Sydney Preview: Eduardo can topple Nature Strip in Shorts

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

September 16th, 2022

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

Spring racing heats up in Sydney this weekend with the return of world champion sprinter Nature Strip and a second appearance this season for high-class four-year-old Anamoe.

Nature Strip returns in the 1,100-meter (about 5 1/2-furlong) Shorts (G2), a A$1 million lead-up to next month’s A$15 million Everest, while Anamoe contests the George Main (G1) over 1,600 meters (about one mile).

The day also includes a Group 2 feature for three-year-old fillies and two Group 3 contests for older horses.

Race 5, 12:00 a.m. Saturday: Bill Ritchie Handicap (G3), 1,400 meters (about 7 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

This has drawn an interesting collection of horses, but it looks to be dominated by #5 Cross Talk. He has been in great form most of the winter, taking out the Winter Challenge two starts back prior to finishing third in the Rowley Mile at Hawkesbury.

He comes back in the weights to 53kg (about 117 pounds) here, mainly due to the presence of former English Group 3 winner #1 Top Ranked, who heads the weights with 59.5kg. Top Ranked didn’t fire in the Chipping Norton (G1) behind Verry Elleegant in the autumn but faces much weaker company here.

Another one to watch could be #7 O’President, now trained by Bjorn Baker. He scored two nice trial wins in the lead-up to this and is worth a serious look.

  • $20 win: #5 Cross Talk
  • $1 trifecta: 5 with 1, 2, 4, 7 with 1, 2, 4, 7

Race 6, 12:40 a.m. Saturday: Tea Rose Stakes (G2), 1,400 meters (about 7 furlongs), 3-year-old fillies

The third race is Sydney’s spring series for three-year-old fillies, and not surprisingly the best guides are from the first two races. In the series opener, the Silver Shadow (G2), #5 Zougotcha accounted for the luckless In Secret, who last week beat the colts in the Run to the Rose (G2), on a soft track. The third horse that day, #1 North Star Lass, then took the second race in the series, the Furious (G2), in very heavy conditions from #4 Willinga Beast.

With conditions set to return to soft footing, Zougotcha will be strongly favored again, and she will be very hard to beat, though the short odds may not be appealing.

One to watch with the increase in distance from 1,200 meters to 1,400 meters could be #2 Wolverine. The former New Zealander was placed at Group 1 level last season and was finishing best of all when sixth in the Silver Shadow.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #2 Wolverine
  • $1 trifecta: 2, 5 with 1, 2, 5 with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Race 7, 1:15 a.m. Saturday: George Main Stakes (G1), 1,600 meters (about one mile), 3-year-olds and up

With the scratching of #1 Zaaki, the race looks like something of a benefit for #3 Anamoe. He was highly impressive in the Winx (G1), and with most of the other class runners better suited at longer distances, he looks very hard to topple.

If one is to beat him, the best chance is possibly #7 Montefilia. Victorious over Verry Elleegant in the Ranvet (G1) in autumn, she hasn’t raced yet this term and therefore might be worth a look before she gets to longer distances.

#9 Fangirl finished strongly to take second in the Winx and should go well again, but Anamoe looks set for another victory here. The question is whether you want to take him at odds-on. Given that he hasn’t often registered consecutive victories, I’m not that keen, so I’m focusing on Montefilia to fill a top three position.

  • $20 show: #7 Montefilia

Race 8, 1:55 a.m. Saturday: The Shorts (G2), 1,100 meters (about 5 1/2 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

All eyes will be on champion sprinter #1 Nature Strip in what is his first start since demolishing the best five-furlong northern hemisphere sprinters in the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot. In pure class terms, he would be too good for this field if he’s at his best.

However, there’s a strong possibility Nature Strip won’t be at his best. His major aim is a repeat victory in the Everest on Oct. 15, and he’s had a habit of being beaten in lead-up races to his main targets over the years.

Often in these cases, the horse that’s beaten him is #2 Eduardo, as happened in this race last year and in the Challenge Stakes (G2) in March 2021 and 2022. Eduardo is now nine, but he showed he’s as good as ever when winning the Concorde (G3) Sept. 3 with 60.5kg (133 pounds). He does have a new rider in the Shorts, with Brenton Avdulla taking over from the suspended Nash Rawiller, but it shouldn’t prevent Eduardo from running well again. He is well worth supporting.

Rising stars #4 Mazu and #9 Athelric along with #8 Lost and Running are good prospects for exotics, while it will be interesting to see how 2020 Everest winner #6 Classique Legend goes in his first start for 11 months.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #2 Eduardo
  • $2 trifecta: 1 with 2, 8 with 2, 4, 6, 8, 9
  • $1 trifecta: 2 with 1, 8 with 1, 4, 6, 8, 9

Race 9, 2:35 a.m. Saturday: Kingston Town Stakes (G3), 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up

An even contest of stayers heading towards the Metropolitan (G1) on Oct. 1, including the favorite for that race, #9 Benaud. Second in last season’s Australian Derby (G1), Benaud ran very well for fourth in the weight-for-age Chelmsford (G2) Sept. 3, and drops to a much better position in the weights here compared to the Chelmsford winner, #1 Knights Order.

Chelmsford third-place finisher #5 No Compromise also drops down in the weights, but is relatively friendless in local markets. However, if he puts up a similar effort, he should be right in this, at good odds.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #5 No Compromise