Group racing this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival continues at Royal Randwick on Saturday with the Hill Stakes 2014 one of the top races on the George Main Stakes Day program.
Originally this year’s $200,000 Group 2 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) attracted eight three-year-olds.
The early withdrawal of #4 Entirely Platinum and #6 Multilateral, the Wyong Cup winner unplaced in Thursday’s Newcastle Gold Cup, sees just six remaining hopes.
Of those the current favourite in the Ladbrokes.com.au Hill Stakes odds at $3.10 is market mover Moriarty for Chris Waller who trains half the field with three entries.
Drawn in barrier seven with Jason Collett staying on the Clodovil seven-year-old comes off a fifth to stable mate Hawkspur, who runs in Saturday’s Group 1 George Main Stakes over the mile, in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) here in the wet from a fortnight ago.
He’s better on top of the ground however and so will appreciate the firmer track as well as the step up in distance having won up to 2200m during the winter in Brisbane at Group 2 level.
Following closely in Hill Stakes betting at $3.30 is then the David Payne-trained Criterion, the Rosehill Guineas – ATC Derby double winner from last season looking to improve on a Chelmsford seventh last time out.
Also at single figures are then Spring Cups fancy La Amistad ($4.40), and Waller’s two other hopes Junoob ($5) and Bagman ($7) who will be better suited to the 2000m after a good Chelmsford Stakes third.
The markets are then rounded out by Honorius at $31, Payne’s other hopeful last seen running a disappointing 11th to beat home just one other runner behind Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) here a fortnight ago.
So will Waller win another spring feature in Sydney with strength in numbers?
And if so, is it is top fancy Moriarty who’ll be first past the post again after winning this race last year on the back of a Chelsmford Stakes fourth?
#2 Bagman ($7)
Think Waller will win it, he does prepare 50% of the remaining hopes, but it’ll be an upset from the improving Bagman. This in-form veteran is an eight-year-old but racing like a horse half that age with back-t-back wins over 2040m and 2000m last month. Came back to Sydney then for the Chelmsford where, on a Heavy (9), was a close third to Hawkspur in an all-Waller Top 6. Only beaten 1.4 lengths that day and a firmer track will suit with four of his nine starts on Dead ground producing wins. Also suited to the step up to 2000m which he’s got a great record over (4-2-1-0) so expecting him to run very well.
#1 Moriarty ($3.10)
Favourite here based on close Chelmsford fifth place, his second fifth place finish on the trot. Winner of the Group 2 Eagle Farm Cup (2400m) back in May and so is looking for the extra metres awarded to him here. Will be close but think Bagman will be better suited.
#7 Criterion ($3.30)
Dual Group 1 winner in Sydney as a three-year-old and looked like making a nice 4YO too when returning to run third to Tiger Tees in the Warwick Stakes two back. Was disappointing however in the Chelmsford crossing seventh in a run he’ll be looking to atone for here. Did run eighth in the Randwick Guineas over a mile last season however before taking out two elite levels including over 2000m next start so form line is there for that to happen again here.
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