Melbourne horseman Ciaron Maher is gearing up for a big Day 2 of ‘The Championships’ at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Saturday including saddling-up the Queen Of The Turf Stakes 2016 favourite Azkadellia.
Earlier on the Queen Elizabeth Stakes Day card the Caulfield-based Maher has the top fancied filly Jameka in the $1 million Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m).
Two events later Randwick Race 8 – the $1 million Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) – sees Maher start the best in betting once again with Azkadellia dominating the markets at Ladbrokes.com.au for the race run this season as The Coolmore Legacy Stakes.
A capacity field of fillies and mares is engaged for the weight-for-age classic this Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, Shinko King four-year-old Azkadellia sitting top of the Queen Of The Turf Stakes odds at $3.60 for the win.
She is drawn in barrier nine in the 16-starter field with Damien Oliver back aboard for the first time since her Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) win at Caulfield in late February.
Azkadellia made her Sydney debut after that with Brett Prebble aboard for her close second to Peeping in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) before Glen Boss had the ride last weekend when the mare crossed third to superstar Winx in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
She sees the same track and distance on the quick back-up in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes and is looking to make history as the first to win the event off a Doncaster run the weekend prior.
There are three other single figure hopes in Queen Of The Turf Stakes betting for Saturday including the $6 second elect Zanbagh in barrier six with Blake Shinn in the saddle.
Shinn rode the John Thompson-trained Bernardini five-year-old to victory on March 26 at Rosehill in the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes (1500m), a race that has produced the past two Queen Of The Turf Stakes winners with Diamond Drille (4th in 2014) and Amanpour (2nd in 2015).
The others under $10 are the David Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained youngster Risque ($9) and the Mick Price-trained filly Badawiya ($9.50) who had mixed luck with the barriers drawn in gate five and the outside alley respectively.
A three-year-old daughter of Darci Brahma, Risque ran third to Palentino in the open-gender Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in early March before her last start eighth in the Vinery she’s out to improve on here.
Should she win she will become the first filly to take out the Queen Of The Turf Stakes since Forensics (2008).
Another three-year-old out to beat the older mares, Al Maher filly Badawiya won the Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m) at Flemignton two back before her fourth to Zanbagh when beaten only three quarters of a length in the Emancipation Stakes.
Her last Group 1 run was in October last year at Caulfield when third to Stay With Me in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) over the mile she’s back up over on Saturday.
The best of the double figure hopes include dual Futurity Stakes winner Suavito ($11) out in barrier 15 that could become 13 if the two emergencies – Supara (11) and Asinara (13) – fail to gain a run and Lady Le Fay ($12) from the in-form stables of Chris Waller.
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