The punters are coming for the Joe Pride-trained...
The Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) is one of the most exciting races on the Spring Carnival calendar, and it looks as though we’re in for one of the most wide open editions of the three-year old sprint in recent years.
Ater finishing runner-up in the Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) last month, the Chris Waller trained Zousain has opened as the $4.00 favourite, while Written By and the only filly in the race, Sunlight, are very narrow second-elects at around the $4.50 mark.
It’s shaping up as a dart throw right now, so here’s a closer look at each runner:
1. Written by (6) – $4.20
Grahame Begg’s lightly raced colt has won six of its seven career starts dating back to last December, most recently the Group 3 Blue Sapphire Stakes over 1200m at Caulfield. The son of Written Tycoon was hardly challenged on the day winning by a length and a quarter over Encryption, and perhaps more encouragingly, won its 800m jumpout at Flemington last week as the stable tries to familiarize him with the track. Should look to sit up on the speed early from gate six on Saturday, but it would be a miracle not to see at least figure in the placings.
2. Zousain (4) – $4.00
As of this writing the son of Zoustar is the favourite, however there’s still a few questions surrounding Chris Waller’s star. Zousain returns to the races after a five week break following his runner-up placing behind stablemate The Autumn Sun in the Golden Rose Stakes, a run that didn’t see him disgraced as he lost narrowly by no more than a head. Barrier four is perfect for jockey James McDonald, but history is also on Zousain’s side. His father won the Coolmore in 2013 and so did his grandfather, Nothern Meteor, in 2008. You have to rewind back to May to find Zousain’s last win, a Group 2 race he won by two and a half lengths back at Doombem. Punters will be hoping that same cruising speed is on display this weekend.
3. Encryption (10) – $8.50
Had Godolphin’s hopeful drawn a gate, he’d probably be in the conversation with the rest of the favourites. Encryption was no match for Written By last start in the Blue Sapphire Stakes, but the James Cummings trained three-year old was impressive over the same distance winning the Group 2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington six weeks ago. He’ll have to make up some ground and swoop in late, but familiarity with the track is a huge plus even if the wide draw isn’t.
4. Lean Mean Machine (3) – $11.00
Also out of Zoustar, Chris Waller will be hoping Lean Mean Machine can finish behind Zousain for second on Saturday. He’s first-up after a trial at Randwick a fortnight ago in which he ran sixth in on a very heavy surface, but his perfect 2-0 record first-up makes him an interesting betting play. Even though he’s a Sydney horse, the inside draw is a huge bonus, and despite finishing fifth in the Golden Rose behind his second-place stablemate, there was a lot to like. If anything, he probably kicked a little too early on the bend after improving from a slow start. Look Lean Mean Machine to sit closer to the pace this weekend.
5. Long Leaf (8) – $26.00
It’s been a long time in between drinks for the Lindsay Park hopeful as he steps down in trip ahead of the Coolmore. Long Leaf finished third in the Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) last start, but hasn’t won a race since January. On the plus side, he ran the fastest 400-200m split in the Guineas, so we could see some late support on race day after a handy four week break.
6. Sesar (5) – $7.50
Not enough love for this horse right now. The colt out of Sebring has proven himself on all surfaces having won his last start, the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m), on a very sloppy Randwick track. Sesar showed great patience in that run to sit four lengths off the field over the first 600m to race home down the inside and win convincingly. He’s only second-up this weekend with the blinkers on, and 2-1 across his career over the distance. Handy barrier, handy record and handy odds, leaving plenty to like for trainer Steven O’Dea.
7. Paquirri (2) – $91.00
Tough to get a read on exactly where this horse is going. Won the Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes over 1100m back in April at Randwick, but has struggled to put its best foot forward ever since. Received only two starts last prep, both on soft and heavy surfaces, and is first-up on Saturday after a four week spell. Hard to see it factoring in.
8. Diplomatico (9) – $8.00
The barrier and the unfamiliarity with Flemington might be the only hindrance for Diplomatico this weekend. We’ve already seen him win over this distance at Randwick last start, and with two wins from three career starts, he’s certainly good value at $2.40 for a place. Two of those wins did come in small fields of six runners though, so we’ll see how he handles a larger field of Saturday grade horses this weekend.
9. Thorondor (1) – $61.00
Robbie Laing’s three-year old is still searching for a win outside of Adelaide. So far his best was runner-up at Flemington three starts ago since making the move to Melbourne earlier in September, and after struggling with the 1400m journey at Caulfield in the Guineas Prelude, it looks as though the stable are still trying to work out what Thorondor is all about.
10. Sunlight (7) – $4.80
It was a disappointing run for the Tony McEvoy trained Sunlight after entering as the favourite for the Manikato (1200m) last week at Moonee Valley. Barrier three was certainly in her favour, but after missing the start and finding herself trapped middle of the field down the straight, she had no chance of making up ground. Only 10 fillies have won the Coolmore, most notably Nechita in 2012. She’s every chance on Saturday despite the short turnaround.
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