Today a number of the top contenders for the 2011 Doncaster Mile galloped at Rosehill ahead of the $2 million showdown running at Royal Randwick this Saturday, April 16 including raging favourite More Joyous.
After the 18-horse Doncaster Mile field was announced this morning and the barrier draw revealed Gai Waterhouse’s boom mare More Joyous would start from the ideal gate eight, the mare retained her favouritism in the Doncaster markets.
Jockey Nash Rawiller, who has ridden the five-time Group 1 winner to 11 of her 14 career victories, couldn’t have been happier with More Joyous’ Doncaster Mile draw.
“If I came here today and had a choice it would have been eight,” Rawiller said.
Rawiller was also unperturbed by the 57kgs More Joyous has been allocated following the non-acceptance of previous topweight and reigning Doncaster Mile winner Rangirangdoo.
“She’s proven before she can carry weight. She won the Toorak with 58k and no-one said she could do it,” Rawiller said.
“She’s a great mare and I’m sure she’ll have no problems with the weight.”
This morning at Rosehill Waterhouse’s trackwork rider Steve O’Halloran was aboard More Joyous reporting that she was very strong and still well in the Doncaster with 57kg.
The other big winner from this morning’s Doncaster Mile barrier draw was trainer Chris Waller.
Out for a third win in the Doncaster Mile having won 12 months ago with Rangirangdoo and also taking out the 2008 edition with Triple Honour, Waller will saddle up a trio of runners that drew adjacent barriers for Saturday.
Waller has Syreon (barrier four), Danleigh (barrier five) and Triple Elegance (barrier six) all out for Doncaster Mile success.
“You couldn’t wish for more than that,” Waller said.
“From those barriers they should each get their chance to win.
“All three have enjoyed a good preparation in the lead-up to the Doncaster and we’re now looking forward to raceday.”
Triple Elegance is the only other Doncaster Mile hopeful at a single-figure price to win along with $2.25 favourite More Joyous, the George Ryder Stakes third-placegetter paying $7.
Another winner in the Doncaster Mile barrier draw this morning was $126 roughie Happy Hippy with gate two.
Although not fancied for the Doncaster, John Thompson’s Shamardal mare is coming off a third place finish to More Joyous in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes (1500m) and showed she was in flying form with her Rosehill hitout today.
Happy Hippy thrilled connections running home in 11.7 seconds, just outside of More Joyous who ran 11.6.
One runner that did not fare as well in the barrier draw for the Doncaster was Grahame Begg’s Randwick Guineas champion Ilovethiscity who came up with gate 17 of 18.
The Magic Albert colt most recently crossed fifth behind Rangirangdoo in the George Ryder Stakes and Begg is apparently unconcerned with the three-year-olds’ wide draw in the Doncaster.
“There is a good long run of 600m down the back straight before you get to the turn and we can keep out of trouble,” Begg said.
“The nice part about it in the race is that we can come around the field, and then we can swoop over the top of them.”
Ilovethiscity is due to be ridden by Brenton Avdulla, who has been aboard for all four of the colt’s runs this prep, and is one of the 51.5kg lightweights for the Doncaster.
“His run in the George Ryder was very good as he was not well suited at weight-for-age with 56.5kg on his back,” Begg said.
“With 51.5kg on his back (in the Doncaster) he will be able to sustain his acceleration for a lot longer and he has trained on very well.
“We could not be happier with the horse.”
Begg will also be represented by Palacio De Cristal in the Doncaster this year.
The five-year-old Encosta De Lago mare is coming off a fourth in the Queen of the Turf, has drawn barrier 12 for Saturday and sits as a $61 outsider in the Doncaster odds.
The 2011 Emirates Doncaster Mile is the marquee race at Randwick this Saturday, other highlights on the card being the $550,000 Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) and the $350,000 Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m).