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Chelmsford Stakes preview

It's the first weekend of spring in Australia and the big stables start rolling out their stars. A common gripe about racing in Sydney is how it is dominated by three stables. You won't be see a better example of it than here - leading trainer Chris Waller has ELEVEN runners out of the field of sixteen. And none of them are officially pacemakers!

Making a return to the blog for the spring carnival is Mitch Fenton, @WeekendKingRace. And you can read more of his work on his site.

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Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes
Group 2, $250,000, 1600m
1545 local 0645 BST
Odds comparison


1. Hartnell J A O'Shea J B Mc Donald
Was a Group winner in the UK before being transferred to Australia by Godolphin to tackle this year's Sydney Autumn Carnival.

He had four runs in his debut Australian campaign and in that short space of time he stamped himself as a genuine Gr1 horse.

First-up in Australia he went around in the Gr1 Chipping Norton as a 15/1 shot with Godolphin stablemate Contributer a short priced favourite. Contributer got the cash, but Hartnell's run was nothing short of breathtaking, flying home up along the inside to finish an ever-narrowing second place. His last 600/400/200m closing sectionals were 'smoking' - 33.56 22.32 11.00.

They were clearly the fastest on the whole card of racing and were half a second or a length and a half faster than anything else in the big Gr1 feature mile race. His last 600m was an unheard of 10.8L FASTER than the overall benchmark figure. He stamped himself as a genuine Group 1 horse from the get go!

Second up over 2000m he toyed with a quality field in the Gr3 Sky High Stakes, jog trotting home to score by two lengths.

He then took the huge leap to Gr1 Weight-For-Age over 2400m in the $1.5million BMW. He travelled like the winner the whole way and despite a gallant effort by Japanese staying star, To The World, he drew well clear late to score comfortably and stamp himself as a superstar stayer. Any lingering questions over his class or ability were extinguished their and then at Rosehill.

He ran in the Sydney Cup after that but things all went wrong that day and the run was a total forgive.

He's had two trials leading into this first up run. A repeat of his last first up effort in the Chipping Norton and not only will he win, he'll give genuine Gr1 milers wind-burn in the process.

Great hope fresh he's top class.

2. Pornichet Ms G Waterhouse B Shinn
Solid second resuming but was no match at all late for Royal Descent in the Warwick Stakes a fortnight ago. Will be fitter and appreciate the step up in distance, but that's the case for a lot of the main hopes here as well. In the Warwick Stakes he settled on speed in second and crawled his first 800m 4.5L slower than average, given that soft run on speed I thought he was disappointing not being able to sprint home better, although finishing runner up. Officially he clocked the 10th (out of field of 13) fastest 600/400 & 200m sectionals in the race, or to put it another way, the fourth slowest in the race....

Plenty got carried away with his Queensland campaign, but I for one didn't & won't. His ratings / sectionals were nothing flash in winning a lowly Toowoomba Cup and then the Doomben Cup, which let's be honest whilst it's a Gr1 - it's been a long while since we had a genuine Gr1 quality field in the event and this year's edition that Pornichet won was no different. The best guide form wise I can give you from a personal viewpoint out of the Doomben Cup comes through Hopfgarten, who was 5th beaten 3.9L in the race.

Hopfgarten's trainer Robert Heathcote has openly admitted the horse doesn't run a yard past 1600m and won't attempt any distance beyond the mile now for the remainder of his career, instead being set for Gr1 7 furlong / mile races. The fact he was a spent force a long way from home but still got within four lengths of Pornichet isn't flattering, for a horse some ridiculously touted a Cox Plate winner!

I think he's only average, his Epsom fifth earlier this year was a career best but he carried 51kg that day. At WFA he lugs 8kg more. Not a WFA horse at this level. lay of the day.

3. Who Shot Thebarman C J Waller C Reith
Melbourne / Sydney Cup placegetter resuming on the path of the Melbourne Cup again. Will be getting warm late in the piece but a top 5 hope at best, under these conditions.

4. Beaten Up C J Waller G Schofield
An old 8 year old 'trier' who whacked away first up pretty well into fourth. Fitter for that run but lacks the dash to be competitive over 1600m in the company.

5. Moriarty C J Waller J R Collett
Terrible in the Warwick Stakes running up to his 80/1 quote. Is 100/1 here and will likely run accordingly again.

6. Junoob C J Waller J Parr
Stayer resuming. Might sneak into top 10.

7. Grand Marshal C J Waller J A Cassidy
Sydney Cup winner resuming. Can pull out a decent finishing burst fresh on his day, but won't trouble the pointy end of the prizes here.

8. Opinion C J Waller K Mc Evoy
Stayer resuming. 100/1. Nothing more I can add.

9. Hawkspur C J Waller Tommy Berry
The Hawkspur of a couple of seasons ago would have been highly competitive here. Woeful effort first-up in Warwick Stakes where he could barely get past a horse, so impossible to see him turning that around second up.

10. I'm Imposing C J Waller T Angland
Resuming, will need further to show his best and doubt he's up to this grade at best of times.

11. Precedence James Cummings Tim Clark
Cummings stayer resuming. Would be one of the great wins of all time if he could spring a monumental upset the week of the passing of the legendary J.B. Cummings, but not even the wildest optimist could tip him to win.

12. Complacent J A O'Shea S Clipperton
Very average resuming in the Warwick Stakes but did have plenty against. Still, wait 'til he gets over further to start taking notice of him.

13. Tremec John Thompson Thomas Huet
Listed Class stayer resuming. 100/1. No hope.

14. Kermadec C J Waller G Boss
Devastating Doncaster Handicap winner in the autumn, carrying 51kg - he won by two length eased right down to a canter. Had always shown promise but he stamped himself that day as a potential star.

Lovely return this prep in the Warwick Stakes, his closing 600, 400, 200m sectionals were: 34.14 22.54 11.46.

The 400m & 200m splits were the fastest in the race. So clearly the step up from 1400m that day to the mile will suit to perfection. He loves the 1600m, with two wins and a second from four attempts, but really in fact that should read four from four, as the two times he missed he was tragically unlucky.

The big question mark over the horse, is the same one that lingers over every super talented 3 year old, who has turned four.

Can they progress from Set Weight races against fellow juveniles or Handicaps against the older horse carrying postage stamp weights & step up to open WFA where they only get 0.5kg weight relief, instead of the usual 6 or 7kg. Kermadec rises 7.5kg on his Doncaster win. That's a huge amount of weight & only the very best can cope with the rise in grade/weight.

It's not good enough to maintain their level, they need to improve steeply. Judging on Kermadec's 1st up run, he looks as though he'll be one of the rare few that steps straight up to open WFA & wins.

This isn't an easy task for him, but he's still on a steep upward spiral & the sky really is the limit at this point in time. He could be the next super star of the Aussie turf?!?! Great winning hope.

15. Preferment C J Waller C Lever
Victorian Derby winner resuming. Can pull out a decent run fresh, but can't win. Wait 'til he gets out to a staying trip.

16. Royal Descent C J Waller J Bowman
Ultra consistent mare, who lacked the 'super-star' tag to date due to her nasty tendency to get worried out of races in two horse drives to the line! Finally broke through for another win last in the Warwick Stakes and did it with ease... her first in 19 runs since winning the 2013 Oaks by 10L. In those 19 runs however, 14 were at Group 1 level and six were placings, several by a nose / short half head margin.

I've always been of the opinion she's ultra talented, but something wasn't right between her ears. She would jog up to horses but just wouldn't go past them & would then inevitably lose the dog fight. The way she came out and put them to the sword first-up in the Warwick Stakes gave me the impression she's finally hit her peak physically & mentally. I think she can go on and string a number of big wins together now starting here in the Chelmsford Stakes.

She's drawn perfectly in the middle of the line to settle in the first half dozen, in the moving line á la the run she secured first up.

Has always promised to be a 'super-star' I think now she is finally ready to wear that tag proudly!

VERDICT

I've got it narrowed down to a race with three winning chances, #1 HARTNELL who is impossible to leave out after what he did fresh last campaign and on pure class alone, even if he is a touch of unders at around the $3.20 quote I believe. #14 KERMADEC who looks the be the rising super star of Australian turf after a devastating Doncaster win in the autumn & a slashing return in the Warwick Stakes a fortnight ago, when he savaged the line. Still has to take the quantum leap to become an open Gr1 WFA winner which he'll need to virtually be in this race, but everything suggests he'll take that step & #16 ROYAL DESCENT finally broke through to win again after a run of 19 outs and so many near misses, most of them at Gr1 or Gr2 level. I think her dominant Warwick Stakes win will do her confidence never ending good, and I really think she can step it up to a whole another level and dominant the Spring races she contests.

So my top 3 in order is;

#16 ROYAL DESCENT $4.80
#1 HARTNELL $3.20
#14 KERMADEC $4.40

SUGGESTED BET: Back the mare ROYAL DESCENT @ $4.80, she's my top pick and represents clearly the best value out of the three I've narrowed down to as winning possibilities.

Smart play is to take savers on #1 HARTNELL & #14 KERMADEC too though, because as I said I've got it as purely a race in three, so you'll show some profit by backing the trio.

LAY OF THE DAY: #2 PORNICHET

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