST EMERGENCY
This Snitzel gelding ran fourth in the Doncaster Prelude last week, and prior to that a third place in the Ajax to Messene and Weary. The mile is not his distance however, with three starts and no placings. I wouldn't expect him to disgrace himself, but he will find it too tough here.

22. Gypsy Diamond (10) 2ND EMERGENCY
The second emergency, although likely to run as a heavy track will result in some scratchings. While well weighted, this is a big ask for this three year old filly. Her last run in the Coolmore was disappointing, and while she can perform well against horses her own age, I haven't seen enough to convince me she can perform strongly against this field.

Suggested Bet This is a tough race, with a big field of high quality horses including multiple Group 1 winners. For mine the markets have it pretty accurate at this stage, with Messene and Weary on top. However, my pick of the crop at big odds is Speediness. Sometimes you have to stick your neck out - he has done enough to tell me he can win (his last start was excellent) and I will be cheering him on at what is likely to be a very wet Randwick. After those three there is a host of chances – Streama, El Roca, Dissident and Slow Pace are all chances. Being so open, there is a lot of value to be had in this race so have a look at some place bets and go wide in your exotics.

Speediness
Messene
Weary
Streama

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