Championships Preview

| April 12, 2014
Buffering dominates crack sprint field to win second G1.

Buffering ready for the TJ Smith

The Championships have arrived and thoroughbred racing’s ‘Grand Finals’ are set to produce some exhilarating racing. Four Group Ones will be the highlight on the first of two days of The Championships with the main attraction being the The Star Doncaster Mile.

Premier trainer Chris Waller will line up an incredible six runners in the famous race including last year’s winner, Sacred Falls. While the Group One winner has been working up to another win it would come as some concern that he hasn’t won since taking out last year’s Doncaster, when he knocked off hot favourite Pierro in Heavy conditions.

With a Heavy track predicted for Saturday, the cards could fall in favour of Sacred Falls once more. His record in the wet is almost impeccable (three starts on Slow/Heavy for two wins) and his last start fourth in the George Ryder showed that he is on track to give this race a big shake. He’ll begin from barrier 14 with international jockey Zac Purton taking the ride. Waller’s other runners are Boban, My Kingdom Of Fyfe, Hawkspur and Royal Descent, while Weary is the new kid on the block and is the most favoured out of his runners. Carrying the limit at 51.5 kilograms, Weary was ultra impressive in taking out the final event on the program at Rosehill last Saturday. Stalking the well supported Leebaz, who led, jockey Hugh Bowman pulled the trigger on straightening and the result never looked in doubt as he raced to an effortless win.Tommy Berry will take over the riding duties in the Doncaster with the pair starting from gate 13.

Weary has had the 11 career starts for three wins and four placings, with his last three here in Australia after arriving from Europe. A debut third to Ecuador in mid-February was followed by a second to the Doncaster favourite, Messene, in the Ajax Stakes three weeks ago. Weary has excellent wet track form of two wins on Heavy from as many starts and it wouldn’t surprise to see the son of Astronomer Royal turn the tables on Messene this time.

On Messene, he has thrived this preparation and has built the impressive record of nine wins and two placings from 12 starts. It’s no surprise to see the five-year-old a clear favourite in this race as he goes into it off the back of seven straight wins, dating back to March last year. The gelding hasn’t been tested on wet tracks but if you go off his record on Dead going (four wins and a placing from six starts), then he may be able to handle it. Unfortunately for his supporters he’s come up with a horror draw (18) which will give Corey Brown plenty of work to do early. If his recent racing pattern is anything to go by then Brown is likely to come out of the gates at the start in search of a forward position.

Another of the Group Ones on the Randwick card which will be eagerly contested is the TJ Smith Stakes. This race was famously taken out by Black Caviar last year in what would subsequently be her final start before being retired. Boom sprinter Lankan Rupee has been in devastating form since coming back from a spell, notching three straight wins including outstanding efforts in the Oakleigh Plate and Newmarket Handicap. The Mick Price-trained gelding has drawn the inside but whether that will be an advantage or not remains to be seen. Keep a close watch on the racing pattern throughout the day to see if there is any bias. Either way, Lankan Rupee is without doubt the one to beat. One of the concerns will be how he handles the wet track as he hasn’t started on anything worse than Dead going. That aside, he has two wins over the 1400 metres and is without doubt the form sprinter in the country.

Arguably Australia’s best sprinter, Buffering, gets to start alongside Lankan Rupee in barrier two. His first-up run in the Challenge Stakes wasn’t all that bad when looking at it, where he finished seventh to Villa Verde. He led on that occasion and had to do a bit of work before fading in the final stages. Fitter now, the Rob Heathcote-trained gelding must be respected on reputation and the fact he’s won in all conditions ranging from Good to Heavy. The interesting runner will be Gordon Lord Byron. Finishing hard up along the inside of the Rosehill straight a fortnight ago, the Irish galloper scored at big odds in the George Ryder. This race is 100 metres shorter but this is one of the races he was set for and he’s won at the distance twice. He is a world class galloper as evidenced by his second to Moonlight Cloud at Longchamp and has either won or placed in 24 of his 35 starts .Two wins and a placing from three starts on Heavy reinforce those credentials for this weekend while he has a 50 percent strike rate in finishing in the top three on Slow tracks. Craig Williams rode him a treat last start so expect him to produce a similar effort from barrier 11 this Saturday.Whichever way you look at it there will be plenty of value to be found not only in this race, but most others on the card as healthy field sizes and competitive racing will be the order of the day.

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