The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Joseph Pride, trainer of smart Choisir mare Sacred Choice, is praying that the heavens open up over Randwick ahead of Saturday’s $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Pride is convinced that with a bit of rain around and a track rated Slow or worse, five-year-old Sacred Choice can defeat raging Doncaster favourite More Joyous.
“I’d love it if it rains and if I get it I honestly think she (Sacred Choice) can beat More Joyous,” Pride said.
The country’s best miler according to her trainer Gai Waterhouse, More Joyous is at the top of the Doncaster markets paying around $2.40 to secure her impressive sixth Group 1 win in the iconic Randwick mile.
Despite an awkward barrier 15 draw, Sacred Choice is not without her own admirers having firmed from $26 into $18 to claim an upset win in the Doncaster.
“I’m not saying she’s (Sacred Choice) is better than her (More Joyous), she’s not, it’s because she gets five kilograms off her and if it’s a wet track it becomes a completely different playing field.
“I’m confident she’ll run well.”
Sacred Choice is due to be ridden by Tim Clark at just 52kg.
After the non-acceptance of last year’s Doncaster Mile winner and previous top-weight Rangirangdoo, More Joyous was hit with an increase to 57kg.
Also a Group 1 winner having claimed an emphatic four and a half length victory over the now retired champion Typhoon Tracy in the Myer Classic (1600m) last spring, Sacred Choice has failed to find the same form this season.
Her best run from four starts this prep was her close third behind Danleigh in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) on March 5 at Warwick Farm.
Last start Sacred Choice was seven and a half lengths away fifth behind shock winner Zavite in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 19.
“She’s had a week in the paddock, a handful of gallops freshens her up and she comes into the race buzzing and ready to go,” said Pride.
“I’m very happy with her condition and I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Pride is seeking his second Doncaster Mile victory having enjoyed the biggest win of his career to date in the 2009 edition with winner Vision And Power.
Vision And Power carried the same 52kg weight Pride’s 2011 hope Sacred Choice is allocated.
“I like having lightweight chances in a Doncaster,” Pride said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind having a heavyweight chance as well, but I just think it’s the kind of race that sets up for backmarkers and for horses with no weight on their back.
“And she’s proven. She (Sacred Choice) is much better weighted than some of her opposition because some of them are on the limit (51.5kg) by default, whereas she is truly half a kilo over the limit and she’s a good performer.”
Stepping back to the mile on Saturday at Randwick, Sacred Choice comes right into contention as she finished an eye-catching third to fellow Doncaster rival Captain Sonador at this track and distance in the Epsom Handicap last year before her Myer Classic victory.
Sacred Choice’s form over the mile at Randwick is imposing as she also won the Group 2 Empancipation Stakes and Listed Aspiration Quality at the Doncaster track and distance in the autumn last year.
More Joyous has won seven from nine on Good ground, three from four on Dead tracks and four from four on Slow.
It is on the Heavy, rain-affected ground that Sacred Choice holds the advantage as More Joyous is yet to win on a track rated worse than Slow while Sacred Choice boasts two wins from three starts on Heavy ground including her Myer Classic win at elite level.
“I think it (a Heavy track) just takes something out of More Joyous for mine,” said Pride.
“That’s not a knock on More Joyous, she’s a fantastic mare, but I think her task becomes harder on a wet track with 57 kilos.”
Currently the course proper at Randwick is rated a Dead (4) as of Thursday, however Sydney has predicted showers for Friday and Saturday.
“She’s a good miler, a good Randwick miler,” Pride said.
Whether ‘good’ is good enough to defeat More Joyous is yet to be determined.
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