Top colt Ole Kirk will attempt to add to the good recent record of three-year-olds by upstaging the older sprinters in Sydney’s first Group race of the year.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes confirmed the Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas winner was slated to resume in Saturday’s Group Two Expressway Stakes with Tommy Berry booked for the mount.
“Ole Kirk is running in the Expressway. Tommy is on,” Hawkes said.
“It’s only 1200 but he’s sharp, he looks good, he’s well, he has come back great.”
Three-year-olds have enjoyed a good strikerate in the Rosehill sprint with Standout winning last year and Trapeze Artist claiming it two years earlier.
Saturday’s renewal has attracted a quality list of entries with Godolphin nominating class mares Flit and Savatiano, while Standout will return to defend his title with Kerrin McEvoy secured for the ride.
Chris Waller is also set to have a strong hand, entering Kolding and Star Of The Seas.
Ole Kirk took all before him in the spring and the Hawkes team will take a typically patient approach with the valuable colt this preparation.
Nothing has been set in stone with races in Sydney and Melbourne on the agenda.
“There are a lot of options around for him,” Hawkes said.
“With those good colts of ours, we run them less than more. It is not about running them for the sake of running them, it’s about putting them in races where they can be at their most competitive.
“Where we go and what we do, there is no end goal.
“It’s more about trying to place these horses in the right races at the right time.”
Hawkes confirmed Masked Crusader was on track to resume in a benchmark 88 race at Rosehill on Saturday.
The up-and-coming sprinter was touted as a possible wildcard for The Everest during the spring and was impressive in taking out a recent barrier trial.
The two-year-old racing is also heating up with Gimcrack Stakes runner-up Mallory heading 14 nominations for Saturday’s Widden Stakes (1100m).
The Canonbury Stakes (1100m) for the colts and geldings has attracted 15 entries including Ballarat Clockwise Classic winner Readily Availabull, who has recovered from a stone bruise that forced his withdrawal from the Magic Millions.
Exciting two-year-old filly Dosh will have her only run before the Blue Diamond Stakes when she starts in the Preview at Caulfield on Australia Day.
Her trainer Grahame Begg has examined the results of past Blue Diamond Stakes winners and says the best path to the Group One race for a filly is to run in either the Preview or the Prelude, but not both.
Begg has elected to start Dosh in the former and the winner of her only start in the Ottawa Stakes at Flemington on Oaks day will return in the 1000 metre Blue Diamond Preview on Tuesday.
“The other factor to take into account this year is that there’s only 12 days between the Preview and Prelude,” Begg said.
Begg said that he was happy with Dosh, especially her performance in a recent jump out at Sandown Hillside where she sat wide and won.
When she made her debut, Dosh raced greenly over the closing stages and almost cost herself victory but Begg said that was the only time she had displayed that trait.
“I think it had more to do with the straight, which she was seeing for the first time,” he said.
“She went wide on Hillside in that jump out and kept a straight line and they went a fast time running 46 seconds for 800 metres.”
Dosh has drawn barrier one on Tuesday and will be ridden by Jordon Childs.
Begg equates Dosh’s ability as on par with his 2018 Blue Diamond winner Written By.
The trainer confirmed his exciting three-year-old filly Butter Chicken had earned a shot at black-type after she made it two starts for two wins when she came from a long way back to score at Pakenham on Thursday.
“She’s a very well bred, expensive filly, raced by a big owner and breeder, Jonathan Munz, and any black-type would be great for her,” he said.
Begg added Butter Chicken could follow the same path as stablemate Nonconformist, who finished second in the Autumn Stakes then won the Alister Clarke Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Nonconformist has been entered for the All-Star Mile and will return to racing in the Orr Stakes at Caulfield on February 6.
Extensive tests have cleared Isotope from any serious injury arising from her Magic Millions Guineas scare.
Isotope clipped the heels of arch-rival Away Game straightening up in the Guineas, dislodging jockey Ryan Maloney before galloping on riderless with the rest of the field.
Maloney escaped serious injury with MRI scans taken last week clearing him of any neck fractures and he will return to race riding at Eagle Farm on Thursday.
Trainer Tony Gollan took the precautionary step of having Isotope undergo a complete vet examination before the filly headed to the spelling paddock.
“She’s been vetted three times since the run and she’s come through with flying colours,” Gollan said.
“Hopefully we’ll see her get down to Sydney for the autumn and do a good job away from home.”
The Listed Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on March 20 is likely to be Isotope’s carnival opener in Sydney before the Group Two Arrowfield Sprint (1200m) on the second day of The Championships at Randwick on April 10.
Gollan won the Magic Millions Snippets (1200m) with Jonker and the Magic Millions Fillies and Mares (1300m) with Krone but admits he left the Gold Coast with mixed emotions after the drama involving Isotope.
“I know the phrase ‘that’s racing’ and all the rest of it but it was hard to take at the time but we move on now,” he said.
“The most important thing is that our jockey is safe and sound and the same with our horse.
“It took the wind out of everyone’s sails and made it a bit of a flat experience but when you look at the day as a whole it was a pretty good day.
“To win two million dollar races is not easy to do and a lot of work goes into it.”
The race that launched Gollan onto the Group One stage is likely to be the target for Jonker during the autumn carnival.
The Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill on March 20 has been pencilled in by Gollan as a goal for Jonker before he returns to Brisbane for the Group One Doomben 10,000 in May.
Temple Of Boom won The Galaxy for Gollan in 2012 when it was held at Randwick.
Tulloch Lodge trainer Adrian Bott is confident Wolfe is on the verge of living up to his early promise after a stop-start year in which he was restricted to just four starts.
The Japanese-bred stayer won five of his first six runs and finished third to Surprise Baby in the 2019 The Bart Cummings at Flemington.
A start later he won the Group Three Coongy Handicap to earn a spot in that year’s Caulfield Cup where he wasn’t disgraced, finishing just over five lengths from the winner, Mer De Glace.
But his opportunities since then have been limited, his autumn derailed by wet tracks and his spring campaign over after one start.
Bott and co-trainer Gai Waterhouse have Wolfe back up and running this summer and the six-year-old indicated he was close to another win with a last-start second to Spirit Ridge in the January Cup.
With the horse’s preferred firm conditions guaranteed at Warwick Farm for Tuesday’s Listed Australia Day Cup (2400m), Bott believes Wolfe has his hoof on the till.
“He ran really well last start. He is just starting to recapture that form he showed 12 months ago,” Bott said.
“He is a talented horse on his day so he is capable of winning a race like that and the extra trip should be ideal.”
Tulloch Lodge will be shooting for back-to-back wins in the Australia Day Cup after capturing the race 12 months ago with Taikomochi.
Wolfe was a $3.60 favourite on Monday ahead of the Mark Newnham-trained Skymax ($4.80) with Grey Lion and Elaborate next best at $7 apiece.
Racing officials have put back all races on the public holiday program due to a forecast for extreme heat with the feature to be run at 6.10pm (AEDT).
Tommy Berry has surged to the lead in the Sydney jockeys’ premiership with a winning treble at Randwick, highlighted by a feature race win on Bandersnatch.
The top jockey, who turned 30 on Thursday, has been in fine touch, also snaring a double at Canterbury on Friday night.
He has made no secret of his desire to make a play for championship honours and his haul on Saturday took him to 55 wins for the season, two clear of James McDonald.
McDonald had a winless start to the day at Randwick before he was stood down after the sixth race with a recurring right elbow issue.
While Berry has his eye on the major end-of-season prize, he knows there is a long way to go.
“The jockey ranks in Sydney….are so strong, so to be where I am at the moment, I am blessed and I am getting a lot of great support and getting the results for everyone, which is nice to see,” Berry said.
“But don’t worry, James – he’ll be back to get me.
“We are only halfway through and James can ride five (winners) on a day so I am not counting my chickens yet.”
Berry took out the two editions of the Highway Handicap on Art Cadeau and The First Of May before adding the Listed Carrington Stakes (1400m) aboard Bandersnatch for Team Hawkes.
Bandersnatch joined the Hawkes yard at the start of his current campaign and after kicking off with a Moonee Valley win, he followed up with two minor placings.
Hawkes said the four-year-old’s record for them should read even better.
“He’s done a fantastic job. He’s had four runs and to be truthful, they probably should have been four wins,” Hawkes said.
“It (Carrington) wasn’t the strongest stakes race of all time but it’s here and it’s about putting horses in races where they’re suited.
“It was a perfect race for this horse with no weight.”
Berry put Bandersnatch ($2.50 fav) in a trailing position and once he levelled up with Quackerjack ($19), who had raced to the front, the gelding put paid to his rival to score by three-quarters of a length.
Thy Kingdom Come ($17) did his best work late another half-length away.
Hawkes was unsure of immediate plans for Bandersnatch but said they might try to find another similar race for him while he was fit and in form.
However, he believes the horse’s best is still ahead.
“Even next prep, now that we’ve had a prep with him, you will see a better horse again,” Hawkes said.
“He’s a happy horse. He is a lovely horse to have around the stable, he is quiet, he’s good and he’s only getting better.
“We might just try to find another race while he’s fit.”
The chances of starting Milton Park in the Australian Guineas moved a step closer when he made it two wins from two starts this campaign.
The John Moloney-trained three-year-old took his overall record to four wins from seven starts when he led throughout to land the 1400 metre three-year-old handicap at Sandown Hillside.
Moloney said Milton Park just continued to “do his thing” by winning races.
He said in the run, Milton Park’s jockey Damien Oliver was just sitting on him holding him together comfortably.
“When he asked for the supreme effort he found it and went to the line nicely,” Moloney said.
Moloney said Milton Park deserved a try at a better race such as the Group Three C S Hayes Stakes at Flemington over 1400 metres on February 13.
He believes the horse, who holds a nomination for the Australian Guineas, is looking for 1600 metres.
Oliver said Milton Park was suited by being able to lead as he was a big, free-going galloper.
“He’s well suited in these types of races at this time of year and I think he can continue on his way,” Oliver said.
Oliver agreed with Moloney that Milton Park would be suited stepping up to a mile.
Milton Park ($2.90 fav) held off Bella Tiara ($3) by 1-1/2 lengths with Still Be Friends ($11) another three-quarters of a length away.
Apprentice Lachie King and leading jockey Jamie Kah shared riding honours at Sandown with both celebrating a winning double.
King only had three rides and was successful on the first two, scoring aboard Kansino and King Magnus.
Kah took her tally of winners for the 2020/21 racing season to 49 with victories on Second Slip and Grinzinger Allee.
Six-year-old mare Mosh Music has broken a long winning drought in terms of time but not in starts, and put her career back on track, with a strong staying effort at Sandown.
Mosh Music’s last win was at Flemington in September 2019 but she was having only her fifth start since then when she took out Saturday’s 2400 metre race.
Trainer Archie Alexander said he was confident in the run that the 16-month drought was going to be broken but admitted his view almost changed with 200 metres to go.
At that stage the pair of horses out in front, Stars Of Carrum and Bartholomeu Dias, were still four lengths ahead of Mosh Music.
“There was a moment at the 200 (metre mark) where that gap seemed to be getting bigger and bigger and we weren’t making much ground,” Alexander said.
“I guess the horses in front went hard enough and it is very steep at Sandown, a tough finish. She just kept on coming, she’s very tough and was too good.”
Mosh Music took her record to eight wins from 15 starts but after her first nine runs she had won seven.
Alexander said during that winning sequence at the start of her career he felt Mosh Music could have been anything.
He added that getting Mosh Music back to racing after being sidelined for over a year had been a long project.
The trainer confirmed the Adelaide Cup over 3200 metres at Morphettville on March 8 was among the options for Mosh Music this campaign.
“When you look at how strong she was over 2400 metres, I think she’ll get further,” he said.
Alexander praised the winning ride of Jordon Childs saying he kept her in a good rhythm.
Childs said he was always confident he had the race in his keeping and he was building her gears throughout the run.
“I just know that she gets stronger and stronger as the race goes on. She just kept building through her gears and was too strong in the end,” Childs said.
Mosh Music is by Black Caviar’s brother Moshe and is out of the tough Jeune mare Dirt Music, who was eighth in the 2007 Adelaide Cup.
Mosh Music ($6.50) finished strongly with backmarker Double You Tee ($4.40) out wide and she defeated him by a half-length with Bartholomeu Dias ($3.80) the same distance away third.
Randwick winner Sacramento will be given a light autumn with trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott taking a longer-term view with the promising young stayer.
Bott said they were focused on taking the VRC St Leger winner through his grades this preparation before ramping up expectations in the spring.
The four-year-old backed up a last-start win at Randwick with a bold frontrunning display in the Heineken Handicap (2000m) on Saturday when he had his rivals off the bit and chasing before the home turn.
“I don’t know how far we will test him and throw him in the deep end this campaign because we want to set him up for the spring,” Bott said.
“He is a talented stayer. It’s all about building confidence with him, building strength. He is still learning to stay and still improving.”
The Tulloch Lodge galloper finished fifth in the Australian Derby 12 months ago before taking out the St Leger in Melbourne.
He missed the spring but has won two of his three starts this preparation.
Bott said the stable would look to one or two of the early staying races during the Sydney carnival to further blood Sacramento for the future.
“We were fortunate enough with the St Leger that we got enough ratings points to manoeuvre a bit this campaign so he wasn’t weighted out of these types of grades,” Bott said.
“We might look to freshen him up into some of those early staying races that kick off into the carnival, races like the Parramatta Cup.”
Rated superbly by Sam Clipperton, Sacramento started a $3.60 favourite and scored by 2-1/4 lengths over New Arrangement ($4) with Kiss The Bride ($6.50) grabbing third.
Gerald Ryan will weigh up his options for emerging three-year-old The Face, who has led throughout to comfortably defeat more experienced rivals at Randwick.
Runner-up in the Gosford Guineas last start, The Face ($2.30 fav) controlled Saturday’s ANZ Bloodstock News Handicap (1100m) to hold Osamu ($7) at bay by 1-1/4 lengths with Emanate ($5) third.
Ryan will see how the gelding comes through the run before deciding whether to press on to the Group Three Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick in two weeks
“If he does really well we might stick him up to the Eskimo Prince in a couple of weeks time. He will have a fitness edge on the horses who will be resuming in it,” Ryan said.
“Or he might just have a freshen up and come back later in the carnival for a race like the Arrowfield Stakes.
“He is as effective on heavy ground as he is on good ground so he is pretty versatile.”
After proving a handful to educate as a younger horse, The Face has turned the corner since he was gelded and has won two of his five starts.
Ryan revealed the three-year-old’s ownership group, led by Victorian-based breeder Steve Smith, rejected substantial offers for him after his initial barrier trials.
“They were offered a stack of money for this horse off his trials but he (Smith) just won’t sell. He breeds them to race and he loves his racing,” Ryan said.
Trainer David Pfieffer will head to the $1 million Inglis Sprint with Rocketing By after he surged through a late opening to win the Bowermans Commercial Furniture Handicap (1100m).
“I was a little bit worried about the firmer track today but he obviously got a sweet ride and got the result,” Pfieffer said.
“We’re trying to head towards that Inglis race in a couple of weeks so obviously the prize money boost will be a big help for him and we might even be able to keep Hugh Bowman on board.”
An impressive runaway win by Artorius has left the training combination of Anthony and Sam Freedman in a quandary as to whether to tackle the Blue Diamond Stakes.
Artorius relished the wide open spaces of the Sandown Hillside track and the step up to 1300 metres to leave his rivals in his wake.
Starting a $3.40 favourite, Artorius grabbed the lead out wide with 300 metres to go and went on to win the two-year-old handicap by 4-1/2 lengths, defeating El Rocko ($16) with Picarones ($4.40) a nose away third.
TAB fixed odds markets reacted to the victory by tightening the winner from $51 to $15 for the Blue Diamond Stakes.
Co-trainer Sam Freedman said the Group One race was back in play for the son of Flying Artie but they would have to work out whether it was the best option.
“Whether we head towards a Blue Diamond, I’m not sure about the 1200 metres as he might be more of a 1400 metre horse,” Freedman said.
“He won so well there so we might have to give it some thought.”
Freedman said the colt had improved from his debut at Geelong where he finished second to Jigsaw but was raw and green.
“Most of our horses tend to improve as they get deeper into their two-year-old campaign so the 1300 metres suited,” he said
Freedman described Artorius as bombproof and a straightforward horse to train.
His jockey Mark Zahra said Artorius was very impressive and would be suited by a longer distance.