Sydney Preview: Top HK galloper on comeback trail in Sydney

Profile Picture: Alastair Bull

November 25th, 2022

New South Wales’ run of million-dollar race weekends came to an end with The Gong at Kembla Grange last weekend. However, high-quality racing is continuing, with three black-type races at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.

The highlight of the day is the Furphy Festival S. (G3) over 7 1/2 furlongs, while there are also features over 1 1/4 miles and 5 1/2 furlongs. And in a bit of a rarity, the wet weather which has plagued New South Wales appears to have eased a little and there’s a reasonable chance of good footing for once this weekend.

TwinSpires has its Rest of the World Bet Back offer on all races at Rosehill, where those who opt in can get up to $10 of their win bet back if their runner finishes second in a field of at least six runners. So let’s have a look at some spot plays.

Race 7, 12:00 a.m. Saturday ET: Elite Sand and Soil Cup (Listed), 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), 3-year-olds and up

A bit of a consolation race here, with several horses backing up after finishing down the field in recent features such as the Big Dance and the Five Diamonds. Of those, #5 Longvillers and #2 New Mandate, sixth and seventh in the Five Diamonds, probably look the best.

The form is a bit hard to line up, with some significant unknowns. This particularly applies to #12 Splendiferous, who was in great form over autumn but who hasn’t raced since the Brisbane Cup (G2) in June. Being asked to tackle 1 1/4 miles first-up is not common in Australia but she may be good enough to do it and she comes in well at the weights.

However, I’m going for last season’s New Zealand Derby (G1) third #6 Regal Lion. His form looks a little ordinary but he’s been running on soft tracks and against better company; on his only race on good footing this spring, he won well in Melbourne. If the track stays in good condition, he is capable of bouncing back – and if he does, you’ll probably get good odds.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #6 Regal Lion

Race 8, 12:40 a.m. Saturday ET: Furphy Festival S. (G3), 1,500 meters (about 7 1/2 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

The fascinating runner here is #1 Sunshine Rising. He was one of the better gallopers in Hong Kong a few years back, and three years ago finished third in the Hong Kong International Cup (G1). However, tendon issues means he’s raced just once in the three years since, and he has been sent to Australia to resurrect his career.

Now a nine-year-old, he finished second in a trial Nov. 8 and has his first Australian start here. If he races up to the form which saw him beat Beauty Generation at Group 2 level in Hong Kong, he’s capable of winning this even with top weight.

However, there has to be some doubt as to whether he’s fully ready to win this first-up. The wisest option is #5 Mirra Vision, who at her last start beat all but the high-class mare Icebath in the Empire Rose S. (G1) at Flemington. She’s not badly off at the weights and a repeat of that run will take her close.

Options for exotics include recent Hawkesbury Listed winner #2 Kirwan’s Lane, Big Dance runner-up #11 Cisco Bay, and recent Newcastle winner #7 Coal Crusher.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #5 Mirra Vision
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 5 with 1, 5, 7 with 1, 2, 5, 7, 11

Race 9, 1:20 a.m. Saturday ET: Starlight S. (Listed), 1,100 meters (about 5 1/2 furlongs), 3-year-olds and up

Some useful sprinters, many of which have been looking for good ground, have found their way into this. The one to beat may be #8 Dragonstone, who made up many lengths in the final stages of last week’s Warra over 1,000 meters at Kembla Grange. With an extra 100m to help he has a strong chance of going two places better here.

The one that might be able to get the better of him is #6 Najmaty. She hasn’t raced since the Brisbane winter carnival, winning the Listed Coughlan before finishing second in the Dane Ripper (G2). She has a good record first-up from a break, having won two of three starts, and if Kerrin McEvoy can find a good position from her wide barrier draw, she has the class to win this.

  • $10 win/$30 show: #6 Najmaty
  • $5 exacta: 6 with 8