She may have the Cox Plate in Melbourne firmly in her sights and be an unlikely acceptor for the earlier Sydney Spring Racing Carnival clash, but the bookies are taking no chances with Gai Waterhouse’s champion mare More Joyous who has opened favourite in the 2012 Epsom Handicap odds.
Nominations for the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), running this year at Royal Randwick on Saturday October 6, were taken earlier in the week with 291 early entries.
Among them were 16 hopefuls from Waterhouse’s stables, the Hall of Fame trainer looking to equal the Epsom Handicap training record of seven wins set by her late great father Tommy Smith.
Leading Waterhouse’s Epsom Handicap contingent is eight-time Group 1 hero More Joyous who has now also opened top of the bookmaker.com.au ante-post markets at a quote of $7.
Continuing to impress Waterhouse with her pre-spring preparations after two winning barrier trials at Randwick this month, More Joyous is far from a certain Epsom Handicap starter with the riches in Melbourne calling for the $4.25 million earner.
The race Waterhouse really wants to win with More Joyous is the $3 million Group 1 WS Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 27 and the mighty mare is likely to already be in Victoria when the Epsom runs.
Even without More Joyous Waterhouse has an imposing Epsom Handicap team with another in her care occupying the second line of betting at bookmaker.com.au.
Rated a $10 chance Waterhouse’s Al Maher four-year-old Fat Al has won five of their seven career starts to date including the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) and the Group 3 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick in April.
Co-second favourite along with Fat Al in the early markets is then reigning Epsom Handicap winner Secret Admirer.
Grahame Begg’s classy Dubawi mare won the Epsom 12 months ago before running a close fifth beaten under two lengths by Pinker Pinker in the Cox Plate, and then a length away third to Albert The Fat in the Emirates Stakes during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
She has failed to win a race since, however has been a consistent Group 1 performer this year running second in the Coolmore Classic, third in the George Ryder and third to More Joyous in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Other early fancies in the 2012 Epsom Handicap Odds include:
- Moment Of Change ($11) – Highly-rated Peter Moody-trained four-year-old won the Show County Quality first-up at Warwick Farm on August 25 which was their fourth win from seven career starts, plenty of promise and should be able to get the mile this season after failing in the Randwick Guineas during the autumn
- Mosheen ($11) – Robert Smerdon’s four-time Group 1 winning daughter of Fastnet Rock is heading towards the Cox Plate like More Joyous but is still a chance for the Epsom, last seen winning the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill which was her third Group 1 success on the trot after she beat home the boys in the Australian and Randwick Guineas
- Shoot Out ($12) – Chris Waller-trained High Chaparral six-year-old most recently ran a close second to More Joyous in the Doncaster Mile, before which they finished an eye-catching third to Manighar in the Ranvet Stakes and won the Chipping Norton Stakes over the Warwick Farm mile by an easy two lengths, ultra impressive and ultra consistent and a really nice addition to Waller’s stables having previously been prepared in Queensland where they won the AJC Derby back in 2010 for John Wallace
- Rekindled Interest ($13) – Jim Conlan’s talented Mornington galloper had a cracker spring last year headlined by their Cox Plate third, also a good miler having taken out the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes over the 1600m at Moonee Valley
Three horses then follow on $15 with Waller’s improving Randwick Guineas runner-up Said Com, and the Waterhouse-trained duo of More Than Ready gelding Landing and first-up Warwick Farm winner Strawberry Boy.
Full 2012 Epsom Handicap betting markets can be accessed now at bookmaker.com.au.
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2012 Epsom Handicap Odds
Royal Randwick – 06/10/2012
|MOMENT OF CHANGE||11.00|
|WILD AND PROUD||21.00|
|PIED A TERRE||26.00|
*Futures odds are Fixed Win and Top 19 only – see bookmaker.com.au for updates