The action of the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival steps up a notch this Saturday with a bumper day’s racing taking place at Royal Randwick for George Main Stakes Day, one of the key support races on the card being the Bill Ritchie Handicap 2012.
The $125,000 Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m), a key lead-up for horses heading towards the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) back at the track on October 6, has this year attracted 17 early entries.
Some of the big name competitors featuring in the Bill Ritchie Handicap nominations for 2012 include John O’Shea’s Group 2 winning mare Steps In Time (56.kg), smart Wyong galloper Torio’s Quest (56kg) resuming after a three and a half month break, and Randwick Guineas runner-up Said Com (55kg).
Meanwhile the top-weight is Ron Quinton’s six-year-old gelding Monton with 59kg who is third-up for the season.
Monton is one of a number of Bill Ritchie entries that are unlikely to be at Randwick on the weekend having been accepted instead for Wednesday’s $150,000 Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle.
Gai Waterhouse meanwhile has nominated for tow from her stables with her former Group 1 The Metropolitan winner Herculian Prince (57.5kg) and her promising Snowland four-year-old Wild And Proud (56kg).
There are also four last-start winners among the early entries including the John Thompson-trained duo of Tagus and New Beginning.
Veteran Encosta De Lago eight-year-old Tagus defied their age and their recent form last time out when they enjoyed a smart half-length win over stablemate Kontiki Park in the Group 3 Tramway Handicap (1400m) at Warwick Farm on September 8, but they will go up 2.5kg to 56.5kg on Saturday.
Tagus however is unlikely to be there on Saturday with Thompson opting to accept them for the Cameron Handicap on Wednesday.
New Beginning meanwhile enjoyed her second victory from three starts this time in at Rosehill at the start of the month over 1400m, the former Wayne Wilkes-trained Reset mare seeing stakes company for the first time on the weekend.
Also among the last-start winners is Rodney Northam’s undefeated Snitzel five-year-old Maroney Avenue.
The Scone-based gelding has raced six times to date winning all of their starts, most recently at Tamworth last Tuesday with 58kg, and while they step up in class this weekend they will appreciate the drop back to 54kg should they accept.
The 2012 Bill Ritchie Handicap final field and barrier draw are due out on Wednesday as are all the acceptances for the George Main Stakes Day races.
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2012 Bill Ritchie Handicap Nominations & Weights
Royal Randwick – 22/09/2012
|2||HERCULIAN PRINCE (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||3||57.5kg||103|
|3||STEPS IN TIME||John O’Shea||2||56.5kg||105|
|4||TAGUS||John P Thompson||4||56.5kg||101|
|5||TORIO’S QUEST||David Pfieffer||5=||56kg||100|
|6||WILD AND PROUD||Gai Waterhouse||5=||56kg||100|
|8||SAID COM (NZ)||Chris Waller||8||55kg||98|
|9||DARCI BE GOOD (NZ)||Bede Murray||10=||54kg||90|
|10||DARE TO DREAM (IRE)||Bart Cummings||17||54kg||78|
|11||FLAMING ROCK||David Payne||14=||54kg||82|
|12||I THINK I DO||Bart Cummings||13||54kg||83|
|14||MARONEY AVENUE||Rodney Northam||14=||54kg||82|
|15||NEW BEGINNING||John P Thompson||16||54kg||79|