Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller will have five runners in the 2014 The Metropolitan field that will be released by Racing New South Wales tomorrow.
Waller won the 2011 edition of The Metropolitan with The Verminator and Junoob, Bagman, Opinion, Our Voodoo Prince and Brigantin will all be given the opportunity to become his second winner in the Group 1 event.
Junoob is rated the best of Waller’s chances in the 2014 The Metropolitan after he returned to winning form with a strong performance in the Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick on September 20.
The Haafhd gelding was the beneficiary of a very clever ride from leading jockey Blake Shinn and the talented hoop will partner Junoob in just his third race start at a distance greater than 2000 metres since he arrived in Australia.
Veteran stayer Bagman worked home strongly to finish third behind Junoob and Criterion in the Hill Stakes and the eight-year-old is arguably racing in the best form of his career.
Bagman will be stepping up to 2400 metres for the first time in his racing career, but he has not missed the placings in his past five starts and he will be partnered by leading hoop Hugh Bowman, who won last year’s The Metropolitan on Seville.
There was plenty of hype surrounding Our Voodoo Prince ahead of the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, but the half-brother to Australia has not been particularly impressive in his three race starts to date this preparation and would need to improve significantly to win The Metropolitan.
Our Voodoo Prince finished at the tail of the field in the Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 23 and produced an improved performance in the 1600 metre Handicap at Moonee Valley on September 6, but failed to fire in the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield on September 20.
Opinion has also missed the placings in his three race starts this campaign, but he will be suited by the step-up to 2400 metres after he performed strongly over staying trips, including a second place finish in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m), during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Waller charges in The Metropolitan is rounded out by imported galloper Brigantin, who produced one of his best performances since arriving in Australia to finish second in the Group 3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) on September 18.
Spillway ($4.40) and La Amistad ($6.50) are currently on top of the 2014 The Metropolitan betting market at Ladbrokes Australia from Junoob ($8) and Bagman ($9), while Opinion ($13), Our Voodoo Prince ($13) and Brigantin ($21) are all available at double figure odds.