Last autumn’s Australian Oaks winner Rising Romance takes on the boys at Royal Randwick this weekend on Day 1 of The Championships as the top rated and highest weighted Chairman’s Handicap 2015 runner.
A lead-up to Saturday week’s Sydney Cup back at the track on April 11, the $300,000 Group 2 Schweppes Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) is set to run as Race 3 at 1:20pm (AEDT) as one of 10 races on the bumper program.
In-form expat Kiwi hoop James McDonald partners with the Donna Logan-trained Rising Romance in the race where the flying four-year-old mare gives away plenty of weight to her rivals carrying 59kg.
She won over the mile and a half at Randwick last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival for her Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) success and was also impressive when runner-up in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in Melbourne during the spring.
This time in she boasts a New Zealand Stakes second back home and also finished runner-up when she returned down under in the Group 3 Epona Stakes (1900m) at Rosehill on March 21.
She had 59kg that day but faced a much easier field of fellow mares, and so with a minimum 4.5 kilos more than her rivals this weekend will need to be at her best to win.
The mare that beat Rising Romance home in the Epona Stakes in an upset as a 26-1 outsider last time out, Scratchy Bottom also backs up in the Chairman’s Handicap this weekend.
Michael Kent’s Sebring four-year-old is up in class but drops a kilo down to 53kg so is in with a genuine chance of another upset with Craig Williams retaining the ride and a nice barrier three draw this weekend.
Along with Rising Romance there are just two other runners weighted above the 54kg minimum on Saturday with the Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Disclaimer and Chris Waller’s Permit both on 54.5kg.
Dansili gelding Disclaimer drops a kilo from the weight he carried when fifth to this weekend’s Doncaster Mile hope Pornichet in the Group 3 Neville Sellwood Stakes (2000m) last weekend, while veteran eight-year-old by the same sire Permit is on the same weight he carried to victory last time out.
On March 21 the gelding improved on some disappointing recent form relishing the step up to 2400m in the Group 3 Manion Cup, which he won by three-quarters of a length with Tommy Berry in the saddle.
Berry stays on for Saturday, the duo jumping from the outside barrier 11.
Also coming off nice lead-up form are the likes of the Bindi Cheers-trained Manion Cup runner-up Phrases with barrier one and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Stratum mare Queenstown last seen running fourth in the Albury Gold Cup over 2000m on March 27.
Other notable Chairman’s Handicap hopes this year include the David Payne-trained Majnion Cup fifth past the post Honorius and recent Flemington winning import Sir John Hawkwood for Peter Moody.
Check out the full Chairman’s Handicap 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and weights below.
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2015 Chairman’s Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 3 (1:20pm) – 04/04/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||x47226x122||RISING ROMANCE (NZ)||Donna Logan||James McDonald||5||59kg||110|
|2||05143×0075||DISCLAIMER (GB)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Sam Clipperton||2||54.5kg||97|
|3||9×35742001||PERMIT (GB)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||11||54.5kg||97|
|4||50554×0675||HONORIUS||David Payne||Dwayne Dunn||7||54kg||96|
|5||x35150x084||QUEENSTOWN||Gai Waterhouse||Tim Clark||8||53kg||98|
|6||2183672192||PHRASES||Bindi Cheers||Ms Kathy O’Hara||1||53kg||94|
|7||x9x676x016||SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD (IRE)||Peter G Moody||Glen Boss||9||53kg||92|
|8||532x086x01||SCRATCHY BOTTOM||Michael Kent||Craig Williams||4||53kg||90|
|9||320x44x078||TREMEC (NZ)||John P Thompson||Brenton Avdulla||10||53kg||90|
|10||23211×8894||GRAND MARSHAL (GB)||Chris Waller||Joao Moreira||3||53kg||88|
|11||3625353420||MARTINVAST (IRE)||Archie Alexander||Kerrin McEvoy||6||53kg||81|