August 2018 will always be synonymous in the horse racing world with Winx breaking Black Caviar’s record for the most successive wins, and punters could see Winx try and extend that run further in September in either the Optic White Stakes or the Maykbe Diva Stakes. There’s also plenty of other group race action to enjoy from Australia in September, as well as the first couple of Group 1 Races of New Zealand’s 2018/19 flat season.
Saturday 1 September
The Chelmsford Stakes is a weight for age Group 2 Race run over 1,600 metres at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, Australia. It was first run in 1895 and boasts several multiple winners such as Rogilla, Kingston Town, and Lonhro, as well as Delta who won it three times in succession between 1950 and 1952.
Meanwhile, other notable winners of the Chelmsford Stakes include Gloaming, Heroic, Phar Lap, Bernborough, Tulloch, Gunsynd, Ming Dynasty, Emancipation, Might And Power, and Eremein.
The 2017 renewal of the Chelmsford Stakes was won by the new record-breaking mare Winx, though the wonder filly won’t be trying to retain her crown this year. In Winx’s absence, the bookies have installed Unforgotten as the ante-post favourite, but Chris Waller’s four-year-old filly will need to go five places better than when sixth behind Winx on her last appearance over 200 metres shorter at Randwick in August. She could be taken on by the likes of Prized Icon, Mr Moonlight Magic, Sedanzer, Single Gaze, and Cabeza de Vaca.
The Memsie Stakes is the first Group 1 Race run in September in Australia and it is open to horses aged three or older that are not maidens. It was first run in 1899 and is currently run over 1,400 metres at Caulfield Racecourse.
Multiple winners of the race include Eurythmic, Heroic, Ajax, Comic Court, Lord, and Sunline, whilst other notable winners include Phar Lap, Tranquil Star, Rising Fast, Galilee, Mankikato, The Phantom, Maykbe Diva, El Segundo, Miss Finland, Weekend Hustler, So You Think, and Atlantic Jewel.
The 2017 winner Vega Magic has been installed as the 7/4 favourite to become the latest dual winner of the race, and it’s not difficult to see why as the David & B Hayes & T Dabernig trained six-year-old is bidding to extend his record to four from four at Caulfield after warming up with an easy win there in a Group 3 Race in July. His biggest market rivals include last year’s Tramway Stakes winner Happy Clapper, King Will Dream, and Showtime.
The Tramway Stakes is another Group 2 Race that takes place on the same card as the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick Racecourse but is run over the shorter distance of 1,400 metres. Thoroughbred horses aged three and older are eligible to enter. The race was first run in 1886 and its most notable winners are Amounis, Rogilla, and Shaftesbury Avenue, whilst the 2017 renewal of the Tramway Stakes was won by Happy Clapper. Many bookies have installed Kementari and Pierata as the joint favourites for the 2018 renewal.
Kementari has obvious credentials having been second in a Group 2 at Randwick two starts ago before finishing fourth at the course behind Winx last time. The James Cummings trained four-year-old is also sired by Lonhro, who won the Chelmsford Stakes twice in his illustrious career. However, Pierata had the upper-hand when the pair last met and many punters will be backing Gegory Hickman’s four-year-old to come out on top again.
The Tarzino Trophy is the new name for New Zealand’s first Group 1 of the new flat racing season, and it is open to horses aged three and older and run over 1,400 at Hastings Racecourse in Hawke’s Bay. Originally named the Challenge Stakes, it has been named the Makfi Challenge Stakes from 2012 to 2017.
The race has been renamed to honour Tarzino, who won the Victoria Derby in 2015 and the Rosehill Guineas in 2016 before being retired to stud. Former winners of the Challenge Stakes include Poetic Prince, Rough Habit, Surfers Paradise, Sunline, Miss Potential, Starcraft, Xcellent, Tavistock, and Ocean Park.
Meanwhile, the only horse to have won the Challenge Stakes twice is Seachange (2006, 2007). Last year’s winner Close Up could bid to become the second horse to win the race in successive years, though the bookies have him priced up at 20/1. Heading the market is Melody Belle, and Jamie Richards’ four-year-old mare is a best-priced 3/1 to follow-up her win at Te Rapa in August. Those closest to her in the market include Hiflyer, Jon Snow, Scott Baze, Ocean Emperor, and Sensible Princess.
Saturday 15 September
Optic White Stakes
The Optic White Stakes is the new name for the George Main Stakes, and it is a Group 1 Race run over 1,600 metres at Randwick racecourse. It was first run in 1945 and is open to horses aged three and older. Dual winners of the race include Shannon, Count Radiant, and Kingston Town, whilst Winx looks likely to extend her record-breaking run of wins by becoming the first horse to win this race for the third consecutive year. She’s a best-priced 1/7 to do so and you’d be a brave punter to back against anything but another victory for her if she turns up, though she has a possible alternative engagement in the Maykbe Diva Stakes.
Maykbe Diva Stakes
The Maykbe Diva Stakes was originally named the Craiglee Stakes but was renamed to celebrate Maykbe Diva’s outstanding achievement of winning three Melbourne Cups. It is a Group 1 Race open to horses aged three and older and is run over 1,600 metres at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Notable previous winners have included Comic Court, Lord, Mahogany, Jeune, and Shocking. Last year’s winner Humidor is again amongst the early entries, though he has several horses ahead of him in the market. They include Winx (not a guaranteed runner) as well as Dargento, Grunt, and Happy Clapper.
Saturday 22 September
Golden Rose Stakes
The Golden Rose Stakes is a Group 1 Race for horses aged three and older. It is run over 1,400 metres at Rosehill Racecourse. It was originally named the Peter Pan Stakes but changed its name to its current title in 2003. The most famous winner of the Golden Rose Stakes is probably Exosphere. The Autumn Sun is favourite to win the 2018 Golden Rose Stakes, which is no surprise considering Chris Waller’s three-year-old is looking to maintain an unbeaten record, and won a Group 1 Race on his last start. However, that was on heavy ground. His main market rivals include Brutal and Graff.
Windsor Park Plate
The Windsor Park Plate is a Group 1 race that forms part of the brilliant Hawke’s Bay Spring Carnival that takes place at Hastings Racecourse in New Zealand. Up until this year it has been known as the Horlicks Plate and it is run over 1,600 metres. It has been won by the likes of Hello Dolly, Starcraft, Seachange, Jimmy Choux, and Gingernuts. This year’s market is headed by Melodic Belle, though the market could see some serious changes after the Tarzino Trophy is run at Hastings Racecourse on September 1.
Friday 28 September
A J Moir Stakes
The A J Moir Stakes, sometimes referred to as just the Moir Stakes, is a Group 1 Sprint run over 1,000 metres at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne. It was first run in 1976 and has been won by some of Australia’s most famous sprinters including Manikato, Placid Ark, Miss Andretti, Apache Cat, and the dual winner Black Caviar, whilst Buffering won the race three times. Darren Weir’s impressive four-year-old Natural Scenery is the ante-post favourite on the back of a three-timer, and he’s already proven he can win at Moonee Valley. However, this is a step-up in class for him and he may have most to fear from the proven Group Race performer Redzel.
Saturday 29 September
The Epsom Handicap is yet another Group 1 Race run in Australia in September and it takes place over 1,600 metres at Randwick Racecourse. It is open to horses aged three and older and has been won by the likes of Chatam, Shannon, Sky High, Super Impose, Desert War, Winx, and last year’s winner Happy Clapper. Dargento is the early ante-post favourite, but this could also see another clash between Kementari and Pierata, whilst Happy Clapper could bid to retain his crown.
The Metropolitan is a Group 1 Race run over 2,400 metres at Randwick Racecourse and it forms part of the exciting Sydney Spring Carnival. Established in 1863, it has been won by the likes of The Barb, Kennaquahair, Battle Heights, Railway, and Foundry. Avilius is a string fancy after winning on soft ground over 1,900 metres last time and he’s fancied to relish the step-up in trip. However, he’s unlikely to have everything his own way with the likes of Unforgotten and Egg Tart in the field.