With the mid-winter point past and the days becoming longer, if slowly, at least the hint of new season black type racing is becoming closer and tantalising is the thought of higher class runners re-appearing.
Saturday’s $160,000, Group 3 WFA Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, with 20 nominations, has the prospect of All Star heroine Mystic Journey commencing her new campaign with Group 1 WS Cox Plate aspirations way down the track on October 26th at The Valley.
Her current $4.50 favourite status with TAB.com.au will be under scrutiny should she take her place at Caulfield on Saturday.
Sydney has the final black type race of the season with the $150,000, listed Winter Challenge (1500m) at Rosehill and it promises to maintain the high standard of winter racing in Sydney this year.
Fast forward however to August 10th at the same track and there is the aptly named, again, $200,000, Group 2 WFA Missile Stakes (1200m). Plus the $140,000, listed The Rosebud (1100m) to see, forgive the pun, the spring sap start to appear.
Hugh Bowman celebrates with Alizee after her Group 1 Futurity Stakes win at Caulfield, picture Quentinjlang.com
Last Friday Godolphin’s team at the Rosehill trials were mouth wateringly good and with the performance of Alizee under Hugh Bowman over 900m on the Course Proper standing out from them all.
Officially the rising five-year-old Sepoy mare finished fourth behind Meryl and stablemate Kaimichi, the margin 1 /4L. But immediately past the line the mare pulled Bowman past Meryl and they cruised along the bottom straight ahead of the rest. Trainer James Cummings had every right to be impressed.
Alizee will start her campaign in the Missile Stakes with the stable having multiple options with her, with one of those options their slot in the 2019 The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 19th.
The Everest has reinvigorated the Missile Stakes as a crucial starting point for sprinters. This was the race won by Lonhro in 2002, Spark Of Life in 2003 and Dance Hero in 2004, but recent renewals have not had that class. Last year’s winner Pierata started the climb back and Alizee will complete it
While Alizee’s Group 1 wins have been at 1600m, the Flight Stakes, 1400m with the Futurity Stakes, and 2000m with the Queen Of The Turf Stakes, she can sprint and win fresh. Last spring she came out and won the Group 2 Expressway Stakes over 1200m at Rosehill before proceeding to the Futurity.
Whether Alizee does go forward to The Everest will be answered further into the spring, with Godolphin’s new slot they can weave a path that suits.
Perhaps Osborne Bull takes the stable slot after his third last year behind Redzel and Trapeze Artist after a daring ride by Tommy Berry down the very outside of the track on the best ground. Osborne Bulls though has being taking lessons from Tom Melbourne (IRE) and he finished second five times in succession earlier this year, a habit he will need to overcome
Alizee could head to Caulfield and the MRC route into The Everest by the pathway of the $400,000 Group 2 WFA Schillaci Stakes (1100m) on Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Day, the week before The Everest. The mare won the Expressway in Sydney and then the Futurity at Caulfield so she travels and she also knows Randwick. Maybe she stays with middle distance racing after all, there are options.
The market is banking on Osborne Bulls at $7.00 with TAB.com.au for The Everest as the second favourite behind Santa Ana Lane with Pierata on the third line at $8.00. Alizee languishes at $13.00 which might seem a bargain if she comes out and demolishes the Missile Stakes. There is much to look forward to over the up-coming weeks.