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Doncaster Mile preview

This is a fabulous race with so many chances and a 6kg spread in the weights. Can make a case for plenty of these, I really hope by Race 9 the track is fair and every horse gets its chance. If that's the case, the betting could be wide open. Read on for my preview.

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The Star Doncaster Mile
Group 1, AU$3,000,000, 1600m
Randwick 1710 local, 0710 BST


1. Hauraki - Epsom winner in the spring carrying a kilo less. Came from last at the 400 to nail victory on the line without caller Darren Flindell even noticing until the final stride.

Won the Tramway on a Heavy 8 in September, not so great in the George Ryder a fortnight ago in the bottomless Heavy 10 at Rosehill, but they were all left splashing in puddles by the mighty Winx.

Very honest, drawn 16 but don't be afraid of that. He'll come in two if the last two emergencies don't run, plus after eight races on a wet Randwick track, being wide is more likely to be a plus than a minus. Seven of the last eight winners have drawn double-figure gates and three of past five winners have carried 56.5kg or more.

2. Le Romain - the new star of Sydney racing. Since running a close fifth in the Epsom, he has won the G1 Cantala (Melbourne's big mile), the G3 Southern Cross, G1 Canterbury Stakes and then beat everyone bar the best turf horse in training in the George Ryder.

Highest rated horse in the field, drawn sweetly in the middle, makes his own luck by camping on the pace, runs just as well wet or dry and if anything, gets a jockey upgrade from Schofield to Bowman. Excellent chance.

3. Palentino - top class miler from the south. Three wins over 1600m - G1 Australian Guineas, G1 Makybe Diva Stakes, G2 Blamey Stakes. The only knock there is they were all at Flemington. Ran last in the Epsom when he was always on the wrong leg in his only run going right-handed. Finished well back in the Cantala against the likes of Le Romain, but never saw much daylight either.

I don't think he's in the same class as the Sydney milers, yet essentially carries the same weight. Add to that his awful run in the Epsom (surely Darren Weir has put plenty of work into him going the other way in prep for this) and I simply can't have him. We've all heard about Weir's poor record in Sydney (although surely that is a temporary anomaly), but jockey Mark Zahra's record up there is fairly bland too. 21 rides at Randwick without even a placing (a little unfair though without any knowledge of the prices of those rides).

Big unders at the price for me.

4. Tosen Stardom - SCR

5. Happy Clapper - under-rated horse who always runs an honest race. Beaten 0.6L into fourth in the Epsom, ran sixth beaten 11L in the Cox Plate but remember that Winx won by eight. Ran second to the mighty mare in this race 12 months ago (track Soft6, had 6kg weight advantage) then ran third in the QEII.

Penalised a kilo for winning the Newcastle Newmarket a fortnight ago, he's got a tough task especially if the track stays in the heavy range. Drawn 2 but that's no guarantee to be an advantage by 5 o'clock on Saturday.

6. It's Somewhat - worst-weighted horse of the field for me here. Has collated a swag of Group II and III wins including the Ajax Stakes three weeks ago since arriving in Australia but is a few lengths behind them at G1. On the flipside, this is only the second handicap he has raced in since arriving in Australia - the other was a close third (to Happy Clapper conceding 6kg) in the 2015 Villiers.

His price sums up his chances for mine, but at the very least, he's honest, drawn well and in form.

7. Ecuador - ran two thirds behind Black Heart Bart in Victorian G1s this prep, brings a fitness advantage being prepared down south on the firm tracks rather than in the swamps in Sydney. Will go forward like every horse of Gai's, but can't see him in the winner's circle here.

8. Arod - British import with a record of second-blob-second blob since settling in Australia. Started $8.50 in Winx's first Cox Plate, there's plenty of talent there but most recently wants to race fiercely and hamper his chances. Won a trial a week ago in easy fashion, looking more relaxed for jockey Glyn Schofield who takes the ride here. You'd need a big price to entertain this one and, hey presto, he is. Take on trust.

9. Dibayani - last won nearly four years ago but has some massive races in that period, including a second to Winx at WFA, beaten a nose in Epsom last September and a narrow defeat in the Villiers as well - all at this track and trip. No idea what happened last time at Rosehill but you know what he can do at Randwick. Drawn 21, needs luck but regularly chimes in at the finish. Huge price if you ignore last run.

10. Redkirk Warrior - like Dibayani, he also came through Hong Kong as a big chance in the local Derby and now plies his trade in a more spacious environment. David Hayes will tell anyone within earshot that this is the best horse in his stable and would give Winx a decent run for her money. Won the Newmarket at a huge price (at least to anyone who heard that statement pre-race), running away from avery good field and yet Hayes says he'll be best at 1600-2000m. If he's anywhere near as good as they say he is, then he is in 4kg light at least. Trainer statements you can usually take with a grain of salt, but when the Hayes/Dabernig stable put a big wrap on a horse, you pay attention. Has to be backed.

11. McCreery - won the Liverpool City Cup first up on a Heavy 9, which may had led to an underperformance in the George Ryder against Winx on the H10. Close up in the Epsom, ran second in the Cantala (3.5kg lower than Le Romain, same terms as here), right in this.

12. Endless Drama - yet to see the best from this Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up in Australia but there have been glimpses of talent seeping through. He's run against Winx twice at WFA this campaign, beaten about 7L both times and drops 6kg back to handicap class. Has convincingly won a trial since and gets the services of an innovative G1-winning jockey who isn't afraid to take risks. Has come up shorter than I expected on fixed odds (18/1) but will probably be double that on the tote. Worth chucking into multis at the very least.

13. Sense Of Occasion - bolter who goes into this first-up since winning the Villiers in December followed up with a second in the Gosford Cup. One from one on a heavy track, and has gone around in a couple of trials lately. A fair way off the favourites for mine.

14. I Am A Star - gun Victorian filly with great form against her own sex, winning several Group races. As yet unproven in open company but ran a decent seventh in the Oakleigh Plate after fluffing the start from gate 16 then being snagged back to the inside rail. The big concern with her is the wet track. One heavy (8) start in the Furious Stakes when she drifted in the market and finished unplaced. Drawn the fence, can surprise if the inside isn't totally off by race nine and others are prepared to fan wide hunting for lanes.

15. Hey Doc - Australian Guineas winner last start via a smart ground-saving ride parked on the rail behind the pace. Not convinced that's star quality, he had every possible chance. Yet to travel north of the Murray, but you'd think Tony McEvoy has worked him that way many times. Drawn 19, I don't think he's well treated at the weights.

16. Antonio Guiseppe - big market mover in recent weeks after switching from the staying campaign back to the mile. Fourth in the Ranvet last start after trying to lead all the way. Had won both previous starts on Heavy, and with two runs at 2000m this prep, he has the fitness in his legs. Tommy Berry on board, you'd assume that makes him top pick for the stable going for five Doncasters in a row.

17. Sons of John - not even capable of winning the Scone Cup, not a hope in hell.

18. Testashadow - beaten under half a length by It's Somewhat in the Ajax on similar weight terms. 1.2L behind McCreery in the Liverpool City Cup, so on weights alone, he has to have a sniff. Will go forward and Katelyn Mallyon claimed her first G1 success just last weekend. I've seen worse $101 chances.

19. Spectroscope - lightly-raced former French stallion who has never seen a race like this. Big step up in class but well down in the weights. Fair chance he is several kilos below his true rating but that'll be easier to ascertain in hindsight. Won the Doncaster Prelude last start on the Heavy 9 with arrogant ease after a troubled trip. This time he jumps from gate 22 but has the services of the Magic Man, Joao Moreira. I can see the money coming for him, do not be scared off by the alley.

20. Euro Angel - owners living the dream, absolutely no chance.

21. New Tipperary - gains a run with the scratching of Tosen Stardom. Never gave up in Ajax against It's Somewhat but meets the winner and third-placed Testashadow on poorer terms. Still improving but out of his depth here from a wide draw. Trainer has won this race twice in the past decade though.

SUMMARY

A tough ask to pluck a winner out of this when you can argue for so many. The angle I will take is I believe there are two horses in here which have beaten the handicapper - the imported runners, Redkirk Warrior and Spectroscope. The money keeps coming for the Hayes/Dabernig horse, he may even end up favourite at this rate. I'll be putting them at the top of my exotics and hoping for some value in the placings.

Redkirk Warrior (WIN)
Spectroscope (WIN)
Dibayani (1x3 ratio win/place)
Le Romain
Antonio Giuseppe
Testashadow
Endless Drama
Hauraki
Arod
Happy Clapper
McCreery
I Am A Star

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