The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Top hoop James McDonald has been confirmed to ride early 2019 Epsom Handicap favourite Te Akau Shark second-up down under this season when the Kiwi kicks off his campaign in Sydney’s Group 2 $200,000 Tramway Stakes (1400m).
Eyeing off a run in the Group 1 $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley later this prep, Rip Van Winkle five-year-old Te Akau Shark is prepared across the Tasman by gun Matamata-based horseman Jamie Richards.
A winner of five of his seven career starts to date, the untapped gelding lost few admirers when putting in a huge run late to flash home for second behind Endless Drama in the Group 2 Foxbridge Plate (1200m) at Te Rapa on August 17 first-up.
That barnstorming run cemented his trip to Sydney this spring with connections since confirming Sydney Premiership winner McDonald would take over for Opie Bosson in the saddle when the horse runs next-up at Royal Randwick on September 7 in the Tramway Stakes.
“Te Akau is proud to confirm that trans-Tasman Champion jockey James McDonald…has been engaged to ride Te Akau Shark in the Grp 2 Tramway Stakes,” Te Akau Racing announced this week on Twitter.
The Tramway has been a good guide to the Group 1 $1 million Epsom Handicap (1600m) in recent years with Happy Clapper (2017) the last to do the double.
Te Akau Shark will attempt to repeat the feat this season and is already leading the pre-field Epsom Handicap odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $5 to take out the mile classic at Randwick on October 5.
That quote is half of the next best in futures Epsom Handicap betting with the Team Hawkes-trained Doncaster Mile champ Brutal occupying the second line at $10.
The 2019 Epsom Handicap nominations close on September 30 at 11am (local time).
As for Australasia’s weight-for-age championship at Moonee Valley on October 26, Te Akau Shark is listed as a $15 hope in early Cox Plate betting led by gun Tasmanian-trained mare Mystic Journey.
Mystic Journey began her spring prep in the right fashion winning Caulfield’s Group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) first-up.
She bypasses the Group 1 $1 million Memsie Stakes (1400m) at the same track and distance this Saturday.
Her trainer Adam Trinder is instead saving her for the Group 1 $750,000 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) up over a mile at Flemington on September 14.
In 2017 Humidor won the Makybe Diva Stakes before a second to Winx in the Cox Plate that year.
Humidor also ran seventh in last year’s Makybe Diva Stakes results, going on to run third to Winx for her historical fourth Cox Plate victory.
Ciaron Maher & David Eustace’s now seven-year-old is set to resume in the Memsie Stakes on Saturday.
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