Jean Dubois’ lightly-raced colt Guerrier is set to get the run of the race in Saturday’s Group 1 $500,000 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m) field coming up trumps with barrier one for the Royal Randwick clash.
Running as Race 6 at 2:55pm (AEST) on All Aged Stakes Day, this autumn’s Champagne Stakes field features 13 hopeful two-year-olds and the inside run belongs to Epaulette colt Guerrier.
The youngster has had just the one run to date, winning a Hawkesbury maiden over 1300m on debut on April 5 when also drawn gate one.
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire retains the ride in Saturday’s Group 1 acid test, the Goulburn-trained Guerrier rated a $21 chance in the latest markets at Ladbrokes.com.au to win the mile classic.
Dubois remains confident despite the notable rise in grade, hopeful his up-and-comer can finish off better than stablemate Aylmerton who ran 10th in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) earlier this autumn.
“Three months ago I didn’t think Aylmerton would be in the Slipper, either,” Dubois told the media this week.
“I think he’s [Guerrier is] a good horse and for sure he can do the mile.
“He kept going after the line in Hawkesbury, that tells me he needs a bit more distance.
“There’s not so many races over the mile for two-year-olds so this is the time to try.”
Nine of the 13 runners in the Champagne Stakes field come via a traditional lead-up run in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) on Day 1 of ‘The Championships’ including the shock winner El Dorado Dreaming.
Newcastle’s Benjamin Smith enjoyed the surprise win with the Ilovethiscity filly a fortnight back as an $81 shot, El Dorado Dreaming coming off a second in a maiden race at her home track just seven days prior.
The filly gets the chance at a Group 1 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival double on Saturday from barrier seven with Jason Collett coming aboard for the ride.
If successful El Dorado Dreaming, currently a $9 shot in Champagne Stakes betting, will be the first to do the Sires’ – Champagne double since the filly Guelph in 2013.
It is another Sires’ Produce graduate who leads the odds however, money coming for the Mick Price-trained Seabrook to atone for her ninth.
The daughter of Hinchinbrook was two lengths back fifth the start prior in Rosehill’s Golden Slipper before crossing three lengths back in her final lead-up.
The other best out of the Inglis’ Sires, which has produced 21 of the past 25 Champagne Stakes winners, are the third placed Outrageous and fourth placegetter Long Leaf for Lindsay Park.
All Too Hard colt Outrageous was only a length back and is prepared by Hawkes Racing who won the race in 2006 with Mentality.
Hall of Famer John Hawkes also prepared Champagne Stakes winners Viscount (2001) and Dracula (1998) before training in partnership with his sons Wayne and Michael.
The Hawkes stable also saddle-up Dundeel colt Irukandji who comes off a lead-up win from March 31 at Rosehill in the Group 3 Baillieu Handicap (1400m).