Gai Waterhouse’s last start Grafton Cup winning mare Queenstown has opened top of the odds to take out the 2014 Winter Challenge at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.
A final field of eight gallopers is accepted to face off in the opening stakes race of the new season, the $100,000 Listed Winter Challenge (1500m) set to jump as Rosehill Race 5 at 2:50pm on Saturday.
Favourite in early Winter Challenge betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $3.60, out from $3.40 is the Waterhouse-trained Queenstown, the rising Stratum five-year-old looking to go back-to-back in Sydney.
Last start on July 10 she thrived when stepped up from a mile to 2350m to beat home Secessio by an easy three lengths.
It’s a notable drop back in distance then as she runs over 1500m this weekend, Tim Clark staying on with the duo drawn in gate seven.
Not only does Queenstown have the decrease in distance to overcome, but she also rises from 54kg Grafton to 57kg in the Winter Challenge.
Despite this the bookies are taking no chances after Queenstown worked sharply over 1400m on Tuesday running very fast time, and Ladbrokes.com.au punters can back her stress free thanks to the sportsbook offering money back on the Winter Challenge if your horse runs second!
It’s a wide open Winter Challenge market this year though with four other single figure fancies:
- #1 Scream Machine ($4) – Top weight carrying 59kg, drawn well in barrier four with Blake Shinn jumping aboard after regular rider Tye Angland chose to ride rival I’m Imposing, big weight but excellent lead-up form with successive Rosehill wins in June including the Natski Handicap over the 1500m before their last start third to Generalife over 1400m in the Listed Winter Stakes on July 19, money coming too as they’ve eased into $4 from $4.20
- #7 Romantic Moon ($5) – Another market mover along with the favourite backed in from $5.50, the James & Bart Cummings-trained filly makes her 4YO debut here on the back of a second in the Winter Stakes, before that won over the track and distance on June 28 against the girls, was competitive against a similar class field though last start and should thrive again here on the 54kg light weight
- #6 He’s Your Man ($5.50) – One of four in the field for Chris Waller, Cape Cross gelding is second-up here, resuming run was good a month ago when third in the Listed Civic Stakes (1350m), gets more distance here and with 2400m their best distance that’s going to suit, second-up record is good (3-1-0-1) so a definite chance
- #3 I’m Imposing ($7) – Another Waller runner, this rising nine-year-old is the veteran of the pack but racing as good as ever as shown by the Danehill Dancer gelding’s last start victory over the Randwick mile over Single back on July 12, carried 55.5kg that day with Angland aboard, jockey stays on but do go up two kilos so need to handle the 57.5kg
Outside the single figure fancies are then the fellow Waller-trained stablemates Tougher Than Ever ($13) and Coup Ay Tee ($14) on the rails.
The Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Dansili four-year-old Disclaimer ($21) then rounds out the Winter Challenge odds, the imported stayer first-up for the season after two autumn runs down under earlier in the eyar.
Back your favourites at Ladbrokes.com.au and take advantage of their Winter Challenge special getting a bonus bet up to $50 back if your horse finishes second in the weekend’s feature!