Australia Preview: Hinged well-placed in Epsom Handicap

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

September 30th, 2022

While the advent of the A$15 million Everest has changed the focus of the Sydney spring carnival, the biggest day in terms of Group 1 racing remains this weekend’s fixture. Usually held on the first Saturday in October depending on how the calendar falls, the card features three Group 1 races.

The richest of them is the Epsom H. over about one mile for three-year-olds and up. Also carrying the ultimate status are the Flight, for three-year-old fillies over the same distance as the Epsom, and the Metropolitan H., over about 1 1/2 miles.

There are five other races carrying black type, the most notable of which is the about six-furlong Premiere (G2), an important lead-up to the Everest in two weeks.

Among the star gallopers running at Randwick are last season’s leading juveniles Fireburn and She’s Extreme, Godolphin’s A$4.5 million-earner Cascadian, and the outstanding older mare Montefilia.

TwinSpires is offering its Rest Of The World BetBack on all races from Randwick, so let’s have a look at the features.

Race 4, 11:35 p.m. Friday ET: $647,000 Hill S. (G2), 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up

Seven horses vie for the Hill S. but three stand out: multiple Group 1 winners #1 Cascadian and #8 Montefilia, and Chelmsford (G2) runner-up #2 Numerian. There’s not much class difference between them, but at today’s distance, Montefilia looks the one. She beat Verry Elleegant to win the Ranvet (G1) in autumn and put up a very nice run for fourth behind Anamoe in the George Main (G1) when resuming two weeks ago.

  • $20 win/place: #8 Montefilia

Race 6, 12:45 a.m. Saturday ET: $486,000 Flight S. (G1), 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-old fillies

Last year’s leading juveniles #1 Fireburn and #2 She’s Extreme back up from last week’s Golden Rose (G1), where they finished fifth and sixth, respectively. They will probably appreciate the extra furlong, but it will be interesting to see if their form measures up to that from the Tea Rose (G2), won by #3 Zougotcha from #6 Madame Pommery and #5 Wolverine.

Formlines through Golden Rose runner-up In Secret suggest Zougotcha is at least on par with Fireburn this season. However, both her pedigree and that of Madame Pommery suggest they are serious doubts at a mile. The one that looks set to benefit is Wolverine, who finished strongly for third in the Tea Rose and has the pedigree to enjoy the trip.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #5 Wolverine
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 5 with 1, 3, 5 with 1, 2, 3, 5, 6

Race 7, 1:25 a.m. Saturday ET: $647,000 Premiere S. (G2), 1,200 meters (about 6 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

A good field of 11 Everest contenders are assembled here. #1 Lost and Running, #2 Masked Crusader, #3 Mazu, and #6 Overpass have already secured slots in the race, while the remaining seven runners are trying to convince the remaining two slot holders yet to confirm a runner of their credentials.

However, on current form it’s difficult to go past the horses already in the Everest. All four contested the 5 1/2-furlong Shorts (G2) on Sept. 17, won by world champion sprinter and Everest favorite Nature Strip;  Overpass and Lost and Running finished second and third, with Mazu fifth and Masked Crusader sixth.

Previous form suggests Lost and Running will appreciate the extra half-furlong in the Premiere, and I would suggest basing bets around him. The only exception would be if the track firms up, in which case Masked Crusader’s chances would be improved.

The best of the others would probably be two horses that ran well in the Queensland winter carnival, #4 Apache Case and #7 Private Eye.

  • $20 win: #1 Lost and Running
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 6 with 1, 3, 6 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 6

Race 8, 2:05 a.m. Saturday ET: $972,000 Epsom H. (G1), 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds and up

It says something about the strength of Australian racing that you can stage a A$1.5 million race like this and not get the best horses in the land. What we do have is a competitive race with a number of high-class performers.

There are two key form races for this event: the weight-for-age George Main (G1), where #5 Icebath, #8 Hinged, and #6 Fangirl ran bold races behind winner Anamoe; and the Bill Ritchie (G3), won by recent European import #1 Top Ranked, with #9 Cross Talk finishing third.

If form around the weights is accurate, Hinged should come out on top; she was just a half-length behind Icebath in the George Main while receiving 0.5kg (about one pound); here Hinged receives 3kg (about 6.5 pounds) and she will have a great chance at that weight.

  • $20 win/$40 show: #8 Hinged

Race 9, 2:45 a.m. Saturday ET: $486,000 Metropolitan H. (G1), 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles), 3-year-olds and up

Staying ranks aren’t strong in Australia at the moment, something which is reflected in this field. This should be a good local guide to the Melbourne Cup (G1) on the first Tuesday of November, but there aren’t any runners here that are shorter than 33-1 in Australian betting markets.

One of those at 33-1 for the Melbourne Cup is #7 Durston. The English import has only just started regular racing after starting just three times between August 2019 and June this year. But he’s made a big impact in recent weeks, scoring decisive victories in the Wyong Cup on Sept. 2 and the Newcastle Cup (G3) on Sept. 16. He looks very hard to beat.

Four horses that chased Durston home at Newcastle are back for another try; the best of them could be #5 Mankayan, who meets Durston on 2kg better terms, and the consistent #4 Arapaho.

Of those that didn’t run at Newcastle, the best look to be last week’s Colin Stephen Quality (G3) winner #11 Grove Ferry and the topweight #1 Stockman.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #7 Durston
  • $1 trifecta: 7 with 1, 4, 5, 11 with 1, 4, 5, 11