Group One racing returns to Sydney this afternoon in the form of the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), running at Warwick Farm. A total of 15 gallopers are set to tackle the mile, including eight from Chris Waller’s Rosehill stable.
Waller could break two records during today’s race: most runners in an Australian Group One race, and most consecutive Chipping Norton Stakes victories.
If all eight of Waller’s horses race at 4:15pm (AEDT) this afternoon, he will break the record for most runners in an Australian Group One race that is currently held by Gai Waterhouse and John Hawkes with seven each.
If one of Waller’s eight horses go on to win the 2015 Chipping Norton Stakes he will also claim an unprecedented fifth straight win in the $500,000 race. However even the top trainer admits the race is Contributer’s to lose.
The John O’Shea-trained five-year-old has firmed to $2.70 favourite in the betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au following support from punters. The horse has a lot of things working in his favour, including winning the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) two weeks ago and jumping from barrier four with James McDonald.
The Apollo Stakes is the key lead-up race to the Chipping Norton Stakes with nine of the past winners following the same route, three of which completed the double.
Contributer confidently won the Apollo Stakes on February 14, showing a great turn of foot and flashing home to easily beat his rivals by one and a half lengths. 10 of his rivals are also coming via the race – he’s beaten them all before and can do it again.
Barrier four is also considered the most successful starting gate in the Chipping Norton Stakes since 1983, bringing home a total seven winners.
Kris Lees’ classy mare Lucia Valentina has yet to win any of her three second-up starts while Roger James’ Silent Achiever hasn’t had a win since the Group 1 BMW (2400m) last April.
Apollo Stakes runner-ups Weary and Ninth Legion both opened the betting at odds of $9 but have since lengthened to double digit odds. Both horses will have to overcome wide starts from barriers wider than 10.
Waller’s Who Shot Thebarman ($67 into $41) and Foreteller ($41 into $26) are the only other runners whose odds have shortened.
Six-year-old gelding Who Shot Thebarman was last seen running third in the Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4 but has won two of his four starts over a mile.
Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) winner Foreteller will enjoy the inside jump from barrier one with Jason Collett.
Place your bets on the 2015 Chipping Norton Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au today to receive up to $250 in a bonus match on your first bet.