Chris Waller’s dual Group 1 winning three-year-old Zoustar is clear favourite to make it a third elite level trophy in the cabinet with a victory in Saturday’s 2014 Canterbury Stakes, but are they really the one to beat in the Randwick Guineas Day feature?
A 10-horse field is engaged for this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Guinness Canterbury Stakes (1300m), the event to take centre stage at 5:22pm (AEST) as Royal Randwick Race 8.
In gate three with last year’s winning hoop Jim Cassidy in the saddle is the $2.75 favourite Zoustar, one of four in the field for Sydney’s premier trainer Waller.
They were last seen posting their second Group 1 win in the Coolmore Stud Stakes down the Flemington straight on November 2 and will be out to become just the second horse in the past 12 years along with More Joyous (2012) to win the Canterbury Stakes first-up.
Their biggest danger looks to come from gate seven, the barrier last year’s Canterbury Stakes winner Pierro jumped from, where their stable mate Red Tracer ($4.80) jumps with Nash Rawiller aboard.
Red Tracer is one of the most consistent race horses of the past few years at Group 1 level, the Dane Shadow six-year-old having won the Myer Classic in her last run of the spring.
She returned with another victory, this time in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) just 13 days ago, and will look to keep her top record at Randwick (6-3-1-1) going with an upset over the youngster here.
Sandwiched between Waller’s dominant duo in the Canterbury Stakes odds is then another crack three-year-old, the Michael, Wayne John Hawkes-trained Not Listenin’tome ($4.40).
Runner-up to Zoustar in the Coolmore during the spring the Dylan Thomas gelding resumed on February 22 with a comprehensive four length victory in the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield with James McDonald aboard.
So are these top three the ones to lock into your Canterbury Stakes trifecta bets? Or is there value to be had with a longer priced hopeful such as Guy Walter’s flying mare Appearance ($6) or even Emirates Stakes third placegetter Speediness ($17)?
#8 Red Tracer ($4.80)
Money coming for Waller’s star mare who has bucket loads of Group 1 experience including two victories. Easy to see why as she’s one of the most consistent and experienced of this bunch and has good lead-up form too. Last start winner two weeks ago, great record at the track, four wins from five starts over the distance and good Win Rate (46%) so plenty to say she’ll get the job done here.
#9 Zoustar ($2.75)
Deserving favourite but first-up runners don’t have a great recent record here and think Red Tracer will have the fitness edge. Also not proven against the older horses yet so need to handle that but will be very close is our guess. Cassidy won aboard short priced favourite Pierro 12 months ago and is out to do it again, one run for one win at Randwick plus undefeated (2-2-0-0) over the distance. Also has the highest Win Rate of the field (75%) but remember that’s inflated as they’re only lightly raced, 88% Place Rate and record of the favourites is very good in this.
#6 Appearance ($6)
Commands mare with commanding record this time in as a dual Group 2 winner at Randwick over 1200m and then 1400m last month. Had gun draws (4 and 2) for those so may have a harder time from gate 10 here. Still she’s a very good galloper as proven by her dual Group 1 wins this time last year (Coolmore Classic – Queen Of The Turf Stakes) where she defeated Red Tracer narrowly each time.
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*All odds quoted are Fixed Win from Ladbrokes.com.au and subject to change