The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $2 million Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) to be run at Royal Randwick this Saturday. First run in 1866, the Sydney Cup has been won by horses such as Carbine (1889 & 90), Wakeful (1902), Galilee (1966), Apollo Eleven (1973), Battle Heights (1974), Kingston Town (1980), Count Chivas (1996), Tie The Knot (1998 & 99), and the legendary Makybe Diva (2004). This year the dominant $4 TAB favourite is Almandin. The Lloyd Williams-owned Almandin shot to the top of Sydney Cup markets after scoring a comfortable win in the time-honoured weight-for-age feature, the Gr1 Tancred Stakes (2400m) two weeks ago. It was the first Gr1 triumph for the German-bred import since winning the Melbourne Cup (3200m) in 2016. Almandin, who has drawn perfectly in barrier 5, is followed in the market by Kiwi stayer Sir Charles Road at $7, Aloft at $8, Prestwick at $11, and Ventura Storm and Auvray each at $13.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, 7YO French-bred gelding Auvray (Le Havre-Ameyrah, by In The Wings) claimed his second Australian stakes victory with a strong staying performance in the $350,000 Gr3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating Libran & Mackintosh. Auvray, an €800,000 purchase by the China Horse Club at the Arqana Arc Sale in 2014, improved his record to 8 wins (including the Gr2 Prix Chaudenay, Gr3 Colin Stephen Quality & Gr3 Prix de Lutece) and 4 placings (including the Gr3 Newcastle Gold Cup) from 33 starts for $855,316 in earnings. Trainer Richard Freedman said Auvray would make his next appearance in the Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Rosehill on 31 March before tackling the $2 million Gr1 Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick on 14 April.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, 6YO French-bred gelding Auvray (Le Havre-Ameyrah, by In The Wings) broke through for his first stakes victory in Australia when grinding out a tough win in the $150,000 Gr3 Colin Stephen Quality (2400m) for 3YO+, defeating Admiral Jello & Broadside. Auvray, an €800,000 purchase by the China Horse Club at the Arqana Arc Sale in 2014, improved his record to 7 wins (including the Gr2 Prix Chaudenay & Gr3 Prix de Lutece) and 3 placings (including the Gr3 Newcastle Gold Cup) from 28 starts for $550,816 in earnings.
At Newcastle in the Hunter region of NSW, White Robe Lodge's regally bred stallion Raise The Flag (Sadler's Wells-Hasili, Kahyasi) added a black-type success when 6YO bay gelding Broadside (Raise The Flag-Anam Cara, by Straight Strike) opened his stakes account when scoring a bold front-running win in the $175,000 Gr3 Newcastle Gold Cup (2300m) for 3YO+, defeating Auvray & Admiral Jello. Broadside improved his record to 6 wins and 3 placings (including the Listed McKell Cup) from 13 starts for $294,493 in earnings. Broadside will make his next appearance in the $750,000 Gr1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) at Royal Randwick on 30 September. "We were disappointed last start but he had legitimate excuses being first-up over 1900 metres. To produce a run like that second-up takes a tough horse," said co-trainer Adrian Bott. "He'll head to the Metropolitan [Gr1] next and he's in some of the feature races in Melbourne."
Champion Victorian trainer Darren Weir has nominated seven horses for next year's Auckland Cup (3200m), reports AAP. Taiyoo, Real Love, Lord Van Percy, Shamkiyr, High Church, Loresho and Auvray are among the nominations for the Gr1 staying feature to be run at Ellerslie on 11 March, 2017. "The hardest thing for us is that the Auckland Cup is two days before the Adelaide Cup," said Weir's racing manager Jeremy Rogers. "But we've nominated a few for Auckland and we'll see what happens. It's early days yet." The Weir stable has also nominated stakes-winning sprinter Stellar Collision for the Gr1 Railway Stakes on the same program.
John Thompson's Randwick stable has been bolstered by the addition of three high quality imports purchased by the China Horse Club, reports racenet.com.au. Thompson and the China Horse Club have established a strong association with the latter celebrating its first Gr1 success in Australia when the Thompson prepared First Seal won the Gr1 Flight Stakes in the spring. Thompson said he would likely give his new recruits a light autumn campaign before focusing on the 2015 Melbourne and Caulfield Cups. The three horses, which were all purchased at Arqana's Arc Sale of horses in training in October, are:
In Europe, unraced Irish-bred 7YO stallion Walras (Sinndar-Fortitude, by Last Tycoon) "will stand at Laurence Auvray's stud in Brittany" in France, reported racingpost.com. Walras (unraced due to injury & a half-brother to Listed-winner Island House) is the 1st son of Sinndar to stand in France.