Chris Waller’s flying mare Winx is the headline final acceptor in a 15-horse field set to face off at Royal Randwick this Saturday for the 150th edition of the Epsom Handicap 2015 in Sydney.
Due to jump as Randwick Race 7 at 4:00pm (AEST) as the marquee race on the nine-event program this weekend’s $1 million Group 1 The Star 150th Epsom (1600m) gives Sydney’s best Waller the chance at three straight wins.
The five-time Sydney Premiership winning horseman took out the mile classic in 2013 with Boban and last year with He’s Your Man and is back in 2015 with the early favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au Winx and two of her stablemates.
A four-year-old daughter of Street Cry looking to become the first Epsom Handicap winning mare since Secret Admirer (2011), Winx has won her past three starts since a second in the Group 1 ATC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick in April during her three-year-old season.
One of those victories was her own elite level Oaks win in Queensland at Doomben over 2200m in late May before her last start win when returning at Rosehill on September 12 to take out the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m).
The last Epsom Handicap champ to have their final lead-up in the Theo Marks was back in 2001 when Final Fantasy scored an upset as a 50/1 hope, but the odds on Winx are set to be much firmer with her Queensland Oaks winning jockey Hugh Bowman back in board in place of James McDonald.
Waller’s other two Epsom hopes this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival are Silverball and Sadler’s Lake to be ridden by Brenton Avdulla and veteran hoop Jim Cassidy respectively.
European import Silverball is in top form this season having improved on a second in the Listed Premier’s Cup (1800m) from late August to win the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) three weeks ago carrying 58kg.
He drops back two kilos to 56kg this weekend in the Epsom, one kilogram less than Winx (57kg).
The 56kg minimum is also allocated to Sadler’s Lake who shoots for three straight wins after the High Chaparral four-year-old won back-to-back 1400m races at Randwick in September including the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap.
Cassidy was aboard for that half-length victory over Rudy in the Bill Ritchie that has produced recent Epsom winners Captain Sonador (4th in 2010) and Boban who completed the double two years back for Waller.
Leading the Epsom Handicap weights this season is the John Thompson-trained Hooked on 58kg, Tye Angland riding the recent Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) winner.
After the Tramway the Casino Prince stallion ran dead last when ninth to Kermadec in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) at a track and distance he returns to seeking atonement this weekend.
The next heaviest weighted on 57.5kg each are the Kris Lees-trained Lucia Valentina and Team Hawkes’ Entirely Platinum.
Dual Group 1 winning Savabeel mare Lucia Valentina hasn’t won a race since the Turnbull Stakes in Melbourne last October but is out to break the drought third-up on Saturday coming off a good fourth in the George Main Stakes.
Entirely Platinum is out to go back-to-back for the six-year-olds in the Epsom, the son of Pentire coming off two Group 1 minor placings when second to Boban in the Memsie at Caulfield and third to Fawkner in the Makybe Diva Stakes over the Flemington mile.
Also coming off nice lead-up runs into Sydney’s feature race this weekend are the likes of the other Hawkes-trained hope Messene who ran third in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill last Saturday, Helen Page’s Bill Ritchie runner-up Rudy from the Gold Coast and the Gai Waterhouse-trained Ecuador whose last start was at Newcastle on September 18 when fourth in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m).
The official Epsom Handicap 2015 barrier draw takes place at 10:30am (AEST) this morning so stay tuned.
In the meantime head to Ladbrokes.com.au and open an account with the bookie offering the best spring betting odds and offers this weekend!
2015 Epsom Handicap Final Field
Randwick Race 7 (4:00pm) – 03/10/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||15x4700x19||HOOKED||John P Thompson||Tye Angland||0||58kg||108|
|2||0x49376x64||LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ)||Kris Lees||Zac Purton||0||57.5kg||111|
|3||28x2460x23||ENTIRELY PLATINUM (NZ)||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||0||57.5kg||107|
|4||x7515211x1||WINX||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||0||57kg||110|
|5||7x299x5383||MESSENE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jay Ford||0||57kg||106|
|6||x28840x332||RUDY||Helen Page||Luke Tarrant (a)||0||56kg||104|
|7||x21141x621||SILVERBALL (FR)||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||0||56kg||104|
|8||14x2614x24||ECUADOR (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Glen Boss||0||56kg||104|
|9||1x6650x555||KIRRAMOSA (NZ)||John Sargent||Blake Shinn||0||56kg||103|
|10||38x2240x96||SWEYNESSE||John O’Shea||James McDonald||0||56kg||101|
|11||1x42154x11||SADLER’S LAKE||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||0||56kg||92|
|12||17412311×2||SONS OF JOHN||Jason Attard||Jeff Penza||0||56kg||98|
|13||11x2677x02||MALICE||John O’Shea||Joao Moreira||0||56kg||96|
|14||30x210x737||TERONADO||Bruce W Hill||–||0||56kg||88|
|15||1194x7x063||PRESSING||Mick Price||Glyn Schofield||0||56kg||83|