Country cups aplenty this weekend

There will hardly be a dull moment this weekend, with OTI horses participating almost continuously around the globe.

We kick off at Moonee Valley tonight, with San Remo stepping out to 3000m for the first time in Australia. Contesting a similar standard to that he has faced recently, the extra distance will be the test.  His trainer believes it to be a test he will handle.

We then have two participants at Saint-Cloud in France, Captain Kangaroo and Paradia. Captain Kangaroo is making his race debut for John Hammond. A 3yo gelded son of Mastercraftsman, we will learn a great deal from his first race outing. Paradia, for trainer Mikel Delzangles, showed great improvement in her second race start in October.  Similar improvement again here would have her right in the finish.

Saturday is Zipping Classic Day, which brings back fond memories of a Zipping Classic/Sandown Cup double in 2014 thanks to Au Revoir and Renew.  Lord Fandango (Zipping Classic) with Azuro and Kellstorm (Sandown Cup) give us the opportunity to replicate that double this weekend.  All three horses are going into their respective races in decent form, recording Top 4 finishes in their last start efforts.

We also have Fastnet Tempest and Angelic Spirit in action at Sandown.  Outclassed a touch in the G1 Kennedy Mile on Derby Day, this race looks to be the right fit for Fastnet Tempest. With Mark Zahra in the irons, we are looking to see him right in the finish in the G3 Sandown Stakes.

While Fastnet Tempest is stepping down to G3 company, Angelic Spirit is doing the opposite.  She is stepping up to the 1500m G3 Summoned Stakes, on the back off a dominant last start, front-running win at Kyneton in restricted grade. The question will be whether she can reproduce that effort in a higher-class, more-pressurized affair.

We are not restricted to just Sandown on Saturday.  Elsewhere we have Scherzoso in the Dunkeld Cup and Le Juge at Rosehill.  A favourable barrier gives Scherzoso the chance to settle closer and be right in the finish, while Le Juge has extra fitness on his side too.  Both horses are at double-figure odds in the early betting markets, but appear each way chances if things go their way.

The debut of 2yo colt Achaeus in England on Saturday night will be most interesting. A half-brother to Melbourne Cup winner Almandin, we have no expectations first-up for a horse with such a stayers’ pedigree. Whatever he does here will lay a foundation for his three-year-old season in 2019 and beyond.

In the brighter hours of Sunday, we have Fastnet Latina and Romancer both lining up in the Donald Cup. Fastnet Latina is fourth-up this preparation and Archie Alexander appears confident that the horse is ready to bring back his best form. Romancer too has been below expectations since arriving from New Zealand, but is expected to show us some improvement with the subsequent drop in class.

Best of luck to all connections with horses running this weekend.

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Mr Satchmo Drawing Comparisons to Gailo Chop

As the European season draws to a close, Mr Satchmo has concluded his 3yo racing year with an incredible French rating of 51. With three Listed wins under his belt from his last four runs in France, Mr Satchmo appears ready to take the next step into Group company in 2019.  If all goes to plan, that could culminate in a trip to Australia next spring for the Cox Plate.

The progression made by Mr Satchmo in recent times has started to earn him comparisons with another OTI owned and French-bred galloper in Gailo Chop.  Gailo Chop’s three-year-old season was simply outstanding.  A Listed winner at two, Gailo Chop at three won a Group 2, 2 x Group 3’s and another Listed event, as well as making the trip the US for a tilt at the Belmont Derby. While Mr Satchmo’s record at the higher level cannot match Gailo Chop’s, the esteem in which he is held by the French handicappers puts him not a long way behind.

Both horses have one important common denominator – their trainer Antoine de Watrigant. Based out of Mont de Marsan in the south of France, Antoine has a great eye for young horses and has a close association with OTI. Antoine believes that Mr Satchmo is on the up, maturing at the right time in his career, coming out this campaign as a bigger, stronger horse – and the right attitude to win.

With dynamite form from 1800-2000m and a fierce turn of foot, come the early spring of 2019, we will be eagerly checking the mail in the hope that an invitation marked W.S. Cox Plate is received.

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