The 2017 Epsom Handicap Form Guide is essential reading for punters and racing fans ahead of Saturday afternoon’s feature race at Royal Randwick.
Fourteen talented milers have been confirmed in the 2017 Epsom Handicap field and we have analysed every horse in detail, in order to help you find a winner.
Happy Clapper has found terrific form this time and is poised to break his Group 1 maiden status in the Epsom Handicap, but will have to overcome the likes of Foxplay, Egg Tart and Tom Melbourne.
Consistent performer Happy Clapper has returned to racing in typically smart form this time and is the horse to beat in the 2017 Epsom Handicap field. Happy Clapper is unlucky not to have posted a win at the highest level of racing, but is a multiple stakes champion and will relish race at the Randwick mile once more on Saturday. Finishing second in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile for the second-consecutive year most notably in autumn, the Teofilo gelding resumed this time for a smart win in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) before running second to Winx in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago.
Foxplay went within a flare of her nostrils of delivering stable mate Winx her first defeat for more than two years in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) first-up this time and she would not look out of place in the Epsom Handicap winner’s stall. Foxplay has been a strong and consistent performer throughout her entire racing career so far, but undoubtedly found her best form to date through the recent Autumn Carnival. Take a couple of runs to find peak condition, the Foxwedge filly was at her best when she overcame a torrid run in transit to win the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m) on March 11th and broke through for a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) on Day 2 of The Championships. She may need some luck early from barrier 14, but her class suggests she’ll be right in the finish of the Epsom Handicap.
Sound Proposition has returned to racing in terrific form this time and will enjoy a step up to 1600m into the Epsom Handicap field. The six-year-old was a Group 1 winner in her native New Zealand; winning the Manco Easter Stakes (1600m) at Ellerslie most notably in 2016. Posting a near three-length win in the Racing To Win Handicap (1600m) in what was his first start for Kris Lees on June 24th, the Savabeel gelding repeated the performance and result in the ATC Heritage Volunteers Handicap (1800m) on July 22nd, before making a commendable transition to black type company when second in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) last time out on September 15th.
He’s Our Rokkii
Group 1 winner He’s Our Rokkii failed to fire at his last start and will need to improve drastically, if he is to find his way into the Epsom Handicap winner’s circle. The Roc De Cambes gelding found his best form to date during the 2016 Spring Carnival; taking out his first two starts with complete ease before storming hoem to win the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) in October. Simply failing to come up during the recent Autumn Carnival, He’s Our Rokkii appeared to be on track for another strong spring preparation when fourth in the talent-rich Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) first-up this time, but faded to finish sixth in the Group 2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) on September 9th.
Red Excitement is another horse who has troubled Winx this season and if he can replicate his run in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) this weekend, he will be crowned the Epsom Handicap winner. Red Excitement was a strong and consistent performer through summer and early autumn this year; winning both the Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) and Listed Gosford Cup (2100m) and finishing second in the Listed Parramatta Cup (1900m) most notably. Resuming this time for a credible fourth in the Warwick Stakes, the Excites gelding set a break-neck early pace in the Chelmsford Stakes and looked to have ended Winx’s winning street in the final straight, before being caught in the final 100m. The same tactic did not work in the George Main Stakes a fortnight ago, but this is a different field and conditions and the horse is rock-hard fit ahead of the Epsom Handicap.
McCreery has steadily built to the task this time and is ready to peak third-up in the 2017 Epsom Handicap. The Big Bad Bob gelding is another horse who found career-best form last spring; winning the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) and the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m), before finishing sixth in the Epsom Handicap and a close second in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m). Winning the Group 3 Liverpool City Cup (1300m) first-up this year, McCreery has failed to return to winning form through seven subsequent starts, but ran on well for fourth in the George Main Stakes and should find a good position in transit on Saturday from barrier 7.
I Am A Star
Group 1 winning mare I Am A Star is yet to find her best form this season, but she will have conditions to suit in the Epsom Handicap 2017. Capping an outstanding 2016 campaign with a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m); race for which she also became the first three-year-old winner, I Am A Star resumed in autumn this year for several similarly outstanding results, including consecutive wins in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m) and Group 2 Sunline Stakes (1600m). The I Am Invincible mare resumed this time for fourth in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m), but has since only managed midfield placings in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m).
Classy mare Zanbagh carries winning form into the 2017 Epsom Handicap and is a genuine light-weight chance of winning the feature race. The Bernardini mare has been a strong and consistent performer throughout a long and busy racing career, but she is yet to win a Group 1 race, despite going close several times. Successfully defending her crown in the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes (1500m) and running second in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes during an impressive autumn preparation this year, Zanbagh failed to produce much through her first two starts this time, but mustered a strong turn of foot in the final straight at Newcastle on September 15th to comfortably win the Group 3 Tibbie Stakes (1400m). A step up in trip is ideal, but Zanbagh will need some early luck to find a prominent position from barrier 9.
Trainer Chris Waller appears to have found the key with Irish import Tom Melbourne and the horse has found his most consistent and perhaps best form since being in Australia, this time in. Previously saddled by Lee and Anthony Freedman in Victoria, the Dylan Thomas gelding trialled well in the lead-up to his debut for Waller and was unlucky not to win the Canterbury RSL Spring Preview (1400m) on August 12th after being severely checked at the 150m mark. Finishing second to Happy Clapper in the Tramway Stakes, Tom Melbourne was unable to make up the ground late when second again behind Comin’ Through in the Group 3 Bill Ritchie Handicap (1400m) a fortnight ago. Tom Melbourne has been charged with overcoming barrier 13, but will carry only 52kgs.
Egg Tart – SCRATCHED
Multiple Group 1 winner Egg Tart is sure to take wholesale improvement into the Epsom Handicap and should prove extremely difficult to beat in the feature race. Egg Tart experienced a meteoric rise to prominence through autumn and winter this year; winning three minor races with complete ease before taking out both the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2010m) and Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2200m). Having run well for second behind Deploy, who broke a track record in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) first-up, the Sebring mare will enjoy a step up in distance, will be partnered by regular hoop Kerrin McEvoy and has plenty of early options from the rails draw.
Comin’ Through has returned to racing in terrific form this time and is a live chance of winning the Epsom Handicap third-up on Saturday afternoon. Comin’ Through flew home to win the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at the end of his impressive debut preparation last spring and while producing some good results in autumn this year, including third in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m), failed to live up to his potential. Gutsy to the line when a smart winner of the Broccolini BM90 (1400m) first-up on August 19th, Comin’ Through beat a handy field in the Bill Ritchie Handicap a fortnight ago and will enjoy a step up in trip, a light weight and the conditions of the Epsom Handicap this weekend.
Savile Row is one of the rank outsiders of the 2017 Epsom Handicap field and he probably cannot win the feature race on Saturday afternoon. The Makfi entire was a strong and consistent performer throughout his debut preparation in his native New Zealand last spring and into the autumn of this year; finishing second in three Group 1 races including both the New Zealand 2000 Guineas (1600m) and Levin Classic (1600m). Savile Row failed to make anything of an impact in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Qualuty (1200m) first-up and would need to muster a career-best performance to go close in the Epsom Handicap.
Snitzson has not been far away through his three starts this time, but he is another horse that will need to improve drastically to win the Epsom Handicap. The Snitzel entire won three of his six starts through autumn this year and ended his season a smart third in the talent-rich Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) on March 4th, having jumped as a $67 shot. Running on for a credible fifth in the Aurie’s Star Handicap first-up this time, Snitzson has since finished fourth in the Comcater Handicap (1400m) and sixth in the Listed The Sofitel (1400m).
Embley – SCRATCHED
Embley is set to jump at the longest odds of all horses in the Epsom Handicap field and while finding good form this time in, faces a big step up in class here and has been charged with overcoming barrier 11. Incredibly yet to step out in black type company during his thirty-two start career, the High Chaparral gelding has won his two most-recent starts, both at the Randwick mile.