The Randwick Report – October 1
Bren O'Brien runs the rule over Saturday's Epsom Handicap day card at Royal Randwick, with trainer Chris Waller deploying a typically strong Group 1 hand.
Rail: Plus 3m
Track: Soft 7 (Thursday)
Weather: (Raceday) Possible rainfall: 5 to 10 mm, 95% chance of rain, Max Temperature: 18
Chris Waller’s dominance of the Sydney training scene in the past decade has been built off his love of a big race day, and few have been as good to the ex-pat Kiwi than Epsom Handicap day.
Waller has trained the winner of the Epsom in four of the past nine editions of the famous Randwick mile, while he has also trained the winner of The Metropolitan four times since 2011. In 2019, he swept the three Randwick Group 1 features when he also claimed his first Flight Stakes with Funstar.
On Saturday Waller is represented by a trio of quality mares in Kiku, Hinged and Fangirl in the Epsom, no less than seven of the 15 runners in The Metropolitan, including the favourite Durston, and has two live chances in the Flight Stakes. They are the major players in a 19-strong Waller Army but interestingly, he has no runners in either of the two-year-old races that kick off the 10-race program.
Where you need to be
The last meeting at Randwick on September 17 saw seven of the 10 winners inside the top four at the top of the straight. That was actually an improvement on the bias evident on September 3 when all 10 winners came from on pace. The last time the Randwick rail was in this 3m position was August 20 and the track played very fairly on that occasion.
Race of the day
It’s not a vintage Epsom – in fact it’s the smallest field in the race in five years – but the feature Randwick mile looks a very competitive race, with three contenders expected to fight for favouritism. Icebath has had eight attempts at Group 1 level, placing on five occasions, but will never get a better opportunity to break her elite duck. The prediction of wet weather will play into her favour.
That is also the case with Hinged, who does have a Group 1 victory under her belt and was beaten just half a length by Icebath last time out. She gets a 2.5kg weight swing on her key rival under the handicap conditions.
Import Top Ranked carries top weight, albeit only 56.5kg, and comes off his first win since arriving in Australia in the G3 Bill Ritchie. Annabel Neasham has the seven-year-old in very good form and he could be a major player in both this race and othes later in the spring.