Chris Waller’s Group 1 winning mare Royal Descent is the new favourite to win Saturday’s Epsom Handicap 2014 following the non-acceptances of Rock Sturdy.
This morning Racing NSW released a 15 horse field for the weekend’s marquee race at Royal Randwick, the $500,000 Group 1 The Star Epsom (1600m).
Pre-field announcement the Joe Pride-trained Shannon Stakes winner from last weekend Rock Sturdy was favourite in Epsom Handicap betting at Ladbrokes.com.au.
He sustained a suspensory ligament injury on Wednesday morning however ruling him out of the Epsom and possibly from every racing again.
His withdrawal from the race saw the bookies install Redoute’s Choice five-year-old Royal Descent at the top of the Epsom Handicap odds, the mare paying $4.40 through Ladbrokes.com.au to win her first race since April last year.
As a three-year-old she took out the Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at the Randwick track and since then has posted three more elite level placings.
The most recent of those was in the George Main Stakes over the 1600m on September 20 behind Sacred Falls.
With the fellow Waller-trained Sacred Falls ruled out of the Epsom, being saved instead for the Caulfield Stakes in Melbourne the following weekend, Royal Descent looks the one to beat back at the track and distance this Saturday.
She drops back from 57kg under the weight-for-age conditions to 55.5kg on Saturday and is looking to become the fifth Epsom Handicap winner in the past 11 years to come off a George Main run.
It’s a tight top half of betting for the Epsom this year then with four other single figure chances in:
- #3 Toydini ($6) – Team Hawkes-trained son of Bernardini ran third to Boban in this race last year. Wears blinkers this weekend after a below par eighth in the George Main that he’s tipped to improve on. Run before the George Main was on Heavy going and he didn’t back up well. Two firm tracks on the trot though will help and if the speed is strong up front he can run on to challenge.
- #6 He’s Your Man ($6) – Waller’s French import comes off two wins from his past three starts including the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes. Brazilian jockey Joao Moreira, the “Magic Man” rides on just 52.5kg so surely based on that alone will be in the finish despite coming back in distance.
- #1 Boban ($7) – Defending Epsom Handicap champ carries the 58kg top weight which is five kilos more than his winning weight 12 months ago. Hasn’t been firing on all cylinders of late finishing just off his rivals but distance suits and so does getting back to Sydney and Randwick. If he’s good enough he’s good enough but will need to stay out of trouble from barrier one.
- #4 Laser Hawk ($9) – Early market mover who was swapped from Craven Plate contention to this following the injury of stable mate Rock Sturdy. Was up front and running on well behind Sacred Falls when third in the George Main Stakes, the perfect lead-up race to the Epsom, last time out. That was a brave effort and the handicap conditions see him drop from 59kg to 53.5kg which will have him flying out of barrier 12 looking to get across.
Outside of the top six are then a host of other live wire chances at double figures including the fellow Team Hawkes-trained Ninth Legion ($13) coming off a Shannon Stakes third from last Saturday at Rosehill, interesting addition Star Rolling ($15) who won the PB Lawrence Stakes in an upset three back and last start Newcastle winner Hooked ($17).
See below for the latest Epsom Handicap 2014 odds, prices open online now at Ladbrokes.com.au who will be offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on your winnings on the race this year!