When you think of horse racing in Australia, your mind is naturally drawn towards the big blue-chip events like the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, and Caulfield Cup. These are the lynchpins of the spring racing season Down Under, and it’s usually when those from outside of Australia start paying serious attention to the racing action.
And yet, the action in the Australian autumn, i.e., over the next several weeks, can match what happens in spring for drama and prestige. Indeed, it’s something of a shame that there isn’t more (international) attention on the autumn racing carnivals. Some of the world’s richest and most prestigious races take place in Melbourne and Sydney from February through March.
Right now, we are entering the business end of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, and we wanted to pick out five names to keep an eye on; those horses who could dominate proceedings over the coming weeks:
Verry Elleegant shouldn’t need much of an introduction, as the mare is the reigning Melbourne Cup champion. However, the 11-time Group 1 winner is looking to build on a growing legacy in the coming weeks and days. The first order of business is likely to be the Ranvet Stakes on 19th March, for which she is the ante-post favourite. But she is also sure to be featured in the horse racing tips for the ‘big one’, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, on 9th April. The Group 1 Queen Elizabeth is one of the most prestigious
A history-maker, Hitotsu became the first 3yo since Mahogony (1994) to land the double of the Victoria Derby and Australian Guineas when he won the latter last weekend. The colt has already earned over AUD$1.8 million for connections in his seven starts, but he can increase that haul in the coming weeks with entries in the All-Star Mile – one of Australia’s richest with a $5 million purse – and the Australian Derby on 2nd April.
A horse that’s been all around the world, featuring in races as diverse as low key all-weather runs in Chelmsford in England to the bright lights of the Dubai Gold Cup in UAE. It’s unfair to say that Spanish Mission’s record is journeyman like, as he has popped up to win some big races and had a respectable 3rd place in the last Melbourne Cup. But a big race win on Australian soil has so far eluded him. Might that change? He is favourite for the Group 1 Sydney Cup on 9th April.
Fresh off upsetting the favourite in the Randwick Guineas, we expect to see Converge tackle the Doncaster Mile – listed at the Doncaster Handicap. Converge is the current favourite for that race, but much will depend on his performance in the Rosehill Stakes (19th March), where he will once again take on rival Anamoe. The 3yo Converge is the son of Frankel, so many fans are interested to see if he can join the ranks of illustrious progeny sired by the unbeaten wonder horse.
A horse conspicuous by his absence during Spring Carnival Season, although one who will be on punters’ minds nevertheless. Incentivise is the current favourite for the 2022 Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate and Caulfield Cup. But his health is under scrutiny at the moment, with his trainer, Peter Moody, suggesting that he has a “50-50” chance of regaining his best form. While he won’t be in action, fans will be keeping an ear out for his progress, with the latest news suggesting he could make a blockbuster return in the coming months.