A quality line-up contests the G1 George Main Stakes over the metric mile at Randwick on Saturday (07:00 BST) with leading trainer Chris Waller starting three of the eight runners in the feature. Head of Timeform Australia Gary Crispe previews the race.
"Timeform 123 Secret Admirer comes into the race third up from a spell and ready to return to her peak figure at her favourite course and distance where she has posted two Group 1 successes."
While Waller will be represented by proven Group 1 performers Shoot Out, Danleigh and Rangirangdoo, it is the talented Grahame Begg-trained mare Secret Admirer who has just s slight edge on Timeform ratings in the G1 George Main Stakes.
Timeform 123 Secret Admirer comes into the race third up from a spell and ready to return to her peak figure at her favourite course and distance where she has posted two Group 1 successes. As a three-year-old, Secret Admirer won the G1 Flight Stakes over the Randwick mile then last spring she was in sparkling form winning the G1 Epsom Handicap defeating subsequent Cox Plate winner Pinker Pinker over the same course and distance. Her campaign in the Autumn was punctuated by a series of luckless narrow defeats in feature races such as a near miss in the G1 Coolmore Classic over 1500m at Rosehill where victory would have seen her join an elite group of mares to carry 58kgs to victory. Significantly that was her third run back from a spell. Another narrow defeat followed behind Metal Bender in the G1 George Ryder Stakes over 1500m at Rosehill before an unplaced effort in the Doncaster Handicap won by More Joyous.
Secret Admirer has shown improvement in her ratings profile at each of her two runs back, firstly when second to Pinwheel in the Warwick Stakes then second to Danleigh in the Chelmsford Stakes both races at Warwick Farm. There looks to be good pace in the race and getting back to her home track Randwick is a major factor which should see her close to winning form under the favourable weight for age conditions.
Of the Waller trio, ATC Derby winner Shoot Out looms as the highest rated runner with recent race fitness the only cloud over him. A winner of three Group 1 races including the Randwick Guineas over this course and distance and the Chipping Norton Stakes over 1600m at Warwick Farm, Shoot Out has not raced since his courageous second to champion mare More Joyous in the G1 Doncaster Handicap in April. That effort rates as one of Shoot Out's best performances and reinforced his liking for Randwick where he has won three of his six runs. Shoot Out's recent fresh up record is not great but Waller has taken his time with the son of High Chaparral giving him three searching barrier trials leading into the race, winning the last one over 1200m at Randwick in most impressive style. Regular rider Hugh Bowman has given punters the best lead by opting for Shoot Out ahead of last start winner Danleigh and Rangirangdoo. Not so surprising when you consider in the head to head stats for the pair; Shoot Out leads Danleigh five to zero.
The big query in the race is talented three-year-old All Too Hard who was taken out of last week's Golden Rose to be saved for this race. Three-year-olds have performed well in the George Main Stakes previously but probably with better form and ratings coming into the race than All Too Hard. The last three-year-old to win the George Main Stakes was Viscount in 2001. His success had followed hot on the heels of a three-year-old treble of winners, Encounter (1997), Dracula (1998) and Shogun Lodge (1999) but their record since has been quite poor with just Onemorenomore placing third to Road To Rock in the 2009 renewal.
Saturday is D-day for All Too Hard. He was the "hype" juvenile behind champion Pierro last season, starting favourite and running second to that galloper in the G1 Sires' Produce Stakes at Randwick beaten almost two lengths. In two runs as a three-year-old against his own age All Too Hard is rating around six pounds below his peak rating, a trend if continued will not be good enough to trouble the more seasoned gallopers he faces today. All Too Hard will have a new rider, with Group 1 winning Chris Munce taking over from Dwayne Dunn who cannot make the 50.5kgs. In fact the light weight Munce has had to shed a few kilos to take the mount. Munce came to Sydney last week to partner the colt in a barrier trial finishing second at Warwick Farm and commented afterwards that he felt like a classy galloper. Munce has ridden some very good horses in his career so such a comment deserves respect however All Too Hard will need to be at his very best to live up to that expectation.
Grand galloper Rangirangdoo and consistent Danleigh will have support from the Waller stable. Multiple group one winner Rangirangdoo rated below his master Timeform rating when resuming in the G3 Tramway Handicap (1400m) at Warwick Farm shouldering 61.5kgs into a creditable fourth place behind Tagus. However, the Pentire gelding and four time Randwick winner will improve from that effort. With Nash Rawiller in the saddle he cannot be easily sidelined by punters and is likely to be at attractive odds. As far as ratings go, Danleigh is the third rated of Waller's team, albeit only by a couple of pounds in what is likely to be a most interesting weight for age contest that will shape the future spring programs for several of the runners.
Back Secret Admirer to win @ $4.60