It looks to be a two-horse battle in the Group 2 2012 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley this Saturday with Chris Waller’s bold veteran Rangirangdoo and Queensland gelding Solzhenitsyn heading a seven-horse field.
The pair are the clear standouts in the $220,000 race which holds a key place on the Cox Plate card as a lead-up to the $3 million feature.
Rangirangdoo, a dual Group 1 winner, is a proven weight-for-age performer but will have to turn around a recent poor run where he finished 15th in the Epsom Handicap.
Also up against the eight-year-old is a long winless drought, with his last victory coming in April 2011 in the George Ryder Stakes.
Solzhenitsyn faces the challenge of proving himself as a weight-for-age performer after scoring his first Group 1 win in the Toorak Handicap on October 13.
But trainer Robert Heathcote is not concerned about the jump from 52kg to 59kg this weekend, suggesting that Solzhenitsyn is strong enough to deal with the burden.
“He’s not fast but he’s bloody strong,” Heathcote said.
“He’s already won at weight for age up here in Brisbane, and he’s carried 59 and 60 in handicaps up here so weight’s not an issue with him.”
Joining the pair in the Crystal Mile are the Darley-owned Ambidexter and New Zealand mare Silent Achiever.
Ambidexter has shown strong form this spring winning the Theo Marks Sprint and finishing second in the Epsom while Silent Achiever will be having her second spring start after finishing fourth first-up in New Zealand.
Silent Achiever had her first Australian campaign in the autumn on the back of a win in the New Zealand Derby and she finished third in the Rosehill Guineas and sixth in the Australian Derby.
Rounding out the Crystal Mile field are German import Illo, the David Hayes-trained Spacecraft and Leon Corstens’ Tokugawa.
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Crystal Mile 2012 – Final Field and Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||942604×420||RANGIRANGDOO (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||3||59kg||114|
|2||x32111x131||SOLZHENITSYN (NZ)||Robert Heathcote||Corey Brown||1||59kg||108|
|3||0x77903229||SPACECRAFT||David Hayes||Chad Schofield (a)||6||59kg||93|
|4||x42870x008||ILLO (GER)||Bart Cummings||Michael Rodd||4||59kg||100|
|5||24x6x13816||TOKUGAWA||Leon Corstens||Steven King||5||59kg||94|
|6||4x84442x12||AMBIDEXTER||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||7||58.5kg||106|
|7||13111136×4||SILENT ACHIEVER (NZ)||Roger James||James McDonald||2||56.5kg||105|