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 Royal Randwick on day one of The Championships, Vinery's Gr1-winning stallion Myboycharlie (Danetime-Dulceata, by Rousillon) added a Group race success when 4YO Australian-bred gelding Charles Road (Myboycharlie-Giant Mystique, by Giant's Causeway) made a memorable Australian debut when scoring a tough win in the $300,000 Gr2 Chairman's Quality (2600m) for 3YO+, defeating Ventura Storm & Peribsen. This was the third stakes victory for Sir Charles Road who improved his record to 5 wins (including the Gr3 City Of Auckland Cup & Gr3 Manawatu Classic) and 7 placings (including the Gr2 Rich Hill Mile & Gr2 ARC Avondale Guineas) from 18 starts for NZ$403,939 in earnings. Sir Charles Road was a $90,000 purchase at the 2015 NZB Premier Yearling Sale from the draft of Wentwood Grange. He is owned by David Archer who has tasted success previously with 10-time Gr1 winner (eight domestic Gr1s) and dual New Zealand Horse of the Year Mufhasa.
At Flemington in Melbourne, 6YO UK-bred entire Harlem (Champs Elysees-Casual, by Nayef) caused a huge 50-1 upset when finding a gap close to the rails in the final furlong to claim the $1.5 million Gr1 Australian Cup (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating fellow imports Gailo Chop & Ventura Storm. In doing so, the Lindsay Park training team of Hayes, Hayes & Dabernig became the first trainers since Lee Freedman in 2005 to claim the rare double of the Newmarket & Australian Cup. What added an even more extraordinary dimension to the result was that only hours earlier the same silks also took away the Gr1 Newmarket Handicap. Harlem was an expensive £520,000 2016 Tattersalls Autumn Horses-in-Training Sale purchase from the draft of Juddmonte Farms and in claiming the Australian Cup improved his record to 4 wins (including the Listed Prix Frederic la Lagrange & Gr3 Naturalism Stakes) and 4 placings (including the Gr3 Prix d'Hedouville, Gr3 Prix de Chantilly, Gr2 Blamey Stakes & Gr3 TS Carlyon Cup) from 20 starts for $1,354,208 in earnings. Harlem is the best performed galloper of the Danehill sire Champs Elysees, a winner of the Gr1 Hollywood Turf Cup.
At Flemington in Melbourne, Darley's deceased shuttler & Gr1 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry (Machiavellian-Helen Street, by Troy) celebrated an elite race success when his 6YO champion daughter Winx (Street Cry-Vegas Showgirl, by Al Akbar) strolled to one of the easiest and most visually brilliant wins of her glittering career when claiming Saturday's $500,000 Gr1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) for 3YO+, defeating Ventura Storm & Humidor. Winx, who seems assured of being named the world's best racehorse when the next round of international rankings are released, posted her 21st consecutive victory and advanced her remarkable record to 25 wins (including the Gr1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, Gr1 Cox Plate - twice, Gr1 Caulfield Stakes, Gr1 George Main Stakes - twice, Gr1 Doncaster Mile, Gr1 George Ryder Stakes - twice, Gr1 Chipping Norton Stakes - twice, Gr1 Epsom Handicap, Gr1 Queensland Oaks, Gr2 Chelmsford Stakes, Gr2 Warwick Stakes – twice, Gr2 Apollo Stakes - twice, Gr2 Theo Marks Stakes, Gr2 Phar Lap Stakes & Gr2 Furious Stakes) and 3 placings (including the Gr1 Australian Oaks & Gr1 Flight Stakes) from 31 starts for $13,777,925 in earnings. Winx will now bid to create history by joining the legendary Kingston Town as the only horse to win three Cox Plates at Moonee Valley on 28 October. "What a great horse," trainer Chris Waller told racing.com. "When she winds up and lets go, it's pretty scintillating." Waller said the Cox Plate (2040m) in three weeks' time would be a special event. "There's no training manual for a horse like Winx. The amazing part about her is she keeps putting on weight but never loses it…she's going as well as ever," he said. "She's going to be very hard to beat in three weeks." Winx was a $230,000 Magic Bloodstock purchase at the 2013 Magic Millions Gold Coast Yearling Sale from the draft of Coolmore Stud.
Gr1-winning English stayer Ventura Storm has been transferred to the Lindsay Park yard of David & Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig with a long-term aim to run in next year's Melbourne Cup. A winner of 6 of his 12 starts to date, Ventura Storm (Zoffany-Sarawati, by Haafhd) has displayed plenty of ability in winning the Gr1 Gran Premio del Jockey Club in Italy at his most recent outing, as well as a second placing in the Gr1 English St Leger back in September. Tim Palin, speaking on behalf of former owners Middleham Park Racing, said the 3YO possessed the right attributes to be a success in Australia. "I think they are buying him with the Melbourne Cup in mind. He does strike you as a horse that is almost tailor-made for that," Palin told racenet. "He stays well and has got a rating that would commensurate him getting in the race off a nice weight. If he improves as a four-year-old and a five-year-old I can see him putting up big shows in races like that over the next year or two." Ventura Storm was purchased by Louis Le Metayer's Astute Bloodstock.
At Doncaster in the UK, 3YO colt Harbour Law (Lawman-Abunai, by Pivotal) caused an upset when scoring by 0.75-length for trainer Laura Mongan in the Gr1 St Leger Stakes (14.5 furlongs) for 3YO+, over fellow 3YO colts Ventura Storm (Zoffany-Sarawati, by Haafhd) & Housesofparliament (Galileo-Sharp Lisa, by Dixieland Band). Harbour Law improved his record to 3 wins and 2 placings from 6 starts for £431,441 earnings. Red hot favourite Idaho lost his chance of a classic success when he unseated jockey Seamie Heffernan with three furlongs to run. Stewards inquired into the incident, finding that "the fall was caused by him stumbling when being switched right handed, causing the rider to be unseated", reported Racing Post.
At Newmarket in the UK overnight, Coolmore's Gr1 Phoenix Stakes-winning shuttler Zoffany (Dansili–Tyranny, by Machiavellian) added a black-type success when 3YO Irish-bred colt Ventura Storm (Zoffany-Sarawati, by Haafhd) scored by 1.25 lengths for trainer Richard Hannon in the Listed Feilden Stakes (9 furlongs) for 3YOs, over Shadwell colts Mustajeer (Medicean-Qelaan, by Dynaformer) & Tathqeef (Tapit-Foxy Danseur, by Mr Greeley). This was the first stakes victory for Ventura Storm who took his record to 3 wins and 1 placing from 5 starts for £32,006 earnings. "Ventura Storm is a lovely horse and Ryan Moore said he would get a mile and a quarter no problem," Hannon told Racing Post. "He liked this sort of ground and we may have a look at something like the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot."