The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Trainer Chris Waller has opted for the easier first-up assignment at Royal Randwick on Saturday for the resuming Funstar who has been scratched from the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) leaving Master Of Wine as the new co-favourite with Verry Elleegant.
Elite level racing returns down under for the new season in Sydney on Saturday and the 2020 Winx Stakes field is still set to feature four runners for five-time winning trainer Waller.
Waller, who is best known for the three-peat of the event’s now namesake Winx (2016-18), was originally in with five final acceptors for the weight-for-age feature.
He has opted instead to race his Flight Stakes winner, Adelaide mare Funstar in the Group 3 $160,000 Show County Quality (1200m) over six furlongs instead of the Winx Stakes over 200m further.
“Following much consideration, we have decided to scratch Funstar from the Winx Stakes on Saturday and she will instead run in the Show County Quality over 1200m,” Chris Waller Racing confirmed on Twitter.
With Funstar withdrawn Waller is left with Kolding, Imaging, Star Of The Seas and his well-supported multiple Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant.
James McDonald rides Verry Elleegant first-up with the ultra-consistent Zed five-year-old currently sits top the updated Winx Stakes betting markets at $6.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au.
Verry Elleegant is on her way to a potential run in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in Melbourne this October and it is the all-in favourite for that $5 million classic, Master Of Wine, who is the equal favourite in the latest Winx Stakes odds online.
The Hawkes Racing-trained, German-bred son of Maxios is tipped to settle just off the pace first-up and finish off strongly presenting fit off two recent Rosehill trials throughout August.
His last run on April 11 was a fourth in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m), where Verry Elleegant ran second, run on a Heavy (8) and it will be similar conditions at the track this weekend.
Leading-up to that Group 1 start, Master Of Wine was outstanding on a bottomless Heavy (10) Rosehill course winning the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) by a runaway 3.5 lengths and his jockey there, Tommy Berry, is aboard for the Winx Stakes on Saturday.
There are a further three single-figure fancies looking to kick their spring campaigns off with a Group 1 win including the widely-drawn John Thompson-trained Dreamforce.
Early money is coming for the resuming Fastnet Rock eight-year-old who, despite a wide gate 16 draw, has been backed in from an opening quote of $11 to add to his strong first-up record (10:4-3-1).
Tony Pike’s three-time Group 1 winning Jimmy Choux six-year-old from New Zealand, The Bostonian, is also right in the mix at $7.50 to add a fourth top level win down under to his record.
Drawn barrier one, The Bostonian has won six of his seven first-up assignments to date and is undefeated on Heavy tracks making him the value runner in the event.
Also under $10 is the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Con Te Partiro whose odds have firmed dramatically in from $17 to $9.50.
Tim Clark partners the resuming Scat Daddy mare who was last seen defeating Funstar home on a Heavy Randwick track in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).
Waterhouse & Bott will also now be represented by triple-figure hope Wolfe ($126) who comes in as the first emergency.
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