One of the toughest races on the Australian racing calendar is the Doncaster Mile over the testing Randwick 1600m.
First run in 1866, the group one feature has been won by some of Australia’s best thoroughbreds including Tobin Bronze, Sunline, Grand Armee, Super Impose, Emancipation, Gunsynd, Citius to name but a few.
One runner of the capacity field of twenty contesting the feature this afternoon will join that select group.
The iconic Bart Cummings has won the race four times, He was last successful in the race with international winner Catalan Opening in 1998, however now in training partnership with his grandson James, Bart can add to that record with the highly impressive three-year-old Hallowed Crown .
Already a dual group one winner against his own age taking the Golden Rose (1400m) and Randwick Guineas (1600m), Hallowed Crown faces a different level of competition today taking on older horses under handicap conditions.
That said Hallowed Crown has been impressive against his own age group and with a Timeform rating of 125 when adjusted for weight to be carried looks to have an undeniable chance – provided he can repeat that rating or even get close to it this afternoon.
While some may argue that the three-year-old crop this year has generally not measured up to open company at the highest level, Brazen Beau excepted, Hallowed Crown has all the hallmarks to dispel those fears.
Hallowed Crown resumed in Hobartville Stakes (1400m) winning narrowly but decisively. He then took on the G1 Randwick Guineas second up and again proved his superiority over the current crop of three-year-olds, this time at 1600m – race rider Hugh Bowman confidently saying after the race that the colt had more to give.
Significantly in eight Randwick Guineas renewals the race has provided two Doncaster Mile winners, Triple Honour in 2007 and Sacred Falls in 2012 as well as a close second Mentality in 2006.
Last time out, James Cummings stepped the colt up to 2000m in the Rosehill Guineas only to be found wanting in the closing stages behind kiwi Volkstock’N’Barrel coming in third just over a length from the winner.
Ridden with patience that day, Hallowed Crown came from second last on the home turn to join the leaders around the 200m mark before being outstayed in the last 100m.
It is fair to say the colt will be better suited by 1600m this afternoon and although faces a tough assignment from 23 barrier he does tumble four and a half kilos to 52kgs, which for a three-year-old is a very handy weight.
Three-year-olds have a good record in the Doncaster, the last to win it was Sacred Falls who also had run third in the Rosehill Guineas the start prior behind Dundeel. There are uncanny similarities between the preparation of Sacred Falls and Hallowed Crown as three-year-olds leading into the Doncaster Mile.
While yet to win a Doncaster Mile, James Cummings does have the experience of Norzita to guide him.
Norzita had won the G1 Vinery Stakes a fortnight prior to her running a gallant third to Sacred Falls a fortnight later – the same time difference between runs for Hallowed Crown.
New rider Tommy Berry who strikes at 32% with James and Bart will take over this afternoon and he knows what it takes to win the race having been successful atop the three-year-old Sacred Falls in 2013.
If successful today, Hallowed Crown will join Racing To Win who in 2006 took the Hobartville Stakes –Doncaster Mile double.
Further the prospect of a wet track will present no issues for Hallowed Crown – the colt is four from four in soft or worse ground.
The hardest for him to beat on Timeform weight adjusted ratings areHooked , Pornichet , Suavito and Royal Descent .
Hooked has been steadily working up to top form in two runs back from a spell, first up in the Canterbury Stakes (1300m) and then George Ryder Stakes (1500) both under unsuitable weight for age conditions.
That said Hooked performed creditably in both, finishing 1.5 lengths behind Cosmic Endeavour then 2.7 lengths from Real Impact who he meets three kilos better today.
There is no doubt Hooked has returned stronger this time in, rating around ten pounds superior to the same stage in his previous campaigns.
Also Hooked generally peaks third up, last campaign bolting home in the Cameron Handicap (1400m) at Newcastle before running third in the Epsom Handicap also run over the Randwick 1600m behind the ill-fated He’s Your Man after travelling wide throughout.
If he continues to improve at the same rate then he will run very well this afternoon.
Former French galloper Pornichet has been selective in his wins since coming to Australia where he is trained by Gai Waterhouse.
Waterhouse is aiming for a record eighth Doncaster Mile winner, surpassing her late father’s record, and Pornichet could easily oblige.
A winner in Melbourne over 1500m during the spring, the entire has been slow to hit form in two runs back from a spell. However switches of up in trip and down in grade last start saw him produce a much improved effort winning comfortably over 2000m at Rosehill.
It is difficult to bring a horse back 400m in distance in the space of seven days – it takes some skill especially at the highest level but with Waterhouse it is a given that she will have Pornichet up to the task.
When dropping horses back 400m in trip, Waterhouse strikes at 17%, just a tad under her long term rate while those back in seven days are consistent with her long term strike rate of 20%.
So augers well for Pornichet who before joining Waterhouse had been narrowly beaten in the french Guineas over 1600m.
Suavito and Royal Descent both mares look suited and if successful will sit alongside More Joyous, Sunline and Maybe Mahal as winners in recent times.
While Sauvito has been in winning form stringing together four wins in succession, Royal Descent has been winless in 714 days.
However Royal Descent is higher rated on Timeform weight adjusted figures and looks to have a slightly better chance.
Royal Descent was narrowly beaten by Sacred Falls last year and stays on the same weight today.
Her fourth in the George Ryder was full of merit and HK champion rider Joao Moreira will add another dimension to her prospects.
The prospects of a soft track will not worry any of the aforementioned – they all handle those conditions.
Enjoy a great Doncaster Mile renewal.