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Punters' Pal: Epsom Day (Randwick)

By Brad Gray and Ray Hickson

Nothing but quotes from a range of jockeys and trainers ahead of Saturday’s huge Group One meeting at Royal Randwick.

Race 1 - 12:20PM ARROWFIELD BREEDERS' PLATE (1000 METRES)

1. Bondi ($7.50 TAB) – Blake Shinn “He is a quality colt. I won have this race four times, the Breeders Plate, and I think this horse has got the makings of a very good two-year-old. He has got the ability to win.”

“Bondi was terrific in his trial and he worked great on Tuesday. He is strong, he is precocious and I think he is very classy. I like the feel I get from him.”

Bondi's Canterbury trial win - Sept 18

2.Exceltic ($14 TAB) – Gary Portelli “He’s a big slow learner and the last thing he needed was to draw 10. He’s probably going to get back and will need a lot of luck. I’m expecting to see him finishing off but going back from a wide gate is not ideal over 1000m with a young horse learning his trade.’’

3. Hiemal ($4.20 TAB) – Kerrin McEvoy and James Cummings “Hiemel was my best of the colts that day and he did it in nice style,” McEvoy said, “He showed nice gate speed and travelled well. There was good speed in front of him and he rounded them up turning for home so he seemed to have a nice way about him. Hopefully he can show the same mannerisms on Saturday.”

James Cummings added, “This colt was extremely impressive at the official barrier trials. He does everything right, he’s very forward and ahead of the game. He’s got real precocity and the strength of a colt who can run very well on debut.”

“This is a race that most years produces a colt who can go all the way through to the Golden Slipper so he’s going to need to be able to deliver on all the promise he’s shown us if he’s going to get over the top of this field. I feel like he’s got what it takes to be right at the top of the tree in a race like this.

4. Osorno ($6.50 TAB) – James Cummings “He looks like he’ll have more to offer when he comes back next preparation. He’s got a bit more scope about him. He doesn’t pick up the bridle quite as instantly as Hiemal but he’s got a very good finish and a lovely, big action.”

“If he was able to expend his energy the right way and the race comes back to him a fraction and they don’t run at pure 1000m speed all the way, Osorno is the sort of horse who can be putting in the big bounds and reel in the front runners.”

5. Performer ($4.40 TAB) – Charlie Duckworth “Hughie rode Performer on Tuesday morning and couldn’t have been any happier with him. It’s just whether we think he is as hardened as other horses who will have been put under more pressure to get to the Breeders’. We’ve just gone through the motions to give him every opportunity to shine, and he has shone.”

7. Santos ($19 TAB) – Adrian Bott “He is a nice style of colt going forward. He trailed impressively at Rosehill, really professionally, and has done really well since. It was always the plan to go to the trials at Rosehill to qualify him for the Breeders’ and give him that extra little bit of time going into the race. We’ve taken our time with him and I think that’s really worked in his favour.”

“To look at you wouldn’t expect him to be a natural two year old but he is doing everything on raw ability and if that’s the case, I think we’re dealing with a really exciting horse.”

Race 2 - 12:55PM KEENELAND GIMCRACK STAKES (1000 METRES)

2. Bold Arial ($9 TAB) – Adrian Bott “Bold Arial did everything right in her trial and is just a very straight forward filly. She popped in behind the speed, switched off and showed a really impressive turn of foot.”

“She didn’t have that brilliant gate speed to be able to put herself in a position to lead but if she is able to do that on Saturday so be it but from an educational perspective, it was good to see her do that in the trial.

3. Cortesta ($31 TAB), 7. Zerchois ($12), 11. Stole Your Love ($34), 13. Now Or Never ($9.50) – Gary Portelli “I would have been leaning towards Cortesta but then she drew 14 so she’s going to need a lot of luck. They’re not educated to cop pressure at this stage so she’ll need a good ride.”

“Zerchois goes like a rocket, she’s never been beaten in any of her gallops. She never lets anyone get past her so she will run a hell of a race I’m sure.”

“Now Or Never is going to be a finisher. She’s a big, strong two-year-old and I like the way she finishes off her work of a morning. I Stole Your Love has improved since her trial, she’s come on unbelievably.’’

6. Witherspoon ($3.70 TAB) – Brad Widdup “On natural ability she’s very smart but there’s been plenty of morning superstars that don’t come to race day. I don’t think that of her at all but we’ll wait until we get under race pressure. We could dodge a bit of traffic (from the barrier) but I don’t want to be charging out because I think there will be enough speed. If we can get in behind the speed it would suit her better.’’

Witherspoon easily wins her Canterbury trial on September 18

9. Galina ($9 TAB) – Kerrin McEvoy “Galina got back a little in her trial, travelled well and she dashed well to run second. She showed nice race sense. I rode her (Tuesday) morning and she is in good order.”

12. Impetusos ($26 TAB) – Blake Shinn “She trialled well and although she didn’t have much tactical speed, if she can find herself in a better spot come Saturday then she did in her trials, she has got good ability and will be running on late.”

16. Setsuna ($26 TAB) – Adrian Bott “Setsuna is a really sharp style of filly and she’ll be very competitive. At her trial she had to sit three wide and worked home better than anything so to do that takes a very professional filly. She looks like and out-and-out two-year-old.”

Race 3 - 1:30PM SCHWEPPES DULCIFY QUALITY (1600 METRES)

4. All Too Huiying ($18 TAB) – Gary Moore “We’re going to ride him back like we did in the Champagne in Brisbane. He’s well and I expect him to run well. He’s probably one of the best maidens in Australia.’’

Race 4 - 2:05PM ILVE APPLIANCES HILL STAKES (1800 METRES)

1. Sense Of Occasion ($4.60 TAB) – Kris Lees “Nothing went right for him first-up, but he has continued to work well. I probably would have preferred Red Excitement to have run here rather than the Epsom to ensure a good speed, but irrespective Embley is likely to run along and Sense Of Occasion is in great order and is getting to a more suitable distance.”

3. Havana Cooler ($13 TAB) – James Cummings “He wasn’t really able to fire a shot over 1400m in the Tramway Stakes. We’re using these runs to build a base of fitness. You have to look to him getting to 2400m and beyond before you’ll see his competitive edge. We are looking for him to run home solidly on Saturday.”

6. Spectroscope ($7 TAB) – James Cummings “I was hoping he might have done more in his first two runs this prep, but I know he showed a good turn of foot on rain-affected tracks last preparation and although the feeling was that he’d be better on top of the ground, he hasn’t shown that to be the case yet. Third up at 1800m he gets his opportunity.”

I really want to see it from this horse and I wonder whether he is looking for 2000m already.”

8. Embley ($11 TAB) – Jason Collett “I think he’s building confidence doing what he does and the 1800m will be no worries. It looks a really good race for him. We don’t have to lead but it’s worked the last two starts.’’

Race 5 - 2:40PM FLIGHT STAKES (1600 METRES)

1. Champagne Cuddles ($4 TAB) – Jason Collett “My first thoughts are the barrier probably does mean (going back) if you go off her last run. We’ll look at the form and dissect it a bit more to make sure that’s the best option. Besides (the Tea Rose) every run this prep she’s run home in great sectionals and just been unlucky due to her field position.’’

Tea Rose Stakes replay

2. Alizee ($2.90 TAB) – Glyn Schofield and James Cummings “She was ridden a tad quieter, hopefully it was the extra distance and being ridden quieter. It was a strong win though, wasn’t it. She’s not going to be asked to do it all early on so hopefully she’ll be using her speed when she needs it,’’ said Schofield.

Cummings added, “She comes to this race ready to peak. This is her grand final. She has had a very good preparation and you could almost regard it as faultless. Coming to this off a personal best is a real bonus.”

“Not only was it a confidence booster, it dispelled any concerns we had about her running out the distance genuinely. She’s trained on since the Tea Rose and she’s looked incrementally better every run.”

3. One More Honey ($8 TAB) – Blake Shinn “She is going to relish the mile and she has been ticking over nicely. She didn’t have much luck last start (in the Tea Rose) and I’m excited to be riding her. She is going to run a fantastic race.”

“Alizee is in great form but she is unknown at the mile whereas I’m certain that my filly will run strongly over the trip and I wouldn’t be surprised if she turned the tables given her last run.”

8. Pandemonium ($7 TAB) – Adrian Bott “The drop back to 1400m wasn’t ideal to begin with and then when she missed the start, she overreacted in behind horses and they went slow in front. She just doesn’t have the turn of foot to sit back and quicken to get herself into the race. Everything went against her.”

“Her asset is her cruising speed and over the mile she can sustain that. All going to plan, she’ll behave herself in the gates, jump cleanly and get into that nice rhythm that suits her.”

Race 6 - 3:20PM SANTOS COFFEE PREMIERE STAKES (1200 METRES)

1. Chautauqua ($3.10 TAB) – Brenton Avdulla We’re two weeks away from the main race but he couldn’t have been more impressive first up. I was always promised that when I let him go race day and the cylinders fired up that he’d let rip, which he did.

“I saw him work (Tuesday) morning and he looks terrific. I’m sure he is going to improve again off Saturday but it is going to take a good one to beat him.”

2. Clearly Innocent ($7.50 TAB) – Kris Lees “I have no doubt he will run well. He has had a solid build-up for this race and his work in recent weeks has been as good as any since he came to me earlier in the year.”

3. Takedown ($13 TAB) – Gary Moore “He’s come forward since his first run which is very promising. We’re all going to be pushed to beat Chautauqua, his run was fantastic in the Shorts. To finish so close to him was a good run. From the good draw of six he’s going to be prominent and I expect a big run from him.’’

Replay of The Shorts won by Redzel

4. Fell Swoop ($12 TAB) – Tye Angland “It was a nice run (first-up) and Matt’s trained him, as everyone would, to peak three runs in. Obviously we want to see him improve a little bit more second up. His best runs have been at 1200m at Randwick. He’s not the easiest horse to ride but he performs on the right day.’’

7. Ball Of Muscle ($9.50 TAB) – Glyn Schofield “He resumed really well, it’s obviously a tough race again but at that level there’s no easy ones. He was pretty fresh and free that day, he ran quick time. He just has to come back a peg underneath me for the 1200m. With the run under his belt he should be cherry ripe.’’

8. Moher ($81 TAB) – James Cummings “Moher has been in good form at home but doesn’t have a great first up record and he is not well suited here under the weight-for-age conditions. Having said that, it fits nicely with his program for the latter part of the spring and we would like to think he could be back here on Villiers day”

Race 7 - 4:00PM TAB EPSOM HANDICAP (1600 METRES)

1. Happy Clapper ($2.60 TAB) – Blake Shinn “He has got the best form lines of any horse going in so I’m very confident. He is in with the right weight to win.”

“He has tactical speed and is going to get every chance. You’ve got Red Excitement drawn 3 and a few horses out wide like Comin’ Through so there is going to be a lot of pressure. I’ve just got to get him into a nice comfortable rhythm.

2. Foxplay ($8 TAB) – Charlie Duckworth “Foxplay was only beaten narrowly by Winx and I know that took a lot out of her but she has bounced back from that as we’ve seen and she is a very good mare. The barrier just makes it hard but Hughie is the right man not to panic.”

3. Sound Proposition ($10 TAB) – Kris Lees “I feel he’s got a really good chance. He is two from two at Randwick, including one over the Epsom course (1600m), and puts himself in the right spot in his races. With 54kg, he has definitely got a weight to be very competitive.”

5. Red Excitement ($13 TAB) – Brenton Avdulla “My bloke is in form, rock hard fit and Gerald’s team is flying. His first up run was super, his second up run as enormous, and probably a career peak, and I thought in his third run he might have just found the edge.”

“Gerald has got him in career best form and I think he has found a winnable Epsom. It’s not overly strong and he looks like he is going to get a good run from wherever he is. Whether he ends up in front or behind a couple I’m not sure, but he is not going to be doing any work.”

9. Tom Melbourne ($6 TAB) – Charlie Duckworth “From the barrier we are going to have to ride him conservatively. Had he not fired up in the first 100 metres in his last start he would have near enough won. He just burnt a few too many carrots early. Providing he switches off, the mile won’t be an issue and he’ll run home strong.”

11. Comin’ Through ($6 TAB) – Charlie Duckworth “We have taken blinkers off (Comin’ Through) and put visors on. We galloped him in the visors and when he was challenged in the straight he really surged forward. With the weight, he is a live chance,”

Race 8 - 4:45PM THE METROPOLITAN (2400 METRES)

1. Libran ($5 TAB) – Glyn Schofield “He hit the line strongly, he obviously stays well and likes fast ground so hopefully he runs well again. He impressed me with that win, when he sprinted he sprinted quickly. A peak performance is what he needs on Saturday.’’

The Kingston Town is a key form reference for this year's Metrop

3. Destiny’s Kiss ($23 TAB) – Joe Pride “It was a good run (at Newcastle), they went slow and took off and Hughie (Bowman) said he got shuffled back in an awkward spot and wasn’t able to make an impression on them. If it was a wet track I’d be a little bit confident. Dry doesn’t stop him, it probably means they could sprint home a bit quick for him.’’

5. Big Duke ($6 TAB) – Brenton Avdulla “I thought his run (last) Saturday was a little plain but in saying that this has always been the target for him. I have won plenty of races before with horses on the backup that haven’t performed to their peak the run before.”

“He handled himself really well in previous preps and he is probably a bit stiff not to be unbeaten at the distance. He has run third in a Sydney Cup and won a Chairman’s here. He has his chance to win a Metrop and I think he has found his right race to run really well in.”

Race 9 - 5:25PM SNITZEL SPRINT (1200 METRES)

8. Spright ($6 TAB) – Gary Frazer “I gave her a full six weeks out and she did unbelievably in her spell so she will probably be a bit soft on Saturday. While she is a bit soft I expect her to run well. She’s drawn probably not ideally for a horse like her in one but (Jay Ford) will have to make his own luck from there.’’

“She cruised around in behind them at Randwick, Ravi won the trial, then I took her to Wyong and gave her a bit of a hit out. Her work has been good since.’’

11. Improvement ($8.50 TAB) – Gary Portelli “We were just outmuscled late (second up). It’s a tough race for her this weekend, we’ll take a sit just off the speed this time I reckon and see if she can hit the line.’’

Check out the fields, form and replays for Royal Randwick on Saturday

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