By Ray Hickson
The return bout between English star Addeybb and Australia’s best mare Verry Ellegant in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes has the potential to steal the show again at the 2021 The Star Championships and in TAB’s first markets there’s nothing between the pair.
TAB opened pre-nominations markets on Friday on the $4m Queen Elizabeth (2000m), the $3m Doncaster Mile, the $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and the $2m Sydney Cup (3200m).
Addeybb’s trainer William Haggas has signalled his intention to defend his crown in the showpiece of The Star Championships and jockey Tom Marquand is set to ride through the autumn carnival.
In opening $6 equal favourites, TAB’s senior trader Tim Ryan said on Sky Sports Radio that, despite Verry Elleegant’s wet track prowess, a wet track would see Addeybb firm considerably.
Since his dominant win at Randwick back in April, Addeybb has won the Group 1 Champion Stakes (2000m) at Ascot (UK), a Listed race at Ayr and was runner-up in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
“If he was to turn up and get his favoured wet track he’s going to be much shorter than that,’’ Ryan said.
“Verry Elleegant is our pick of the locals. I think she has the measure of the Victorians - Russian Camelot, Sir Dragonet and even the West Australian Arcadia Queen.
“I don’t think they can beat her in Sydney on a likely wet track.”
Russian Camelot, set to tackle the Queen Elizabeth second-up, is at $8 with Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet while Mackinnon Stakes winner Arcadia Queen opened $11.
Kris Lees’ rising star Mugatoo is on the $15 line with Epsom winner Probabeel and Ryan said he’s looking forward to seeing how Mugatoo progresses into the autumn.
The Doncaster Mile is a ‘lottery’ at this stage of pre-nominations betting with five $15 equal favourites – Golden Eagle winner Colette, Group 1 winner Funstar, star three-year-olds Ole Kirk and North Pacific along with Probabeel.
“A horse like Ole Kirk, if he was to target this race, would be hard to beat off the back of that Caulfield Guineas win,’’ Ryan said.
“Colette if she was to get a wet track, we often get a wet track come Doncaster Day, she would be right up there.”
Everest runner-up and three time Group 1 winning sprinter Bivouac commands the board in the TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) at $5 on the back of his dominant win at Flemington in November.
All eyes will be on how ‘fallen hero’ Nature Strip, the defending TJ Smith champ, recovers from his trouble plagued spring, which ended with a battling second to Bivouac.
The likes of Haut Brion Her, Libertini, North Pacific, Ole Kirk, September Run and Trekking are all on the $15 line.
“Bivouac, second in the Everest, he was dominant down the straight at Flemington,’’ Ryan said.
“He’s the clear standout in the TJ Smith. We have Nature Strip at $11, he may be a little bit of a fallen hero from past seasons.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the three-year-olds line up. We have September Run at $15 and Written Beauty at $26, an up and coming horse for the Hawkes stable.”
It’s a wide open early market on the Sydney Cup (3200m) with three stayers – Chris Waller’s Finche, Peter Moody’s import Nickajack Cave along with Surprise Baby - all at $15.
Ryan said Finche is a “rock solid” stayer who deserves his spot at the top but would like to see a bit more of the lightly raced Surprise Baby.
“Not sure what they are going to do with Surprise Baby,’’ he said.
“It’d be nice to see this horse have a bit more racing, he obviously has some talent. If they were to target a Sydney Cup it’d be a good race for him.”