Today Royal Randwick Racecourse will come to life for the 2011 AJC Australian Derby Day and the latest course report has the track rated a Dead 5 and with sunny skies in Sydney today’s racing should be top class.
Earlier in the week it was looking like the 150th Derby celebrations and the nine Group showdowns on the Randwick race-card would be run on Slow to Heavy rain affected ground.
However, clear weather with less than expected recent rainfall has seen an upgrade to the course proper at Randwick from a Slow (6) to a Dead (5).
“Royal Randwick is set to come alight on Saturday with a host of activities and promotions adding to what is already one of the most anticipated race meetings in recent memory,” ATC CEO Darren Pearce said.
A sunny day is expected for the capacity crowd of Sydneysiders, the majority of which are out to see the mighty Black Caviar make her interstate debut in the 2011 TJ Smith Stakes.
The Royal Randwick will be in excellent condition for the Peter Moody-trained mare, rated the best thoroughbred in the world, and Black Caviar should be able to post her 12th consecutive victory with ease.
“It is impossible not to immerse yourself in the hype surrounding Black Caviar’s debut run in Sydney,” Mr Pearce said.
“I have no doubt that all who attend David Jones Australian Derby Day at Royal Randwick will celebrate and savour what is certain to be a breathtaking afternoon of racing in Sydney.”
With North Easterly winds blowing in at 30km/h at Randwick and the maximum temperature expected to reach 26 degrees, there is a further chance of another improvement to the track conditions before the Group 1 action kicks off with the $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at 2:20pm (AEST).
“I think we will still have a Dead track, but we could race on a Dead (4),” said the ATC’s general manger of racecourse management Lindsay Murphy.
Other highlights on the bumper Derby Day programme today include the $500,000 Group 1 Inglis Sires Produce Stakes (1400m) for two-year-olds at 3:00pm (AEST) and the marquee race at the meeting, the $1.5 million Group 1 150th AJC Australian Derby (2400m) at 3:40pm (AEST).
The 2011 Inglis Sires Produce Stakes master horseman and one of Australia’s Living Legends, the Cups King Bart Cummings is out to win his remarkable 265th Group 1 race with unbeaten colt Do You Think.
Do You Think is the narrow $3.70 favourite in the markets ahead of Golden Slipper third placegetter Elite Falls.
Trainer of More Than Ready filly John O’Shea is confident of her chances heading into today’s race, especially after the early scratching of Anthony Cummings’ Smart Missile.
“She’s had an uninterrupted preparation and Slipper placegetters have a great record in the Sires,” O’Shea said.
Cummings also prepares AJC Derby hopeful I Think I Do.
In the Derby I Think I Do will take on crack Kiwi colt Jimmy Choux, who is the raging favourite to become the first New Zealand Derby winner to take out the New Zealand Derby and AJC Derby double since Bonecrusher in 1986.
“I have had a bit of luck in the Derby and I think this horse (I Think I Do) is the right type to challenge the favourite,” Cummings said.
“He goes all right and I’m convinced he is a stayer so there will be no problems with the distance.”
Drawn wide in barrier 11, I Think I Do is currently rated a $15 chance to upset $2.30 favourite Jimmy Choux.
David Jones Australian Derby Day is the first of the three closing Sydney Autumn Carnival race meetings.
Next Saturday April 16 is the penultimate ATC Carnival meet, Doncaster Mile Day, followed by Sydney Cup Day on Easter Saturday, April 23.