Bringing Epsom Handicap Day to a close in Sydney this Saturday is the 2014 The Metropolitan, which drew a final field of potential stayers largely dominated by international talent.
Running as race 9 at Royal Randwick Racecourse at 5:25 PM (AEST), Saturday’s $400,000 Group 1 McGrath Estate Agents Metropolitan (1600m) features a final field of 16 acceptors, 13 of which are international horses.
Leading both the field and weights is the Chris Waller-trained duo Junoob and Bagman at 58kg. Despite being the top-weights for The Metropolitan 2014 this will be the lightest weight for both horses this season, with Bagman dropping up to 2kg and Junoob coming in at 59kg on his last two starts.
Junoob has drawn well in barrier three under jockey Blake Shinn while Bagman has drawn wide in barrier 12 with star jockey Hugh Bowman to ride.
The seven-year-old Junoob didn’t have the best start to his spring racing campaign, finishing end of the field in both the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) and Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m). However the gelding proved a successful stayer in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 20, passing the post nearly two lengths ahead of his competitors.
Bagman has had a successful racing year, placing in six of his last seven starts including two Handicap wins. However the eight-year-old didn’t start from a gate wider than five in any of these, which means he could struggle from his wide draw come Saturday.
Waller completely dominates the race in terms of numbers, with another three hopefuls to his name. Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) runner-up Opinion and Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300m) second Brigantin have drawn wide barriers like Bagman, 14 and 11 respectively, while Our Voodoo Prince drew the middle barrier and will partner international jockey Joao Moreira.
David Hayes & Tom Dabernig’s Spillway will start from barrier 9 with James McDonald to ride.
Hayes revealed that Spillway will need to win the Metrop to make the desired Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) field after a seventh place finish in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) last month derailed the trainers’ plans.
“We ran him in the Naturalism hoping to qualify him for the Caulfield Cup and nothing went right. It was painful to watch,” Hayes said to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“[Jockey Damien Oliver] zigged when he should have zagged and he never got a run. We wouldn’t be here if he had won.
“That has left us having to go to the Metrop, hopefully to win it and get a penalty to lift him in the Caulfield Cup.
“Often timing with these imports is the biggest thing, especially when they have the talent.”
The Gai Waterhouse-trained Travolta has drawn the ideal barrier two under jockey Joshua Parr but isn’t entering with the best form after failing to place in any of his three September starts. A 3kg weight drop will surely help the six-year-old gelding improve his run.
Other notable acceptors include the Hawkes team’s La Amistad, who will run on the lowest weight from barrier 6 under jockey Corey Brown, and John Sargent’s Group 3 Colin Stephen Quality Handicap (2400m) runner-up Iggi Pop, who’ll enjoy a rails run under Jim Byrne.
The complete final field and barrier draw for The Metropolitan 2014 is listed below.
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2014 The Metropolitan Final Field & Barrier Draw
Royal Randwick Race 9 – 5:2opm (AEST) – 04/10/2013
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp Rating|
|1||131143×861||JUNOOB (GB)||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||3||58kg||108|
|2||x002431133||BAGMAN||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||12||58kg||105|
|3||44x781x247||SPILLWAY (GB)||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||James McDonald||9||57.5kg||104|
|4||612262×050||OPINION (IRE)||Chris Waller||Tye Angland||14||56kg||101|
|5||234×746845||TRAVOLTA (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Joshua Parr||2||56kg||100|
|6||523664×072||BRIGANTIN (USA)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||11||55.5kg||100|
|7||x08111x374||LA AMISTAD||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Corey Brown||6||55.5kg||100|
|8||34x111x938||OUR VOODOO PRINCE (GB)||Chris Waller||Joao Moreira||8||55.5kg||100|
|9||34x0313x76||ARALDO (GB)||Michael Moroney||Jeff Lloyd||16||55.5kg||98|
|10||06017×1252||KINGDOMS (NZ)||Brian Smith||Larry Cassidy||5||55.5kg||98|
|11||42x5712x43||WISH COME TRUE (IRE)||Peter G Moody||Tim Clark||4||55.5kg||98|
|12||8140×32631||DEANE MARTIN (NZ)||Bruce Wallace||Chris Munce||10||55.5kg||97|
|13||x5x49x4051||DISCLAIMER (GB)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Christian Reith||15||55.5kg||97|
|14||x30926x090||TUPAC AMARU||John O’Shea||Sam Clipperton||13||55.5kg||96|
|15||x475601652||IGGI POP (NZ)||John Sargent||Jim Byrne||1||55.5kg||95|
|16||x993008136||KHALID (GB)||Paul Perry||–||7||55.5kg||70|