Darren Weir’s last start Makybe Diva Stakes winner Palentino sits top of a 13-horse Epsom Handicap 2016 field released for the mile classic at Royal Randwick this Saturday in Sydney.
Due to run as Randwick Race 7 at 4:00pm (AEST), this year’s edition of the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) is the first time since 2009 the event will run with under 14 starters.
In-form Victorian horseman Weir saddles-up the 57kg top weight Palentino, the same weight Winx carried to victory as the 2/1 favourite in Epsom Handicap betting 12 months ago.
A four-year-old son of Teofilo, the smart stallion is undefeated over the 1600m having won the Australian Guineas and Makybe Diva Stakes over the Flemington mile this year.
The latest saw him defeat start stablemate and subsequent Underwood Stakes winner Black Heart Bart home under 58.5kg with Mark Zahra in the saddle.
Zahra chases his first Epsom win this weekend retaining the ride on Palentino from barrier nine, a barrier that hasn’t produced a winner in over 30 years.
Sydney’s Chris Waller has won seven straight Group 1 mile handicap races at Randwick Racecourse with success in the past four editions of the Doncaster Mile as well as three straight victories in the Epsom with Boban (2013), He’s Your Man (2014) and Winx (2015).
This Sydney Spring Racing Carnival the master horseman is back after his third consecutive Epsom Handicap win, accepting for four runners all getting in on 52kg or under.
Tommy Berry chases a second Epsom win after his victory on Fat Al (2012) partnering Waller’s last start Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) winner Mackintosh on 52kg, while Kerrin McEvoy is out to break his Epsom maiden on stablemate McCreery.
McCreery jumps from barrier four on 51.5kg and has won his past two races on the trot, including the Group 3 Kingston Town Classic (2000m) at Rosehill on September 10.
He drops back to a mile this weekend and boasts three wins and two seconds from five previous starts over the distance.
Waller’s other hopefuls are last year’s Spring Champion Stakes winner Vanbrugh coming off a fourth to Winx in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), and Torgersen who ran second in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) at the track a fortnight back.
Vanbrugh carries 51kg in the form of Craig Newitt from barrier seven, while Torgersen is on the 50kg minimum with Kathy O’Hara riding on the light weight from gate five.
The sure to be favourite in Epsom Handicap betting this spring meanwhile is the John O’Shea-trained Hauraki in barrier 10 with James McDonald riding on 56kg.
Barrier 10 has produced two of the past three Epsom winners – Boban (2013) and He’s Your Man (2014) – and the Godolphin-raced Reset five-year-old Hauraki is well-fancied to do it again from double-digits.
He has run top two in his past four starts including a Group 2 Tamway Stakes (1400m) win first-up on September 3 and the brave second to Winx in the George Main.
The other headline Epsom Handicap acceptors include Kris Lees’ Randwick Guineas winner Le Romain coming off three straight seconds this campaign, this year’s Doncaster Mile runner-up Happy Clapper with the rails run from barrier one and Jason Attard’s Bill Ritchie winner Sons Of John.
Check out the full Epsom Handicap 2016 field, barriers, jockeys and weights below before heading to Ladbrokes.com.au to access all the weekend’s top betting odds and offers!
2016 Epsom Handicap Final Field & Barrier Draw
Randwick Race 7 (4:00pm) – 01/10/2016
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||1x7212x451||PALENTINO||Darren Weir||Mark Zahra||9||57kg||111|
|2||x332722x12||HAURAKI||John O’Shea||James McDonald||10||56kg||109|
|3||x12217x222||LE ROMAIN||Kris Lees||Hugh Bowman||3||55.5kg||108|
|4||11x4523x56||HAPPY CLAPPER||Patrick Webster||Brenton Avdulla||1||55kg||107|
|5||151x1261x7||MIGHTY LUCKY||Fred Cowell||Chris O’Brien||12||54.5kg||106|
|6||99x4249x23||DIBAYANI (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Damian Lane||11||54kg||105|
|7||2380x05x61||SONS OF JOHN||Jason Attard||Glen Boss||13||53kg||103|
|8||14101110×1||MACKINTOSH (NZ)||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||2||52kg||101|
|9||2x21x62511||MCCREERY (GB)||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||4||51.5kg||100|
|10||231122×416||HEAVENS ABOVE||Tim Martin||Corey Brown||8||51kg||103|
|11||11x0649x54||VANBRUGH||Chris Waller||Craig Newitt||7||51kg||99|
|12||887203×522||TORGERSEN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Ms Kathy O’Hara||5||50kg||90|
|13||31x116x141||FABRIZIO||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Johan Victoire||6||50kg||83|