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Talented four-year-old Sky Lab can join other Newcastle luminaries like Beauford and Navy Seal as the winners of the time-honoured Epsom at Randwick.
On the 100th anniversary of Beauford's win in the Epsom Handicap, trainer Paul Perry is hoping to take the famous trophy back to Newcastle with Sky Lab at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Beauford, one of the great racehorses to come out of the Newcastle region, shouldered 58kg to win the 1921 Epsom Handicap by more than two lengths.
The Epsom was the third of a nine-race winning streak by Beauford who became the nation's most outstanding racehorse of the era. His clashes with Kiwi great Gloaming are legendary.
There has been the odd Newcastle-trained galloper win the Epsom in the years following Beauford's triumph but none since the Perry-trained Navy Seal scored an upset win in 1994.
Perry reckons it's been "long enough between drinks" and is hopeful Sky Lab can end Newcastle's Epsom drought in the $1.5 million Group 1 feature over the Randwick 1600m course on Saturday.
The master Newcastle trainer believes Sky Lab is primed for the Epsom after his outstanding effort to finish a close second to Ashman in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle's Broadmeadow racetrack last start.
"I think if Sky Lab draws a barrier he probably wins the Cameron," Perry said.
"He was never on the track, he had to make a wide run and he kept coming after the leader.
"It was some run and the good thing is he has trained on really well since. He has improved going into the Epsom.
"Although he had a hard run, he came through it really well, he's a tough horse and always eats up. He makes it easy to train him."
Sky Lab was at $23 for the Epsom earlier this week but he has firmed into $19 even though jockey Tim Clark will ride him 2kg over at 52.5kg.
Perry said he was happy to have the experienced, in-form Clark ride Sky Lab in the Epsom.
"It's a bit of a dampener not having Sky Lab at 50.5kg but Tim Clark compensates for that a fair bit," Perry said.
"Tim is a great rider but particularly at Randwick, he rides that track so well.
"Sky Lab still has a lightweight and if you line him up against Mo'unga, then he's quite well weighted."
During the Sydney autumn carnival, then three-year-olds Mo'unga and Sky Lab clashed in the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas with the former winning in a tight finish. They met at level weights that day but Sky Lab is 4.5kg better off in the Epsom.
"I think Sky Lab has a good chance," Perry said.
"He handles wet or dry tracks; he's won over the Randwick mile and from his good barrier he won't have to work hard to be about midfield on settling down. With a bit of luck, he should run a good race."
Perry nominated Mo'unga and Riodini as the hardest to beat in the Epsom.
"Mo'unga has topweight but he's the class horse in the field," Perry said.
"Riodini has been racing very well at weight-for-age which is always good form and he drops so much in weight for the Epsom."
FORM GURU TIPPING A EPSOM/METROP DOUBLE FOR TULLOCH LODGE
Hall of Fame trainer Gai Waterhouse is set to snare the coveted Epsom-Metropolitan double for a second time at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Waterhouse achieved the rare feat in 2012 when she prepared Fat Al to win the Epsom Handicap and Glencadam Gold took out The Metropolitan.
She is now in a very successful training partnership with Adrian Bott and form guru Gary Crispe believe they hold all the aces in the Group 1 features on Saturday.
The Waterhouse-Bott trained Riodini has emerged as the "weight horse" of the $1.5 million The TAB Epsom (1600m) and stablemate Entente is the one to beat in the $750,000 The Metropolitan (2400m).
Crispe said although former New Zealander Riodini is yet to win in Australia his recent form has been a revelation since Waterhouse and Bott added blinkers to his racing gear.
"With the blinkers on he ran to a new career peak Timeform rating of 119 when cut down narrowly by champion mare Verry Elleegant in the George Main Stakes over the Randwick mile course last start," Crispe said.
"This followed another close second to Think It Over in the Chelmsford Stakes after leading to the last bound.
"In Riodini's only other run over the Randwick 1600m, he ran third in the Epsom last year.
"He rated 107 leading into the Epsom last year and has clearly gone to another level this preparation but only rises 1.5kg at the weights. From his George Main run, he drops 7.5kg to 51.5kg for the Epsom."
Crispe said the four-year-old age group has dominated the Epsom in recent years with 13 wins from the last 20 runnings and they are well represented in Saturday's big race with Mo'unga, Lion's Roar, Hungry Heart, Private Eye Atishu, Harmony Rose and Sky Lab.
"Mo'unga looks the pick of them despite his weight impost (57kg)," Crispe said.
"He has taken text step from three to four and should be right at his peak third-up.
"Like Riodini he brings top quality weight-for-age form to the race, the wide draw should allow him to blend into the race at the right time and a high-pressure mile plays right into his hands."
The Joe Pride-trained Private Eye is aiming to follow the same path as Kolding having won the Queensland Guineas before coming back to win the Epsom two years ago.
"Kolding also went on to win the Golden Eagle at his next start, a double I'm sure Pride is hoping Private Eye can emulate," Crispe said.
"Private Eye is required to run a new career peak to win but this has always been the Grand Final and the rain around should only aid his chances."
The Waterhouse and Bott-trained Entente is on the back-up after winning the Colin Stephen Quality last week and looms as the horse to beat in The Metropolitan.
Crispe said the improving Entente is drawn to get the run of the race and can become the first since Railings in 2005 to complete the Colin Stephen-Metropolitan double.
"Montefilia has been impressive in two runs back from a spell and she is the main danger," Crispe said.
"She is likely to settle off the speed from her wide barrier and be saved for her customary final surge late in the straight."
Online article taken from Daily Telegraph, published on Thursday, 30th September 2021, Author, Ray Thomas.