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Australian Racing: Rustic Steel holds strong Randwick claim

The Group 1 Northerly Stakes over 1800m at Ascot is the sole Group 1 on a day that also features metro racing from Randwick, Ballarat, Eagle Farm and Morphettville.

Race 8 Ascot

Zaaki @ 2.50

Race 7 Randwick

Rustic Steel @ 12.00

Race 8 Eagle Farm

Freedom Rally @ 2.90

Zaaki for Northerly success

The feature race of the day is set to take place as the penultimate contest on Ascot’s nine-race card.

A field of 16 have been declared for the 1800m event which is set to take place on a soft 5 surface. 

The Grant & Alana Williams team have to be respected with their runners here and Alsephina is one of two for them in this event.

The five-year-old appears to be the stable’s best chance, with William Pike on board following three consecutive second place finishes this spell.

The most recent of those saw the mare suffer a length defeat when contesting the 1600m Group 1 Railway Stakes at this venue two weeks ago.

The mare wore blinkers for the first time that day but they are dispensed with here, with the extra distance no issue having won over track and trip in the Group 3 La Trice Classic back in January.

However, multiple Group 1 winner ZAAKI makes the trip to Perth for the Annabel Neasham team and the nine-year-old is preferred on this occasion.

The gelding has been beaten less than two lengths in three of his four starts this spell, including when one-and-a-half-lengths sixth in the 2040m Group 1 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.

That form looks strong enough in the context of this race and he was beaten just over two lengths into fourth in the Group 1 Champions Stakes over 2000m at Flemington subsequently. 

James McDonald enjoyed success on the pick when racing in Group 2 company at Sunshine Coast in May and he looks up to steering the son of Leroidesanimaux to victory in this event. 

Rustic for Ingham triumph

The most valuable race of the day is The Ingham, a Group 2 $2,000,000 contest set to take place over 1600m at Randwick.

The seventh race of the day is expected to see Detonator Jack prove popular with punters, having built on some solid efforts this term with a win in the Illawarra Mercury Gong at Kembla Grange.

The five-year-old came home nearly two-and-a-half-lengths clear of his 12 rivals on a heavy 8 track that day.

However quicker going is expected here and Jason Collett’s mount may have to give best to RUSTIC STEEL.

The winner of the Big Dance over this course and distance in November last year, the pick has failed to score in four subsequent outings.

However, Kris Lees’ gelding registered his best effort in three starts this time around, when beaten less than a length into third in the Group 3 James Squire Festival Stakes over 1500m at Rosehill.

The soft 5 surface was in the selections favour that day and similar underfoot conditions are expected here.

Jockey Sam Clipperton, on board for the son of Deep Field’s two most recent outings, is again in the saddle and with an inside alley the pair look capable of saluting returning to 1600m. 

Rally for victory

The eighth race on the Eagle Farm card is a $300,000 1400m contest in the Star Gateway.

FREEDOM RALLY showed progressive form here in his last spell, including when completing a hat-trick in recording a near two-and-a-half-length victory over this track and trip in July.

While the pick was beaten over three lengths at Rosehill subsequently, she performed well when making her return from a spell at Sunshine Coast last month. 

The selection raced towards the rear of the field in that 1200m Class 6 set weights contest at Sunshine Coast and he recorded a solid effort, beaten only by a front-running winner.

The winner and fifth have both boosted the form with subsequent victories and James Orman’s mount looks up to recording his fifth victory in weight career starts.

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