Andrew Le Jeune

Presenter & Columnist


LJ Confidential: Veight to find the fast Lane as world-class jockeys jet in for Championships

The 'pulling power' of The Championships is on full display as several star riders descend on Randwick, including globetrotting Australian Damian Lane who reunites with unbeaten colt Veight for a G1 Sires' bid.

Saturday isn’t just Day One of The Championships as far as horses are concerned, but jockeys as well.

The Sydney jockeys’ room is already among the most formidable in world racing but is bolstered by a host of high-class additions for Randwick’s four-strong Group 1 card, including Hong Kong-based Australians Zac Purton and Hugh Bowman. They are joined by Tom Marquand, returning from injury, and Joao Moreira, who continues his global farewell tour. 

Also competing will be Melbourne-based, but frequent flyer, Damian Lane. Lane has ridden in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Hong Kong in the last month and is soon Japan-bound for what he hopes will be another fruitful stint, and heads to Randwick with a top chance in the ATC G1 Sires’ Produce aboard Veight.

Golden Slipper runner-up Cylinder may not have even been contesting the Sires’ had he won as favourite two weeks ago, when the son of Exceed And Excel was beaten into second by the blueblood colt Shinzo.  

Godolphin will be keen to get this Group 1 on his CV and he is again the obvious favourite, but I think it is worth looking elsewhere. 

Veight comes to Sydney unbeaten and with plenty of upside. Co-trainers Tony and Calvin McEvoy took him from a Pakenham maiden on debut to an impressive Group 2 win at Flemington last start, and the son of Grunt can continue his great run of form here (third-placed Amur since took out the G3 Baillieu at Rosehill). 

Also in contention is Cafe Millenium. An impressive winner two starts back, he looked like he needed this step up in trip last start and reunites with Marquand. Brave Mead comes in off a solid win at Moonee Valley last week. 

Another #WBS candidate for Purton

The TJ Smith shapes as a tremendous race. Plenty of pundits are lining up to write-off Nature Strip but do that at your peril. He has won the last three editions and it would be a fairytale if he could make it four, but this is a race of exceptional quality and depth. 

Passive Aggressive was a massive run to get up and beat Eduardo on the line when resuming in the G2 Challenge Stakes, but the horse behind them that day that produced some seriously slick late sectionals, Giga Kick, is my pick here. 

Purton takes the ride on Giga Kick after Craig Williams suffered fractures and a concussion in a recent fall. 

If Giga Kick delivers Purton will be well-placed to weigh-in on the ‘world’s best sprinter’ debate, having ridden Lucky Sweynesse to a Group 1 victory this season, and watched the same horse cruise on by his own mount California Spangle in the 1400m G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup.


Lucky Sweynesse gets the better of California Spangle in the G1 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

Craig Williams and Giga Kick win the $15 million Everest. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Purton has another huge Group 1 chance aboard All-Star Mile winner and defending champ Mr Brightside in the Doncaster, who won last year’s race carrying 50.5kg when Craig Williams rode half a kilogram over. Team Hayes’ stable star has 55.5kg to contend with this time around. 

Moreira rides Fangirl, who has been clashing with Anamoe of late, while Communist – ridden so expertly by Purton to claim the G1 Randwick Guineas – gets in with a light weight and the services of boom apprentice Tyler Schiller, fresh off a maiden Group 1 win of his own on Mariamia. 

British trainer William Haggas is becoming an expert at Sydney raids and he has G3 Sky High winner Protagonist set for a shot at the Doncaster. The son of Wootton Bassett could be a knockout hope at odds in a great betting race.

Andrew's Randwick Best Bets

Race 6 No.4 Veight WIN 

Race 8 No.17 Protagonist EACH-WAY 

Race 9 No.1 Sharp ‘N’ Smart/No.4 Pericles/No.6 Andalus Q/QP




    Subscribe now & get exclusive weekly content from Asian Racing Report direct to your inbox

      Expert ratings, tips & analysis for Hong Kong racing