Horse Racing Tips | Epsom Handicap Group 1 Preview

Horse Racing Tips | Epsom Handicap Group 1 Preview

Horse Racing Tips | Epsom Handicap Group 1 Preview

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Epsom Handicap Group 1 1600

Epsom Handicap Randwick Race 7 – Odds and Race Form

Epsom Handicap Race Day Info

Race Preview

History

The Epsom Handicap is one of the oldest, most time honoured events on the Australian Racing Calendar. Royal Randwick has been the host every year except 1983 when Cool River won at Warwick Farm while in 2001 Final Fantasy won the event on the Randwick inner track, the Kensington track when run over 1400m. All other 150 runnings have been conducted on the Royal Randwick course proper. Run for the first time in 1865 and won by Dundee the honour roll contains many legends of the Australian turf including Amounis (twice), Chatham (twice), Shannon, Sky High, Gunsynd, Triton, Super Impose (twice), Filante, Shogun Lodge, Desert War (twice) and more recently a young 4yo mare named Winx in 2015. In 1929 Nightmarch became the only horse in history to win the Epsom and then go on to win the Melbourne Cup the same year. Only the greats Gunsynd and Winx have gone on to win the Cox Plate in the same year. No horse in recent times has won the Epsom prior to winning the Caulfield Cup, although several have tried including the Champion Might And Power who finished seventh in 1997 before annexing both major Cups in Melbourne. A very good horses race yes, however most winners have reached their peak on Epsom day. Hauraki won the race in 2016 and was unceremoniously retired after finishing unplaced in this years Doncaster, not having won again since his Epsom victory. It generally takes a good 2000m horse to win this race, with plenty of pace on up front from barrier rise a horse who can finish strongly over the mile usually figures in the finish.

Analysis

Not the strongest nor the largest field in Epsom history, with several acceptors warranting the “surprise” victors title should they salute the judge first  at around 4:02pm on Saturday. There is generally plenty of pace on in an Epsom, Red Excitement looks the natural leader following his last two runs at WFA, while it would be expected Sound Proposition, Comin Through and Foxplay would go forward early from outside draws looking for a prominent position.

Without stating the bleedin obvious, Chris Waller holds the key with five runners, all due great punter’s respect as any of the five could win without surprising, or without being supported in the market, so please avoid allowing us to turn you off one of Chris’s should you strongly fancy it. Both Foxplay’s runs this time in behind Winx have been sound, however only 4 mares have won this race since La Neige in 1976 so history is against her winning. Admittedly Hugh Bowman, who rarely if ever rides at 54.5kg is a big assist to her winning chances although she does have barrier 14 to over come. McCreery is certainly one who can improve on his two runs this time in, he has won three times over this distance although none from three attempts over the Randwick mile. Tommy Berry should give him a good run in transit and he can figure if he lifts his game to this level. Tom Melbourne’s three starts since a change of stables have all been terrific, he finds himself here with no weight, alas, he not won at a distance beneath 1700m and drew 13 marble. Tom is however a strong 2000m horse and with any luck in running he is a serious winning prospect. Egg Tart took all before her during the winter winning two Oaks, she looked like she needed further when beaten a long way first up and she can improve up to the mile from the good draw with no weight on her back. Her chances would improve with some rain although none is predicted at time of writing. Comin Through has won his only two this preparation however at the weights it is difficult seeing him beating Tom Melbourne on their last run. Nevertheless, stranger things have happened in horse racing.

Top weight with 57kg and likely favourite is the popular Patrick Webster trained Happy Clapper, those without pecuniary interest will be cheering this 7yo down the entire 420 metres of the Randwick straight. The gelding won brilliantly first up before running a mighty second behind Winx in the George Main. He drops 2 kg from the WFA event and did beat rival today Foxplay by over three lengths so it is impossible to see the mare turn the tables on him here. Happy Clapper won the 2015 Villiers over this course and distance and also ran a great second behind It’s Somewhat in this year’s Doncaster. He will start favourite and rightfully so.

Sound Proposition won two races here at Randwick over the winter and his run in the Cameron had merit when racing on the speed. Unfortunately, Cameron form rarely stands up on Epsom day and he has an awkward draw to hinder his chances as well.

Hard to imagine a leader winning the Epsom, however Red Excitement does boast a narrow defeat by Winx two runs ago and with no other distinct front runners he may get a cheap lead and shoot clear on topping the famous Randwick rise. A repeat of his Chelmsford effort gives him a chance, a repeat of his George Main effort gives him none. Jockey Brenton Avdulla and trainer Gerald Ryan go back a long way and I’m sure “The Gun” would love to win the Epsom for Ryan.

I Am A Star is a Group 1 winner in Melbourne over the 1600m however her past two runs down south have not been up to Group 1 form. She was very good first up in the Auries Star, however again, mares have a poor record in this event and she has never beaten the boys at this level in handicap conditions. I Am A Star is also accepted for the Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley on Friday night which appears a more appropriate assignment.

The races depth falls away dramatically after this with several restricted class gallopers remaining.

Summary

It could be a most “Exciting” Epsom should Brenton Avdulla exhibit tearaway tactics on Red Excitement similar to the gelding’s last two runs. Avdulla famously stole last years Victorian Oaks with the Lee Curtis trained Lasqueti Spirit adopting these tactics and with no real front runners in this race punters would find it difficult to criticise “The Gun” should he try this on the 7yo gelding. This should set the race up for a run on horse.

Should Happy Clapper run up to his two excellent runs this time in, he is definitely a clear choice for victory in the Epsom of 2017. He should get a gun run from barrier 4 and 57kg is not a big weight for an Epsom winner. We fancied Tom Melbourne as the best of the Waller runners before the barrier draw, should he get cover in transit he looks hard to beat, McCreery is an improver as is Egg Tart. Normally a Cameron Handicap runner up would conjure little consideration in an Epsom however due to the lack of depth in 2017, Sound Proposition is a multiples hope.

We generally avoid tipping favourites in Group 1 races, however Happy Clapper does look a good gamble at around the $3.00 mark in this year’s version of The Epsom.

1 #1 Happy Clapper

2 #9 Tom Melbourne

3 #5 Red Excitement

4 #10 Egg Tart
Best of luck to all in this year’s Epsom


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