We’re only a week away from Group 1 racing at Morphettville but this weekend will provide a fantastic taster of the quality of horses that are descending on South Australia over the next month.
Race 1: Group 3 Breeders Stakes
The two-year-olds line up in the first race of the day in a contest that looks ridiculously even on paper. Last year’s winner Tequila Time took the Festival Racing by storm winning the Breeders before claiming the Group 3 Sires Produce and then running third in a hot edition of the Group 3 National Stakes.
Lindsay Park’s Memphis Rock is still a maiden after five career starts but has contested plenty of high quality races in his career. He powered home strongly in his last race to finish third and on that run looks a big chance come Saturday.
The Tony McEvoy pair of She Shao Fly and Grand Scholar have both contested Stakes races previously so will know what it takes to run up to this level. The fillies both look high class and McEvoy is a master of the two-year-olds.
Will Clarken will debut his filly Ethical Solution on Saturday after running third in a trial behind Grand Scholar earlier this month, while undefeated Victorian visitors Shifty Shamus and Kooweerup also make the trip across for the chance at a Black-type win.
Race 6: Listed City of Adelaide Handicap
If history is anything to go by, the Listed City of Adelaide is a race in four. Over the past five years, the winner has contested a Stakes race in their last start and Saturday’s edition only sees four horses in Casino Wizard, Malaise, Bring Me Roses and Hussybay fit the bill.
The SA Superstar Casino Wizard is chasing his first win since October last year and while you can’t rule him out, he’s never won over 1400m and it looks like it might continue to be a stretch on his recent runs.
On the other hand, the Victorian visitor Malaise loves the 1400m with three wins and three placings from ten starts at the distance. Two years ago he was runner up in the Group 3 CS Hayes at Flemington over 1400m behind Hey Doc and beat home Land of Plenty; two high quality horses.
Mick Huxtable’s Hussybay was solid in his return to the track in Group 3 Irwin Stakes last start. He’s a horse who may appreciate more distance but interestingly Jamie Kah takes the ride on the gelding and she’s undefeated in two starts aboard him. Watch for him later in the carnival over a mile.
The big watch will be on Tony McEvoy’s Group 2 winner and three time Group 1 placed mare Bring Me Roses. While she’s only won once in her 20 start career, this Saturday’s Listed 1400m looks the perfect race for the talented mare. This is probably the easiest race she’s contested in some time and with the State’s leading jockey on board, Raquel Clark, she should get a great run from barrier four.
Race 7: Listed Nitschke Stakes
Tony McEvoy will have four live chances in the Listed Nitschke Stakes on Saturday led by the Group 3 placed Aristocratic Miss. The three-year-old has been a frustrating horse to follow with only one win from 16 starts but she’s contested three Group 1’s across her short career and this race looks the perfect opportunity to add a Stakes win to her resume. McEvoy’s other runners, East Indiaman, Crockett and Lake District Girl are also chances on their best form in an open race.
The race features three other horses who have contested Group 1 races in their careers including Akkadian, Seberate and Tahitian Dancer. The latter beat the classy Music Bay two starts back while Akkadian won her first-up race at Pakenham earlier this month and Seberate is Group 2 placed.
There are also plenty of great local chances with John Macmillan’s undefeated Aiguilette leading the pack. He beat the impressive Spielberg and Aristocratic Miss last start and could be the real good news story from this race.
Race 8: Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes
The Group 3 Chairman’s is the final hit out for the boys ahead of the Group 1 SA Derby in a fortnight’s time.
While this is the traditional lead up, only three winners of this race have gone onto do the double in 20 years. Last year’s winner Leicester and the 2016 winner Howard Be Thy Name have managed to do it in recent years but before them it was the great Rebel Raider back in 2009 who last completed the double.
No horse has won the Chairman’s in the last six years without running in the top four in their last start which makes it hard historically for this year’s favourite, Declarationofheart to salute.
While recent history may say it’s hard for the favourite to win, his previous form says that he is all quality. He just missed a Group 2 victory in March going down in the Allister Clark by a nose to Global Exchange while last start he ran eighth a strong Group 1 ATC Derby.
Savvy Oak is the other runner in the race with previous Derby experience, running 3.9 lengths seventh in last year’s Group 1 VRC Derby behind Extra Brut. He’ll get the services of the returning Jamie Kah who is in magnificent form across the border.
Port Adelaide Guineas winner Classic Weiwei has to be respected off of his massive run in the Listed feature while Star Status was another eye-catcher in that race running third. Greg Eurell’s Star Missile has form around Grinzinger Star and Mr Quickie who are the current top two in the market for next month’s Derby.