There were some incredible performances seen on the racetrack in Australia this year and some runners in particular are worth following in 2017.
Whether they’re bona fide stars of the turf or up-and-coming types, our five Australian horses to watch in 2017 are all being targetted towards the major Group 1 races which includes The Championships and the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
Our first runner is a classy colt which has recently been purchased by a major Australian stud, so punters will get only one more season to back this talented three-year-old.
Star Turn is a three-year-old colt by Star Witness which was purchased by Vinery Stud in December and they have lofty ambitions in 2017.
Its connections are eager to get an elusive Group 1 victory and they’re even targetting a trip to Royal Ascot if everything goes to plan.
It has won three from nine starts with its biggest win coming in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes against the older horses. That win proved its arrival on the big stage and the form out of that race includes Malaguerra which would win the Group 1 Darley Classic later that carnival.
Star Turn is being set for The Championships at Randwick in April with the T.J. Smith Stakes the ultimate target. It’s currently a 12/1 chance at bet365 and those odds should drop as its preparation continues.
Winx is the obvious inclusion for 2017 after going unbeaten throughout 2016, but there are still good odds available for the champion mare.
With an overseas trip off the cards for the five-year-old winner of 17 races, punters can focus on the upcoming autumn carnival races.
The Group 1 Queen Elizabeth in April is its major target in the autumn with connections opting to bypass the Doncaster Handicap this year.
Winx won the Doncaster Handicap by two lengths in 2016 and was contemplating running a week later in the Queen Elizabeth, but with the Doncaster off the table for 2017, expect there to be plenty of support in the QEII.
Bookmakers have Winx as the early 1/1 favourite which is great value as Hartnell is next best in the betting and the mighty mare hasn’t been tested by Hartnell yet.
It is highly likely that Winx will try for a third Cox Plate to equal the record of Kingston Town. Winx destroyed two quality international fields in 2015 and 2016, and we see no reason why it couldn’t win again.
There will come a time where it loses that brilliant turn-of-foot, but it could go unbeaten in 2017 which would make for an incredible two-year record.
We suggest backing Winx in every race it starts it. The odds might be short, but it’s a freak of nature.
Winning Rupert is a name that most punters wouldn’t have heard of, but it owns serious pace which will be on show this upcoming January.
The Bjorn Baker-trained three-year-old is the current 9/5 favourite for the Magic Millions 3YO on January 14 and we suggest backing it in.
It is unbeaten in four starts and its last start win at Doomben was quite incredible. The son of Written Tycoon almost broke Takeover Target’s course record with a time of 1:07.97 for 1200m and that caught the bookmakers attention.
The progeny of Written Tycoon get up and running very early in their careers which makes us believe now is the best time to back Winning Rupert as it might not come back as an older horse.
The Group 2 Champagne Classic winner has already beaten some quality horses in Queensland and the upcoming Magic Millions 3YO features horses purchased from the Magic Millions Sales – which means the quality of opposition is on a lower scale.
From what we’ve seen so far, Rupert should continue winning and it’s a horse to follow in Australia.
Francis Of Assisi
This is an interesting runner to include, seeing as it’s a European-trained stayer, but trainer Charlie Appleby promised he would return to Australia with Francis Of Assisi.
The six-year-old is unbeaten in two Australian starts after winning the Bendigo Cup by three lengths and then taking out the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
That win came by an incredible 10 lengths and it made punters wonder why it wasn’t entered in the Melbourne Cup, but those same punters will get their chance in 2017.
Francis Of Assisi is currently on the second line of betting at 20/1 for the 2017 Melbourne Cup and although it’s tough to weigh up the chances of the internationals this far out from the race, Francis Of Assisi has already proven itself on Australian soil.
The Australian stayers aren’t much chop and the international-trained runners are coming over with immediate success. Francis Of Assisi will likely have a few runs in Australia and it should be heavily-backed in every start.
It’s never easy to confidently back a two-year-old, but there is plenty of upside with the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Khan.
The son of Exceed And Excel was a stylish winner of the Breeders’ Plate at Randwick on debut and it was quickly sent to the paddock before embarking on a Blue Diamond assault.
The $260,000 sales purchase is expected to do big things in 2017 before being tipped as a potential stud star, so betting into both the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper markets is smart.
It’s currently 12/1 in the Blue Diamond this February which is great money and we’re expecting it to start much lower on the day.
Khan is at the same price for the Golden Slipper in March which is a much harder race to win, but it will only strengthen with time and it’s definitely a runner to follow throughout 2017.