This Friday night, champion mare Winx targets the Turnbull Stakes, her final G1 race before attempting an historic fourth-straight win in the Cox Plate on Oct 26th. The defending champion in the Turnbull, Winx is also looking to achieve an unprecedented second Turnbull-Cox Plate double.
In addition, Turnbull Stakes Day counts-down to the Lexus Melbourne Cup Carnival Nov. 2nd to 9th, with a range of prep races, including the Melbourne Cup ‘win-and-you’re in’ G3 Bart Cummings, G2 UCI Stakes, G2 Edward Manifold Stakes, G2 Blazer Stakes, and the G2 Gilgai Stakes.
G1 Turnbull Stakes
This 1¼ mile race for 4-year-olds-and-up gets underway at Melbourne’s Flemington racecourse at 3:00 p.m. local time this Saturday, Oct. 6th (1:00 a.m. EDT, or 10:00 p.m. PDT on Friday, Oct. 5th). Shooting for an unprecedented 28th-straight victory after triumphing in last month’s G1 George Main Stakes, Winx is 1/5 red-hot favorite to win before moving on to target an historic fourth Cox Plate, after she equaled Kingston Town’s 1980-82 hat-trick last year.
Already one of the few horses to have completed the Turnbull Stakes-Cox Plate double – alongside only Better Loosen Up, The Phantom Chance, Northerly, and Makybe Diva – Winx would also make history yet again by winning both races a second time.
Trainer Chris Waller is confident. “[Her jockey] Hugh Bowman and I are both very pleased with the way the preparation has gone, as we head towards the third start of her campaign on Saturday,” he says. “She is in good shape, looks well.’’
Rival trainer Darren Weir is bringing in an unfamiliar opponent to challenge Winx after failing to defeat the mare in the G1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Gailo Chop and Humidor. He’s pinning his hopes on Kings Will Dream, an early Melbourne Cup favorite who placed third in the G1 Memsie Stakes on Sept. 1st. The four-year-old colt has 9/1 odds to create an upset.
The Mick Price-trained Grunt will follow Winx on her path to the Cox Plate after running in the Turnbull Stakes. Grunt is listed as 9/1 after his last start failure in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield. But Price expects that his runner’s winning experience on the Flemington track – three wins from four starts – will give him an edge.
Like Kings Will Dream, New Zealand-bred Jon Snow is also an entrant in the Melbourne Cup, though expectations for the 5-year-old aren’t quite as high. After winning the G1 Australian Derby last year, Jon Snow placed third in the G1 Makybe Diva Stakes in September behind his Turnbull rivals Grunt and Kings Will Dream. The bookies give him a 25/1 chance of surprising Winx and avenging the Makybe Diva Stakes.
Road to the Melbourne Cup
The 10-horse field for the Turnbull Stakes features horses like Kings will Dream and Jon Snow that could steal the show in the $7.3 million AUD ($5.25 million) Lexus Melbourne Cup on Nov. 5th. But the Turnbull Stakes Day’s support card also serves as the perfect stage for other contenders.
The G3 Bart Cummings gives the winner direct access to the Cup, so offers a preview of runners to watch. Only two years ago, Almandin achieved the Bart Cummings-Melbourne Cup double, though last year’s Bart Cummings winner, Amelie’s Star, was eclipsed by Rekindling.
Godolphin import Avilius is 6/5 favorite in this year’s Bart Cummings. He gave a glimpse of his phenomenal potential when he claimed the G3 Premier’s Cup and G3 Kingston Town Stakes during his Australian debut. Avilius will be chased by Macedon Lodge gallopers Our Venice Beach (6/1) and The Taj Mahal (8/1).
The Flemington card is a dress-rehearsal for Melbourne Cup week, and the field of the G2 UCI Stakes will give a taste of what to expect in the G1 AAMI Victoria Derby (Nov. 2nd), while the G2 Edward Manifold Stakes is a strong form indicator of the G1 VRC Kennedy Oaks (Nov. 7th). There will be several G1 Meyer Classic hopefuls on display in the G2 Blazer Stakes. Meanwhile, G1 Darley Classic (Nov. 9th) potentials will make an appearance in the G2 Gilgai Stakes.
TVG will present coverage of the Turnbull Stakes Day races live at Flemington as well as the G1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick. The race cards can also be live-streamed at ADW platforms such as TVG, TwinSpires, Xpressbet, NYRABets, WatchandWager, HPIbet, AmWager, and BetAmerica, which accept standard US bet types. Free past performances and expert picks on all races are available at skyracingworld.com.