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Group 1 previews and tips

Two big Group 1s in Melbourne and Sydney this week as spring racing continues to heat up.

George Main Stakes – Randwick

The George Main could finally gives us the clash we’ve been waiting for over the last 12 months, with Anamoe and Zaaki potentially meeting for the first time on a sporting surface. When the two were in the same race last time, the Queen Elizabeth in the autumn, it was on one of the most waterlogged surfaces we’ve ever seen.

Anamoe is currently the darling of the turf, and so he should be celebrated. He was an outstanding two-year-old, a brilliant three-year-old, and has returned in fine style at four. He’s won a Group 1 race in each preparation he’s had, when there’s been one on offer, including first-up in the Winx Stakes four weeks ago.

Zaaki represents the old guard in many ways, with Anamoe the rising challenger.

But even Zaaki has only been around for just over 12 months at the top level. His first start in Australia was in April 2021, when he ran as a no-name long-shot in the Doncaster, and then blazed his way through the Queensland winter. Since then he’s won the Underwood and the Mackinnon, either side of being scratched in the Cox Plate, and took out the All Star Mile earlier this year.

Anamoe won the Winx on resumption, and Zaaki took out the Tramway. They meet in form. But, there is talk that Zaaki may be taken down to Melbourne to continue to his campaign there. We may have to wait a little longer yet.

Anamoe beat some of the other new season four-year-olds in the Winx, and it is wonderful to think we have new depth to our weight-for-age ranks.

James McDonald on Anamoe wins

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Fangirl was the eye-catching run in the Winx, sailing home from the rear to run second behind Anamoe. She is the perfect four-year-old for the Epsom, which has been the target a long way out.

Profondo was third in the Winx after a tough run, and has subsequently finished fourth behind Zaaki in the Tramway on an unsuitable heavy track. He is flying, and won a Group 1 the last time he saw a good track, which was almost 12 months ago.

The rest of the field, all proven at the level, have either returned very well or were unsuited. Most have loftier goals in mind as we progress through the spring.

Duais and Montefilia will be at their best at 2000m and beyond, Hinged has all options available to her, Icebath always gets better as she gets deeper into a prep, and Converge is still a watch.

Selections: 1. Zaaki 2. Anamoe 3. Profondo 4. Fangirl

Elsewhere in Sydney, what about The Shorts? The six favourites for The Everest suit up, and the sparks will fly. It’s arguably the biggest race of the day, despite not having Group 1 status.

Nature Strip, Masked Crusader, Mazu, Classique Legend and Lost and Running are all resuming.

Eduardo already has a win under his belt this spring, and it was a dominant one. Lost and Running is the one to keep an eye on, if he can mature again from five to six, and might be worth an each-way ticket.

There’s plenty of other good races besides, with the Tea Rose as part of the princess series for the fillies, the Bill Ritchie for those eyeing off the Epsom, and the Kingston Town for those on the Metropolitan and Cups trails.

Rupert Clarke Stakes – Caulfield

At Caulfield, the Rupert Clarke Stakes is on, the only Group 1 handicap over 1400m for the spring. It’s become a outstanding race with fantastic depth since the prizemoney was raised to $1,000,000, as it should.

We face the rare situation in a Group 1 race where the favourite is actually an emergency.

Former Kiwi I Wish I Win had his first start for Peter Moody three weeks ago at Caulfield, demolishing a handy field in a manner that suggest he would be winning a big race soon. Here we are, and he may not be in the field. You’d be brave to bet against him if he gets in and can reproduce that first-up performance.

His main danger might not even be in the field yet, either! First emergency Dragon Leap resumed in the Memsie Stakes, finishing fourth while finding the line beautifully. I’m Thunderstruck has already franked the form, and he’ll drop 4.5 kilograms into this.


(Photo by Reg Ryan/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Hilal is another coming back from weight-for-age to a handicap, except he was fourth behind Anamoe in the Winx Stakes. Getting within two lengths of him, and dropping a nice 2.5 kilos makes a lot of sense.

Ayrton has been a bit of a pin-up horse, but keeps finding ways to have irregular preparations. He has three wins at the Caulfield 1400m course, including first-up in the autumn, as he is here. He has to be a major player, and is drawn to get a charmed run.

Showmanship was a winning machine in Perth, and has brought that form to the eastern seaboard over the last 12 months. He’s won three from four over here, was a close-up third at listed level in the other, and deserves his chance at a Group 1.

Tuvulu is another big winning chance. He’s never been out of the placings in 11 starts, with seven of them wins. Two of his seconds were to I’m Thunderstruck, who is Cox Plate material. He’s right in the game, and is proven on the wet for if and when the rain comes.

There’s good speed engaged, and a strong tempo is always assured when Buffalo River is in the field, but there’s plenty of other horses that like to race on the pace to keep him company. If the track is playing fair, we’ll be looking for something to sweep into the race that has been sitting midfield or worse with cover.

Selections: 1.I Wish I Win 2. Showmanship 3. Hilal 4. Dragon Leap

The Guineas Preludes also take place at Caulfield, as the three-year-old colts and fillies get put through their paces as they track to the big one in three weeks’ time.

The Naturalism for those on the Caulfield Cup trail, and the How Now Stakes for the sprinting mares also add a bit of depth to the card.

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