There are no shortage of girls lining up for a crack at the boys in this year’s Darley Sprint Classic, which is one of the co-features on Saturday’s Flemington program.
The $2 million Group 1 has attracted a field of nine, one third of which are females – mares In Her Time and Alizee, who are joined by the filly Loving Gaby.
It is the greatest percentage of female representation the 1200-metre event has seen since 2012, when five of the 13 were girls, which might explain their gap between wins.
It has been dominated by geldings since Black Caviar’s back-to-back wins in 2010/11 made it five wins in nine years for mares.
Ancient Song (2003) and Glamour Puss (2005) won when it was run as a handicap on Derby Day, while Miss Andretti won the first edition run on Stakes Day, in 2006.
The feature sprint at the Valley on Cox Plate Weekend – formerly the Moir Stakes, but the Manikato Stakes since the advent of the Cox Plate Carnival – has been by far the most prolific producer of Sprint Classic winners, with six of the 12 winners in the Sprint Classic’s current timeslot, but it hasn’t taken long for the new kid in town to flex its muscle.
The Everest has only been run twice prior to this year and in both years the Sprint Classic has been won by a horse out of the rich Sydney race.
Redzel completed the double in 2017, while Santa Ana Lane last year bounced back from a sixth placing in The Everest to win at Flemington.
Santa Ana Lane is favourite for this year’s race, in which he will be striving to join Black Caviar as the only back-to-back winner of the race at weight-for-age.
But he last year contributed to the poor recent record of favourites in the race.
It was a good race to favourite backers in its first five years on Final Day, won four times by the favourite, but just one punters’ pick since has been successful – Redzel, at $4, two years ago.
The Verdict: We’re looking for something out of The Everest, of which there are four, but as two of them – In Her Time and Alizee – are mares, we’ll look to the geldings Santa Ana Lane and Nature Strip. Given the poor recent record of favourites, NATURE STRIP gets the nod.