After attracting 91 nominations earlier in the season the TJ Smith Stakes 2016 is down to 54 entries, Racing NSW taking first acceptances for the Group 1 races of ‘The Championships’ this week.
One of four top level races on Day 1, Saturday April 2, at Royal Randwick the $2.5 million Group 1 Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) is the headline sprint clash of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
The major first acceptor for the weight-for-age classic this year and early favourite in futures TJ Smith Stakes betting at bookies across Australia is the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Chautauqua.
The triple Group 1 winning five-year-old was last seen taking out the Group 1 Lighting Stakes (1000m) first-up and runs at Flemington in Melbourne again this weekend in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) ahead of his trip to Sydney.
He won the TJ Smith Stakes 12 months ago after his second in the Newmarket and will stick to the same path this autumn looking to go back-to-back in the Randwick major for the first time since the race’s inauguration in 1997.
Black Caviar (2013 & 2011) is the only dual winner of the race, but on non-successive years, to date.
Team Hawkes also paid the first acceptance fee for Our Boy Malachi despite the seven-year-old sprinter’s fifth to Holler in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) last Saturday.
He has a gun 1200m record of five wins from six starts and is also two-from-three at Randwick, plus has Group 1 placed form having run third in the BTC Cup in Brisbane last winter.
Five three-year-olds have won the TJ Smith Stakes since 1997, but not since Melito (2010).
This year Exosphere is the best fancied of the youngsters occupying the second line of all-in TJ Smith Stakes odds just ahead of fellow three-year-old English.
John O’Shea trains the Godolphin-raced Lonhro colt Exosphere, winner of the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) last September, who was far from disgraced first-up when fourth beaten under two lengths in the Lighting Stakes.
Gai Waterhouse’s Encosta De Lago filly English meanwhile was one of last autumn’s star two-year-olds running second in the Golden Slipper Stakes behind stablemate Vancouver.
She spent nearly a year on the sidelines before her return last weekend in Randwick’s Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m), which she won first-up in fine style.
Waterhouse has trained three previous TJ Smith Stakes winners, the race named in honour of her late father and champion trainer Tommy Smith, with Phoenix Park (2002), Shamekha (2005) and Bentley Biscuit (2007).
Along with English, who Waterhouse likened to Shamekha after the filly’s Challenge Stakes win, the stable has also paid first acceptances for fellow three-year-old Speak Fondly.
Runner-up to Exosphere in last year’s Golden Rose before her Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) success in October, Northern Meteor filly Speak Fondly returned in the Challenge Stakes also but only managed to cross four lengths away ninth to her star stablemate when beating home just one other runner.
Sydney’s leading trainer Chris Waller is yet to win the TJ Smith Stakes trophy but has six of the first acceptors this autumn led by Japonisme.
The Choisir three-year-old beat home his own kind in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington last year before a first-up Lighting Stakes third that he’ll be out to repeat or improve on in Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap.
Other notable hopes for Waller include Darley Classic winner from the Spring Delectation, Kermadec who is more likely to defend his Doncaster Mile title at the meeting, early Doncaster Mile favourite Press Statement and his 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes-bound mare Winx.
See below for the full TJ Smith Stakes 2016 first acceptances, the final field and barriers out on Tuesday March 29.
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2016 TJ Smith Stakes First Acceptances
Randwick Racecourse – 02/04/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Sex||Age||Trainer||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||221x3223x6||BALL OF MUSCLE||G||5||Joseph Pride||58.5kg||106|
|2||40x111492x||BLACK HEART BART||G||5||Darren Weir||58.5kg||104|
|3||1120×34153||BOSS LANE||G||5||Ron Quinton||58.5kg||102|
|4||213x1112x1||CHAUTAUQUA||G||5||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||58.5kg||112|
|6||3x815x13x7||DOTHRAKI||G||5||Peter & Paul Snowden||58.5kg||–|
|7||79x54761x0||FAMOUS SEAMUS (NZ)||G||7||Noel Mayfield-Smith||58.5kg||107|
|8||5x557143x0||FAST ’N’ ROCKING||G||5||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||58.5kg||–|
|9||11x41111x2||FELL SWOOP||G||4||Matthew Dale||58.5kg||–|
|10||301x2617x1||FLAMBERGE||G||6||Peter G Moody||58.5kg||–|
|11||31x52140x3||KERMADEC (NZ)||H||4||Chris Waller||58.5kg||113|
|13||27042270×0||LORD OF THE SKY||H||5||Robbie Laing||58.5kg||105|
|14||7x46136x12||LUCKY HUSSLER||G||6||Darren Weir||58.5kg||112|
|15||24x11211x1||MALAGUERRA||G||4||Lee & Anthony Freedman||58.5kg||–|
|16||111x130x15||OUR BOY MALACHI||G||7||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||58.5kg||109|
|17||1x450x213x||PINCH RIVER||G||4||Robert Heathcote||58.5kg||–|
|18||60x123x354||REBEL DANE||H||6||Gary Portelli||58.5kg||–|
|22||66x7621x36||THE QUARTERBACK||G||5||Robbie Griffiths||58.5kg||–|
|23||x80x568x4x||TIGER TEES (NZ)||G||8||Joseph Pride||58.5kg||107|
|24||27236x20x9||TURBULENT JET||G||6||Lee Curtis||58.5kg||82|
|25||15x163x3||BASSETT (NZ)||G||3||Peter G Moody||56.5kg||–|
|26||2x202x13x9||BOUNDING||M||5||Peter & Paul Snowden||56.5kg||–|
|27||x2497x380x||BRING ME THE MAID||M||4||Peter G Moody||56.5kg||98|
|28||x171x793x2||BROOK ROAD||M||5||Kris Lees||56.5kg||98|
|31||11×3||FLASHING SPEED||M||4||Anthony Cummings||56.5kg||70|
|34||3x23x4131x||I AM ZELADY||M||4||Joseph Pride||56.5kg||91|
|36||0x112112x0||KEEN ARRAY||G||3||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||56.5kg||–|
|37||21x16x2||KINGLIKE||C||3||Peter G Moody||56.5kg||99|
|38||22813920×4||MISS PROMISCUITY||M||5||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||56.5kg||–|
|40||1787x461x4||PITTSBURGH FLYER||M||4||Lee & Shannon Hope||56.5kg||–|
|41||603278×249||PRESS REPORT||M||4||Lee Curtis||56.5kg||84|
|42||11x2511x12||PRESS STATEMENT||C||3||Chris Waller||56.5kg||108|
|43||116617×622||PRIVATE SECRETARY||M||6||Gregory Hickman||56.5kg||89|
|45||7x004510x5||SCARLET BILLOWS||M||5||Darren Weir||56.5kg||–|
|46||111x24111x||SHEIDEL||M||4||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||56.5kg||–|
|47||217x||SPIETH (NZ)||C||3||Bryce Heys||56.5kg||66|
|48||11x623x14||SPILL THE BEANS||C||3||Gerald Ryan||56.5kg||85|
|50||1×112333||EGYPTIAN SYMBOL||F||3||Bjorn Baker||54.5kg||79|
|53||1x0x1221x2||SECRET AGENDA||F||3||Mick Price||54.5kg||–|
|54||210x1121x9||SPEAK FONDLY||F||3||Gai Waterhouse||54.5kg||105|