The 2017 George Main Stakes Form Guide is essential reading for punters and racing fans ahead of the Group 1 feature race at Royal Randwick on Saturday afternoon.
Some of the most exciting Sydney Spring Carnival prospects will step out in the 2017 George Main Stakes field, however the race is undoubtedly highlighted by the third campaign appearance of champion mare Winx.
Eight horses remain in the 2017 George Main Stakes field following the scratching of first-three contender Tom Melbourne.
Consistent gelding Happy Clapper has returned to racing in typically smart form this time and is arguably Winx’s biggest rival in the 2017 George Main Stakes field. Posting a commendable career total of eight wins and as many minors through twenty-six starts, the Teofilo gelding resumed in autumn for a commendable second in the Listed National Sprint (1400m) in Canberra before delivering a smart field a resounding defeat in the Group 3 Newcastle Newmarket (1400m) on March 17th. Having finished second in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) for the second-consecutive year, Happy Clapper ran a credible fifth in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) and resumed a fortnight ago for an impressive win in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m). The horse is sure to take plenty of improvement into this race, will relish stepping up to a mile and should find a good position within the George Main Stakes field from a wide draw.
Evergreen gelding Ecuador has returned to racing in typically competitive form this time and is not without a chance of finishing in the George Main Stakes first three. The popular veteran produced a number of strong performances and results through autumn; winning the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) before running third in both the Group 1 Ladbrokes CF Orr Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Ladbrokes Futurity Stakes (1400m) most notably. Having placed third in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) and fourth in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) this time, the High Chaparral gelding is rock-hard fit and drawn ideally in barrier 5.
Red Excitement went extremely close to delivering Winx her first defeat in nineteen starts in the Chelmsford Stakes a fortnight ago and is likely to employ a similar tactic in the George Main Stakes on Saturday. Jockey Josh Parr allowed the gelding to stride forward a fortnight ago and set a noticeably quick tempo for the Chelmsford Stakes field and the tactic almost worked when he was only beaten in the final strides of the race. Parr has understandably retained the ride and Red Excitement should find no issue taking up the running from barrier 4.
McCreery clearly required a run when he tailed off to finish eighth in the Tramway Stakes first-up, but will be take plenty of natural improvement into this race and will enjoy the mile. The Big Bad Bob gelding found career-best form to date through last year’s edition of the Spring Carnival and posted consecutive wins in the Listed Rowley Mile (1600m) and Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) on his way to second in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) most notably. The horse will need to find his best to be in the finish of this race and he has been charged with overcoming the outside barrier.
Mackintosh is another horse than failed to produce much first-up, but he is arguably at his best over a mile and is faced with plenty of early options from barrier 2. Mackintosh also found arguably his best form through the Spring months of 2016; winning the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m) first-up before placing third in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) and fifth in the Cantala Stakes most notably. Glyn Schofield will take the ride aboard the Pins gelding for the first time competitively.
Tom Melbourne – SCRATCHED
Tom Melbourne has been something of an enigma since arriving on Australian shores, however Chris Waller appears to have found the key to the gelding and he has been excellent in his two starts this time. Formerly saddled by Lee & Anthony Freedman in Melbourne, the Dylan Thomas gelding was held up and completely luckless in running in the Canterbury RSL Spring Preview (1400m) on August 12th, but still savaged the line for a close second. Having worked home well to finish second behind Happy Clapper in the Tramway Stakes a fortnight ago, Tom Melbourne is another runner that is rock-hard fit and ready to find his best in the George Main Stakes.
Equine superstar Winx has undoubtedly been more vulnerable in her two starts this season than she has at any other point during her nineteen-consecutive race wins, but she has still found a way to win and should simply be too good for her rivals in this George Main Stakes field. The daughter of Street Cry posted four wins from as many starts through the recent Autumn Carnival and added three more Group 1 wins her to mantle, in the form of the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), George Ryder Stakes (1500m) and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m). Posting a last-gasp win over stable mate Foxplay in the Warwick Stakes first-up this time, Winx again appeared to be beaten by Red Excitement in the Chelmsford Stakes last time out, but still managed to find a way to win. Regular rider Hugh Bowman remains in the saddle and she has drawn the rails.
Group 1 winner Heavens Above always improves with racing and she is not without a hope of a first three finish in the George Main Stakes. Winner of the Group 3 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) second-up last spring, the Street Cry mare required a run to find form when ninth in the Group 2 Millie Fox Stakes (1300m) first-up this year, but flew home to beat a classy field in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) on March 11th. Sent to the paddock after a lacklustre run in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m), Heavens Above struck on well to fifth in the Tramway Stakes (1400m) first-up a fortnight ago.
Foxplay went within a whisker of delivering stable mate Winx her first defeat in eighteen starts first-up this time and is primed for another big performance in the George Main Stakes. The daughter of Foxwedge has been a strong and consistent performer throughout her entire racing career so far and produced a number of outstanding results through autumn of this year, including a maiden win at the highest level in the Queen Of The Turf Stakes. Foxplay could receive the run of the race in the George Main Stakes from barrier 3 and will be partnered by in-form hoop Brenton Avdulla.