Showdown between Winx and Kementari could outshine Golden Slipper
It shapes as the classic contest, the champion against the rising star. Godolphin's willingness for Kementari to challenge Winx gives Golden Slipper day a championship feel and could keep people talking for years about the George Ryder Stakes.
Slipper days have been notable for champions delivering in memorable fashion: Makybe Diva and Octagonal, among others, have been able to outshine the babies' dash for cash. Winx has done that for the past two years and it would be foolhardy to suggest Randwick Guineas winner Kementari, which was barely six months old when Winx last tasted defeat, would unseat the queen of racing.
However, these types of clashes define racing and, with young colts being protected, we don't see them often enough.
In Europe, a race like the Sussex Stakes is a testing spot for three-year-olds against the best milers. It a test of their mettle and Ryder is starting to become the equivalent race in Australia, positioned perfectly in the autumn program.
It comes at a time when three-year-olds have the advantage of maturity and still have a significant weight pull under weight-for-age rules. Indeed, champion three-year-olds have had their way against older rivals such as Pierro, Weekend Hussler, Emancipation and Manikato.
That should be enough to get anyone with a casual interest in the sport of kings to Rosehill on Saturday but add a feature event with a half-dozen genuine winning chances and a return to the glory days of Golden Slipper day beckons.
The ATC have made the Slipper meeting their priority this year and are trying to re-engage the west, which has been lost for the past decade.
The star power is there along with five group 1 races and tickets sales are already ahead of the past couple of years and so they should be.
Williams targets more autumn success
Lloyd Williams, who has become a regular visitor to the Sydney carnival since the inception of The Championships and has had his share of success, will have a pair of runners at Rosehill on Saturday.
The Taj Mahal will have the services of Ben Melham in the Ranvet Stakes, while Metropolitan winner Foundry returns to Sydney for the Manion Cup on his way to next month’s Sydney Cup.
Williams could use a similar program to the spring with The Taj Mahal, which backed up from a fourth in the Mackinnon Stakes over 2000m seven days later to win the 2400m Zipping Classic at Sandown.
Barrier test for Chautauqua
The racing career of Chautauqua will be on the line as he steps out in a Cranbourne barrier trial on Monday.
The three-time TJ Smith winner needs to jump clearly from the barriers to get a stewards' clearance to race again after twice refusing to leave the gates at the Randwick barrier trial on February 27 and then again at Rosehill on March 8.
Team Hawkes have moved the champion sprinter to its Melbourne base, where he needs to complete two formal barrier tests before being allowed back to the races.
Chautauqua has been doing remedial barrier work and the hope is to have him ready for the TJ Smith first-up in three weeks.
His first moment of truth will be when the barriers open at Cranbourne on Monday but there will be no live coverage of the Chautuaqua trial as racing.com does not show barrier trials live.
King ousted for whip breach
For the second consecutive week, top apprentice Rachel King found herself in front of stewards for a whip breach and ended up with a four-meeting suspension from her ride on Just Dreaming in the Coolmore Classic.
Stewards found she had struck Just Dreaming five more times than is allowed before the 100m mark, but King made an interesting defence.
She claimed that on a couple of the counted strikes she had only waved the whip at her mount rather than hitting it. That first couple of strikes were more slaps down the shoulder to get her mare into the race, she said.
Stewards used hawkeye technology to zero in on King’s whip use and ruled she had hit her mount 10 times before the 100m mark. She was told to modify her style or risk further time on the sidelines.