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The punters are rallying behind Kiwi galloper Te Akau Shark to continue his winning ways second-up in Saturday’s 2020 Chipping Norton Stakes at Royal Randwick.
There is a double-shot of elite level racing in Sydney this weekend including a class 14-horse field of weight-for-age hopefuls facing off in the Group 1 $600,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
Equine superstar Winx dominated the past four editions of the Chipping Norton Stakes, but with the mighty mare now in the breeding barn the event has attracted a large field of gallopers looking to take it out in the post-Winx era.
Sitting top of the latest Chipping Norton Stakes odds at $2.80 through Ladbrokes.com.au is the Jamie Richards-trained Te Akau Shark, a super consistent New Zealander with plenty of top form down under.
The five-year-old son of Rip Van Winkle has had 11 starts to date and has finished out of the money just once, his record including six wins and some outstanding form last spring in Australia.
He finished runner-up in both the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick in Sydney before heading to Moonee Valley for the Group 1 Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m).
There he was far from disgraced finishing third behind the gun Japanese-trained winner Lys Gracieux.
Te Akau Shark returned on February 8 back home and enjoyed a first-up Group 1 win over 1400m at Te Rapa, the horse boasting a good second-up record (3:2-1-0) ahead of the Chipping Norton Stakes.
He faced an easier class of rivals for his big 2.8 length win fresh and will be fitter for the run here, but still has work to do from a wide barrier 13 draw with Opie Bosson in the saddle.
Favourites have an outstanding recent record in the Chipping Norton Stakes with six wins from 2013-19 with Te Akau Shark out to add to that record.
Three other Chipping Norton Stakes horses join the punters’ pick at single-figures including the $5.50 second elect Dreamforce.
John Thompson’s gun miler defeated Te Akau Shark in the Tramway Stakes here last September before running second to Avilius in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
He flopped in the Epsom Handicap running 17th from barrier 19 of 19 before a fifth at The Valley on Cox Plate Day in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) in a blanket finish.
The Fastnet Rock seven-year-old looked the goods in his return at Randwick on February 15 finishing second behind star mare Alizee only a neck beaten in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m).
The Apollo Stakes has produced eight of the nine Chipping Norton Stakes winners from 2011 – 2019 and second-up (8:3-3-1) at his preferred track (12:5-3-0) Dreamforce can continue that form.
The Godolphin-raced three-time Group 1 winner Avilius ($6.50) coming off a CF Orr fifth and Fierce Impact ($7) are the other most likely in what is shaping up as one of the most intriguing editions of the Chipping Norton Stakes.
Fierce Impact looks a huge price after Matthew Smith’s Toorak Handicap – Cantala Stakes double winner from the spring in Melbourne kicked off his autumn with a second in the CF Orr behind smart three-year-old Alabama Express.
He should be just as effective in Sydney with plenty of Randwick form (4:2-1-0) and the distance looks ideal (5:3-1-0).
For the value punt there’s the always honest Happy Clapper ($10) who ran second to Winx in 2019, returning Australian Bloodstock import Danceteria ($14) and Caulfield Cup runner-up Homesman ($13) all with genuine claims.
2020 Chipping Norton Stakes Field & Barriers
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||11x42147x5||AVILIUS (GB)||James Cummings||Hugh Bowman||8||59kg||116|
|2||2284x231x3||HAPPY CLAPPER||Patrick Webster||Tommy Berry||10||59kg||116|
|3||111x2223x1||TE AKAU SHARK (NZ)||Jamie Richards||Opie Bosson||13||59kg||113|
|4||132x1205x2||DREAMFORCE||John Thompson||Blake Shinn||4||59kg||112|
|5||6720x211x2||FIERCE IMPACT (JPN)||Matthew Smith||Brenton Avdulla||6||59kg||112|
|6||4x13141x0x||DANCETERIA (FR)||Kris Lees||Kerrin McEvoy||14||59kg||110|
|7||2172x1260x||HOMESMAN (USA)||Anthony Freedman||Ben Melham||2||59kg||110|
|8||11112617×9||COME PLAY WITH ME||Chris Waller||Joshua Parr||7||59kg||107|
|9||24x03374x6||LIFE LESS ORDINARY (IRE)||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||1||59kg||106|
|10||11x65800x8||ANGEL OF TRUTH||Gwenda Markwell||Sam Clipperton||11||59kg||101|
|11||5x5015222x||CARIF||Peter & Paul Snowden||Tim Clark||12||59kg||99|
|12||21112x||DJUKON (GB)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||5||58.5kg||92|
|13||111x9410x4||VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)||Chris Waller||James McDonald||9||57kg||111|
|14||237x5955x5||DANZDANZDANCE||Chris Waller||Glen Boss||3||57kg||107|
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