Fab five: McEvoy at ease in hot seat
Champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy will be keen to continue his sensational season at Royal Randwick on Saturday - and so will punters.
McEvoy has rides in all nine races with five of his mounts at the top of betting, including superstars The Autumn Sun and Redzel.
The Autumn Sun is $1.50 TAB Fixed Odds favourite for the Group 1 $1 million Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Redzel is rated at $1.70 for his comeback in the Group 2 $500,000 Challenge Stakes (1000m).
McEvoy has been enjoying an outstanding 2018-19 with wins in The Everest (Redzel), Melbourne Cup (Cross Counter), Golden Rose (The Autumn Sun) and Magic Millions (Exhilarates).
His mounts have already earned a staggering $19.6 million in prizemoney with nearly five months of the season remaining.
The Autumn Sun, the hottest favourite on the Randwick program, is also "hot property" with a $50 million-plus price tag. McEvoy is conservative by nature but he has a huge opinion of The Autumn Sun, winner of six of his seven starts including three at Group 1 level.
The Autumn Sun showed his quality to overcome difficulties to win the Hobartville Stakes first-up two weeks ago and can take his career earnings beyond the $3m barrier by securing Saturday's Randwick Guineas.
"The Autumn Sun will improve a lot from his first-up Hobartville win,'' McEvoy said. "He has a great winning attitude and should be unbeaten. From a small amount of starts he's building a terrific record. It will take a very good horse to beat him.''
McEvoy's confidence is echoed by Chris Waller, the trainer of The Autumn Sun.
"The Autumn Sun's spot-on for (Saturday),'' Waller said. "He's come through his first-up run really well. He's maintained his weight and I think it switched him on.
"He's that good that he's just cruising. He does that in his work and trials. He didn't do it first-up because he was in an awkward spot and he got himself out of it."
Waller conceded Nakeeta Jane is a worthy rival, but added: "She'd have to be very good to beat him."
"Obviously she's a good filly but she didn't win by a big margin,'' Waller said of Nakeeta Jane's Surround Stakes win last week. "We fully respect her but it's hard for a filly to beat the colts. If he brings his Caulfield Guineas form to the race, he'll be right."
McEvoy is also looking forward to reunited with dual Everest winner Redzel in the Challenge Stakes. Redzel, the winner of $15.3m prizemoney to be second-only to the incomparable Winx ($23.4m) in the all-time stake earners list, has impressed McEvoy in his recent barrier trials and trackwork.
"I'm certain Redzel is as good as ever,'' McEvoy said. "His trial at Canterbury has filled us with confidence. His second trial is where he tunes up and says, 'hey, boys I'm back in action'. With the blinkers on, he switches on and he enjoyed the trial, so everything points to him being back in great form physically and mentally.
"This is a hot little race but it is good to see Redzel back.''
McEvoy will be closer to knowing his Golden Slipper ride after he rides Exhilarates ($3.10 favourite) in the Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m) and Strasbourg ($15) in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m).
"We will learn a lot more about the Golden Slipper after this meeting, many camps will,'' he said.
Exhilarates hasn't raced since her brilliant Magic Millions win but was tuned up for return with a Canterbury barrier trial hit-out last week.
"She didn't have the blinkers on in the trial and I was happy with her effort,'' McEvoy said.
"James (Cummings) and the team have given the filly a nice, little freshen-up after the Gold Coast. I'm looking forward to her return, she should go very well.''
Strasbourg won the Max Lees Classic on debut then produced an eye-catching effort to finishing a closing second to Accession in the Inglis Nursery back in December.
The Peter and Paul Snowden-trained colt needs to win the Todman Stakes to secure a start in the Golden Slipper Stakes.
McEvoy links with Team Hawkes on promising three-year-old Brutal for the Group 1 $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1200m).
Brutal ($8) won his first three starts before a luckless third in the Southern Cross Stakes behind Eckstein last month.
McEvoy hasn't ridden Brutal before but believes the colt has the ability to be competitive at weight-for-age against top class four-year-olds Trapeze Artist, Kementari, Pierata and Shoals.
"Brutal was gallant last start after having a wide run,'' McEvoy said.
"He's a talented horse and John Hawkes has had a lot of success running three-year-olds against the older horses.
"If it looks like a good target with a young colt he doesn't mind taking them on at weight-for-age - he's a master at doing it.''
KERRIN MCEVOY'S BONANZA BOOK
R1: Spright $3.50f
Classy mare coming off a very good but luckless fifth in the Oakleigh Plate and is well placed racing against mares.
R2: Baller $4.60f
Promising young sprinter building an impressive race record. He's ready for stakes level.
R3: Exhilarates $3.10f
Magic Millions winner and second favourite for the Golden Slipper. The one to beat.
R4: Strasbourg $15
Underrated colt who showed glimpses of real talent during a two-start summer campaign. Over the odds.
R5: Redzel $1.70f
Dual Everest winner and one of the best sprinters in training. He's looked sharp in his trials.
R6: Brutal $8
High promising colt facing some seasoned sprinters. Tough test but he's loaded with natural ability.
R7: The Autumn Sun $1.50f
Superstar colt. He had everything against him in the Hobartville Stakes first-up and still won. Betters suited at 1600m.
R8: Girl Tuesday $8
She was unbeaten in four starts before with two unplaced efforts since resuming. Too good to dismiss.
R9: Shraaoh $16
Imported stayer who created a huge impression winning at Flemington on Cup Day. Fitter for recent racing and ready to improve.
Making hay while Sun shines
The Autumn Sun, already regarded as one of the elite three-year-olds of the past decade, can enhance his growing reputation by winning the Group 1 $1 million Randwick Guineas (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
Form guru Gary Crispe said The Autumn Sun's peak Timeform rating of 126 compared favourably with some of the best three-year-olds of the modern era.
"In the past 10 seasons, there has been only 21 three-year-olds to return a Timeform figure of 125 or above,'' Crispe said. "This group includes just one filly, Atlantic Jewel, with a 128 rating and one gelding, Manawanui, on 125.
"The Autumn Sun returned his 126 figure winning the Caulfield Guineas last spring and only Sepoy, All Too Hard, Pierro, Flying Artie and Exosphere were rated higher at this point of the season.''
The Autumn Sun's lofty ranking spells trouble for his rivals in the Randwick Guineas. Crispe said The Autumn Sun did just enough to win the Hobartville Stakes first-up and he was poised to notch his fourth Group 1 win.
"The Autumn Sun was unsuited by the moderate tempo in the Hobartville and did a great job to run down Vegadaze,'' Crispe said. "He rated 119 first-up and an analysis of his sectionals indicated he was a lot better than the 'bare' form.
"The colt should improve sharply stepping up to the mile (1600m), which is the distance he recorded his peak 126 Timeform rating with that dominant display in the Caulfield Guineas.
"There is no question he is the horse to beat in the Guineas and with clear air he should prove hard to hold out.''
Trainer Mark Newnham's decision to back-up with last week's Surround Stakes winner Nakeeta Jane adds intrigue to the Randwick classic. Crispe pointed out that little separates The Autumn Sun and Nakeeta Jane on their last start efforts.
"Nakeeta Jane sets up well on the quick back-up,'' he said.
"But she will have to go to another level to beat The Autumn Sun if he brings his 'A Game'.
"Another of the fillies, Fundamentalist continues to race well and cannot be underestimated.
"She raced on-speed and did very well to finish a close second to Nakeeta Jane and may receive similar 'favours' in the run (tomorrow).''
Godolphin colt Aramayo brings different formlines to the Randwick Guineas after two solid runs at Caulfield last month.
"Aramayo cannot be taken lightly,'' Crispe said. "He should be nearing his peak racing third-up and appears well placed dropping back to the mile.
"In both his Melbourne starts this preparation he has been below the rating he returned from his Spring Champion Stakes placing. However that rating is within his reach and a similar level of performance which would see him in the finish.''