Only a small field will line up for the Pluck@Vinery Handicap, but there’s some quality in this field. The seven runners all have form good enough to contest strong metropolitan races which should make for a competitive affair here.
In Summary: The Chris Waller-trained Awoke is a strong chance, despite running sixth last start. The three-year-old filly won at Rosehill five starts back and has since taken on tough opposition – including a fourth in the Group 1 Flight Stakes behind Global Glamour. She looks like a natural improver and should be respected. TOP OF MY LIST was the beaten favourite last start, but she looms as the major winning chance here. The four-year-old is a lightly-tried type who ran on well at Warwick Farm last start and she will appreciate the rise to the mile. Shoepeg is from the powerful Godolphin stables and she finished third behind a subsequent city winner last start. She has the ability to cause an upset at odds.
1 Via Napoli – Winner of back-to-back races which both came at Randwick. From the Chris Waller stables, she has missed a placing in only of six starts at this distance. She likes to go forward and set the pace, but carrying the 58kg will make that harder and although she drops in grade, this isn’t your average rating 73 field.
2 Top Of My List – Our top pick after running on well last start. The Anthony Cummings-trained mare settled too far back last start at Warwick Farm, but the small field will help again and she should prove tough to beat. The well-bred mare by High Chaparral has strong form prior last campaign and having Hugh Bowman in the saddle is a major bonus. She will get a soft run from barrier five and she should finish over the top of them late.
3 Eva Luna – Looked the goods when winning by three lengths at Kembla Grange last start, but this is another level of racing. The Snowden-trained mare likes to win by big margins when she wins – her previous win coming by 5.5 lengths, but she’s yet to win on this track and this looks a little too tough for the four-year-old.
4 Awoke – Quality filly which is trying to replicate her form during the winter. The Waller-trained three-year-old did finish fourth in the Group 1 Flight Stakes, but she finished over 11 lengths behind the winner and her fresh up run wasn’t inspiring. She should find this more to her liking and the weight of only 55kg looks ideal, but we would need a strong market push to see her upsetting Top Of My List.
5 Shoepeg – Capable type which had a nice hit-out last start. The John O’Shea-trained mare finished 2.3 lengths behind Funloving, which has since scored an effortless win at Canterbury. She has form prior which included a win at Canterbury and she gets the inside draw to work with. The in-form James Doyle takes the ride and she should be competitive.
6 Mariquita – Good win three starts back at Wyong and she has produced two good finishes since. The Gerald Ryan-trained mare ran on well for third at Warwick Farm two back and she produced another solid run for fourth at Rosehill last start. This is a drop in grade which helps and she drops back in weight. Not the strongest winning chance, but a good showing is expected.
7 Bettabet Red – Nine-time winner which should be outclassed at this level. Handy run in the Belle of the Turf last start, but a win would surprise in this.