The Ben, Will & JD Hayes-trained Cox...
The countdown to the spring majors continues at Flemington on Saturday with the 2023 Turnbull Stakes where Hong Kong galloper Romantic Warrior steps out down under for the first time as the red hot favourite.
This year’s Group 1 $750,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) features a capacity field full of spring stars including the Danny Shum-trained Romantic Warrior set to make an impact in Australia this prep.
The six-year-old gelding pays $2.05 in the latest Turnbull Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au and is also the all-in favourite for the $5 million Ladbrokes Cox Plate on October 28.
He already boasts 10 wins from 14 starts and is a three-time Group 1 winner at home at Sha Tin including saluting in the Hong Kong Cup (2000m) last December by an incredible 4.5 lengths.
Romantic Warrior was narrowly denied the Group 1 Charter Cup victory last start over the 2400m back in May and will be out to atone fresh in the Turnbull with James McDonald in the saddle from barrier 11.
McDonald already has previous experience on the gun galloper having ridden him three times for three wins in Hong Kong, most recently in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) back in April where the dynamite duo saluted by two lengths.
The danger occupying the second line of Turnbull Stakes betting at $6.50 is the Chris Waller-trained market mover Soulcombe presenting fit third-up with the Melbourne Cup in his sights.
Waller has an outstanding record in the race having prepared five previous Turnbull Stakes winners most recently in 2020 with the following year’s Melbourne Cup winning mare Verry Elleegant.
The master horseman has another strong hand saddling-up four horses in this year’s Turnbull Stakes field with Soulcombe his best hope in an ideal gate two draw with Craig Williams riding.
Frankel five-year-old Soulcombe won the Listed Heatherlie Stakes (1700m) first-up at Caulfield with 58.5kg before running a brave fourth only 1.4 lengths off Alligator Blood with 59kg at WFA in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m).
He has previous winning form at the Flemington track, gets out over more distance now, and will relish coming back in weight to 56kg here.
Waller’s other Turnbull Stakes runners include former Group 1 winner El Bodegon ($151) at triple-figures to return to his better form, another Melbourne Cup fancy Francesco Guardi ($16) coming off a fast-finishing fifth to Mr Brightside in the Makybe Diva, and co-$6.50 second elect in the markets Osipenko who was third in the Makybe Diva Stakes last time out.
Despite a full field the only other horse at single-figures to upset the firming favourite at $7 is UK raider West Wind Blows from the Newmarket stables of Simon & Ed Crisford.
The talented son of Teofilo has bigger prizes on the agenda this prep in Melbourne, but with a lovely fresh record and ace form over the distance (6:3-1-2) it would not surprise to see him pick a the Group 1 Turnbull on way.
Other notable hopes at longer odds include reigning Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip ($17) and his progressive stablemate Right You Are ($15) also running for the Maher/Eustace stable.
The 2023 Turnbull Stakes is scheduled to run as Flemington Race 8 at 4:25pm (AEDT) on Saturday’s bumper 10-race card.
2023 Turnbull Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||1x1122x12x||ROMANTIC WARRIOR (IRE)||Danny Shum||James McDonald||11||59kg||120|
|2||291x2570x4||GOLD TRIP (FR)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Mark Zahra||18||58kg||117|
|3||177x884x60||SMOKIN’ ROMANS (NZ)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Jamie Mott||17||58kg||107|
|4||1232821×05||FRANCESCO GUARDI (IRE)||Chris Waller||Damian Lane||7||57kg||107|
|5||1613×31232||WEST WIND BLOWS (IRE)||Simon & Ed Crisford||Jamie Spencer||8||56.5kg||108|
|6||812x530x95||EMISSARY (GB)||Michael Moroney||Ms Jamie Kah||5||56kg||104|
|7||x51761x573||OSIPENKO (NZ)||Chris Waller||Damien Oliver||6||56kg||106|
|8||151x86x801||UNCLE BRYN (GB)||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Daniel Moor||1||56kg||106|
|9||11416×4374||BERKELEY SQUARE||Dan O’Sullivan||Harry Coffey||14||56kg||97|
|10||8x27410x89||BANK MAUR||Richard Laming||Craig Newitt||4||56kg||99|
|11||1x1x682x14||SOULCOMBE (GB)||Chris Waller||Craig Williams||2||56kg||108|
|12||52x131x8x0||DUKE DE SESSA (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||John Allen||12||56kg||105|
|13||34x339x3x7||SPANISH MISSION (USA)||Peter G Moody & Katherine Coleman||Beau Mertens||10||55kg||112|
|14||3x3x907x00||EL BODEGON (IRE)||Chris Waller||Ben Melham||9||55kg||110|
|15||1111121×25||RIGHT YOU ARE||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Dean Yendall||16||55kg||107|
|16||12x7931x80||LUNAR FLARE||Grahame Begg||Michael Dee||15||54kg||107|
|17e||1x847014x3||EL PATRONESS||Danny O’Brien||Jye McNeil||3||53kg||103|
|18e||x31x111x96||GOLDMAN (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Jordan Childs||13||55kg||103|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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