The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The second edition of the $2 million The Invitation race takes place at Royal Randwick this weekend and the money is on the Brad Widdup-trained Icebath to successfully defend her title.
A dozen of the country’s best fillies and mares have been invited by the panel to contest the 2022 The Invitation field.
The set weights plus penalties event runs over 1400m at Randwick as one of three seven-figure features on Spring Champion Stakes Day.
The latest The Invitation odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by the inaugural and defending champ Icebath who is at $4.60 to remain the event’s only winner to date.
Drawn ideally in barrier three with Tom Sherry booked for the ride, the now six-year-old daughter of Sacred Falls is after her first victory since claiming the first edition of this race 12 months ago.
She went on to run second to Superstorm next-up in the Group 1 Cantala and has been competitive in plenty since.
Her autumn included back-to-back Group 1 thirds in the wet in the Doncaster and Queen Of The Turf Stakes over the mile here at Randwick, and she will relish any rain between now and race day being a superior Heavy track performer.
She presents fit fifth-up this prep and has been excellent racing against the best horses going around including her second to Zaaki in the Group 2 Tramway and second to Saturday’s Cox Plate favourite Anamoe in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m).
At her latest start Icebath was fourth in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m), and she can improve on that here.
Two mares currently share the second line of The Invitation betting at $6 each with last year’s third place-getter Forbidden Love and the Matthew Smith-trained Nimlaee drawn in barriers two and nine respectively.
Michael Freedman’s 59.5kg top-weight, Forbidden Love is another mare sure to relish the predicted wet track having won five from eight on Heavy going.
She has been out of the money in all her runs this time in, including an 11th in the Group 3 Sydney Stakes (1200m) last weekend, but she did it tough there from barrier 18 of 18 and was only 2.5 lengths beaten.
On the quick back-up the bookies are taking no chances and have her safe in the markets to return to her better form and challenge.
So You Think six-year-old Nimalee, winner of the Queen Of The Turf Stakes here back in April, brings in some strong form lines including a Tramway third.
She went on to win the Group 2 Golden Pendant (1400m) carrying 58kg from gate 15 of 16 in a photo and was far from disgraced in her Epsom fifth last time out.
The other danger at The Invitation odds of $6.50 is the Chris Waller-trained Espiona drawn midfield in barrier seventh with Brenton Avdulla to ride.
Third-up on the weekend this four-year-old daughter of Extreme Choice was last seen running fourth only 1.5 lengths off Nimalee in the Golden Pendant and looks the improver with upside in the rematch.
The market mover Swats That ($10) from the Maher/Eustace stable, the returning Group 1 JJ Atkins winning filly Sheeza Belta ($11) drawn the rails for Peter & Paul Snowden and the Mark Newnham-trained Expat ($12) are among the other standout chances.
The Invitation 2022 is set to run as Randwick Race 9 at 5:30pm (AEDT) as the penultimate event on Saturday’s bumper card in Sydney.
2022 The Invitation Final Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||211148×680||FORBIDDEN LOVE||Michael Freedman||Blake Shinn||2||59.5kg||112|
|2||6x251x0315||NIMALEE||Matthew Smith||Regan Bayliss||9||59kg||110|
|3||49333×7224||ICEBATH (NZ)||Brad Widdup||Tom Sherry||3||59kg||108|
|4||41x339x825||ELECTRIC GIRL||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Hugh Bowman||8||59kg||103|
|5||21x22415x7||PROMISE OF SUCCESS (GB)||John O’Shea||Kerrin McEvoy||10||58kg||106|
|6||52x455x360||SWATS THAT||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Keagan Latham||11||58kg||104|
|7||191159×970||EXPAT (NZ)||Mark Newnham||Joshua Parr||4||58kg||102|
|8||5x1120212x||BARB RAIDER||Jerome Hunter||Will Price (a), (late alt)||13||58kg||100|
|9||43x1417x72||BELLE PLAISIR (NZ)||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Sam Clipperton||5||58kg||97|
|10||11x2381x64||ESPIONA||Chris Waller||Brenton Avdulla||7||58kg||94|
|11||3316435×32||NEVER TALK||Kris Lees||Jason Collett||14||57kg||92|
|12||121x0311x||SHEEZA BELTER||Peter & Paul Snowden||William Pike||1||54kg||101|
|13e||120x0218x7||CHARMMEBABY (NZ)||Bob Milligan||6||57kg||100|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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