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The Doncaster preview

The highlight of the Sydney autumn carnival for me has always been the Doncaster, even before its renaissance into The Championships. Where champion horses concede weight to slightly lesser-performed horses over the Randwick metric mile. It takes a great horse to win it, and most years, it takes a pretty darn good punter to win on it too, such is the difficulty in sorting out the wheat from the chaff. And April in Sydney means rain, and bucketloads of it. Study the forecast before having a punt at Randwick on Saturday, and watch the early races to see how the track is playing. Drawing 20 might not be such a problem by 5pm.

Drawing the magnifying class and sifting through the form of this complex contest is regular contributor Mitchell Fenton, @mitchfenton88 from UBET, with a few additional comments spliced in from myself.

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The Doncaster Mile
$3m Group 1 Handicap
Randwick 1600m Group 1
R9 1710 local 0710 BST
Expected track condition - Bloody Wet.
Form guide
Odds comparison

At time of writing on Wednesday night the track is rated a Soft (7). Showers are predicted to continue the rest of the week and into Saturday so I think the track will be borderline Slow (7) / Heavy (8)….definitely rain affected.

1.SACRED FALLS
2013 and 2014 winner of this race, hoping to become the first horse in 150 years of the Doncaster Mile to win the premier Australian mile on three occasions (eight have won it twice). Needless to say history is against him. He comes here third up… and third up last prep he was a very dominant G1 George Main Stakes winner over the track and trip at WFA. Here he carries topweight of 58kg conceding the bottom weight a hefty 8kg on the handicap scale. Last start in the G1 1500m George Ryder Stakes on Slipper Day at Rosehill, his run looked very plain finishing 12th of 14 beaten 5.7L, but sectional data shows his run was very good, in-fact he clocked the third fastest last 600m (33.80) of the race – behind only the third-placed Kermadec who charged home late (33.44) and runner-up Criterion (33.73). His fitness just gave way late but with that run under his belt he’s sure to be spot on for his tilt at the “Doncaster Mile Hat-trick”. He loves wet-ground just about as much as he loves Randwick where he’s a three-time Gr1 winner. Will get back from the wide gate for Purton but he’ll be steaming home late and is a definite winning hope, a win that would etch his name into Australian racing immortality as a three-time winner of the Doncaster Mile.

2.HAPPY TRAILS
Was tenth in the 2013 Doncaster Mile and ran a terrific sixth in it behind More Joyous in 2012. Has had three runs this time in at 1400m, 1800m and 2000m and all have been very typically honest efforts. He’s certainly fit enough for such a high pressure race like the Doncaster Mile is – after having a build up like that. A query on rain-affected going, having won just one of 14 tries on wet ground. That looms as a big danger to his chances. Prefer others.

3.WORLD ACE
Japanese raider that has very solid form-lines in Asia over the mile. His first up run in Australia in the George Ryder was very good. A la Sacred Falls and plenty of others he got back and was no chance of winning when they got an easy enough time in-front. He ran the sixth fastest last 600m of the race. Completely unknown in the ground that can bring undone many Asian horses accustomed to very firm tracks. A rough each way hope on what we saw in the Ryder, a very good winning hope on what we’ve seen in Asia – but the question looms how he’ll handle Australian wet track racing conditions.

4.REAL IMPACT
The second of the Japanese raiders in the race. Won the G1 George Ryder Stakes at Rosehill a fortnight ago beating eight others who line up here, so that has to hold plenty of sway when assessing the race. He led that day, and there was no loafing in-front, his lead time was half a length quicker than average. I’m prepared to risk as an on-pacer starting from barrier 21 (18 without emergencies) and whose record suggests he’s an out-and-out dry track horse, especially in a race like the Doncaster Mile.

5.MORIARTY
G1 winner in Perth during the Summer in the 1800m Kingston Town Stakes. Resumed first up in the Ryder of the back of a pair of trials and put in a middling effort that showed he needed the run. I suspect this will be another “fitness builder” in readiness for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the second day of the 2015 Championships. Not for me.

6.ROYAL DESCENT
Genuine Group 1 mare who has a win at the top level to her name in the 2013 Oaks (by a lazy 10L!) but who is most renowned for her string of near misses at G1. It’s been two years since she last won a race and many punters have come and gone off her but she continues to run her usual genuine race without winning. She was runner up in the Doncaster Mile of 2014 after looking all over the winner at the 200m mark. She cruised up under Nash but Sacred Falls snuck up along the fence to nab her. We know she’s a very good horse but performances like that day have made me really wonder if she enjoys a ‘dog-fight’ at the end of a race. Probably not… but that’s what happens at the end of Group 1s. Her two runs this prep Canterbury & George Ryder have been very good and she appears to be building up to a peak here and of course the wet track is a huge plus for her having won the Oaks by 10L on a ‘bog’. I can’t have her on top, I can’t leave her out. That’s the sort of horse she is. Her record at the mile is super consistent - six runs, six seconds with five of them here. “Magic Moreira” goes on, so maybe he can cast a spell and get the mare home in one of these open G1 races she so much deserves to win.

7.NINTH LEGION
Doesn’t handle wet conditions whatsoever, just two thirds from nine wet starts. Ran fourth in the Epsom after landing in the box seat. Drawn well again but I very much doubt his class in a tougher Doncaster.

8.PUCCINI
OK in Listed grade at Bendigo last time, carrying 60kg from a wide gate and not beaten far, his best run in Australia. This obviously ten-fold harder but there's plenty more ability if he brings his best from NZ. Gets weight relief here but stuck with the wide gate again. Be surprised if he can manage to scrape into the top 10.

9.COSMIC ENDEAVOUR
Her run last start in the George Ryder over 1500m was her first go past 1400m and she was an abject failure finishing last in the race without any visible excuse. Better suited back to handicap conditions of the Doncaster Mile no doubt with the weight relief but impossible to see her turning around last start 360 degrees.

10.HALLOWED CROWN
The boom three year old colt who no doubt is the horse they all have to beat. He’s something very special. Has won six of his eight outings including two Group 1s in the Golden Rose and Randwick Guineas (which was over this track and trip). The wetter, the better for him. He’s a star on all track surfaces but I think he goes better on heavy ground whilst others aren’t at their very best. Last time out in the Rosehill Guineas, a 2000m G1 3yo race I thought he ran a terrific Doncaster lead-up. He didn’t stay the 2000m quite as well as first and second but it was a run that would ensure he’d be rock hard fit dropping back to the Doncaster Mile. Had he have drawn a gate I’d almost be declaring him past the post! That’s not to say he can’t win starting from the extreme outside, but it’s a very, very tough task that’s been set for him. But then again whose to say out deep on a soggy Randwick track come race time won’t be the best place to be?

He’s well weighted with 52.5kg and if Tommy Berry can reproduce his Golden Slipper heroics that saw him get a position from the outside gate after 100m on Vancouver here, he’ll be the one to beat. Bart & grandson James will have him primed to the second!

11.HOOKED
Plugged away solidly last start to be beaten less than 3L in the George Ryder. Doesn’t have enough of a turn of foot in my opinion to win a big Randwick Mile, and the nought from eight record over track & trip is a big mark against him.

12.IT’S SOMEWHAT
Was every chance in the Ryder where he dropped out late and was disappointing for mine but that was at WFA and he was clearly outclassed on that occasion. Drops a massive 7kg off that run though which is a huge advantage for him. Having run well in Group races in Europe over 3000m, there’s no doubt about him running a strong mile even though he hasn’t won a race past 1400m. Drawn well, handles soft going and has in-form jockey C.Williams on. That makes him a very nice each way bet at decent odds if you fancy him. Stable is on fire, can definitely add the Doncaster to the Sheikh’s bulging trophy cabinet.

13.DIAMOND DRILLE
Three solid runs back this prep have her rock-hard fit to tackle the Doncaster now. Last start she was terrific in the Coolmore Classic running home in very solid sectional times to just miss behind Plucky Belle and First Seal. Takes on the boys now but does get great weight relief dropping down to just 51kg. The wide draw is no help though leaving Huet only two choices go right back or risk sitting deep the entire trip. Whichever way it pans out I can’t see her winning the race, even with a 100% record over track & trip. Clear outsider of the Waterhouse trio but does have decent wet track credentials. I do like Arabian Gold in the race so on that alone she’s some hope but I’m working around her.

14.PORNICHET
Terrific last week winning the Neville Sellwood over 2000m although he was entitled to do so given the dream run he secured. I don’t like that race as a form guide coming into this on the quick back up and dropping back to the mile of the Doncaster, but I’ve potted many a Gai Waterhouse runner and been left with egg on my face before and this horse is definitely progressive enough to leave me eating my words. He’ll need to lift another couple of levels to win a Doncaster. Talented horse but I’m taking a set against him at the odds and making him the best lay in the race…Place only.

15.DESTINY’S KISS
He’s a mudlark having won five of nine on heavy going. His form this prep is only fair however and he looks well and truly outclassed as his 125/1 odds suggest.

16.ARABIAN GOLD
Ripper mare that rattled off the best closing sectionals in the Coolmore behind Plucky Belle. Have no doubt she would have won the race or gone very, very close to winning given a clearer passage down the home running. Is an absolute ‘mudder’ who has won all three of her attempts on heavy going and two out of three on slow going. Drawn to get the run of the race from gate five and Chad Schofield will be aboard with plenty of options from the alley to go out or stay in. Only has to carry 50.5kg, a drop of 5kg off her Coolmore Stakes effort. A huge show, great each way value. She’s right in this with a major winning hope.

17.LEEBAZ
Very plain last week in the Doncaster Prelude. That race was much weaker than this. This is a horse with a decent amount of talent but I think the Qld Carnival is his best chance of cracking in a G1. Solid wet form.

18.RUDY
Does drop 8kg off last week's failure in the Doncaster Prelude. That shouldn’t be anywhere near enough to see him winning a Doncaster Mile but won the Villiers in December on Soft 5 and has won four from five on the Heavy if the clouds keep leaking.

19.SUAVITO
Is the form Melbourne mare heading north for a well-deserved crack at the big time. First up she blew away Dissident, the odds-on favourite, in the G1 Futurity over 1400m at Caulfield before winning again second up, this time at Flemington in the G2 Blamey Stakes over the mile. She reeled off terrific sectionals in an easy win – second on sectional times out of the event was Kourkam who won the Albury Cup. I know there’s a massive gulf between an Albury Cup and a Doncaster but it still goes to show the form is good and how well this mare is going. She’s a risk on the wet going having had three wet track runs without posting a win. Drawn gate 1 for C.Brown and carries the minimum weight of 50kg I think she’s a rough each-way hope if she can handle the going and not get bogged down on the inside.

20.PLUCKY BELLE
Big odds for a horse who was a Group 1 winner at her last outing that’s for sure! She does take on the boys now though so that probably explains the 30/1 they have on offer about her. I’ve included mares Arabian Gold and Diamond Drille right in the mix who finished behind her in the Coolmore so she has to be some chance with just 50kg on her back. Has drawn well for Kath O’Hara to get another good trail and is a wet track winner. Way over the odds and is a definite blowout in the race for punters so include her in all your multiples.

21.SWEYNESSE (EMERGENCY)
Was very disappointing in the Rosehill Guineas over 2000m but follows the same path as Hallowed Crown now and drops back to the mile. Hallowed Crown beat him in the Randwick Guineas fair and square at this track and trip two runs back so on pure form shouldn't see him turning the tables on Hallowed Crown and beating a crack field, although the draw has to count for something. Does he get a run now the race has been pushed back 48hrs?

22.KERMADEC (EMERGENCY)
Was enormous last start in the George Ryder, clearly the run of the race, if not the best run all day. Was the only horse to make up ground off a moderate tempo and his sectionals were by far superior to every other horse in the race. Before that he was a tragedy beaten in the Australian Guineas when Nash just couldn’t find clear galloping for for love nor money. He does need luck with his pattern of racing but who better to have on when you need that the “Group 1 Glenn Boss”! Huge show if he gains a start with only a miserly 50kg to carry.

23.AOMEN (EMERGENCY)
Scratched

24.MALAVIO (EMERGENCY)
Scratched


DONCASTER MILE 2015 TIPS:
10.HALLOWED CROWN
16.ARABIAN GOLD
12. IT'S SOMEWHAT
6.ROYAL DESCENT
20.PLUCKY BELLE

SUGGESTED BET:
10.HALLOWED CROWN straight out at around $6
with a saver on 16.ARABIAN GOLD (EACH WAY) $17 / $4.25

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