RANDWICK PREVIEW April 24, 2010 SYDNEY CUP (3200M) There is no doubt this is the best Sydney Cup field to go around for some years – not just because there are four Group 1 winners in the race, but this field is very even across the board. The race may lack the supreme class of 2004, when the champion mare Makybe Diva beat Manawa King and Mummify – a triple Melbourne Cup winner and a Caulfield Cup winner filling the placings – but this year’s race has more depth to it. Before that, in 1998 the wonderfully enduring Tie The Knot won his first of consecutive Sydney Cups in beating the great Doriemus, who had won the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in 1995 and finished second to Might And Power in both those cups in 1997. There are two factors about this race that make it a bit difficult to decipher – one is the weather as rain is due, but may not arrive in time for the race, and the other is the lack of genuine pace. I can’t do anything about the weather, and my market and selections is based on the fact that the rain is likely to arrive on Saturday evening or Sunday. I believe the lack of genuine speed up front means that this race will be leader dominated, and that will play into the hands of Zavite, who is likely to set the tempo, and the Kiwi galloper Harris Tweed, who won’t be far from Zavite’s heels. Zavite is racing in career-best form. He broke through for a Group 1 win in the Auckland Cup (3200m) in March, although the class of that race is below the Sydney Cup, but it was his wonderful last start second behind
Littorio in the Group 1 The BMW (wfa 2400m) at Rosehill – his first run in 24 days since his New Zealand run – that showed me that this son of Zabeel, at aged 7, has taken a step up to Group 1 class. Zavite tracked wide throughout The BMW, led into the straight and fought doggedly to the finish to be beaten only a neck. It was the run of the race, and The BMW is likely to prove to be the key form line to the Sydney Cup, which is not usually the case – in the last 15 years only Makybe Diva (3rd in the 2004 The BMW) and Count Chivas (2nd in 1996) have won the Sydney Cup after placings in the WFA feature. As much as I think Zavite is the horse to beat, I believe Harris Tweed is a rising star at the staying caper, and he has been set for this race. In the spring, he ran a slashing fifth behind Shocking in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m, Flemington), a performance that was the best in the race outside the winner – I doubt Zavite could have produced that sort of performance in the Melbourne Cup. Harris Tweed’s third behind Jessicabeel in the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m, Randwick) suggests he is ready to peak. I expect Bart Cummings’ Moatize to improve dramatically – in 2008 he finished sixth behind Viewed in the Melbourne Cup, so the 3200m holds no fears for him. No Wine No Song won this race in 2008, and his recent form at WFA suggests he’s back to his best. Littorio and Jessicabeel are the backmarkers who will be running on hard, but I doubt the tempo of this race will suit them. The tips: Harris Tweed to beat Zavite, Moatize and No Wine No Song.
Predicted positions on settling
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Race 6, 3.35pm (Sydney time)
AND ALSO IN HONG KONG Stomach full from the free feed for visiting media at trackwork at Sha Tin racecourse in Hong Kong, And Also should sing for its supper … err, breakfast … and offer some punting advice for those intending to watch Sunday’s races from the big international meeting on the roomy Sha Tin turf track. The Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) has runners from two of the world’s best travellers of horses – South African Mike de Koch offers Lizard’s Desire, beaten a nose in the Dubai World Cup (2000m, tapeta surface), and England’s Luca Cumani has sent Presvis, 11th in the Dubai Duty Free (1800m, turf), but not getting a clear run until it was too late. Presvis, on his third trip to Hong Kong, is And Also’s selection – he was a brilliant winner last year, then in December was an under-prepared third to Vision d’Etat in the Hong Kong Cup, also 2000m. With Dubai – and he was fat there, too – Hong Kong is the gelding’s home away from home, so he is a comfy selection. The one concern is whether English rider Ryan Moore can find a clear passage, because Presvis has to be ridden from behind. Take the odds that he (or stand-by Zac Purton, if Moore’s late flight from Europe is delayed) will. If ever Australia is to win the Mile, this is the year with Dao Dao, who was a close third last year. The locals are either ageing or on the way up, but Dao Dao looks ready. The one turn-off – don’t take “unders” that’s often available at home. Stephen Howell in Hong Kong