The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
We’re in for a big day at Royal Randwick on Saturday when Day 1 of The Championships plays out on a wet track including the TJ Smith Stakes 2022, our best bets and tips for the sprint classic detailed below.
Nature Strip is out to make history in this season’s Group 1 $2.5 million TJ Smith Stakes (1200m), Chris Waller’s The Everest hero the dual defending champion in the meeting’s co-feature.
Chautauqua did the TJ Smith three-peat back in 2015-17 and now this somewhat frustrating favourite is out to emulate that and atone for his two lead-up defeats this campaign.
TJ Smith Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au has him as the $2.80 to do so and it looks a battle of the evergreen veterans with the seven-year-old favourite leading markets ahead of eight-year-old gun Eduardo ($3.90).
These two great sprinters have met nine times previously and Nature Strip holds the 5-4 advantage.
He lost his latest encounter though when the Joe Pride-trained Eduardo won the Group 2 Challenge Stakes last time out, Nature Strip third in that lead-up as autumn revelation Shelby Sixtysix flew past him into second.
Shelby Sixtysix had gone on to win twice since including the Group 1 The Galaxy last time out on Blue Diamond Day for trainer Danny Williams and is looking to continue the fairy-tale as the $6 market mover for Saturday.
So, can Nature Strip bounce back to winning form or is there an upset TJ Smith Stakes result pending?
The Favourite: #1 Nature Strip ($2.80 at time of publish) – BET NOW
He’s done it twice before and now the Waller star is ready to bounce back third-up and win this race yet again. There have been excuses his past two starts. The Black Caviar was a nightmare, missing the jump and getting sandwiched early before flying home late. The Challenge Stakes was another poor start…but was that a big enough excuse? Back to six furlongs he gets the chance to atone. He is fit, loves Randwick (13:5-3-1) and the Heavy track holds zero fears (3:2-0-1). Barrier 11 of 11 in the conditions is probably spot-on. Bookies are saying he’ll do it, but he’ll need to be at his best. EACH WAY.
Best Bet: #6 Shelby Sixtysix ($6 at time of publish) – BET NOW
Okay, so there’s definitely a few things working against this autumn star who has secured himself something of a cult status his past three runs. That Challenge Stakes second off a Highway race? Wow. He was awesome. Good again in the Maurice McCarten and then carried 52.5kg on a Heavy (9) to win the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m). He is right up in weights at WFA and needs to beat them at 1200m in one of the country’s best races. It’s a tough ask and his price earlier was more attractive, but love a fairy-tale and this would be it. BACK DON’T SACK.
Best Roughie: #9 Overpass ($16 at time of publish) – BET NOW
Forgotten horse in this year’s TJ has to be Overpass. He beat the brilliant mare Forbidden Love – favourite for the Doncaster on Saturday – fresh in the Expressway and has been in good form since including his Inglis Sprint win at Flemington with 59.5kg over this distance. The Galaxy run when fifth to Shelby Sixtysix was brave only 1.34 lengths beaten. Is three-from-three in the Soft, but could be tested on the Heavy (10). Still, ticking plenty of boxes and can surprise a few. PLACE CHANCE.
Ready to place your TJ Smith Stakes bets at the right price? Click here for the latest markets from Ladbrokes.com.au.
*All odds quoted are provided by Ladbrokes.com.au, correct at time of print and subject to change.
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