The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
Chris Waller’s dual defending champion Nature Strip is favourite to emulate the three-peat of the ‘Grey Flash’ Chautauqua in Saturday’s TJ Smith Stakes 2022.
Royal Randwick is set to host Day 1 of The Championships this weekend on a likely Heavy track with the meeting to feature four elite level autumn races including the Group 1 $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
This year’s TJ Smith Stakes field features 11 hopeful sprinters led in betting by seven-year-old Nature Strip at $2.50 through Ladbrokes.com.au who has won the past two editions.
Success for the punters in 2022 will see him repeat the feat of Chautauqua who won three straight editions of the TJ Smith from 2015-17.
Waller’s ultra-consistent Nicconi gelding is after atonement third-up after finishing worse than second last start for the first time since his seventh in the 2020 The Everest, a $15 million race he went on to win last spring.
Fresh he blew the start and had a horror run before flashing home for second behind stablemate Home Affairs in the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m).
Then second-up on March 5 at Randwick he was the beaten odds-on favourite when third to regular foe Eduardo in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) run on a Heavy (9).
The Challenge Stakes form was franked by the shock runner-up Shelby Sixtysix, Danny Williams’ in-form wet tracker going on to win the Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m) as well as the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m).
The fit horse in the race, Williams throws the dice again accepting his stable ace for the TJ Smith Stakes where the horse will jump from barrier 10 with Tommy Berry aboard.
With conditions to suit again, Shelby Sixtysix is being kept safe in betting at $8 out to become the first horse to do The Galaxy – TJ Smith Stakes double since La Baraka (1998).
Between Nature Strip and Shelby Sixtysix in the markets is the Challenge Stakes champ Eduardo for Joe Pride at current TJ Smith Stakes odds of $3.70.
Eduardo and Nature Strip have locked horns on nine occasions with the record standing 5-4 in favour of Nature Strip.
Evergreen Host eight-year-old Eduardo won the Challenge Stakes – The Galaxy double last autumn before a third in the TJ, but will go fresh off his successful title defence in the former this campaign jumping from gate three with Nash Rawiller aboard.
Outside the dominant trio the best fancied for an upset result come Saturday afternoon include last year’s runner-up Masked Crusader ($9), the Godolphin-raced colt Paulele ($15) who is five-from-five at the track and Roch ‘N’ Horse ($15).
The Michael Moroney-trained Per Incanto mare Roch ‘N’ Horse travelled over from New Zealand last start to cause a blowout in Flemington’s Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at 100/1.
She goes up from 52.5kg there to 56.5kg at weight-for-age in Sydney on Saturday with the last to do the interstate double being Lankan Rupee (2014).
2022 TJ Smith Stakes Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||21x1211x23||NATURE STRIP||Chris Waller||James McDonald||11||58.5kg||121|
|2||131x131x31||EDUARDO||Joseph Pride||Nash Rawiller||3||58.5kg||118|
|3||5x15126x57||MASKED CRUSADER||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||William Pike||1||58.5kg||114|
|4||40x4240x08||ZOUTORI||Mathew Ellerton||Damian Lane||7||58.5kg||110|
|5||183x1321x0||COUNT DE RUPEE||Robert & Luke Price||Brock Ryan||4||58.5kg||108|
|6||2602521211||SHELBY SIXTYSIX||Danny Williams||Tommy Berry||10||58.5kg||103|
|7||97×1111129||RULE OF LAW||Bjorn Baker||Brenton Avdulla||5||58.5kg||97|
|8||2201×42721||ROCH ’N’ HORSE (NZ)||Michael Moroney||Hugh Bowman||8||56.5kg||112|
|9||0x846x1215||OVERPASS||Bjorn Baker||Tim Clark||2||56.5kg||104|
|10||138×244214||BELLUCI BABE (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Joshua Parr||9||56.5kg||100|
|11||1x12210x10||PAULELE||James Cummings||Ms Jamie Kah||6||56.5kg||98|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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