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Gerald Ryan’s returning three-year-old Rubick has opened top of the Challenge Stakes 2015 odds to defeat his older rivals in Saturday’s weight-for-age sprint at Randwick Racecourse.
The Encoast De Lago colt is one of nine remaining hopes in the $400,000 Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) field after the early scratching of #9 Soldi Domani who had the outside barrier in Randwick Race 8.
Rubick is drawn ideally in barrier four for jockey Kerrin McEvoy, the youngster after his fourth win at start number six this weekend.
His latest victory was back in October last year when defeating Platelet in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1000m) over the same distance as the Challenge Stakes with McEvoy in the saddle.
Fourth to Earthquake in last year’s Blue Diamond Stakes, Rubick was also ridden by McEvoy last time out on November 1 at Flemington.
In his Derby Day assignment he stepped up to Group 1 company again but was beaten nearly 11 lengths by the Chris Waller-trained Brazen Beau in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
He is tipped to improve on that however first-up, Rubick yet to be defeated when resuming from two previous runs off a spell.
His lead-up was a Randwick trial on February 23 over 800 when second to Sweet Idea by a nose, fellow Challenge Stakes hopeful Miracles Of Life third in that same hit-out.
Rubick leads the Challenge Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au at $3, one of six single figure hopes in a wide open market.
The others under $10 to win are:
- #3 Knoydart ($5) – John O’Shea-trained More Than Ready gelding to be ridden by ace Sydney-based jockey James McDonald. Third behind the world’s equal highest rated sprinter Lankan Rupee in both the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket Handicap last autumn but hasn’t raced since a 12th in the Stradbroke at Eagle Farm during the winter. Good second in an early February trial at Warwick Farm with McDonald aboard and goes well fresh (4-1-2-1 first-up).
- #5 Miracles Of Life ($6) – Blue Diamond Stakes winner two years ago has been given a new lease on life now with Team Snowden. She won the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1100m) on Caulfield Cup Day in the spring but was beaten into seventh by Vain Queen during the Melbourne Cup Carnival in November. Has a 50% strike rate (4-2-0-0) when resuming and trialled well on February 23 behind Sweet Idea and Rubick at Randwick where she races officially for the first time on the weekend.
- #6 Villa Verde ($8) – Anthony Cummings’ defending Challenge Stakes winner is back for another shot this Saturday, the Not A Single Doubt mare having won as a three-year-old 12 months back. Third to Tiger Tees in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) last March also, she hasn’t finished in the money since then including two below par runs in the early spring. She has a gun first-up record (5-2-2-0) and she’s a specialist over the 1000m (5-3-1-0) so should be flying over it resuming here.
- #2 Rain Affair ($9) – Commands seven-year-old was once the sprint star in trainer Joe Pride’s stable. It’s been a while between drinks for the veteran however who is first-up here having his first run since a third in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) in the wet over this track and distance last September. Comes off two good hit-outs winning over 803m and then running third to Darley Classic winner Terravista at Warwick Farm last Friday. That was a gun effort behind a superstar sprinter and so no doubting he’s still got ability.
- #10 Mossfun ($9) – Tommy Berry rides this Team Hawkes-trained filly, winner of the Golden Slipper Stakes last autumn. She has won four of her six starts, and is second-up here after a mid-field finish behind Adrift in the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) at the track in mid-February. She over-raced there and so Berry will have her just behind them chasing second-up.
The next best in Challenge Stakes betting are then Va Pensiero ($10) and last year’s Manikato Stakes third placegetter Famous Seamus ($12) before the market is rounded out by $51 roughie Nuclear Class.
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2015 Challenge Stakes Betting
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