Fresh off a world record-equaling 16th career Group 1 tally in her Chipping Norton (G1) comeback at Randwick, Australian wonder mare Winx will look to surpass American legend John Henry’s mark with number 17 in Friday night’s George Ryder (G1) on Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill. Another success for the daughter of Street Cry would also extend her winning streak to 24. Post time for the 5TH race is set for 11:45 p.m. (EDT).
Winx was at her imperious best in the March 3 Chipping Norton, her first start since her historic Cox Plate (G1) three-peat last October. Smashing the field in a laugher over the metric mile, the Chris Waller mare turned another three-peat. Winx now shortens up slightly to about 7 1/2 furlongs for the George Ryder, where she once again lines up as a two-time defending champion. Regular partner Hugh Bowman will steer her from the outermost post in the short field of six.
There is a rising star among them, Godolphin’s highly regarded sophomore Kementari. The homebred son of Lonhro, who was himself a two-time George Ryder hero during his storied career, compiled a promising spring campaign but is now peaking as the season turns to autumn. The winner of three straight for trainer James Cummings, Kementari cruised as much the best in the March 10 Randwick Guineas (G1) last out. He’ll break from post 5, next to Winx.
Happy Clapper tried to upend Winx in last September’s George Main (G1), only to get caught in time. The winner of the Epsom H. (G1) in his next start, the Teofilo gelding just scored another top-level victory in the March 10 Canterbury (G1) back at Randwick.
Group 2 victress Invincible Gem exits a third to Happy Clapper in the Canterbury, where she was reportedly “sore behind” after being bumped by the winner on the turn. The I Am Invincible mare previously proved up to Group 1 standard when just mugged in last year’s Randwick Guineas, and she brings a consistent mark of five wins and five placings from 12 starts. Stablemate Clearly Innocent, sixth in the Canterbury for their trainer Kris Lees, scored his signature win in the Darley Kingsford-Smith Cup (G1) on heavy going at Eagle Farm last May. He’ll be rooting for the forecast rain to further affect a course already labeled heavy going into Friday.
Crack Me Up was successful in the December 16 Villiers (G2) prior to his transfer to Bjorn Baker. The New Zealand-bred son of Mossman made a winning start for his new yard in the March 3 Liverpool City Cup at Randwick.
After the George Ryder, plans call for Winx to defend her title in the April 14 Queen Elizabeth II (G1) during Sydney’s The Championships – perhaps her springboard to Royal Ascot? We’ll know more after Saturday.
Saturday’s card features the $A3.5 million Golden Slipper (G1), the richest race on the planet for two-year-olds. The about six-furlong test is due to go off as the 7TH race at 1:10 a.m. (EDT).
Unbeaten Blue Diamond (G1) hero Written By; once-beaten Sunlight, who took the Silver Slipper (G2) over next-out Reisling (G2) victress Estijaab; the top two from the Todman (G2), Aylmerton and Ef Troop, as well as Performer, who unseated Bowman that day as the favorite but retains his rider’s faith; Santos, narrowly on top in the Skyline (G2); Sweet Embrace (G2) vixen Seabrook; and Hayes/Dabernig roughie Long Leaf are among the competitive (and oversubscribed) field. Note that Hayes/Dabernig had to scratch Blue Diamond runner-up Enbihaar Friday after tying up. Fortunately they also train the first also-eligible, Qafila, a fellow Shadwell filly who now draws into the sweet 16.
Three other Group 1s are on tap on Golden Slipper Day.
In the Ranvet (G1) at about 1 1/4 miles, top-class French import Gailo Chop looks to gain revenge on his Australian Cup (G1) upsetter Harlem. Australian Cup third-placer Ventura Storm, fifth Single Gaze, and eighth The Taj Mahal are all back, while the respective second and third behind Winx in the Chipping Norton, Prized Icon and Classic Uniform, both step up in trip.
The Rosehill Guineas (G1) over the same course and distance pits Victoria Derby (G1) star Ace High and Waller’s promising D’Argento, respectively fourth and seventh to Kementari in the Randwick Guineas last out, versus the New Zealand Derby (G1) exacta of Vin de Dance and Mongolianconqueror; Alister Clark (G2) winner Cliff’s Edge; and Sandown Guineas (G2) victor Villermont.
Sprinters will dash about 5 1/2 furlongs in The Galaxy (G1), with Jungle Edge, who was just touched off in third last year; Godolphin’s up-and-comer Viridine; Snitty Kitty, denied by a head in the February 24 Oakleigh Plate (G1); Manikato (G1) near-misser In Her Time; Supido, reportedly considering Dubai before staying home; and the back class of English all making for an intriguing contest.