The second day of The Championships – Australia’s version of the Breeders’ Cup – gives racing fans something they don’t see nearly enough of anywhere:
A Battle of the Sexes. With a $4 million purse in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes as the carrot.
First, a quick primer. Day Two of The Championships at Royal Randwick outside Sydney offers three more Group 1 races for various ages and distances. Last week’s opener offered four more Group 1s.
First among equals here is the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, which sends its contenders 1 ¼ miles on the Randwick turf.
Gelding v. Mare with a history chaser
Here, we get a good, rarely seen Battle of the Sexes, with a rivalry chaser for added flavor. There’s Addeybb, the 7-year-old Irish gelding who took down Verry Elleegant and favored Danon Premium by three lengths here last year. And there’s the aforementioned Verry Elleegant, a 5-year-old New Zealand-bred mare who owns eight Group 1 wins.
There’s your Battle of the Sexes main course. The rivalry comes when you consider these two tangled three previous times, including last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Round one came before last year’s race, in the Ranvet Stakes, when Addeybb rallied down the stretch for a half-length victory.
Round two was last year’s Queen Elizabeth Stakes. That gave Addeybb a 2-0 lead in the rivalry. But in round three — at this year’s Ranvet — Verry Elleegant flipped the script. She teased Addeybb in mid-stretch, only to pull away for a length victory.
The Championships choreograph this perfectly
The pair are co-favorites at 8/5. They share adjoining post positions. They’ve completed the exacta in all three starts. And both like soft ground. Addeybb owns 11 wins in 22 starts, but only one of those came on a firm track. His runner-up to Lord North at Royal Ascot last summer came on a firm track.
Verry Elleegant already owns five Group 1 wins as a 5-year-old. But her connections are doing the rain dance as well. She’s only 1-1 on good tracks, 8-3-1 on soft tracks and 2-0-0 on heavy tracks.
That’s a hard act to top, but the $2 million Sydney Cup and its two-mile test answer with its own favored Battle of the Sexes. This pits 4-year-old German gelding Favorite Moon against 4-year-old Australian filly Realm of Flowers.
Battle of the Sexes 2.0
Favorite Moon owns two victories at 2,800 meters and beat Realm of Flowers by less than a half-length at the 2,400-meter Group 3 Manion Cup at Rosehill in late March. Both are 5/1 co-favorites, but Realm of Flowers hasn’t tackled two miles yet.
Day One of The Championships featured the Australian Derby, won by Explosive Jack. This week, it’s the 3-year-old fillies’ turn in the $1 million Australian Oaks. The 1 ½-mile Oaks is known as the last time the iconic Winx lost a race. She finished second in the 2015 Oaks, then reeled off 33 consecutive wins. The last of those came in the 2019 Queen Elizabeth Stakes, on the same card a 3-year-old filly named Verry Elleegant won that year’s Oaks.
This year’s Oaks offers another rarely seen racing happening: the one-week turnaround. That comes from Montefilia (5/1), who wheels back after finishing fourth as the $3.30/1 favorite against the boys in last week’s Australian Derby. This is an easier field than what Montefilia found at the Derby, but what’s left in the tank?
Australian Oaks offers choices, value
Harmony Rose (3/1) and Hungry Heart (5/1) tangled two weeks ago, with Hungry Heart winning the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes by a head. That was the first win at longer than a mile for the daughter of the legendary Frankel. Whether she has 12 furlongs in her remains to be seen.
Harmony Rose is 3-for-6 after that runner-up finish two weeks ago. Her early speed here will pressure the rest of the field to keep up or get out. It blew away everyone but Hungry Heart in the Vinery Stud.
The wild card is New Zealand Oaks winner Amarelinha (4/1). She’s 5-for-7 with a pair of seconds, including that New Zealand Oaks victory at this 2,400-meter distance last month.