The feature race of the Horse’s Birthday weekend is Saturday’s Winter Challenge 2015 in Sydney, betting tips for the Rosehill Gardens showdown found below.
There are 10 gallopers making up the field for this year’s $100,000 Listed The Paslode Winter Challenge (1500m), which jumps as Rosehill Race 6 at 3:25pm (AEST).
It is a super tight Winter Challenge betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering a Bonus Bet if your first fixed win odds bet runs second or third in the feature, with six of the runners under double figures for the win.
Current $4.80 favourite is the Chris Waller-trained You’ll Never, out to improve on a seventh in the Listed Winter Stakes last time out in the mud when ridden too close to the speed for his liking.
Jockey Blake Shinn retains the ride this weekend and will give the galloper a quieter ride as Waller shoots for his third straight Winter Challenge victory after preparing the 2013 quinella and last year’s trifecta led by subsequent dual Group 1 winner He’s Your Man.
Waller also saddles-up the next best fancied in the Winter Challenge odds for this weekend with market mover Eigelstein ($5) to be ridden by Glyn Schofield from barrier eight.
The third of his runners in this year’s edition, Winter Stakes winning Rugged Cross ($5.50) meanwhile is drawn a treat in barrier two for jockey Brenton Avdulla but must carry 58kg, two kilos more than his weight last time out.
The other equal $5 second pick is the Peter Moody-trained mare Noela’s Choice in the outside alley (10), the five-year-old daughter of Sebring coming off a Winter Stakes fifth before which she won over the mile at Randwick on a Heavy (9) track.
So will the best in betting salute for the punters or is there an upset Winter Challenge result on the cards from the likes of Peter & Paul Snowden’s Great Esteem ($6) who will enjoy a drop back from 57.5kg to the 54kg minimum this weekend or the rails-drawn Wouldnt It Be Nice ($7)?
#9 Great Esteem ($6)
As big a fairy tale as it would be to see five-time Sydney Trainers’ Premiership winner Waller score his third win in this race in as many years, think the weights favour Team Snowden’s son of Redoute’s Choice Great Esteem. The consistent five-year-old has a good record over the distance (3-0-2-0) and comes off back-to-back Sydney seconds. The latest was at Canterbury on July 25 on a Heavy (8), and while it wasn’t in black-type company, the notable drop from 57.5kg to 54kg plus a good gate four draw should see him handle the class rise without a worry.
#2 Rugged Cross ($5.50)
With three livewire chances and the outstanding recent record in this race, Waller and his charge cannot be forgotten completely. Of the trio, the form of Rugged Cross best stands out for mine. The weight will be the challenge as the imported Cape Cross seven-year-old goes up from his Winter Stakes winning weight of 56kg to 58kg here. That said, he’s a recent Group 3 placegetter in the Hawkesbury Gold Cup and is a known Soft (7-2-2-2) and Heavy (6-3-1-0) track performer from the right stable. The rebooking of Avdulla and a gun gate two draw also work in his favour.
#8 Noela’s Choice ($5)
Going back to the weight advantage, the 54kg minimum and good lead-up form of Moody’s mare are big plusses for her to run a nice place in black-type company. Turning five on Saturday, she might have the outside alley to overcome but over 1500m she has time to do it. Won over the mile at Randwick two back and then finished two lengths off Rugged Cross in the Winter Stakes. She handles the wet very well and is undefeated on Soft going so is a big hope.
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