This Saturday some major lead-up races to the big Group 1’s in Sydney and Melbourne are taking place at Randwick’s George Main Stakes Day including the Bill Ritchie Handicap 2013 where last start Tramway Stakes winner Malavio will have their next run.
Steve Englebrecht’s Snitzel gelding is progressing through the ranks well, improving on a first-up fourth in the Show County to win the Group 3 Tramway Stakes (1400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago.
Now they face a similar class field of 12 rivals in the $125,000 Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) which runs as Race 6 at 3:55pm (AEST) on Saturday.
Drawn in gate seven with Nathan Berry to ride, Malavio is the equal 58kg top-weight with the Peter Snowden-trained Bello who is out to turn the tables having run a close second defeated a mere nose in the Tramway.
Both horses are also nominated for the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) back at the track on October 5.
In fact, the bulk of the Bill Ritchie Handicap field is Epsom Handicap-bound.
The shortest priced Bill Ritchie hopeful in the latest Epsom Handicap odds then is the Chris Waller-trained Boban paying $18 to upset current favourite Sacred Falls who runs in the $350,000 Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at the Sydney meeting this weekend.
Bernardini four-year-old Boban showed promise last season and resumed on August 31 at Rosehill with an eye-catching victory over 1300m at Rosehill.
Another notable Epsom Handicap entry running in Saturday’s race is the Kelso Wood-trained Group 1 winner Sizzling drawn in gate four.
A four-year-old son of Snitzel, Sizzling hasn’t won a race since the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) in Brisbane back in June.
They’ve been beaten in their two runs this time in when seventh in the Show County and then a credible fifth beaten only 1.7 lengths in the Tramway, an effort they can improve on dropping back from 60kg there to a more manageable 57.5kg on Saturday.
Wood is also represented in the Bill Ritchie by his BRC Sprint winner Belltone out to improve on two poor ninth place runs in the same two lead-up runs as their stablemate.
Also in the mix are the lies of Joe Pride’s speedster Title who was second in the Show County from August 24, Gwenda Markwell’s veteran nine-year-old Bay Window who is a last start winner over the track and distance and Al Dhafra.
The Terry Robinson-trained Al Dhafra is set to get a lovely run from barrier two with Brenton Avdulla aboard the Fusaichi Pegasus seven-year-old.
Robinson took over training Al Dhafra shortly before their first-up win at Moruya a fortnight ago which was the gelding’s first run in 16 months having previously been prepared by Guy Walter.
The Shoalhaven Heads-based horseman is now harbouring dreams of an upset win on Saturday with Al Dhafra who he hopes will step up in class.
“I did get the horse in very good order because he was ready to race,” Robinson told the Illawarra Mercury.
“He did have 10 days off after I got him and he took a while to settle in.
“I didn’t trial the horse, but he did have two trials when the boys had him. I must say I wasn’t overly confident first up, but it is a big effort to win over 1425 [metres] after so long.
“He’s obviously got a bit of class on his side and he’s a lovely horse.”
Check out the official Bill Ritchie Handicap 2013 field, barriers, jockeys and weights below.
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2013 Bill Ritchie Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 6 – 3:55pm (AEST) – 21/09/2013
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||51211x1x62||BELLO||Peter Snowden||Christian Reith||9||58kg||104|
|2||1x51041x41||MALAVIO||Steve Englebrecht||Nathan Berry||7||58kg||104|
|3||22x5617x75||SIZZLING||Kelso Wood||Tim Clark||4||57.5kg||103|
|4||7x0x510399||BELLTONE||Kelso Wood||Joshua Parr||3||56kg||100|
|5||x771597x00||TAGUS||John P Thompson||Hugh Bowman||13||56kg||100|
|6||x068490x32||TITLE||Joseph Pride||Jay Ford||6||56kg||100|
|7||x9481060x1||AL DHAFRA||Terry Robinson||Brenton Avdulla||2||54.5kg||92|
|8||12x01140x5||KEITH’S LEGACY (NZ)||David Vandyke||Peter Robl||11||54.5kg||92|
|9||70x41229x1||BOBAN||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||1||54.5kg||91|
|10||0x114599x0||CHOICE BRO||John Sargent||Jason Collett||8||54.5kg||89|
|11||4418×05321||BAY WINDOW||Gwenda Markwell||Jim Cassidy||5||54.5kg||88|
|12||x4625536x5||ASHOKAN||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||10||54.5kg||83|
|13||6564×03058||TOM’S ROCKET||Reg Rowley||Adrian Robinson||12||54.5kg||73|