Sydney’s premier horseman Chris Waller dominates Saturday’s The Metropolitan 2016 field at Royal Randwick saddling-up six of the 13 final acceptors for the Epsom Handicap Day showdown.
The second elite level on the program as the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival reaches its peak, the $750,000 Group 1 McGrath Estate Agents Metropolitan (2400m) is due to run as Randwick Race 8 at 4:40pm (AEST).
The handicap feature run over a mile and a half has attracted the same number of final acceptors as this year’s $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), with 13 stayers set to face off.
Half of those hail from the Waller stable as the champion trainer shoots for a third The Metropolitan win after his earlier success with The Verminator (2011) and Opinion (2014).
Waller has the three highest-weighted runners in The Metropolitan line-up this season including the 57kg top weight Who Shot Thebarman jumping from barrier eight with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
Bowman is after a second winning ride after success aboard Seville (2013) three years ago, but the last horse to carry more than 56.5kg to victory was Hayai (57.5kg) for his second back in 1984/
Who Shot Thebarman is also out to be the first eight-year-old The Metropolitan winner in over three decades
He should relish the step up in distance after the proven two-miler and Sydney and Melbourne Cup placegetter carted 59kg to a brave second behind Hartnell in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) last start.
Waller also has Hill Stakes third placegetter Storm The Stars (55.5kg) and Sydney Cup winner and placegetter Grand Marshal (54.5kg), drawn in barriers four and one respectively, at the top end of The Metropolitan weight scale.
Magic Hurricane jumped from barrier one last year, while the last winner from gate four was Glencadam Gold (2012).
Waller’s contingent is rounded out by last weekend’s Group 3 Colin Stephen Quality (2400m) runner-up at Rosehill Junoob, flying Kiwi expat Antonio Giuseppe chasing his fifth win on the trot after taking out the first over 2000m in Sydney last Saturday and Sacred Master.
Shocking four-year-old Antonio Giuseppe rises notably in class having his first Group run, but drops from 59kg to the 51kg minimum with dual The Metropolitan winning jockey Glen Boss aboard.
Sacred Master meanwhile is one of the top fancies in this year’s The Metropolitan odds, the five-year-old coming off a Group 3 Newcastle Cup (2200m) win from September 16.
The defending The Metropolitan winner Magic Hurricane returns on Saturday chasing back-to-back wins in the feature for the first time since Hayai (1983-84).
The John O’Shea-trained galloper won with 55.5kg with James McDonald in the saddle 12 months ago on the back of a second in the Hill Stakes.
This weekend he actually drops a kilo in on 54.5kg, even after weights were raised 1kg at final acceptances, and has McDonald back aboard looking to become the first back-t-back winning hoop since 1990-91.
Magic Hurricane comes off a Hill Stakes run again this campaign having finished fourth, eight lengths off the winner.
See below for the full The Metropolitan 2016 field, barriers, jockeys and weights before checking the latest markets at our preferred online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au.
2016 The Metropolitan Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 8 (4:40pm) – 01/10/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||x90324x652||WHO SHOT THEBARMAN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||8||57kg||111|
|2||314x797x33||STORM THE STARS (USA)||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||4||55.5kg||108|
|3||x08533x726||GRAND MARSHAL (GB)||Chris Waller||Craig Williams||1||54.5kg||106|
|4||1x7966x534||MAGIC HURRICANE (IRE)||John O’Shea||James McDonald||3||54.5kg||106|
|5||212x1322x2||SIR JOHN HAWKWOOD (IRE)||John P Thompson||Blake Spriggs||6||54kg||105|
|6||0463823532||JUNOOB (GB)||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||10||53.5kg||104|
|7||16113×8821||SACRED MASTER (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||12||53kg||103|
|8||1122×61531||ALLERGIC||John O’Shea||Michael Dee (a)||2||51.5kg||100|
|9||89×5676414||SENSE OF OCCASION||Kris Lees||Corey Brown||13||51kg||96|
|10||9x603D1665||AMEXED (NZ)||Tony Gollan||Johan Victoire||11||51kg||93|
|11||46x3269x22||DEE I CEE (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Kerrin McEvoy||7||51kg||92|
|12||146×51111||ANTONIO GIUSEPPE (NZ)||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||5||51kg||78|
|13||1399550690||QUARTERMASTER||Paul Perry||Ms Kathy O’Hara||9||51kg||63|