The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
The Team Williams-raced Homesman is the hot favourite in Underwood Stakes 2019 betting at Caulfield Racecourse this Sunday following an impressive first-up win at The Valley.
War Front six-year-old Homesman, prepared at Mt. Macedon by Liam Howley, returned to racing on September 7 for a big two and a half length victory in the Group 2 Feehan Stakes (1600m).
That was the same mile feature the galloper placed second in the year prior before his elite level weight-for-age success in the Group 1 $750,000 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
Homesman now defends his Underwood Stakes title looking for back-to-back wins in the spring feature for the first time since the great Northerly (2001-02).
The latest Underwood Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the reigning champ at $2.70 with the horse looking a hard-to-beat favourite despite a wide barrier 13 draw.
Only two other chances are under double-figures in Underwood Stakes betting this spring with the Godolphin-raced Hartnell ($4.50) the market mover in barrier one and the in-form Gatting ($4.80) close behind in gate seven.
Veteran nine-year-old Hartnell has his 55th career start on the weekend, the $7 million earner presenting fit fourth-up after three consistent runs this time in.
His latest two have produced Group 1 fourths when under two lengths beaten in both the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
Always honest, Hartnell will relish getting out over in the Underwood with the import boasting winning form up to two miles.
It has been a while between drinks however with his last victory being exactly a year ago in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick.
Hartnell didn’t run in last year’s Underwood Stakes, but did finish runner-up in the event behind Bonneval back in 2017.
The Darren McAuliffe-trained Gatting stole the show at Flemington on September 14 when upsetting Cox Plate-bound mare Mystic Journey for his massive upset in the Makybe Diva Stakes at 100/1.
The Hard Spun six-year-old won’t be found anywhere near that price on Sunday for his Caulfield debut in the 13-horse Underwood Stakes field as the bookies keep him safe in betting this time round.
A winner up to 2400m, Gatting has won $1.89 million in prize money and should be a big winning hope again here over the 1800m with jockey Jamie Kah continuing associations ahead of a possible $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) run on October 26.
“He has to do it again, I think all of them [do],” Gatting’s trainer told The Age this week.
“He needs to continue and go in that upward trend. It’s not going to be an easy Cox Plate this year, I think there will be a number of chances, so I expect him to go well though.
“Homesman obviously won the race last year and I look forward to competing against him and getting a bit more of a guide as to where we sit in the grand scheme of things.”
Other notable Underwood Stakes hopefuls in 2019 include Kiwi raider The Chosen One ($12) out improve on a fifth in the Feehan Stakes, and the winter’s Doomben Cup winning mare Kenedna ($17) drawn in barriers three and four respectively.
Click here for the latest 2019 Underwood Stakes odds courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au, the Cox Plate lead-up to run as Caulfield Race 7 at 4:00pm (AEST) on Sunday.
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