Tomorrow the final field of acceptors for this Saturday’s $2 million Group 1 Emirates Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick will be released and the handicaps for the iconic showdown rely on a decision by Chris Waller on whether revived champ Rangirangdoo will defend his title.
There are currently 87 horses entered for the 2011 Doncaster Mile, one of three Group 1 features on the Randwick race programme this Saturday, April 16.
One of the leading nominees is last year’s Doncaster Mile winner Rangirangdoo, the Pentire six-year-old having claimed a gritty victory in the race 12 months ago.
Spelled due to a serious suspensory injury after his win in the Doncaster, Chris Waller spent 11 months rehabilitating Rangirangdoo who resumed on March 19 with a credible fourth to Doncaster Mile favourite More Joyous in the Group 2 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Rosehill.
Last start Rangirangdoo brought tears to the eyes of Waller and all of those who were behind his resurgence when the gelding scored an incredible last-stride victory in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m).
The win earned Rangirangdoo a guaranteed spot in this year’s Doncaster Mile field and the chance to score back-to-back wins.
Allocated the topweight of 57kg for the Doncaster Rangirangdoo is only a 10% certain starter, however, and Racing NSW have confirmed they will raise the Doncaster Mile weights for the other contenders if he is not accepted.
After his success in the George Ryder, Rangirangdoo pulled up sore and Waller admits looking after his “best mate” is his number one priority.
“We know we can get him back and I don’t want to be too hard on him and I want to look forward to the spring at some stage, so we certainly won’t go one run too far,” Waller said.
“Unfortunately Rangirangdoo hasn’t pulled up all that well, he’s pulled up a bit short (after the George Ryder), so hopefully it’s nothing too serious and I’m sure we’ll get him back.”
Raging favourite to win the Doncaster Mile on Saturday is Gai Waterhouse’s glamour mare More Joyous.
Last start on Golden Slipper Day the star More Than Ready four-year-old claimed her fifth Group 1 victory when charging home three lengths clear in the Group 1 Queen of the Turf Stakes (1500m).
Currently More Joyous is allocated 56.5kg for the Doncaster on Saturday, but if Rangirangdoo is withdrawn she will be re-handicapped with the 57kg topweight as she attempts to give Waterhouse her seventh Doncaster Mile victory.
Policy for races where there is an early declaration of handicaps is for weights to be raised if the topweight does not accept.
Waller will make a decision today on whether Rangirangdoo will run in the Doncaster or be saved for the Group 1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) on Sydney Cup Day, Saturday April 23.
“We will most likely wait for the All-Aged Stakes,” Waller said.
“He has fully recovered and is ready to go.”
Waller has 10 other horses still in Doncaster Mile contention at this stage including George Ryder Stakes third-placegetter Triple Elegance.
“Triple Elegance is my No.1 chance in the Doncaster because he is so well placed in the race,” Waller said.
Other strong chances among Waller’s Doncaster Mile contingent include multiple Group 1 winner Danleigh and Syreon both also vying for a spot in the capacity 20-horse field.
“If Syreon makes the field he will run,” Waller said.
“He’s well down in the order of entry (72nd) but we’ll see what happens.”
Seven-year-old Syreon, winner of the Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2000m) on April 2, has also been nominated for Saturday’s $100,000 Listed Japan Racing Association Plate (2000m) on Saturday as a secondary option.
Waller will be out for his third win in the Doncaster in four years having won last year with Rangirangdoo and also with Triple Honour in 2008, which was the trainer’s maiden Group 1 victory.
Regardless of the weights, More Joyous will start the favourite in the 2011 Doncaster Mile on Saturday.
Sitting at a quote of $2 in the market, if she retains this price she will start the shortest-priced favourite since the great Sunline in 1999.
Jockey Nash Rawiller, aboard More Joyous for 11 of her 14 career wins, has nothing but praise for the mare.
“She’s as good a mare I have ridden or seen, the best since Sunline,” Rawiller said.
“She probably hasn’t had the time that Sunline had, but she’ll get her chance over the next couple of years.”