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Doncaster Mile – Shooting for Success From Admirer

April 21, 2012

The Doncaster Mile (1600m) is Australia’s premier race at the distance, despite its status as a handicap.

It is a stage where legends are made, where bubbles are burst, where dreams come true. For many Sydney racing enthusiasts, it is the thunder of the Doncaster field that excites them the most. It is seen as the Sydney equivalent of the Melbourne Cup, as far as big handicaps go.

This year’s field is rather strong, with a host of chances. So who will win?

Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins has been through the field and selected his top four. Read on to find his selections:

1. RANGIRANGDOO (17) 1X41X99426

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Michael Rodd
Weight: 58kg

What an old warhorse! It would have been a brave man who said with any certainty that he’d hold up this preparation, but hold up he has. Amazing. He looked like he may have been past it at his first two runs this preparation, but he showed a hint of form in the Chipping Norton. He then well and truly returned to form with a gutsy second in the Ranvet to the in-form Manighar before looking the winner in the George Ryder with 100m to go. He was swamped to finish sixth, beaten a mere half length. He’ll be looking to join the likes of Sunline, Pharaoh and Super Impose as dual winners of the Doncaster in recent times. Can he do it? I think the heavy track will be very suitable for him and he’s flying. The weight is a concern though. However, he’s all class. Chance.

2. MORE JOYOUS (12) 110X317X11

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Nash Rawiller
Weight: 57.5kg

I have loved this mare, but she’s burned me on occasions. I was convinced she’d win the Doncaster last year, you couldn’t have talked me out of it. Of course, she failed. There are two questions which will be answered today – does More Joyous handle a heavy track? And will she ever win a grand final? She’s a great weight for age mare, but she now needs to take another step if she is to win a Doncaster Mile with the weight. She comes in with good form though – she won the Canterbury Stakes first up, beating Monton and Metal Bender (as well as numerous other runners here) before winning the Queen of the Turf comfortably. If it was a dry track, she would have been right in the mix. But on the heavy track, I reckon she’s in trouble. Place at best.

3. SHOOT OUT (10) 95552X3213

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Weight: 56.5kg

2010 Randwick Guineas and Australian Derby winner who notched up a third Group 1 win two starts back in the Chipping Norton Stakes. He’s been in great form this preparation, finding a spark that he’d seemingly lost at his last preparation in Brisbane last winter. I think he’s appreciating being trained for shorter distances – he didn’t seem to be the same horse after he aimed at the Melbourne Cup.  He just whacked away for third in the Ranvet Stakes behind Manighar and Rangirangdoo at his last start, but the last two winners of the Doncaster Mile have gone into this race fresh from the Ranvet (Vision and Power also came off the Ranvet, but he won the George Ryder in between). I think he’ll appreciate being fresh and I think he should get a good run from the gate. He’s a Group 1 winner over the Randwick mile, and the improving track is a positive. Ticks all the boxes. Ranks on top for me.

4. REKINDLED INTEREST (2) X241533X62

Trainer: Jim Conlan
Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
Weight: 55.5kg

5. ALBERT THE FAT (7) 6X2421X089

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Steven Arnold
Weight: 55.5kg

Probably the worst named horse to have won two Group 1s, but the horse doesn’t know his name! He won the Emirates Stakes in the spring having won the BTC Cup in 2010. This preparation he’s been fair, nothing outstanding but he hasn’t been poor either. This is clearly his grand final, the race they’ve been aiming at all autumn. I don’t think he’s weighted particularly well, and he seems to be just below Waller’s top guns here. Not without a place chance though.

6. SINCERO (6) X118597X45

Trainer: Stephen Farley
Jockey: Craig Williams
Weight: 55.5kg

Stradbroke Handicap and George Main Stakes winner. He ran credibly in the Canterbury Stakes first up when he raced handy. But he raced well back in the field in the George Ryder last start, coming from nowhere to finish a massive fourth from the outside barrier. There’s no doubting he has the talent to win the race. But plenty have hopped on the bandwagon in the past week, and I don’t know, I think he was one of a number of huge runs in the George Ryder.  For example, Sincero raced up to Secret Admirer and may have got a head in front of her. But Secret Admirer rallied to get up in the photo for third. I think Secret Admirer is going to be more suited to the Doncaster Mile, particularly over her pet course and distance. I think Sincero’s a chance, but I’d rather be on Secret Admirer.

7. DANLEIGH (8) X6688X6320

Trainer: Chris Waller
Jockey: Kerrin McEvoy
Weight: 55kg

Another old warhorse for Chris Waller, albeit one who isn’t given the accolades he probably deserves. He’s raced consistently at the top grade since his two year old days, winning three Group 1s – the Manikato Stakes, the Chipping Norton Stakes and the George Ryder Stakes. His record on slow going is outstanding – 5 wins and 2 placings from 8 starts. So he’d be one who is probably hoping for a slight upgrade in the track. He’s run alright in the last two editions of the Doncaster Mile, finishing 7th last year and 5th in 2010. However, I doubt he’s going as well as he has in the past. He finished second in the Chipping Norton Stakes, before finishing a disappointing 13th in the George Ryder this year. Chris Waller thinks he’s got a good chance but I won’t be on him. Looking elsewhere.

8. HAPPY ZERO (21) 330X670X68

Trainer: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes
Jockey: James McDonald
Weight: 54.5kg

His form may not suggest it, but this horse is flying. He has charged home at both his starts this preparation in the Canterbury Stakes and the George Ryder Stakes, suggesting he may be getting back to the form which saw him start favourite in the 2009 Hong Kong Mile. He gets a nice weight drop here and so I think he’s a better chance than his odds suggest. The main query for me is the wet track – he seems to be at his best on top of the ground. Never tried on a heavy track, though, so you just don’t know. The barrier is a bit of a negative, but it may not be too bad come race 7. He’s a sneaky each way chance.

9. WALL STREET (13) X04446X636

Trainer: Michael Moroney
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Weight: 54.5kg

Classy Kiwi who has been going okay this preparation. Ran third two starts back in the Blamey Stakes behind Green Moon before an alright sixth in the Ranvet Stakes. I’ve backed him the last two years in the Doncaster – he ran 11th in 2010, 15th last year. He’s going better this time around but I’m not game enough to back him again. For some reason, this race just doesn’t seem to suit him. Place best for me.

10. SECRET ADMIRER (22) 24153X3523

Trainer: Grahame Begg
Jockey: Brenton Avdulla
Weight: 54kg

The dame of the Randwick mile! Well, she’s on her way anyway. She’s run over the track and distance twice for two Group 1 wins – in the Flight Stakes in 2010 and the Epsom Handicap last year. After a mysterious flop in the Wiggle Quality, she’s been dynamic at her last two – running second in the Coolmore Classic to Ofcourseican and third last start in the George Ryder to Metal Bender. Drops in weight and she’s got everything to suit – all except the outside barrier. But even that may suit by the time we get to the Doncaster. I think she’s a big chance of recording her third Group 1 win over the Randwick mile. Watch for her late.

11. CENTENNIAL PARK (3) 7X50X25007

Trainer: David Payne
Jockey: Blake Shinn
Weight: 54kg

Yet to place from eight attempts at Randwick, while his only placing from six attempts at a mile came when second in the Chipping Norton Stakes behind Danleigh. He ran 13th in this race last year when he was in a similar position throughout. He actually has been pretty good this preparation, despite his form looking ordinary. Still, the stats say it’s unlikely. Place at best.

12. KING’S ROSE (9) X11272X833

Trainer: Peter Moody
Jockey: Luke Nolen
Weight: 53.5kg

13. HURTLE MYRTLE (14) 518X251X94

Trainer: Matthew Smith
Jockey: Glyn Schofield
Weight: 53kg

Myer Classic winner in the spring. She flies third up, she’s yet to miss a place at the track or over the distance. She was fair first up before a good run second up in the Queen of the Turf. She looks spot on for this race and she’s attractively weighted. She seems to go on all surfaces and has the right profile for a Doncaster winner. She’s a very good chance.

14. MONTON (18) 0X39511X20

Trainer: Ron Quinton
Jockey: Craig Newitt
Weight: 52.5kg

Villiers Stakes winner in the summer which gave him ballot free entry to the Doncaster Mile. It wasn’t a huge shock, given he’d won the Hobartville Stakes as a three year old (beating Shoot Out among others), but it was still a very impressive win. Wasn’t expecting much from him first up but he flew, running a stunning second to More Joyous at weight for age. Subsequent George Ryder Stakes winner Metal Bender was not far behind in third. He didn’t do much last start in the George Ryder, finishing midfield. However, he drops 6.5kg here and his second up form has always been ordinary. He’s the forgotten horse and he can win.

15. HE’S REMARKABLE (5) 0X11312X10

Trainer: Roger James
Jockey: Christian Reith
Weight: 52.5kg

Should be a Group 1 winner over a mile in Australia – but enough has been written about the silly decision of the Perth stewards in robbing him of the Railway Stakes. His record at a mile is impeccable – three wins and four placings from seven attempts. If you think that one of those placings should be a win, it’s very solid. He was great first up in the Newcastle Newmarket Handicap before running a very disappointing second last in the George Ryder. On his last run, it is hard to recommend him but he does have those amazing stats at the distance. If you are keen, go each way. Place best for me.

16. YOSEI (1) X0079X0548

Trainer: Stuart Webb
Jockey: Michelle Payne
Weight: 52kg

Pretty much every preview I write about Yosei begins the same way, and this will be no exception. A winner of four from 23 – three of those were at Group 1 level. They were the AJC Sires Produce Stakes in 2010, the Thousand Guineas later that year and the Tatts Tiara last year. She was quite good two starts back in the Coolmore Classic when Michelle Payne fired in a frivolous protest before she disappointed last start. Meets More Joyous much better at the weights and the barrier is a major positive for her. But still, I think she’d need to find too much to win here. Can’t entertain.

17. ABSOLUTELY (15) 21X5660X50

Trainer: Michael Kent
Jockey: Luke Nolen
Weight: 52kg

Last year’s Australian Oaks winner on this day. She revelled in the muddy conditions to streak along the fence to win. The prospect of a heavy track again has seen her well supported during the week, despite finishing 6L behind Fast Clip when 13th in the Doncaster Prelude last week. She’s still only won the one race from 13 starts. I accept the heavy track brings her into the race but I still think she’d need to step up on what she has shown to date if she were to be competitive here. Not for me.

18. NIAGARA (16) X21302X210

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Tommy Berry
Weight: 52kg

Looked incredible two starts back winning the Ajax Stakes very impressively. But the bubble burst almost as soon as it had been blown when he finished 12th as favourite in the George Ryder Stakes. He did have to do a lot of work from near the outside though. He may have to work hard again from the barrier here, but he’s much better suited under handicap conditions. Off his last two starts, you have to be cautious – it depends on which Niagara turns up. Assuming he turns up in his Ajax Stakes form, he’s a winning chance.

19. FAST CLIP (4) 5X3294X361

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse
Jockey: Jim Cassidy
Weight: 52kg

Doncaster Prelude winner last week. I don’t know what to make of this horse. He looked so tough last week, which was something he hadn’t looked in prior starts. He was shaping up as a promising horse last spring but he went off the rails. He tends to be a bit hit and miss, and he definitely shapes up as Gai’s third stringer. He’s drawn beautifully though, especially as he’ll be heading forward.  Still, I’m not a fan and I’m not sure the Doncaster Prelude is the right form for this. I’d prefer to stick with the weight for age form. Not for me.

20. SINGLE (19) 2198X14111 5X3294X361

Trainer: Craig Carmody
Jockey: Nathan Berry
Weight: 52kg

21. HAPPY TRAILS (20) 3144X23344 5X3294X361

Trainer: Paul Beshara
Jockey: Jay Ford
Weight: 52kg

This horse seems to be one of the most spruiked gallopers after every one of his races. He always finishes off strongly. But the facts remain, he has only won two races from 25. And the best of these is a rating 89 race at Caulfield last spring. He seems to run third or fourth habitually – as a four year old he’s run third or fourth in an open handicap at Moonee Valley, the Crystal Mile on Cox Plate day, a Rating 95 at Flemington, a 1400m Listed race at Flemington, the Bendigo Golden Mile, the Ajax Stakes and last week’s Doncaster Prelude. No doubting his run last week was a ripper. I just reckon his habit could pop up again here. I doubt he could win. Place at best.

22. ALL LEGAL (11) 52120X4367 5X3294X361

Trainer: Kevin Moses
Jockey: Kathy O’Hara
Weight: 52kg

I was going to call him the emerging galloper of the field (probably a title more befitting Niagara) but he’s had 25 starts so he’s just the most improved galloper. Sneaks into the race after the three midweek scratchings. Was well fancied last week but couldn’t make any ground and finished seventh, 3.2L behind Fast Clip. Meets him a kilogram worse here. Also meets He’s Remarkable 2kg worse for a 1.8L defeat in the Newmarket Handicap at Newcastle. If he were to win, I’d doubt it would be all legal. Surely can’t win.

SUMMARY

This is a pretty good Doncaster field in my opinion, the Australian Turf Club should be happy. The wet track is disappointing, especially given it was a bog last year too. Hopefully we return to fine weather next year. Anyway, I do think that SHOOT OUT is the one to beat here. He’s in form, he’s fit, he loves Randwick – he just looks the one for mine. SECRET ADMIRER is a track and distance specialist and she should relish the conditions. Can see her charging late. MONTON is the forgotten horse of the field, he’ll peak third up and looks ready to run a big race. So too does HAPPY ZERO. The latter two may not be winning but they are in good form and can run really well. Next best for me is Hurtle Myrtle. But it’s a typically open Doncaster, so good luck with your selections!

NUMBERS

3 – SHOOT OUT
10 – SECRET ADMIRER
14 – MONTON
8 – HAPPY ZERO

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