Godolphin’s head trainer John O’Shea is confident his progressive four-year-old Hauraki is the one to beat in Saturday’s 2016 Ranvet Stakes field in the absence of superstar mare Winx.
The Chris Waller-trained Cox Plate winner Winx heads towards a run in April’s $4 million Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) via Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.
She is odds-on favourite in betting at Ladbrokes.com.au to win her fifth Group 1 title in the weight-for-age feature after taking out the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick in her first two runs this time in.
Third behind the $4 million earner in both of those Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival events was Reset four-year-old Hauraki.
He avoids a third straight clash with Winx on Golden Slipper Stakes Day, connections instead running the galloper in the $700,000 Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) over the extra metres.
Hauraki is also nominated for the 2016 Queen Elizabeth Stakes during Sydney’s ‘The Championships’ and currently pays $26 in the pre-field markets for the April 9 showdown.
For his weekend Ranvet Stakes assignment however he is topping the odds at a firming $3.90 with last year’s winning jockey James McDonald to ride him from barrier two in a nine-starter field.
O’Shea, who prepared Contributer for his 2015 Ranvet Stakes success last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, is hoping for back-to-back wins as a trainer for the first time since Gai Waterhouse prepared four straight Ranet Stakes winners from 2007 – 2010.
With no Winx and with Hauraki up to 2000m for the first time this campaign, the favourite is ticking lots of boxes.
“His two runs this preparation have been very encouraging and after he worked at Warwick Farm on Tuesday James (McDonald) said he’d never felt better,” O’Shea told AAP.
“And there’s no Winx to beat this week.”
As a three-year-old Hauraki won the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) over Saturday’s track and distance before a brave second to Mongolian Khan in the Group 1 ATC Derby (2400m) before being gelded.
“We decided to geld him after last autumn and he didn’t really do that well during the winter,” O’Shea said.
“His spring was pretty good and he’s had a good summer and he’s showing the benefit of it.”
Mongolian Khan meanwhile went on to win the spring’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) and is also in the Ranvet Stakes mix on the weekend from barrier four, Murray Baker’s Kiwi raider paying $10 to score the upset second-up after his unplaced Chipping Norton run (11th) last time out).
The other headline Ranvet Stakes horses this season are the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained duo of Criterion ($5) and Dibayani ($4) drawn well in barriers three and one respectively.
Four-time Group 1 winner Criterion resumed with a seventh of seven runners in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) but will be sharply improving over more metres second-up, while Dibayani ran second in the Chipping Norton from barrier one that he jumps from again on Saturday.
Check out the full Ranvet Stakes 2016 odds online now at Ladbrokes.com.au and back your favourites at the hottest odds across the Rosehill card!