MORPHETTVILLE PREVIEW March 21, 2009 ROBERT SANGSTER STAKES (1200M) Race 7, 4.50pm (Adelaide time) The Group 1 Robert Sangster Stakes has grown considerably since it was first run in 1983, as a non-Stakes handicap for fillies and mares, and won by Ranee’s Palace. It was made a Listed grade race in 1984, Group 3 in 1986 and Group 2 in 2004, before upgrading to Group 1 in 2005. Eight 3YO fillies have won the Sangster, and three in the past five years – Universal Queen (2007), Alinghi (2005) and French Bid (2004). Lee Freedman is the leading trainer with three winners, in succession — Alinghi, Ellicorsam (2006) and Universal Queen. This year, he is represented by the 3YO fillies (14) Romneya and (16) Sugar Babe. There is strong evidence for a 3YO filly to win again, and while Freedman has a good hand, particularly with the in-form and ultra-honest little Romneya, it is Mark Kavanagh’s exciting filly (15) Champagne Harmony that looks the horse to beat. Champagne Harmony has had only four starts, but she has won three of them in brilliant style, and her defeat was when second to the sensational (then unbeaten) Mic Mac at Moonee Valley on Feb. 14. Since then, Champagne Harmony has won with something in hand over 1200m at Caulfield on Feb. 28 and two weeks ago trounced her 3YO rivals, including the boys, to win the Group 2 Yallambee Stud Stakes (1200m) over this course. The last 3YO filly to win the Sangster, Universal Queen, also completed the same Morphettville double.
Champagne Harmony is perfectly drawn in barrier eight. Jockey Steven King is expected to track a solid tempo that is likely to be set by the speedster (2) Bel Mer. Some of Champagne Harmony’s key dangers are drawn around her, particularly the underrated last start Flemington winner (17) Kirvinsky and the lightly-raced (7) Beaming. This should give King the perfect cart into the race on the wide, sweeping Morphettville turn. The pre-post money has been for Champagne Harmony and the Group 1 winning mare (1) Absolut Glam, who goes into this race after a terrific firstup seventh behind Scenic Blast in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 7 — Alinghi won the Sangster-Newmarket double when the races were run in reverse order. Absolut Glam has a powerful finish, and her trainer Danny O’Brien won this race last year with a similar type of mare, Juste Momente – and he rates Absolut Glam superior. The Mick Price-trained (18) Damselfly is in terrific form, winning four from five starts including the Group 3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield in the spring. She needs luck to overcome barrier 16. (4) Serious Speed was third in this race last year and she resumes from a disappointing spring campaign. The 4YO mare’s trainer Leon Macdonald is playing on his home turf here, so Serious Speed goes into the mix despite her barrier 19. The tips: Champagne Harmony to beat Absolut Glam, and then Kirvinsky, Romneya, Beaming and Serious Speed.
AND ALSO This column points punters to riders as much as it does to horses, despite having been told many times not to bet on anything that talks (be it in English or its rough equivalent, Jockey-speak). Darren Beadman has to be the one to follow at Rosehill on Saturday, irrespective of whether he has added Cantonese to English and Jockey while in Hong Kong – it is enough that he has come back before the Golden Slipper (April 4) to ensure More Joyous wins R4 and makes the Slipper field ... or if she doesn’t, he gets a winning feeling on Real Saga (R2). Both are in the red, but Blue Diamond runner-up Real Saga ($1.90 today) looks better value than last-start buck-jumper More Joyous ($1.80 after a no-nonsense trial). Diamond winner Reward For Effort ($4) is in R2, but Beadman will keep him with within earshot and should say ‘see you later’ well before the post. You could always go all up on More Joyous, but Melito ($4.50) is closer to the fav than betting indicates – she won the buck-jump race, and Dan Nikolic has been talking her up ever since! So if you’re after value, ignore the Beadman-Waterhouse-Singleton hype and have the winnings (not the stake as well) on Melito. One more jockey bet – Darren Gauci. He sticks with Zapurple in the Australasian Oaks (2005m) at Morphettville after her from-last third at Caulfield on Feb. 28 as the only filly in the G2 Autumn Classic (1800m) won by Stokehouse on a leaders’ track. Each-way all day around the $7 mark. Stephen Howell