Australia: A Champagne End To The Sydney Autumn Carnival

The Championships at Randwick may have come and gone, but Sydney’s final two Group One races of the Autumn Carnival, the Champagne Stakes and All Aged Stakes, headline a 9-race card at Randwick this Friday night. Live-stream the card on the new Sky Racing World App or watch the broadcast live on TVG (First Post: 9:55pm ET / 6:55pm PT).

Just as The Championships bear similarities to the Breeders’ Cup, there are parallels between Australia’s and America’s Champagne Stakes: both races were inaugurated in the 1860s and are staged late in the season for 2-year-olds at a mile, and both have produced future Classic winners and Horses of the Year. Belmont’s Champagne Stakes has been won by future Triple Crown champions Count Fleet and Seattle Slew, and its winners now earn qualifying points to the following season’s Kentucky Derby. Randwick’s Champagne Stakes serves a dual purpose, both as a glimpse of Classic potential and as the culmination of a juvenile Triple Crown series. Six horses have swept Sydney’s 2-year-old Triple Crown, but the possibility of a seventh was extinguished when last month’s Golden Slipper winner Stay Inside was immediately sent for a layoff. 

Despite Sires Produce winner Anamoe also being rested until next season, the second leg of the juvenile Triple Crown provides the top pair in Champagne wagering. Hilal (5-2) and Captivant (3-1) finished 2nd and 3rd in the 7-furlong Sires Produce. The other main formline is from last week’s Fernhill Handicap, whose participants are the only runners to have experience going a mile. Converge (6-1) carried high weight to win the Fernhill, and is therefore advantaged under the Champagne’s set weights versus those he vanquished. Converge was the first of two winners last Friday night sired by Frankel (the other, Hungry Heart, gave Frankel his first Classic victory Down Under by capturing the Australian Oaks). American racing fans looking to spice up an exotic wager might be drawn to Patton (70-1), a son of American Pharoah who will carry the famous Spendthrift silks into battle. 

The Champagne will be served at 9.55 p.m. Pacific as Race 6, and followed 40 minutes later by the All Aged Stakes. Sydney’s final Group One race of the season was so named because horses of all ages are eligible. However, despite a huge weight advantage under the race’s weight-for-age conditions, it is a rarity to see a late-season 2-year-old take on elders. Still, this year’s field does justice to the name by running the gamut from a trio of 3-year-olds to an 8-year-old! Wagering is headed by lone 4-year-old Masked Crusader (2-1), on the strength of his outstanding runner-up performance behind Nature Strip in the TJ Smith Stakes on Day One of The Championships. The Godolphin pair of Savatiano (6-1) and Cascadian (8-1) are both last-start G1 winners. Savatiano, a daughter of Street Cry, has been freshened since defeating Masked Crusader seven weeks ago; the conspicuously white-faced Cascadian cuts back a furlong from the Doncaster Mile two weeks ago. Cascadian will again be ridden by Jamie Kah, one of many female riders in high demand throughout Australia. Kah currently tops the Melbourne jockey standings.    

As Sydney’s Autumn Racing Carnival winds down, focus will soon shift north to my hometown of Brisbane. The aforementioned Nature Strip will be one of the star attractions during the TAB Stradbroke Carnival, which runs from mid-May through late-June. A pair of G1-winning mares are also slated to appear in Brisbane before retiring: star New Zealander Melody Belle will look to equal Black Caviar’s total of 15 Group One wins prior to being offered at the National Broodmare Sale, while pizza-loving Nettoyer will try to earn another celebratory beverage after enjoying some pink champagne in the wake of last week’s triumph in the Queen of the Turf Stakes.  

The Randwick card will be broadcast live on TVG this Friday night (First Post: 9:55pm ET / 6:55pm PT) alongside cards from Gold Coast, Doomben and Kembla Grange. All races will be live-streamed in HD on the new Sky Racing World Appskyracingworld.com and major ADW platforms such as TVG, TwinSpiresXpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWagerHPIbet, and AmWager. Wagering is also available via these ADW platforms. Fans can get free access to live-streaming, past performances and expert picks on all races at skyracingworld.com. 

A native of Brisbane, Australia, Michael Wrona has called races in six countries. Michael’s vast U.S. experience includes; race calling at Los Alamitos, Hollywood Park, Arlington and Santa Anita, calling the 2000 Preakness on a national radio network and the 2016 Breeders’ Cup on the International simulcast network. Michael also performed a race call voiceover for a Seinfeld episode called The Subway.

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