Two in-form female gallopers are battling for favouritism in the latest Queen Of The Turf Stakes 2015 odds ahead of the Group 1 clash at Royal Randwick in Sydney on Saturday.
Day 2 of the coveted The Championships runs this weekend featuring four elite level classics, including the fillies-and-mares’ $1 million Group 1 Cellarbrations Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) at 3:15pm (AEDT).
An under-capacity field of 15 hopefuls face off in the weight-for-age clash, the two top fancies in the latest Queen Of The Turf Stakes odds of which are Noble Protector ($3.60) and current favourite First Seal ($3.50).
The dominant duo is drawn beside each other with Robert Smerdon’s Haafhd five-year-old Noble Protector in gate seven for her regular rider Craig Williams while James McDonald jumps on the John Thompson-trained three-year-old First Seal in gate eight.
Flying import Noble Protector comes off back-to-back wins this time in and is looking to make it three on the trot.
She has been racing down under since October last year, Williams aboard for all four of her Australian starts to date, and this autumn has won the Group 3 Matron Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and the Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
While in top form, Noble Protector is yet to race in Sydney and since 2001 just two Queen Of The Turf Stakes winners came off a Melbourne run with Sorrento (2001) and most recently Typhoon Tracy (2010).
First Seal meanwhile has run top two in in past nine starts, the Group 1 Flight Stakes winner from the spring coming off back-to-back Group 1 seconds at Rosehill.
She was a nose off Plucky Belle in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) two back before taking on the older mares again on March 28 for her also very close second to Fenway in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m).
The smart filly has a gun record of two wins and two seconds from four starts at Randwick, and her barrier (eight) last produced a winner in Typhoon Tracy (2010).
Her only negative then is her age, just two three-year-olds winning the race in the past 10 years with Mnemosyne (2006) and Forensics (2008).
Just one other runner in this year’s Queen Of The Turf Stakes field is at single figures to win with Catkins at $4.60.
Brazilian hoop Joao Moreira has the ride on Chris Waller’s gallant grey mare out in barrier 10, Waller after his maiden win in the classic.
Superstar Dubawi five-year-old Catkins is oh-so-deserving of a Group 1 win after a plethora of close calls including her recent second to Cosmic Endeavour in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) here at Randwick on March 7.
Her latest run was a win in the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes (1500m) on March 28, a race last year’s upset Queen Of The Turf Stakes winner Diamond Drille (40/1) ran fourth in for her final lead-up.
After the fillies and mares under $10 to win the market opens right up with the next best in betting being the aforementioned defending champ Diamond Drille at $17.
Gai Waterhouse’s now five-year-old daughter of Al Maher has finished in the money just once in recent times when third in the Coolmore Classic, but was outclassed again from a wide barrier on Easter Monday when 15th in the rescheduled Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Waterhouse though is hoping for improvement on the short turnaround going into the Queen Of The Turf where Diamond Drille is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the race since the fellow Waterhouse-trained More Joyous (2011-12).
Check out the latest Queen Of The Turf Stakes 2015 odds below, prices open online now at Ladbrokes.com.au who are also offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on all four of the Sydney Group 1s on Saturday!