Following the Dubai World Cup, American racing fans’ attention turns to Sydney, Australia, this week for the first day of The Championships. The highlight of the event’s first weekend will be this Saturday’s Doncaster Mile, which will have punters eager to see if legendary trainer Chris Waller can continue his winning streak.
The Championships is the climax of the two-month Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival. On Saturday April 2nd, day one of the event, racing fans will have four G1 races to choose from at the Royal Randwick track, but they will be especially focused on the 151st running of The Star Doncaster Mile.
A handicap race for three-year-olds and up thoroughbreds over a distance of 1,600 meters, the Doncaster is Australia’s premier mile championship. Unsurprisingly, the race has a prize to match its prestige – this year a field of 15 will battle it out for $3 million AUD ($2.3 million).
For US race fans unfamiliar with the Doncaster, the Breeders’ Cup Mile serves as a good comparison. Also a G1 race for three-year-olds and older and run on grass over 1,600 meters, both races have a purse of $2 million plus. The race held at California’s San Anita Park does have some differences, however. First of all, the Australian race is a handicap and the Breeders’ Mile is a weight-for-age event. The Doncaster also runs in a clockwise direction while the Breeders’ Cup Mile is run anti-clockwise.
Since 2013, one trainer has dominated the Doncaster Mile – Chris Waller, the Bob Baffert of Australasian racing. Hailing from New Zealand, Waller has trained five out of the last eight Doncaster winners, with his stable’s Kermadec triumphing last year (see footage below) and his Sacred Falls winning the Doncaster in both 2014 and 2013.
Will Waller’s winning streak continue on Saturday? And if so, which of the Kiwi trainer’s horses will win the Mile? Defending champion Kermadec is second favorite behind another Waller-trained horse, Winx – the California Chrome of Australian Racing who recently won the Autumn Carnival’s George Ryder Stakes race, beating Kermadec.
However, Waller does face strong competition from rival stables. Randwick-based Pat Webster’s Happy Clapper is third favorite, while five-year-old mare Azkadellia, trained by rising star Ciaron Maher, is the bookies’ next pick from the 15.
American race fans wanting to see if Waller triumphs again in the Doncaster can follow the race live at 2:10 a.m. EST or 11:10 p.m. PST on Friday April 1st. Advance deposit wagering (ADW) sites like TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, BetAmerica, MyWinners, WatchandWager, and NYRA Rewards, will be providing live-video streaming of the Doncaster.
ADWs are also offering simulcasting wagering on other day-one Championships races. These include the Darley TJ Smith Stakes, a 1,200-meter open sprint with a $2.5 million AUD purse ($1.9 million), and the BMW Australian Derby, a three-year-old race over 2,400 meters with a $2 million AUD prize ($1.5 million).
With Waller’s Vanbrugh and Torgersen running in the BMW Australian Derby and his stable’s Delectation competing in the Darley TJ Smith Stakes, the Kiwi horseman could do more than continue his Doncaster winning streak. Will Chris Waller be the true champion of the first day of The Championships?