Doncaster Mile Tips - George Ryder form is strongest

  • George Ryder Stakes produces more Doncaster winners than any other race.
  • Weight and fitness a big factor.
  • Confidence rating: 68%
Hugh Bowman riding Winx

It’s easy to make a case for a few horses in Saturday’s $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m), and narrowing it down to just one is a difficult task.

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As I see it, there are seven top chances in the race: Le Romain, Happy Clapper, Redkirk Warrior, McCreery, I Am A Star, Hey Doc and Spectroscope.

Others around the fringe include: Hauraki, Palentino, Tosen Stardom, It’s Somewhat, Antonio Giuseppe and Testashadow, but for individual reasons relating to weight, class or trends, I can’t see them defeating one of the previously mentioned septet.

Redkirk Warrior was brilliant winning the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) first-up, but the main query I have with him is, was his performance flattered by his position on the rail which was ridiculously biased?

He won second-up in the Sandown Classic (1500m) last campaign but this is much tougher.

He sat just off the pace in the Newmarket, and that early speed should see him vying for a forward position from barrier 15 on Saturday where he will be a sitting duck for the swoopers.

I can see him working over with Ecuador (barrier 14) and Testashadow (barrier 13) and that may cause him to be posted three deep which is why I’m looking elsewhere.

I Am A Star defied history in the Myer Classic (1600m) last campaign and Sunline Stakes (1600m) last start, but her Myer Classic win was around three lengths slower than Le Romain’s win in the Cantala Stakes (1600m) on the same day and she now carries 3kg more for that effort while Le Romain goes up 1kg.

Also, by later in the day, the fence is likely to be a no-go zone, and having drawn barrier 1 may be a disadvantage for the talented filly.

Likewise, Happy Clapper has drawn barrier 2 and may get caught in the slower part of the straight. 

He finished 2nd to Winx in the 2016 Doncaster when third-up from a spell, but he was dropping 9.5kg going into that run, and in 2017, he has to carry 5kg more while only dropping 3.5kg from his last run.

To make matters worse for I Am A Star and Happy Clapper, only one horse, Haradasun, has won from a barrier inside of barrier 4 in more than 30 years – barriers 10 and wider have accounted for 10 of the past 13 winners in the Doncaster.

Spectrospope is the interesting runner having looked very impressive winning the Doncaster Prelude (1500m) by 2.3 lengths when coming from last on the turn, but he defeated No Doubt and Marenostro who haven’t been going the best.

He’ll need to become the first horse since Super Impose to win from out that wide, and a simple fact is, the Doncaster Prelude form just doesn’t stack up when horses get to the main event.

Another of my top picks, Hey Doc, has also drawn out in gate 19 and will have his work cut out for him.

He was impressive winning the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington, but another big detractor is the fact that Sunline (2002) is the only horse to have won the race in the past 25 years that hasn’t raced in Sydney at its previous start.

When it comes to form, the George Ryder Stakes is by far the best form reference going into the Doncaster, which brings me to the last two of my top seven.

Le Romain finished seven lengths 2nd behind Winx in the George Ryder, while McCreery was a further five lengths back in 5th.

That pair finish 1st and 2nd in the Cantala Stakes last campaign, but McCreery was extremely unlucky and probably should have won.

Watching their last run, Le Romain was three lengths in front of McCreery at the top of the straight and maintained that margin until the 100m mark before pulling away by another two lengths in the final 100m.

That was clearly fitness related as Le Romain was third-up while McCreery was second-up.

Now, I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit I got it wrong when tipping McCreery last start.

It wasn’t through a lack of form work, and the main theory that Winx would be vulnerable on a Heavy 10 – and boy did I get that wrong - but one major factor escaped my attention until after tipping him – he’s a tiny horse.

Trainer Chris Waller said “the little fella” he would struggle with the big weight, and in the end, that made a massive difference.

So he now strips much fitter and drops 6kg in weight – which for a ‘little’ horse will feel more like 10kg less, while he also meets Le Romain 3.5kg better at the weights. 

He’ll jump from barrier 15 if the emergencies don’t get a run, and that will suit considering he’ll drop out toward the rear and will be looking to get to the outside in the straight.

Tough race but I’m sticking with McCreery.

2019 Doncaster Mile

DateSaturday, April 6, 2019
TrackRoyal Randwick
ClassGroup 1
Race TypeHandicap
Prizemoney$3 million
Age3YO and upwards

Doncaster Mile Facts:

The Doncaster Mile takes place at Sydney’s Royal Randwick Racecourse annually in April during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival as part of Day 1 of The Championships. 

It is Australia’s richest mile race with $3 million in prizemoney up for grabs as the winner takes home around $1.8 million.

In 2016 the race was taken out by the Chris Waller-trained four-year-old champion mare Winx with jockey Hugh Bowman aboard.

Waller has now captured six Doncaster Miles, including six of the past nine (four consecutive) as the leading Sydney trainer closes in on TJ Smith and Gai Waterhouse’s record of seven winners apiece in the feature event.

The race tends to attract a capacity field of 20 runners and the final field and barrier draw is determined by ballot in relation to the horse’s handicap.

It was first run in 1866 when won by Dundee and has grown in stature to become one of Australia’s most prestigious races.

Due to the large sum of prizemoney on offer, the Doncaster Mile attracts the best mile/middle-distance staying horses from Australia and New Zealand and is part of a fantastic day of racing that includes the $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m), $2 million Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) and $1 million Group 1 Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).

The Doncaster Mile is run under handicap conditions over 1600m and is open to males and females aged three-years-old and upwards.

Punters looking for the most reliable lead-up race to the Doncaster Mile should turn to the form out of the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes (1500m) run two weeks prior on Golden Slipper Day at Rosehill Gardens.

The honour roll is exceptional with many of the Doncaster Mile winners being regarded as Australia’s greatest racehorses.

Famous Doncaster Mile winners include Briseis (1876), Wakeful (1901), Chatham (1934), Tobin Bronze (1967), Gunsynd (1972), Emancipation (1983), Super Impose (1990-91), Sunline (1999 & 2002), Haradasun (2007), More Joyous (2012) and Sacred Falls (2013-14).

Many of the horses that have won the Doncaster Mile have gone on to win some of the country’s most prestigious races in the following years with the Cox Plate being the most likely target.

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Doncaster Mile Tips - George Ryder form is strongest

It’s easy to make a case for a few horses in Saturday’s $3 million Doncaster Mile (1600m), and narrowing it down to just one is a difficult task.

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