The stablemate menace looms large at Saturday's outstanding Rosehill Gardens meeting indicating the Sydney trend towards domination by major players, particularly Chris Waller and Gai Waterhouse.
Not even Tommy Smith in his heyday had as many starters in the same race as often as Waller and the Australian Jockey Club, then controllers of the industry, considered limiting him. Doing the same to Waller would mean sparse fields.
Waller maintains the flow with three in the group 1 Coolmore Classic and Ranvet Stakes.
Sure, Catkins, prepared by Waller, is the Coolmore favourite but he also has Royal Descent and Arinosa, which is coming off uncharacteristic Melbourne flops. Dom Beirne, for Betfair, identified Royal Descent as a "significant overlay", particularly with the sting out of the ground.
Maybe Royal Descent is better over a journey longer than the 1500 metres but second-up, an effective situation in the past, it could be within her comfort zone.
"Two starts ago Royal Descent started favourite in the Caulfield Cup and I am convinced she would have nearly won had the ground been less firm," Beirne commented. He also regards Hana's Gold, the Japanese mare with "a very strong finish", as a backable each-way proposition.
Like Royal Descent, Dear Demi has class and sprints well fresh which she did for third behind Catkins at Warwick Farm on March 8, her first start since the Melbourne Cup.
With the speedy Steps In Time the likely pacemaker and Sweet Idea taking up a position, Catkins, aided by Hugh Bowman and tactical speed, should be able to alleviate the wide draw (14). Major rivals which get back in the field, such as Royal Descent and Dear Demi, depend on luck. Verdict: Catkins 1, Sharnee Rose 2, Bonaria 3, A Time For Julia 4.
Ollie's call Despite the potential of Hawkspur and the known quality of Foreteller, the Waller pair fall short in class of Fiorente and It's A Dundeel in the Ranvet. Possibly circumstances often arising in seemingly two-horse races, when jockeys on the favourites engage in a personal duel and take the others lightly, can create an upset. However, Waterhouse, trainer of Fiorente, holds a possible trump in the anticipated leader, Carlton House, another import. From her past 10 Ranvet starters the trainer has won four making the pace, one up-front second and a third. Just how much leeway can the opposition give Carlton House, responsible for a bold performance last start? I'll leave that up to Damien Oliver on Fiorente. Verdict: Fiorente 1, It's A Dundeel 2, Carlton House 3, Hawkspur 4.
Price isn't right Melbourne trainer Mick Price has a three-pronged attack – Jabali, Cornrow and Eqdaam – against Unencumbered in the Todman. "The Blue Diamond runner-up looks to have the class here despite not having won," Tristan De Luca, for Luxbet, opined on the Racenet poll of leading betting houses, regarding Jabali. "He had trouble finding room in the straight behind Earthquake." Price had two strong chances in the recent Flemington Newmarket, Samaready and Lankan Rupee, and the outsider Lankan Rupee scored. Unencumbered was stuck in the slow when a disappointing fifth in the Silver Slipper at Rosehill last start and could improve sharply on better ground. While Risen From Doubt did better in the same race his acceleration was dulled by the conditions and he holds a Flemington decision over Jabali. Verdict: Unencumbered 1, Risen From Doubt 2, Jabali 3, Wandjina 4.
Bar high for Guelph Waterhouse has three – Equator, Woodbine and Liberty's Choice – shrouded in uncertainty in the Phar Lap against Guelph, a spring top-liner floundering so far this autumn. Equator has the class but possibly not the condition, Woodbine was a late scratching from the Randwick Guineas last Saturday and, to all apparent purposes, Liberty's Choice is raring to go. "If Guelph doesn't improve on what she has done so far this preparation she will be beaten anything from a half-length to four lengths," Beirne assessed. Still, he is tipping her to return to something like her best. On what they have done to date Guelph is a class above but High Tec is a promising High Chaparral colt which scored at Wyong last start. Verdict: High Tec 1, Guelph 2, Liberty's Choice 3, Traitor 4.