This Saturday the marquee race in Sydney is the Epsom Handicap 2013 at Royal Randwick which has attracted a below capacity field of milers.
Set to run as one of three Group 1 features at the meeting, this year’s $500,000 Group 1 The Star Epsom (1600m) is still shaping up as a beauty despite attracting only 17 final acceptors, the field limit being 20 starts.
In the line-up are a mix of both proven elite level gallopers and up-and-coming talent making for an intriguing Sydney Spring Racing Carnival clash.
Early favourite in Epsom Handicap betting before this morning’s barrier draw was the Guy Walter-trained Toydini.
Last start winner of the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle when ridden by Blake Shinn, the Bernardini four-year-old has drawn double digits with barrier 14.
They were able to overcome gate 13 of 16 to win the Cameron carrying 58kg and so has what it takes to handle their gate with the drop back to 54kg, Shinn staying on, certainly a big advantage.
“There’s a fair bit of pressure out wide,” Shinn said on TVN after the draw.
“Just from first glance I envisage we shouldn’t be too bad though.
“I think we’ve got the right horse.”
Walter has also accepted for his Group 1 winning mare Streama, another top fancy in the Epsom Handicap odds.
One of the most consistent in the field this five-year-old Stratum mare has run top three in her last four on the trot, including two Group 1 minor placings during the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
She was last seen holding off an impressive field of staying types in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) and returns to the Randwick mile again for this.
Like her young stable mate, Streama is also in double digits for the Epsom drawing gate 12.
Also with a strong hand in this year’s Epsom Handicap field is top Sydney-based trainer Chris Waller with a trio of entries.
His best fancied according to the bookies is Boban, another last start winner, fighting for favouritism with Toydini.
The in-form Bernardini four-year-old is undefeated this time in with back-to-back Sydney wins and will look to make it three on the trot in the Epsom.
“He’s really relaxed in his races this campaign,” Waller’s racing manager Liam Prior told TVN.
“He’s been dynamite in his first two runs.
“He’s deserved favourite for the race.”
Their last run was a beauty when beating Belltone by four lengths to win the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) at Randwick on September 21, a race though that doesn’t have a great record producing Epsom winners.
For their last two wins Boban has benefited from the inside barrier one draw and will have a tougher task from gate 11 on Saturday which has produced no Epsom Handicap winners in the past three decades.
It will also be their first run over the mile since them finished dead last beaten 24 lengths by Sizzling, another Epsom 2013 hope, in last year’s Group 1 TJ Smith (1600m) in Brisbane.
Boban will then be joined by stable mates Riva De Lago and Sacred Falls who had mixed luck in the barrier draw coming up with 17 and nine.
Encosta De Lago six-year-old Riva De Lago won over the 1400m at Rosehill last time out in the Theo Marks Stakes, while Waller’s Doncaster Mile champion Sacred Falls is out to improve on their seventh to Streama in the George Main.
“Despite the weight (56.5kg) he’s a real good chance,” Prior said of Sacred Falls who will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy.
Sydney’s other big name trainer Gai Waterhouse also saddles up three Epsom chances this year as she shoots for her incredible eighth win in the classic.
Her best chance of success, which will see her surpass the Epsom training record that she currently co-holds with her late great father Tommy Smith, is Ecuador.
The High Chaparral four-year-old was a promising second over 1900m behind the progressive Multilateral when beaten favourite at Rosehill last Saturday.
They carried a hefty 60kg in that run however and will be flying with the 52kg minimum on Saturday, Waterhouse surprising a few by opting for a drop back to a mile for the Epsom over The Metropolitan.
“It was an outstanding effort with the big weight,” Waterhouse’s racing manager Adrian Bott said.
“The Metrop (over 2400m) was always the preferred option…but she’s (Waterhouse has) always been of the opinion that a 2000m horse will run out a strong mile there (at Randwick).”
One thing working firmly against them though was their horror Epsom draw, Ecuador coming up with 13 which has had zero winners since 1983.
Waterhouse’s two other hopes are then Ashokan and Spurtonic drawn in 15 and one respectively.
Representing Queensland meanwhile will be Brisbane horseman Kelso Wood saddling up his Group 1 winner Sizzling from barrier three and Belltone in six who ran second in the Bill Ritchie as a $51 roughie last time out.
See below for the complete Epsom Handicap 2013 final field, barriers, weights and jockeys.
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2013 Epsom Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 7 – 4:05pm (AEST) – 05/10/2013
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||54x1539x08||SINCERO||Stephen Farley||Brenton Avdulla||5||58kg||113|
|2||51228×5193||VEYRON (NZ)||Linda Laing||Christian Reith||2||57kg||112|
|3||11x5521x47||SACRED FALLS (NZ)||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||9||56.5kg||111|
|4||625x0300x2||REKINDLED INTEREST||Jim Conlan||Stephen Baster||4||55.5kg||109|
|5||2273432×21||STREAMA||Guy Walter||Hugh Bowman||12||54.5kg||114|
|6||68x5114x51||TOYDINI||Guy Walter||Blake Shinn||14||54kg (including 1.0kg penalty)||106|
|7||3511222×81||RIVA DE LAGO||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||17||53.5kg||105|
|8||x51041x416||MALAVIO||Steve Englebrecht||Nathan Berry||16||53kg||104|
|9||2x5617x754||SIZZLING||Kelso Wood||Tim Clark||3||53kg||103|
|10||0x41229x11||BOBAN||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||11||53kg||102|
|11||9x8x225x13||LIDARI (FR)||Peter G Moody||Peter Robl||7||53kg||102|
|12||x0x5103992||BELLTONE||Kelso Wood||Jay Ford||6||53kg||100|
|13||x986519x03||SCREAM MACHINE||Jason Coyle||Ms Kathy O’Hara||10||53kg||95|
|14||1111×436||YOUR HONOUR||Greg Eurell||–||8||53kg||88|
|16||2221×2112||ECUADOR (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||13||53kg||84|
|17||12227×1114||SPURTONIC||Gai Waterhouse||Jason Collett||1||53kg||84|