A field of the season’s top two-year-olds will stake their TJ Smith claims this weekend with the dominant Darley duo of Benfica and Free Wheeling headlining the BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes entries.
This Saturday the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival action moves around the corner from Doomben to Eagle Farm Racecourse with an action packed line-up running for Queensland Oaks Day.
One of the premier features at the meeting will be the $250,000 Group 2 BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m), the final lead-up for juveniles heading towards Saturday week’s $500,000 Group 1 The TJ Smith (1600m).
The two early TJ Smith favourites are stablemates Benfica and Free Wheeling, who will be out to give leading Sydney trainer Peter Snowden a whitewash in the two-year-old Group 1’s this year.
Snowden has already claimed a quartet of Group 1 wins in the juvenile features thanks to Sepoy winning the Blue Diamond Stakes and Golden Slipper, and Helmet scoring victory in both the AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes and Champagne Stakes.
Now Snowden has the two top chances to complete the clean sweep.
Smart Lonhro colt Benfica will start the BRC Sires Produce Stakes favourite on Saturday having won two of their three starts including their most recent three and a half length win in the Listed Hampden Stakes (1200m) at Doomben on May 14.
Free Wheeling also stormed into both BRC Sires Produce and TJ Smith contention when the son of Ad Valorem scored an upset win in the Group 2 Champagne Classic (1200m) at Doomben on May 21.
The pair will face off for the first time on Saturday in the Sires Produce.
In a sidenote, if Benfica is successful his sire Lonhro will become the first “Horse of the Year” in over four decades to win Australia’s Champion Sire title.
Last Saturday Beaded’s win in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 took Lonhro within reach of surpassing current leader High Chaparral.
Fellow two-year-olds out to stop the dominance of Darley this weekend include Tim Martin’s Fastnet Rock filly Cindarockinrella who ran an eye-catching third in the Listed The Phoenix (1350m) at Doomben last Saturday and the Gerald Ryan-trained Hot Snitzel.
Rosehill-based trainer Ryan remains hopeful that his Snitzel gelding Hot Sintzel will be the one to finally get the better of a Snowden-trained two-year-old this weekend.
To date Hot Snitzel has started seven times for two wins and three placings.
After winning the Listed Ken Russell Memorial Classic (1200m) at the Gold Coast on May 7, most recently they were beaten less than half a length when third to Free Wheeling in the Champagne Classic.
“Obviously the Darley horses are the ones to beat,” Ryan said.
“But Hot Snitzel is well.
“I was up there (in Brisbane) on the weekend and was pleased with how he looked.
“But he would have to be finishing off strongly at the end of the 1400m metres to warrant going on to the TJ Smith.”