The Winx Stakes provides the eagerly anticipated first Group 1 race of the season and is a popular starting point for the country's best staying hopes this Spring.
This year's edition is dripping in class, with many runners holding high aspirations for a successful Cups or Cox Plate campaign.
Most of the field arrive first-up and taking this into account, I am with one that has already had one run back and should hold a key fitness edge.
Randwick Track Traits
The Randwick surface is currently rated a Good 4, with the rail out 4m the entire circuit and fine conditions predicted in the lead up to Saturday.
With this track set-up at Randwick, leading riders have shown a tendancy to avoid the inside and head towards the middle lanes.
As always, a close watch is advised early to determine any fast lanes or bias.
Racing Market Movers
Happy Clapper is the early mover in betting, firming from an opening quote of $6.00 to now trade at $4.20.
Gun mare Verry Elleegant is also popular having come into $3.90 from $4.40 openers.
At a longer price, Kings Will Dream has been trimmed from $15 to $13 after touching a low of $11.
#1 Avilius $3.40
Gun stayer who returns from a rigorous cups campaign last season, before dominating the Sydney Autumn features including the Ranvet and Tancred Stakes.
He certainly has the quality to be effective here over the less preferred 1400m. With any tempo up front, he comes right into it.
The money for Godolphin runners has been lethal since James Cummings took the stable reins and any push in betting would suggest he features in the finish.
Watch betting closely and if the money comes late, follow it. Leading hope.
#2 Happy Clapper $6.00 > $4.20
Always seems to find one better when racing at the top level, albeit that 'one' was Winx for some time!
The first-up form is good (12:4-3-1), however this appears a much deeper race than what he has faced in previous first-up assignments.
I feel he may be a runner who lengthens in the market when the big syndicate money goes on late, and he is best avoided on this occasion. No.
#4 Best Of Days $20
Classy import who will be more dynamic over further, however he has won previously here at Randwick over the 1400m, noting it was in lesser grade.
As with most of the first-up brigade, it is difficult to judge how well they are going considering the long campaign ahead. There are always big doubts over whether they are in fact ready to win this early on.
The late betting will be an excellent guide and any strong push late suggests he is fit enough to figure in the finish.
Could surprise at odds.
#5 Kings Will Dream $13
Was ultra impressive on arrival from Europe two seasons ago and did start Caulfield Cup favourite ($5.50) last year.
The Waller stable must believe he is forward enough to win this, with a sprinkling of support seen in early betting to suggest he's ready.
The speed map looks ideal and from gate 2, he can race close to speed and be ready to peel and strike at the 200m. Top hope.
#7 Invincible Gem $13
Could be the forgotten horse here without a high profile and a very good return first-up, when he stormed late to just miss behind the smart Alizee.
She will have the fitness edge on most and just needs to hold form second-up to be right in the finish.
I expect the instructions will be to ride her closer from gate 1, to tag the likely leader Samadoubt throughout.
The current $11 appears excellent value and from a price angle, she must go on top. Yes.
#8 Unforgotten $11
Can win over these shorter distances, however the first-up profile is poor (5:1-0-0).
They will go back from the wide draw (gate 7) and with only a moderate tempo predicted, it will make for a near impossible task to reel in the leading division.
It looks as though the high profile ownership group have entered her here purely for the purpose of securing mounting yard passes, and I doubt she will figure in the finish. Avoid.
#10 Verry Elleegant $4.40 > $3.90
Was dominant in the Autumn, winning most of the girl's staying features which culminated in a cake-walk in the Group 1 ATC Oaks.
Although the 1400m would appear too short, she has won twice over this distance in lesser grade and given the right run can be dynamic enough.
Just needs to settle throughout and find clean air from the 600m mark to be storming home late over the top. Leading chance.
Of The Others
#6 Le Romain comes up big odds at $19, considering he has a fitness edge and is certainly capable in this class.
He would prefer it wet and from a softer draw than gate 9, however should not be overlooked for broader exotic tickets.