Entriviere wins the Sheraco Stakes (Group 2) at Kembla Grange on Sept. 11, 2021. Photo by Martin King/Sportpix copyright

A Rich Invitation For Fillies & Mares at Randwick

By: Michael Wrona

Randwick Riches: “Royal Randwick” races for the fourth straight Friday night this month, continuing an Oktoberfest of top-quality stakes action at the iconic track located just four miles from downtown Sydney. Last week’s successful staging of The Everest drew a crowd of largely under-30s, which should be the envy of any racing jurisdiction. While The Everest was run for just the fifth time, this Friday night sees further innovation with the introduction of a brand-new race, The Invitation.    

The Invitation: A $2 million race for fillies and mares trained in Australia or New Zealand. A panel convened by Racing New South Wales extended invitations to an elite dozen fillies and mares. Contested at seven furlongs, The Invitation will be the 9th of ten races this Friday night with a post time of 11:35pm Pacific. Randwick is Track “A.” 

RSVP: Of the dozen who accepted their invitation, favoritism will be held by #6 Entriviere (9-5). Trained by New Zealand’s most successful modern-day conditioner, Jamie Richards, this lightly raced 5-year-old debuted only 13 months ago. Since winning five of six in her homeland, Entriviere has a win from three Australian starts – with legitimate excuses for her two minor placings. Most recently, she was the beaten favorite in the G2 Golden Pendant, but raced in season (southern hemisphere Spring) and was ridden negatively from the outside gate. Her closing splits were the best of the day for seven furlongs at Rosehill. #7 Vangelic was the 5-1 Golden Pendant winner (and my Pick of the Night on TVG). Vangelic is again attractively priced at 7-1 for The Invitation, but meets Entriviere four pounds worse at the weights and will find it tougher to hold out the New Zealand mare on the roomier Randwick layout. Also at 7-1 is another hard-luck story from the Golden Pendant, #10 Icebath. After her close 4th-place finish, she suffered an even worse trip in the G1 Epsom Handicap (this time a losing Pick of the Night on TVG). Icebath has, in fact, been a luckless racehorse throughout her career and is thoroughly deserving of a rich prize. However, she now has to cut back from a mile while making her fifth start this campaign, whereas most rivals are fresher and specifically targeting The Invitation. Rain is predicted for race day, which would enhance Icebath’s prospects. 

Selection: #6 Entriviere 

Longshot: #8 Rocha Clock (20-1) had a troubled trip resuming from a layoff, has excellent 2nd-up stats and is recommended for all exotics.

Supporting Stakes: Yet another relative newcomer to Sydney’s racing calendar is the Bondi Stakes, a million-dollar race for 3-year-olds at a mile. #1 Hilal upset #2 Coastwatch in a recent G2 event. After being 8-1 and even-money respectively on that occasion, the pair are 5-2 equal favorites for this third running of the Bondi Stakes, Race 8 on Friday night’s card. Should the track come up soft, #3 Royalzel (8-1) enters right into calculations.

Hot Trainer: Chris Waller’s work with The Everest winner, Nature Strip, earns him the plaudits from last week. Waller has dual representation in The Invitation with #1 Madam Rouge (25-1) and #2 Nudge (12-1); he also puts the polish on Bondi Stakes co-favorite Coastwatch. 

The Randwick card will be broadcast live on TVG this Friday night (First Post: 9:30pm ET / 6:30pm PT) alongside cards from Doomben, Kembla Grange and Gold Coast.