Three-year-olds were prominent throughout the nine race program with four going to the younger brigade.
The best was saved until last with stakes winner Kordia returning well off a lengthy spell in claiming a Benchmark 78 Handicap to round out proceedings.
Race 1: Steel Diamond - Benchmark 74 3YO Handicap (1400m)
The Rick Worthington-trained filly settled midfield and sustained a good run in the straight.
The stable is finding the right races for her and she’s rewarding them. Her master Timeform rating came when placing behind subsequent Group winners Bivouac and Cosmic Force in the Lonhro Plate as a two-year-old.
It’s a great time to have a promising three-year-old in work. There are usually a lot of race options for them either against their own age, or taking on the older horses where they get given some weight relief.
Against off season winter types, it can be a happy hunting ground for these three-year-olds where they can chase BOBS bonuses. From next this a Saturday city win with a BOBS eligible horse can net connections almost $100,000k.
After Saturday Steel Diamond only has a Benchmark of 73 so the stable can put her in a Benchmark 78 from here and then an 88 if she wins that.
Academy and Cafe Royal were each good filling the minor placings. Academy in particular should be peaking third and fourth up over the next month. The Mark Newnham-trained runner has a Benchmark of 71 so there are plenty of race options for him.
Race 2: Rothenburg - Class 2 Highway Handicap (1400m)
Rothenburg was the first of three winners for James McDonald who gave the son of Rothesay a nice, patient ride and the pair drew well clear of their rivals that last furlong.
The three-year-old is yet another Matthew Dunn Highway Handicap winner. He’s got the magic formula for these Highway Handicaps.
A lot of the time Dunn sends them down to Sydney after they’ve been holding their own at metropolitan Brisbane level. A Dunn Highway Handicap runner with Brisbane metro form is a real Golden Goose for Sydney punters to watch for.
He’s won with a leg in the air on Saturday yet he’s run well below the best Timeform ratings we’ve saw him return last prep. He was beaten just two lengths by Guntantes at Eagle Farm last campaign.
The news just keeps getting better for Rothenburg and connections as well. There is a Class 3 Highway Handicap at the same course and distance as last Saturday where he will probably taking on a similar group of horses as he beat quite decisively on the weekend.
Jawwaal was sneaking along the fence late to run fourth. The son of Snitzel was only third up so there is some room for further improvement.
Race 3: Sweet Thomas - Listed Stayer’s Cup (3200m)
Sweet Thomas was another example early in the Rosehill program of a trainer placing their horse to perfection. Yes the Dylan Thomas gelding had 60kg but compressed the weights so badly only two horses against him sat inside the handicap.
For reference, Sweet Thomas had a Benchmark of 90. A rival Terwilliker who has a Benchmark rating of 70 carried just 6kg less. While it sounds like a big weight advantage, If there was no minimum weight and an endless ratings band in the race, Terwilliker should have been carrying 50kg against Sweet Thomas.
This bloke just seems to be really dour. His two best runs since arriving in Australia have been over 3200m. The eight-year-old’s career best effort and master Timeform rating came winning a German Group 3 over 2800m back in September 2018. He’s a different horse out beyond 2400m but the reality is, there just isn’t much around for him.
The Queensland Cup over 3200m would have been great but it’s not being held this year. From the outside looking in it is a conundrum.
Due to lack of 3200m events, this race likely has minimal form relevance moving forward. Sweet Thomas would be an interesting runner to follow out of this race if there were more suitable options. Maybe connections look to late spring when there are staying races everywhere, have a firm goal of a Sandown Cup however in readiness perhaps shoot for the stars and aim for a Melbourne Cup berth.
Race 4: Fulmina - Benchmark 78 3YO+ F&M Handicap (1800m)
Fulmina on Saturday has produced a long sustained run and netted her second win from three starts this prep.
She’s going great and has more to give at this stage of her prep. The daughter of Snitzel was only third up on Saturday and after the win only has a Benchmark of 71 so there is time for her in July to string together more off season successes. From here she can likely head to another Benchmark 78.
She was the progressive filly against off season types, well into their preps.
Zing was the other in fourth who is worth keeping an eye on. She had a tough, tough run where she was forced to travel wide throughout on a testing track. The Zoustar filly under the circumstances did well under the circumstances.
Race 5: Roheryn - Benchmark 94 3YO+ Handicap (1100m)
Roheryn thrived with that good speed on, weaving through the field in the straight and was strong to the line.
The Lonhro gelding has run to a new career peak on Saturday. With a Benchmark of 90 he’s about set to tackle Open company.
The July Sprint in four weeks looks a logical progression, or maybe the Ramornie next Wednesday.
The first four across the line were all resuming. In theory they are all going to improve. 1st, 3rd and 4th in particular have upside about them. If one franks the form at their next start, keep an eye out for the rest.
Race 6: Frankely Awesome - Listed McKell Cup (2000m)
The Kris Lees stable is having some fun in Sydney this month. They claimed a winning double at Randwick last weekend and celebrated a stakes quinella here.
The well-bred Frankely Awesome returns to the winners circle after 644 days taking out the W J Mckell Cup with a great ride from Jason Collett and an impressive training performance @Leesracing @LizzieJelfs found her in the yard at $11 with @tabcomau pic.twitter.com/EUBynJ7Hk0— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) June 27, 2020
Frankely Awesome broke a lengthy winning drought on Saturday. She’d had a long spell after her 2019 autumn where she placed behind Verry Elleegant in the Vinery Stud Stakes and the Australian Oaks, before that she ran second to Pohutukawa in the Kembla Grange Classic so she genuinely deserved a stakes win of her own.
Looking at past winners of the McKell Cup, she’s clearly a winner with the most upside we’ve seen for a while.
There is the Grafton Cup in two weeks time. If she steps up again then they’ve got to start seriously thinking about spring campaign paths with her.
The Grafton Cup shapes as the next start for most of these horses. Stayers such as placegetters Sixties Groove and Carzoff - they’ve been doing the rounds for a while. Frankely Awesome, she went toe to toe with Verry Elleegant and held her own. It is good to see her racing. She is a quality mare who adds some interest to the off season.
Race 7: Trumbull - Listed Civic Stakes (1350m)
For once Trumbull jumped on terms and Tommy Berry had him box seating. Trumbull probably didn’t know himself when he was only one length off the lead as they straightened.
Finally Trumbull comes through for the @tabcomau punters with a peach of a ride from @TommyBerry21 jumping and railing like a greyhound to take out the Civic Stakes for @kimwaugh6 pic.twitter.com/WIF9CFDHKe— Sky Racing (@SkyRacingAU) June 27, 2020
We’ve got him running to a Timeform rating of 109 which is slightly higher than the five year winning average of the Civic Stakes.
The Winter Stakes should be next for him. Generalife claimed the Civic Stakes-Winter Stakes double in 2014.
The Winter Stakes is expected to attract a similar field to this one. The Waller placegetters Order Again and Dealmaker were each good. Sambro was charging home late in sixth. He’s a capable sprinter/miler however is just a money muncher for punters. The son of Fastnet Rock settles back and makes it too hard for himself.
Race 8: Orcein - Benchmark 78 3YO+ Handicap (1500m)
Off season Benchmark 78 of minimal interest as a form reference moving forward.
Race 9: Kordia - Benchmark 78 3YO+ Handicap (1200m)
Kordia was another three-year-old winner for the day getting some nice BOBS cash.
It was his first start in over a year which is a pity as he was a stakes winning two-year-old.
The son of Epaulette is not going to go around at big odds but I think we as punters can really hitch our wagon to him over the next month. He’ll only be fitter for that first up win and he can easily pick off a couple of Benchmark 88’s from here.
Prairie Fire in sixth is of some interest. They really backed him heading into Saturday and he was solid enough. That was his third run for Goulburn-based trainer Danny Williams so is now eligible for Highway Handicaps and is only a Class 2 horse as well.
This guy is a stakes winning two-year-old who ran fourth in a Blue Diamond. It will be interesting to see what direction the stable head from here - do they stick to Benchmark 78 events or drop back to country restricted grade?