Timeform Preview – 2018 Epsom Handicap

It has been a while since the time-honoured Epsom Handicap boasted a capacity field, but that is the case this afternoon with a quality line up of handicappers headed in the weights by multiple group one winner Hartnell.

Timeform Preview – 2018 Epsom Handicap

It has been a while since the time-honoured Epsom Handicap boasted a capacity field, but that is the case this afternoon with a quality line up of handicappers headed in the weights by multiple group one winner Hartnell.

Kerrin McEvoy and Chris Waller set for big day
Kerrin McEvoy and Chris Waller set for big day Picture:Racing and Sports

What is particularly pleasing about todays race is the number of quality four-year-olds who were feature race winners at three that have returned at four displaying a high level of recent form.

Champion trainer Gai Waterhouse, albeit now in a training partnership with Adrian Bott, will be hunting for an eighth win in the feature mile with Siege Of Quebec and Arbeitsam while current champion trainer Chris Waller will have seven runners headed by market leaders Unforgotten and DÁrgento – Waller chasing his fourth win in the race.

And Timeform weight adjusted ratings suggest a clear domination for Waller with Unforgotten clearly the horse to beat.

The lightly raced mare who was dominant at three winning the Phar Lap Stakes and ATC Oaks comes into today’s race third up from a spell and off a freshen up of 28 days, Waller using a proven formula, that has delivered previous successes for him in big Randwick miles.

Unforgotten resumed from a spell behind Winx in the G1 Winx Stakes (1400m) at weight for age where she ran just under four lengths from her illustrious stable mate but then followed that up with an electric performance to win the Chelmsford Stakes over this course and distance under weight for age conditions defeating ATC Derby winner Ace High.

Unforgotten is bound for longer races after today’s assignment, so Waller’s task is to keep some sprint in her legs for another dynamic effort over this afternoon’s 1600m trip – a task he has managed successfully in the past by coming into the race on the fresh side after a break from racing, but fit from a warm up trial.

Unforgotten has a peak Timeform rating of 119 after winning the ATC Oaks, but last start reached 115p in the Chelmsford with more to some. And Waller will need to have coaxed that additional four pounds from her today over the 1600m if she is to be triumphant.

Big race rider Kerrin McEvoy who is yet to win on the mare in two rides will have the task of extricating her into clear running, presumably from an inside position three or four pairs back, once the big field tops the Randwick rise. If he does she should power home too well for her rivals, the main ones being the progressive Pierata and DÁrgento.

While Unforgotten will be back in the ruck turning for home, Pierata is likely to have enjoyed a perfect run behind the speed from his low draw and will definitely be in front of her turning for home.

That could prove to be a winning edge as Pierata could be off and gone while his main opponents will have to chase him down – a point that will probably not be lost on Corey Brown who gets back atop the entire for the first time this preparation.

Brown and Pierata had a very successful campaign earlier this year winning the Magic Millions 3YO before returning to Sydney for successive seconds to Kementari in the Hobartville Stakes and Randwick Guineas ending his 3YO career with a Timeform rating of 120.

In two runs this preparation, Pierata has gone to a new Timeform peak of 123 after just going down to Siege Of Quebec in the Tramway Handicap over 1400m following a narrow win over Kementari in the Missile Stakes when resuming.

His Tramway effort was an excellent trial for this afternoon, Pierata going into that race a run short after a 28 day break - being scratched from an earlier race in his campaign.

Also, Pierata had no luck in the Tramway being trapped three and four wide without cover most of the race, but still managed to tough it out until collared right on the post.

He will improve again off that effort and profiles like going to a new peak Timeform rating this afternoon.

Unforgotten’s stable mate DÁrgento is another Waller galloper heading for longer trips this preparation - who needs to be kept fresh.

And he too has only had two runs going into today, first up he was third behind Winx over 1400m in the Winx Stakes then last start dropping back in trip to 1300m for a solid second to Home Of The Brave in the Theo Marks Quality at Rosehill.

Timeform ratings wise he currently sits on 116p off those two efforts but it is worth putting those runs in perspective as both were at distances short of his best.

Last preparation he ran to a Timeform rating of 120 winning the G1 Rosehill Guineas over 2000m then 14 days later was a luckless fourth in the Doncaster behind Happy Clapper after getting out of his ground early and being left with too much to do.

It is no surprise that Waller sees today’s race as a favourable assignment and although he will get back in the field again, the likelihood of a solid tempo from the big field is likely to give him ample time to stake a claim.

Interestingly in two previous match ups with Pierata, DÁrgento has finished behind him on both occasions.

Away from that trio, the race is full of in the money chances with Newcastle Cameron Handicap runner up Red Excitement and Lanciato next best.

Timeform Preview - Metropolitan

Leading Sydney trainer Chris Waller has already won the Metropolitan twice, both times with imported gallopers and he looks set to increase that to three this afternoon.

Waller will saddle up a staggering eight runners in todays 2400m group one – almost half the 18-runner field but the lightly raced Brimham Rocks has the best Timeform adjusted rating coming into the race and looks ready to peak at his fourth run this campaign.

Formerly trained in the UK by Ralph Beckett, Brimham Rocks came to Australia with a solid staying record including a win at York over 2787m at his last UK run. After two placed runs in Melbourne, he was spelled and returned for the Spring where his form has gone to another level, currently running to a Timeform rating of 111p, easily surpassing his previous peak Timeform rating in the UK of 105.

Brimham Rocks brings some very solid pieces of form to the Metropolitan, his three runs back this campaign have resulted in a third and second to emerging staying star Avilius plus a narrow defeat by The Lord Mayor who has franked the form since.

The step up to 2400m today is a massive plus for this promising stayer who comes into the race on an upward ratings spiral, making him hard the one to beat with just 50kgs on his back.

The dangers on adjusted Timeform ratings are Victorian visitor Midterm and stable mate The Lord Mayor.

Midterm is another import from the Team Williams stable who have enjoyed excellent success in the Metropolitan winning it last year with Foundry and in 2013 with Seville.

A son of champion stayer Galileo, Midterm has raced just three times in Australia. He was given a short preparation in the Autumn before spelling for the Spring – a tried and tested program for imported horses targeting major spring races in Australia.

In two runs this time in, clearly his last run was easily his best just going down to High Church over 2400m at Caulfield running to a Timeform rating of 108p – several pounds below his peak effort of 118 in the UK that came when third at Newbury to proven group one performers Hawkbill and My Dreamboat.

Midterm also has other pieces of excellent UK form when six lengths from French Derby winner Almanzor, Arc winner Found and Irish Derby winner Jack Hobbs in the Champion Stakes at Ascot in 2016.

A return to his peak UK staying form would see him a difficult customer for his rivals this afternoon and clearly a horse with enormous upside if Team Williams can coax the best from him.

Former kiwi stayer The Lord Mayor has strung together back to back wins at his last two runs – both times in restricted class but under big weights.

Both wins have characterised by a gritty determination to fight on and he will not know himself today tumbling 8.5 kilos to carry just 50kgs.

At three, The Lord Mayor was a handy fourth in the NZ Derby and has clearly needed more time to mature as a stayer. Now under Waller’s astute care he is starting to fulfil that potential and with more improvement to come, appears well suited.

Others with winning hopes include Sedanzer and High Bridge.

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