2017 WJ McKell Cup Day at Royal Randwick is the headline card in Sydney on Saturday and has drawn some of the season’s best horses to a total of nine races; including the Listed feature race contested over a mile and a half.
The action on 2017 WJ McKell Cup Day is set to get underway at 11:10am when several exciting juveniles contest the Seven News Plate (1400m) and will conclude following the running of the One Solutions Handicap (1400m) at 4:20pm.
Race 1 (11:10am) Seven News Plate (1400m)
Twelve two-year-olds remain in contention for Race 1 at Randwick on Saturday, including smart last-start winner Sambro (barrier 11). The Fastnet Rock colt has been knocking on the door of Saturday company and more than earned his position in this field via a comfortable two-length success in the TAB Rewards Plate (1400m) on May 17th. Lord Cecil (barrier 8) has only made two competitive appearances at the races, but is yet to finish outside the first three, while the Gerald Ryan-trained Heliosphere (barrier 12) will be the only horse to make his debut in the race and has been charged with overcoming the wide and awkward barrier 12.
Tip: No 3 Sambro ($4.80)
Race 2 (11:45am) Tony Sleiman Memorial TAB Highway Handicap (1100m)
Race 2 on WJ McKell Cup Day has drawn an open field from a betting perspective and there is a case to be made for more than half the field of thirteen. Nardoo (barrier 1) failed to make anything of an impact in his return a fortnight ago, but he has reportedly taken plenty of benefit from the run and will appreciate 1100m. Murwillumbah trainer Matt Dunn has a terrific record in Highway Handicaps and is offered an excellent chance to continue that form with Conniving (barrier 13). The Nicconi mare has been a close second in her two most-recent starts in Queensland and should be right in the finish of this race, with early luck. Under The Thumb (barrier 6) has drawn ideally into this field and is a live chance for Grafton trainer Sue Grills. The Falvelon gelding beat a handy field at Tamworth (1000m) on March 28th and was an unlucky second following a tough run in transit at Quirindi last time out.
Tip: No. Under The Thumb – Each Way ($21/$5.30)
Race 3 (12:25pm) EML Handicap (2000m)
Fourteen three-year-olds will step out in Race 3 at Randwick on Saturday and again, there is a case to be made for the line-share of participants. Godolphin runner Obscura (barrier 7) carries winning form into the race following a dominant performance at Kembla Grange a fortnight ago and should find a good position in transit from his central draw. Chris Waller has dominated the field with a total of six horses, including leading contenders Wu Gok (barrier 6) and Octavian Augustus (barrier 1). The former worked to the line after a tough run in transit to finish third in the Kia Ora Stud BM78 (2200m) last time out, while the latter has finished second at his two most-recent starts and appears as though he will relish a step up to 2000m for the first time on Saturday.
Tip: No. 3 Obscura – Each Way ($13/$3.90)
Race 4 (1:05pm) Mark Taylor Outreach Program Handicap (1600m)
Race 4 on WJ McKell Cup Day has also been dominated by Chris Waller and the leading Sydney trainer will saddle five horses in the field of eleven. So Willie (barrier 11) returned to the races for consecutive wins, before toughing it to the line to finish fourth in the Winx Hall Of Fame Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill last weekend. Devil Hawk showed plenty of promise through his three-year-old season, including a smart win in the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) last September and he is more than capable amongst this company. Encosta Line (barrier 8) faded late to finish eighth last weekend, but is sure to have taken plenty of benefit from the run and arguably faces an easier field this weekend.
Tip: No. 7 Devil Hawk – Each Way ($20/$5.50)
Race 5 (1:45pm) Wilson Asset Management Handicap (1400m)
A capacity field of three-year-old fillies will step out in Race 5, including Siren’s Fury (barrier 7). The Myboycharlie filly ran an outstanding race to finish third in the Listed Princess Stakes (1600m) at Doomben on April 22nd, but was unable to make up the distance when sixth in the Sydney Markets Foundation BM78 (1800m) on May 6th after getting too far back. Brulee (barrier 2) has quickly built to the task through two starts this time and has drawn ideally into this field in barrier 2, while the Ron Quinton-trained Can Dream (barrier 11) has been close to winning each of her three starts so far. James Cummings saddled Hittite (barrier 9) to success at her last starts and she is primed for another big performance in this race.
Tip: No. 12 Hittite – Each Way ($15/$4.40)
Race 6 (2:20pm) The Spirting Chance Golfers Handicap (1200m)
Godolphin filly Sisken (barrier 10) has returned to the races in outstanding condition this season and should prove extremely difficult to beat when she takes her place in the field for Race 6 on WJ McKell Cup Day. Yet to finish outside the first three through her seven career starts, the Medaglia D’Oro filly is yet to taste anything but success through three starts in 2017 and should just win this race. Major dangers include the consistent Il Mio Destino (barrier 9), In Times Of War (barrier 11) and the second-up Roeinda (barrier 6).
Tip: No. 10 Sisken ($5)
Race 7 (3:00pm) Listed WJ McKell Cup (2400m)
A smart field of stayers has been confirmed for the day’s feature race and there is a case to be made for nearly every runner. Godolphin runner Allergic (barrier 9) has returned to the races in typically strong form this time and should prove extremely tough to beat, even with the 59kg topweight. Stable mate Big Blue (barrier 8) is treated far better at the weights with only 53.5kgs in tow, while Chris Waller will launch a strong multi-pronged attack in the form of Beyond Thankful (barrier 12), Soviet Courage (barrier 7) and Richard Of Yorke (barrier 11). Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott revealed that they are unlikely to saddle Broadside (barrier 10) in the McKell Cup following his tough win last weekend, but the horse is undoubtedly the one to beat should he take his place.
Tip: No. 2 Allergic ($4.60)
Race 8 (3:40pm) Sporting Chance Cancer Foundation Handicap (1100m)
An outstanding field of Saturday sprinters will take to the barriers for Race 8 at Randwick on Saturday. Veteran Big Money (barrier 6) steps back in class into this field, but has been charged with overcoming a heavy weight (61.5kgs), as has The Monstar (barrier 11, 60kgs). This is another race that is very winnable for the Godolphin operation, with the resuming Badajoz (barrier 1) drawn and weighted for success and with the in-form Michael Dee in the saddle. Notable runners Boss Lane (barrier 7), Aomen (barrier 13) and Hieroglyphics (barrier 3) are all capable of winning the race at long odds on Saturday.
Tip: No. 11 Badajoz ($3.50)
Race 9 (4:20pm) One Solutions Handicap (1400m)
2017 WJ McKell Cup Day will draw to a close after a capacity field of sixteen steps out for the One Solutions Handicap. High Mist (barrier 12) is sure to have taken plenty of benefit from his first-up seventh in a Warwick Farm 1400m race last week, while Coolcraft (barrier 1) appears ready to return to winning form after finishing third at his two most-recent starts. Reine Happy (barrier 15) faces a big step up in class into this race, but has steadily built to the task this time in and is not without a chance with 57kgs in tow.
Tip: No. 2 High Mist ($5.50)