Australia Preview: Oscar Zulu one to watch in Winter Challenge

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

July 21st, 2022

With TwinSpires offering its Rest Of The World Bet Back every Friday night on all races from Sydney, TwinSpires Edge will be analyzing at least one race on the card each week.

Sydney’s second to last Saturday of the 2021-22 racing season is headlined by the Listed ATC Foundation Winter Challenge, run over 1,500 meters (about 7 1/2 furlongs), and features an intriguing clash between Gold Trip and Mugatoo, two well-performed imports on the comeback trail, and the improving younger horses, such as Jojo Was A Man and Oscar Zulu.

#1 Gold Trip was one of France’s best three-year-olds of 2020, finishing fourth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, and returned the following year to score two further Group 1 placings. He was bought by Australian owners for a crack at the 1 1/4-mile Cox Plate (G1) last October, only to be controversially withdrawn on veterinary advice.

Now trained by Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, Gold Trip is being tilted toward the Cox Plate again. He should enjoy the soft ground on Saturday, but all his top-level racing has been over at least 1 1/4 miles, so he is an unknown quantity at this trip, carrying topweight of 61kg (about 134 pounds).

Irish-bred #2 Mugatoo didn’t reach the same heights as Gold Trip in Europe, leaving Britain with a rating of 90 after two wins in six starts. But he found his way quickly with Kris Lees in New South Wales. He proved a high-class horse, with his greatest triumph coming in the world’s richest mile race, the A$5 million (about $3.85 million) All-Star Mile.

He hasn’t raced since injuring a tendon in the Doomben Cup (G1) on May 22 last year. He may be a better chance than Gold Trip if he starts, though Lees has indicated he won’t start if the track remains heavy.

#12 Jojo Was A Man looks set to start favorite after running into great form. He won consecutive starts June 11 and June 25 prior to finishing second to the in-form Taksu in the Winter S. July 9.

Fourth in the Winter Stakes was #9 Oscar Zulu, who finished 2 3/4 lengths behind Jojo Was A Man while conceding him 4kg (about nine pounds). Because the presence of Gold Trip and Mugatoo has compressed the weights in this race, Oscar Zulu and Jojo Was A Man will carry the same weight, and that weight turnaround is enough for me to put Oscar Zulu on top.

Also worth a thought for exotics are #6 Edison, #11 Charleise, and #14 Snippy Fox.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #9 Oscar Zulu
  • $1 trifecta: 9, 12 with 1, 9, 12 with 1, 6, 9, 11, 12, 14

Other potential Bet Back plays for Randwick are #7 Yggdrasil in Race 5 and #1 Per Inaway in Race 6.

Bonus Play – New Zealand

New Plymouth, R5, Opunake Cup (Listed), 1,400 meters (about 7 furlongs)

  • $10 win/$30 show, #4 Darci La Bella: Looks like a very good prospect in the making and can make it three wins on end.