The Chandon Ladies day marks the opening weekend of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival at Rosehill, with the Golden Slipper and Stakes days to come in following weeks.
The day kicks off with the highlight the Group 1 Coolmore Classic, run over 1500 metres. With Sydney expecting clear skies and no rain during the week, the track should be in good condition for Saturday.
The winner of the Coolmore Classic is exempt from the ballot for both the Doncaster Mile and the Coolmore Legacy Stakes. Those races are held later in the Autumn Carnival.
Annavisto and Zougotcha are firming as early favourites for the Coolmore, with Hope In Your Heart, Espiona and Fangirl floating around the $10 range. That being said, only two favourites have won the race since 2004, most recently in 2011. Last year’s winner, Lighthouse beat out the short price Espiona at $5.
Zougotcha has had a consistent start to her career, with a good strike rate of 4 wins out of her 7 starts. She’s been tested and won at both 1400m and 1600m, so the distance shouldn’t bother her. However, all her wins have been on soft or heavy tracks. So that could be a concern.
The New Zealander,Annavisto is also looking to stake her claim in this race. She has looked great since her spell, with a win in a trial and then again at Flemington a few weeks ago. The track at Rosehill looks perfect for her as she has excelled in her seven starts on a good track, placing in six and winning three
Hope In Your Heart is a more experienced horse with 22 starts under her belt. She’s had a great season winning four out of her seven starts and has been racing consistently over the 1400-1600m range. However, just like Zougotcha, Hope In Your Heart seems to perform much better on a wetter track, with five out of her six career wins being in soft going.
Last year’s favourite, Espiona is back to redeem herself after a disappointing 8th place finish. Unlike the more fancied horses, Espiona has not had a consistent season with only one place in her five starts. Whilst all of those races were below 1500m, she’ll need some luck on her side to be a threat in this race. However, her most recent start was successful with a win over 1400m in Sandown.
Fangirl is another of the bookies’ favourites coming into this race and for good reason, having an impressive ten places in 15 starts in her career. This season hasn’t been as fruitful for the four year old with no wins to show for her six starts. However, each of her last three starts have ended in a podium finish. She also historically runs better on a good track, which will help her this Saturday.
Overall, if previous winners of the Coolmore Classic are anything to go off, it seems like it’s anybody’s race. Zougothca and Annavisto are going to need to break an 11 year drought for favourites in this race for punters.