The bookmakers are having a hard time separating the top four chances in the feature race in Sydney this weekend with three currently sharing top spot in the 2015 Apollo Stakes odds, and another hot on their heels.
Running as Randwick Race 6 at 4:15pm (AEDT) on Saturday, this year’s $250,000 Group 2 Optus Apollo Stakes (1400m) originally drew a final field of 15 weight-for-age hopefuls.
Gerald Ryan however has officially scratched his flying Chester Manifold Stakes winner Red Excitement, a winner of his past five on the trot, who instead goes to Melbourne on CF Orr Stakes Day this weekend for the $150,000 Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m).
There are now $6 equal favourites in Apollo Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au with Weary, Contributer and Lucia Valentina the ones to beat just ahead of $6.50 shot He’s Your Man.
French import Weary is one of six in the mix for Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller, Tommy Berry to ride the Astronomer Royal grey from an outside barrier 13 draw.
Berry jumped aboard the five-year-old first-up at Rosehill on January 31 where Weary scored a narrow victory in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m), an effort he’s out to repeat here.
He’s had five previous runs at Randwick but has been unable to win, a second and a third his best efforts, but he’s in form and stands a chance even if the rain comes with two wins and a third from five runs on Heavy tracks.
Contributer is another import, this one owned by Godolphin and prepared by their private trainer John O’Shea.
Saturday is just his third run down under after he debuted here in the spring on the back of a Wolferton Handicap win over 2000m at Royal Ascot during our winter.
The highly-spruiked High Chaparral entire won the Group 3 Coongy Handicap (2000m) at Caulfield in his first run in Australia before an eighth to Hucklebuck in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) when dropped back in distance at Flemington on November 8.
He won a 1000m Randwick trial on February 2 in a nice effort and looks to be travelling well in his first official Sydney start, James McDonald to ride him from a nice barrier six draw.
Lucia Valentina meanwhile is a dual Group 1 winning mare from the Broadmeadow stables of Kris Lees, Hugh Bowman riding her on the weekend first-up from barrier nine.
Bowman partnered her for a quiet trial at home at Newcastle at the start of the month reporting back that she was ready for her first run since a disappointing 13th in the Melbourne Cup back in November.
Despite initial fears from Lees that the Melbourne Cup run had taken too much out of the Savabeel four-year-old, Lucia Valentina has come back from her break in top order shoots for her third win from four first-up runs.
He’s Your Man meanwhile is another from Team Waller, the fellow French import jumping from barrier seven with Blake Shinn to ride.
He has won his only previous Randwick start in a gutsy effort over stablemate Royal Descent in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) last October, his second most recent run with the Cape Cross six-year-old last seen running second to Happy Trails in the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on Derby Day.
In an open Apollo Stakes betting market there is then one other single figure hope with Silent Achiever paying $9 to win for New Zealand trainer Roger James.
James enjoyed a successful Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival raid with the O’Reilly mare last year with the now six-year-old winning the Ranvet Stakes – The BMW double at Rosehill.
She was last seen running a very close third when under a half-length off the then European-trained Adelaide in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25.
Silent Achiever has won just one of her six previous first-up starts and is yet to finish in the money from her three other Randwick runs, but the bookies are taking no chances on this Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe-bound champion.
At more generous odds but still with genuine claims for an Apollo Stakes upset are then the likes of Waller’s triple Group 1 winner Boban ($11) who ran a close fourth to Appearance in this race last year and last start Carrington Stakes winner over 1400m at the track on January 24 Ninth Legion ($11).
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