The $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile is the showpiece event on the opening day of The Championships at Royal Randwick tomorrow. First run way back in 1866 (Dundee was the inaugural winner), the Doncaster has since established itself as Australia's premier mile handicap having been won by turf luminaries such as Wakeful (1901), Chatham (1934), Tobin Bronze (1967, Gunsynd (1972), Emancipation (1983), Super Impose (1990 & 91), Sunline (1999), Grand Armee (2000), More Joyous (2012), and Winx (2016). Australian racing's First Lady, Gai Waterhouse, will be striving to become the most successful trainer in Doncaster history when she chases her eighth winner with Arbeitsam. Waterhouse currently shares the Doncaster record of 7 winners with her legendary father TJ Smith. Chris Waller is another trainer looking to build upon his successful Doncaster record. Exciting 3YO colt D'Argento is Waller's best chance of training a record equalling seventh Doncaster winner following the victories of Triple Honour (2008), Rangirangdoo (2010), Sacred Falls (2013 & 14), Kermadec (2015), and Winx (2016). This year's race is shaping as a cracking renewal with Godolphin's star 3YO colt Kementari the current pre-post favourite at $3.80 with TAB. Next in the market is the ultra-consistent Happy Clapper at $5, followed by D'Argento at $7.50 and dual Gr1 winner Humidor at $9. The Doncaster Mile will be run as race 9 at 4:30pm.
Trainer James Cummings says the signs are positive that star colt Kementari can round out his 3YO season with a win in Saturday's $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick. Cummings says Kementari is now ready to peak after four runs this time in, which have included a maiden Gr1 success in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) on 10 March and an excellent third behind Winx and Happy Clapper in the Gr1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) two weeks ago. "We'd been impressed to see the change in the horse leading into the George Ryder and after racing so well against Winx he seems to have come out of it with more energy," Cummings told Godolphin.com. "He's certainly looking like he's still on the rise which is perfect considering what he did at this track and distance in the Randwick Guineas two starts back." Cummings added: "We feel like we're going to see a big performance from him and for us, it's very exciting to saddle up a colt of his calibre in such a prestigious race. He gives a real sense of this being his grand final." Kementari, who will carry just 51.5kg on Saturday, is currently the $3.70 TAB favourite for the race ahead of Happy Clapper ($5) and fellow 3YO D'Argento ($7).
Trainer Pat Webster expressed his delight after Happy Clapper drew perfectly for Saturday's Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Randwick, but he is conscious of the weight advantage he must concede to his chief market rival Kementari. Happy Clapper, who will jump from barrier one in the $3 million feature, is considered a top contender for the major prize having finished runner-up to champion mare Winx in the Gr1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) two weeks ago. However, under the handicap conditions of the race, the 7YO must overcome a 3kg turnaround in favour of Kementari who finished so close to him (3rd, beaten 0.75 length) in the Ryder. "We drew two last year and finished second, so from one this time we should be winning," Webster joked when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald. "People who say barriers don't count are mad. I would take barrier one in a steeplechase. It is the fastest way home." Webster added: "I don't know how Clapper can beat him [Kementari] at the weights but the old fella doesn't know how to run a bad run over the Randwick mile." Happy Clapper will be hoping it is third time lucky having finished runner-up in the Doncaster in the past two runnings of the race. Kementari is currently the $3.70 TAB favourite for the race ahead of Happy Clapper ($5) and fellow 3YO D'Argento ($7).
The final field has been declared and the barrier draw conducted for the $3 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) to be run at Royal Randwick this Saturday. First run way back in 1966 (Dundee was the inaugural winner), the Doncaster has since established itself as Australia's premier mile handicap having been won by turf luminaries such as Wakeful (1901), Chatham (1934), Tobin Bronze (1967, Gunsynd (1972), Emancipation (1983), Super Impose (1990 & 91), Sunline (1999), Grand Armee (2000), More Joyous (2012), and Winx (2016). This year's race is shaping as a cracking renewal with Godolphin's star 3YO colt Kementari the current pre-post favourite at $3.50 with TAB. Next in the market is the ultra-consistent Happy Clapper at $5, followed by the untapped 3YO D'Argento at $7 and dual Gr1 winner Humidor at $8. The Doncaster Mile will be run as race 9 on day one of The Championships at Royal Randwick at 4:30pm.
Racing NSW Stewards have granted Corey Brown permission to ride D'Argento 1kg over his allotted weight in Saturday's Group 1 Doncaster Mile at Royal Randwick. The Chris Waller-trained 3YO received a handicapped weight of 49kg for the $3 million feature, but will now carry 50kg. D'Argento goes into the Doncaster Mile off the back of a commanding win in the Gr1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) two weeks ago. He is currently the TAB third favourite for the race at $7.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, Coolmore Stud stallion and former Australian Champion racehorse So You Think (High Chaparral-Triassic, by Tights) celebrated an elite race success when 3YO Australian-bred colt D'Argento (So You Think–Fullazz, by Redoute's Choice) put on a demonstration of his abundant class when powering home for an easy win in the $600,000 Gr1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) for 3YOs, defeating stable-mate Tangled & Furore. A $135,000 purchase by Star Thoroughbreds at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Baramul Stud, D'Argento improved his record to 4 wins and 1 placing (including the Gr2 ATC Hobartville Stakes) from 6 starts for $569,275 in earnings. Trainer Chris Waller said he will decide in the next few days whether to run D'Argento in the $3 million Doncaster Mile or the $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on 7 April. "I had serious doubts about him getting 2000 metres because I've seen the brilliance that he's got [but] he can obviously stay," Waller told Sky Racing. "I've got to work out from a colt's perspective, where's his best value? Is it a Doncaster so he can show off that speed over a mile, or do we go down the Derby path? We'll think about everything in the next few days." From the Listed MRC Debutante Stakes winner Fullazz, D'Argento hails from the family of stakes winners Laudemio, Loving Cup and Vintage dance.
Superstar mare Winx headlines a field of eleven horses nominated for Saturday's Gr1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill. The George Ryder is shaping as an intriguing race with the likes of star colt Kementari, dual Gr1 winner Happy Clapper, and Winx's highly promising younger stable-mate D'Argento set to contest the $1 million weight-for-age feature. The Chris Waller-trained Winx surpassed Black Caviar in setting a new Australian record of 16 Group 1 victories when she opened her autumn campaign with an effortless 7 length win in the Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Randwick two weeks ago. She will be chasing her 24th consecutive victory in the George Ryder, after which connections will decide whether or not to embark on an international campaign aimed at Royal Ascot. Click here to view Rosehill nominations.
At Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, what is likely to prove one of the form races of the season for 3YOs could equally turn out to have posed more questions than answers. Over the 1400m journey, Darley's former Champion Australian Sire & 11-time Gr1-winning World Champion Miler Lonhro (Octagonal-Shadea, by Straight Strike) added a Group race success when 3YO Australian-bred colt Kementari (Lonhro-Yavanna, by Redoute's Choice) made it back-to-back stakes wins in saluting by a length for trainer James Cummings in the $400,000 Gr2 Hobartville Stakes for 3YO colts & geldings. Not content to ride for luck, jockey Glyn Schofield pinged favourite Kementari from his wide barrier to sit just off Gr1 Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist before wresting control soon after entering the straight. A significant plunge on recent Magic Millions 3YO Guineas hero Pierata after he had left the mounting yard was close to the money with the rising star 3YO colt closing strongly to finish just ahead of equally impressive hitherto unbeaten colt D'Argento. Godolphin's assistant trainer Darren Beadman was hugely impressed with the run, enthusing, "To run past a horse like Trapeze Artist, who has the runs on the board, was very impressive. This was a test for him (Kementari) today and he has put them away nicely. We have seen a star in the making." Kementari's win took his record to 3 wins (including last start's Gr3 Eskimo Prince Stakes) & 3 placings (including the Gr1 Caulfield Guineas & Gr3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude) from 8 starts for $781,250 earnings. The result sets up a hugely intriguing Gr1 Randwick Guineas in less than two weeks. Bookies have priced Kementari $3 favourite for the Sydney 3YO mile feature ahead of D'Argento ($4.20) and Pierata ($6.00). Fifth-placed dual Gr1 winner Ace High ran a bottler and will be much better suited over the mile for which he is at $15. Looking ahead to Kementari's Randwick Guineas engagement, Beadman was emphatic: "This colt has a mile written all over him. He is very brilliant but is a clean-winded horse and that will assist him in getting a strong 1600m."
Trainer Greg Hickman is quietly confident that rising star colt Pierata (Pierro-November Flight, by Flying Spur) will acquit himself well in tomorrow's Gr2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill. Pierata - who has built an imposing record of 4 wins from 8 starts including the Gr3 Vo Rogue Plate at Doomben and Listed (R) Magic Millions 3YO Guineas at the Gold Coast - faces the biggest challenge of his career in the $400,000 3YO feature. The son of Pierro will be up against a high-class line-up that includes Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist, VRC Derby & Spring Champion Stakes winner Ace High, Kementari, and boom colt D'Argento. "My jockey [Corey Brown] loves my horse and he's done well through the week," Hickman told racingnsw.com.au. "If he comes out and beats them all it'll be happy days. You don't get many horses that have had eight starts and won nearly $2 million and if worse comes to worse we can go back to the Gold Coast next year." Hickman added: "He's just improved every time he's gone around. He's done everything right and whatever happens, happens." Hickman says Pierata has the potential to be the best horse he has ever trained. That's high praise indeed when you consider he has prepared horses such as Gr2 winners Sportsman, Sir Dex, and the enigmatic but richly talented Private Secretary. "This bloke has been unassuming. Yes he's done everything right but he's not doing anything different to the other horses," he said. "The only thing with this bloke is there's nothing wrong with him. If he stays sound that's why he'll end up being better. I'm just happy to be racing in Group races again, having some nice horses around."
Highly regarded colt Kementari (Lonhro-Yavanna, by Redoute's Choice) will be out to test his Guineas credentials when he contests the $400,000 Gr2 ATC Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Saturday. Kementari turned in one of the most eye-catching performances by a 3YO this season when resuming with a dashing win in the Gr3 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on 10 February. The dynamic nature of the win prompted Godolphin trainer James Cummings to label the son of Lonhro "world class" and showed why the royal blue army consider him a leading contender for the $1 million Gr1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) in Sydney on 10 March. "He was well-treated under the conditions of his last race. Now he has to step up again at level weights against some very good three-year-olds in the Hobartville," Cummings told Godolphin.com. "This is all about who's the best." Cummings added: "His first-up win spoke for itself...he was able to take his first-up run very well and he's held his form nicely. He's made me eager to get him back to the races." Chief among Kementari's rivals on Saturday are Magic Millions 3YO Guineas winner Pierata, Gr1 Golden Rose winner Trapeze Artist, and Chris Waller's exciting unbeaten colt D'Argento.
Trainer Chris Waller will decide this week whether or not to send smart colt D'Argento for a break or keep him in work for better races in the spring, reports racingnsw.com.au. The flashy grey son of former champion racehorse So You Think extended his unbeaten record to 2 wins from as many starts when scoring a narrow but decisive 0.3 length win in the 2YO handicap over 1500 metres at Rosehill on Saturday. Waller said it was tempting to aim D'Argento at early season 3YO features such as the Gr3 Gloaming Stakes (23 September) and Gr1 Spring Champion Stakes (7 October), but that it would probably be in the horse's best interests to wait a little longer. "My gut tells me just back off and wait for the end of the spring," Waller said. "It'd be easy to target races like the Gloaming and Spring Champion but my gut tells me to wait for a Carbine Club at the end of the spring." He added: "The beauty of the spring is that there are so many options and you've got to be strong late as well as at the start. He'll tell us on Monday whether he'll go the paddock for a couple of weeks or stay in work." The Gr3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) will be run at Flemington on 29 October. Purchased by Denise Martin's Star Thoroughbreds for $135,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale, D'Argento is out of Listed MRC Debutante Stakes winner Fullazz (Redoute's Choice) and hails from the family of stakes winners Laudemio, Loving Cup, and Vintage Dance, the latter being the dam of 5-time stakes winner Pittance.
Hugh Bowman further enhanced his reputation as one of the world's premier jockeys when claiming his fourth NSW Metropolitan Jockey Premiership at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday. Bowman claimed a double aboard the unbeaten Chris Waller-trained colt D'Argento and smart provincial mare Prada Miss to finish the 2016-17 season with 81 winners (from 405 rides at a strike rate of 20%). Bowman edged out Brenton Avdulla who finished with 78.5 wins for the season. "I'm very proud of what I've been able to do," Bowman said. "It gives me great satisfaction that I was in a position where Brenton was commanding, but I was able to stay focused and get the job done."
Despite taking on a field of quality fellow late season 2YOs in tomorrow's opening race at Rosehill Gardens, the Chris Waller-trained colt D'Argento has met with sustained support to back up his debut win at Newcastle a fortnight ago. Bookmakers have reported a deluge of support for the son of boom stallion and former champion racehorse So You Think since markets first opened, and D'Argento is now a pronounced even money favourite. Campaigned by Star Thoroughbreds, who purchased him for $135,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, the grey juvenile is expected to relish the step up to 1500m in what some bookies are describing as a significant plunge.