This Saturday Gai Waterhouse will vie for her incredible eighth victory in the Epsom Handicap at Royal Randwick, the high attrition rate for the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival feature leading her to a possible three pronged attack on the classic.
Waterhouse is expected to be represented by three lightweight chances in the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) this weekend, Sydney’s lady of racing already having won the feature on seven previous occasions.
She shares the training record with her late, great father Tommy Smith but could surpass him this year.
Her latest Epsom win was with Fat Al 12 months ago, the galloper now prepared by Peter Moody, and she hopes to go back-to-back in 2013.
Spurtonic, Ashokan and Our Desert Warrior are the Epsom trio Waterhouse is tipped to start this year.
All three are on the 52kg minimum and well down the order of entry however, with so many noted defectors, there is a strong chance of them sneaking into the capacity 20-starter Epsom Handicap field.
Epsom Handicap betting is currently led by Guy Walter’s last start Cameron Handicap winner Toydini ($4.60) followed by the Chris Waller-trained Boban ($5) who is another last start champ having won the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) at Randwick on September 21 by a big four lengths.
Our Desert Warrior then is the shortest priced of Waterhouse’s hopefuls at a quote of $21.
Our Desert Warrior is the likely mount for the in-form Tommy Berry who guided them to a close third behind another Waterhouse-trained galloper Rain Drum, first-up win over Centennial Park in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) in a Rosehill upset on Saturday.
In the Shannon Desert King four-year-old Our Desert Warrior was defeated under half a length, before which they won back-to-back races including over the Warwick Farm mile when carrying a hefty 59kg.
“Our Desert Warrior is a great lightweight chance in the Epsom,” Waterhouse said.
If they make the cut Berry is also confident that the gelding will be hard to hold out even at their juicy price.
“If he gets into the Epsom, run him,” Berry told Waterhouse according to The Sunday Telegraph.
“He’s run super (in the Shannon) and was trying to fight back against Centennial Park and Rain Drum just came too quickly for him along the inside.”
Spurtonic ($61) and Ashokan ($81) then follow much further down the markets.
Flying Spur four-year-old Spurtonic was set for the Epsom after winning three on the trot this time in, the last of which was over the 2000m at Randwick on September 7 when carrying 57kg.
Their latest effort also wasn’t bad when finishing fourth to Epsom favourite Toydini in the Cameron at Newcastle on September 18.
Ashokan meanwhile has also been thereabouts this season.
The More Than Ready stallion has finished fourth in their two latest assignments firstly to Boban in the Bill Ritchie and then in the Shannon over the weekend.
“Ashokan’s effort to try and lead all the way was very good,” Waterhouse said of their Saturday performance.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest on the Epsom Handicap, final acceptances for which are due out on Wednesday.
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