Winx tough to oppose, but others offer each-way appeal at Randwick

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 19th, 2016

While American racing fans enjoy the sultry (and occasionally wet) weather at Saratoga and the pleasant seaside breezes at Del Mar, the sport is slowing beginning to awaken from its winter slumber down under in Australia.

With the Sydney Spring Carnivals right around the corner, preps for those major races will be decided in the coming weeks. On Saturday (Friday night U.S. time), Royal Randwick in Sydney will have five Group events on its nine-race program, highlighted by the season return of the popular mare Winx, a decisive winner of the Cox Plate (G1) last spring, in the seven-furlong Warwick S. (G2).

Another good reason to keep an eye on happenings in the Antipodes is's King of Australia contest. customers that wager at least $500 on Australian and New Zealand racing through September 1 qualify to participate in the Final Round on September 2. The winner of the Final Round will win a trip for two to the Melbourne Cup (G1), "The Race That Stops a Nation," on November 1.

In addition to looking at Friday night's offerings at Randwick, I'll also be having a go at next Tuesday night's card at Warwick Farm near Sydney. It'll strictly be meat-and-potatoes fare at Warwick Farm, but that particular program approximately marks the 25th anniversary of my first foreign racing excursion, to Warwick Farm, on Wednesday, August 28, 1991. (More on that at another time.)

While I'm not too keen on opposing Winx, there's a few in some of the other Group events preceding the Warwick that offer some each-way (Win and Place) appeal. Here's hoping good things come in threes as all of them will wear the No. 3 saddlecloth.

Race 4 -- Up and Coming S. (G3) -- DIVINE PROPHET was fifth in his debut over this course last December, then came back from a three-month spell to break his maiden at Kembla Grange prior to one-length third to PRIZED ICON in the Champagne (G1) over a mile here April 16. Both colts have prepped in a pair of barrier trails, but Divine Prophet gets a 13-pound pull in the weights and might be the one to fear if the ground is not too soft.

Race 5 - Silver Shadow S. (G3) -- A debut winner way back in October, THYME FOR ROSES went unplaced in her next two starts before putting it all together in a Group 3 over Flemington's straight six-furlong course in March. Visually impressive that day, she was beaten less than two lengths over this course and trip in the Percy Sykes (G3) on softer ground in her juvenile finale. Enters off a barrier trial victory for noted conditioner Gai Waterhouse.

Race 6 - Show County Quality H. (G3) -- The Godolphin-owned VASHKA has not raced since October when he won the Moonga S. (G3) at Caulfield, his second consecutive Group score. He finished third (by a long neck) in this race last year coming off a four-month spell, and perhaps can make another good run at it following a pair of recent barrier trials.

In addition to Randwick, will also carry Australian racing from Moonee Valley and Eagle Farm, as well as New Zealand racing from Ellerslie and Plymouth, Friday night

First post from Randwick is approximately 10 p.m. (EDT).

(Steve Hart photo)