Pop Racing for 2016 Champagne Stakes Second

Pop is over the odds for Saturday’s Champagne Stakes 2016 according to her trainer Clinton McDonald who admittedly concedes the filly is likely running for second at best behind odds-on favourite Yankee Rose.

Brenton Avdulla

Brenton Avdulla is booked to ride Pop in the 2016 Champagne Stakes at Randwick this weekend in Sydney. Photo: Daniel Costello.

Eleven two-year-old fillies make up the nominations for this year’s $500,000 Group 1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on All Aged Stakes Day.

Red hot favourite at a nearly unbackable price of $1.35 in pre-field Champagne Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au is the David Vandyke-trained Yankee Rose.

A $10,000 bargain buy, the super-consistent young daughter of All American took her career winnings up over $1.5 million at just her fourth start on April 2.

After winning her first two starts back in the spring, Yankee Rose ran a first-up second in the coveted Golden Slipper Stakes before her runaway two and half length win in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.

She chases another elite level win this time in on Saturday, and even McDonald who saddles-up rival Pop admits she’s looking very hard to beat.

“She [Pop] doesn’t deserve to be a 50/1 chance, I don’t think,” McDonald told the media this week.

“She’s a really good chance of running a place and if you take the odds-on favourite out, it’s a very even race.

“I reckon she’s a real live hope of running second or third.”

Yankee Rose aside, McDonald highly rates the place chances of his mount who hasn’t raced in stakes’ company since her disappointing 11th behind Weatherly in the Listed Talindert Stakes (1100m) at Flemington back in February.

She dropped back in class to win over 1400m at Pakenham next start on March 17 with Damien Oliver aboard, before Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne partnered the daughter of 2010 Golden Rose winner Toorak Toff last start.

Pop raced at Mornington a fortnight ago in the $100,000 Mornington Sires’ (1500m) and was runner-up behind the Robbie Laing-trained Jaws Of Steel, another Champagne Stakes nominee this weekend, over 1500m.

Jaws Of Steel is paying $17 in the all-in Champagne Stakes markets while Pop is only rated a $34 roughie in the latest markets.

“If you change the runs, I think you change the result because she had to take the field up to the tearaway leader,” McDonald said of Pop’s Mornington Sires’ run.

Last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival McDonald prepared Star Witness colt The Barrister to win the Listed Fernhill Handicap (1600m) before a close fifth when under two lengths off the winner Pasadena Girl in the Champagne Stakes.

He is hoping to go a few better with Pop, who Brenton Avdulla is booked to ride in the Champagne Stakes, 12 months later after pleading in her final serious pre-race gallop at Caulfield on Tuesday morning before the trip to Sydney.

“I was very happy with her work this morning,” McDonald said.

“She went 1200m and slid up an easy 400m and she worked really well.”

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