Sydney’s leading lady of racing Gai Waterhouse chases an incredible eighth Doncaster Mile win this weekend saddling-up veteran seven-year-old Ecuador in the handicap classic.
The $3 million Group 1 The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) is one of four Group 1 features headlining the Royal Randwick action on Saturday for Day 1 of ‘The Championships’.
The race is one Waterhouse dominated from 1994 – 2012 enjoying seven victories including four on the trot with Pharaoh (1994-95), Sprint By (1996) and Secret Savings (1997).
She won again with then three-year-old Assertive Lad (2001), Grand Armee (2003) and most recently the mighty mare More Joyous (2012) who was the trainer’s only winner to jump as favourite in Doncaster Mile betting.
Since 1983 Waterhouse has saddled-up forty-seven Doncaster Mile hopefuls and along with her seven champions she has also enjoyed four seconds and four third place finishes in the race during that time.
Waterhouse now trains in partnership with her former racing manage Adrian Bott and this year the duo are hoping to end the Chris Waller reign with an upset Doncaster Mile victory with Ecuador.
Waller is the second most successful Doncaster Mile trainer with six winners including the last four on the trot ending with Winx (2016).
His best chance of extending the winning streak lies with McCreery, who is second elect in all-in Doncaster Mile betting at Ladbrokes.com.au this year behind the Kris Lees-trained Le Romain.
Ecuador meanwhile is a roughie in the markets, the son of High Chaparral racing for the first time since his eighth to Humidor in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 11.
The Australian Cup form was franked in Sydney last Saturday with the runner-up Jameka turning the tables on Humidor for her impressive six and a half-length success in Rosehill’s Group 1 The BMW (2400m).
Ecuador is back down in distance for his Doncaster Mile bid on Saturday and has trialled in the meantime finishing fourth over 1000m at Wyong on March 22.
“He had a tough run in the Australian Cup but his two runs at weight-for-age [prior to that] over 1400m in Melbourne were very respectable against Black Heart Bart,” co-trainer Bott told The Advertiser on Sunday.
Those runs saw Ecuador enjoy two Group 1 thirds narrowly beaten home in the CF Orr Stakes and Futurity Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield.
“The sharp step up to 2000m and a tough run in transit probably just saw him out a bit the other day and [the track] was favouring the leaders so there was a bit of pressure on early to get to the front and he just got a bit tired late,” Bott added of the Australian Cup run.
“But he has come through that well and travelled up here in good order.
“He had a trial at Wyong the other day just to keep him up to the mark and dropping back to handicap conditions and a strong mile at Randwick will be much more to his liking.”
Ecuador is a dual winner at Randwick, most recently beating a far easier class of rivals back on January 21 in the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) under a hefty 61kg.
The weight-for-age Australian Cup had him carrying 59kg and this weekend the galloper will come back to 54kg in the Doncaster Mile weights, Adam Hyeronimus booked for the ride.
History is against Ecuador at his age however with just the one seven-year-old winning the Doncaster Mile in over 30 years – the aforementioned Waterhouse-trained Pharaoh for his second back in 1995.
Should Waterhouse pull off the upset with Ecuador, she will surpass the record she currently co-holds with her late father TJ Smith who also prepared seven Doncaster Mile champions.