Rising Romance is no Better Loosen Up, let that be known. But she might not have to be. Not in this Australian Cup in particular.
Twenty-five years after Hayes’ grand stayer added the Antipodean feature to his Japan Cup win the previous year, a slightly greyer version of the trainer – with a nephew as a training partner in tow too – will gang tackle the Australian Cup. Of 11 hopefuls this year the Hayes-Dabernig tag team has three at Flemington.
It only takes one to win though – although most agonised over which one long after stablemates Spillway and Extra Zero hit the line locked together in the group 1 last year – and it wouldn’t surprise to see Hayes add a fourth Australian Cup to the mantelpiece.
Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. Extra Zero ($41) is again the despised outsider. Happy Trails ($21) is back at his favourite hunting ground. An import who has already impressed in Australia is at the top of betting.
And maybe the winning trainer will be making a familiar walk to the winner’s stall.
Rising Romance was only fleetingly tested in the traditional Peter Young Stakes lead-up – won so impressively by Godolphin’s Bow Creek ($3.20) – but it was enough to suggest the Australian Cup should be her peak. Her closing sectionals when finally unfurled for a gap made impressive reading. The extra 200 metres and $8.50 make appeal, even allowing for the testing material in Bow Creek.
The Newmarket Handicap? No prizes for predicting Chautauqua, benefiting so much from the softly, softly methods of the Hawkes team, will add a fourth group 1 in Australia’s greatest sprinting handicap despite lumping the 58kg topweight – a winning handicap almost exclusively reserved for Black Caviar and her great sparring partner Hay List in the modern era.
At the $2.50 though it’s backers beware. Japonisme ($3.90) looks the obvious quinella candidate, but maybe ex-West Australian Black Heart Bart ($18) – with the magic touch of Darren Weir now – is worth an each-way nibble.
The Golden Slipper has usually been a Victorian vacuum in recent years. Success this time of year in Sydney is rare. But before Mick Price boasts the two favourites in the world’s richest two-year-old race next week, a couple of Price’s fellow Caulfield trainers will stand shoulder to shoulder with top Coolmore Classic hopes at Rosehill.
Perhaps Ciaron Maher’s Azkadellia ($5.50) is the way to go. Third-up and with her supporters still wondering how she made ground on Flemington’s conveyor belt on Derby Day last campaign, she is well worth entertaining with just the 53kg of Brett Prebble to carry.
Favourite Ghisoni ($4.60) will have to carry even less with another Asian-based ex-pat of Corey Brown steering, but perhaps the more seasoned mares – chief among them Lucia Valentina – should be given more respect in early markets despite the filly’s obvious class.
* Odds supplied by Ladbrokes
Flemington (race 6): Black Heart Bart ($4.30 place)
Flemington (race 7): Rising Romance ($8.50)
Rosehill (race 3): Calliope ($3.80)
Rosehill (race 7): Azkadellia ($5.50)
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