Carlton House: runs in the richest 1m2f turf race in the world on SaturdayPICTURE: racingandsports.com.au
Carlton House favourite for royal Sydney victory
Australia: The Queen's Carlton House, third in the Derby in 2011, has retained his grip on favouritism after the draw for the race named in honour of his owner, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Although the former Sir Michael Stoute-trained six-year-old has yet to win since joining Gai Waterhouse in Sydney, he was narrowly beaten by Saturday's rival Silent Achiever last month in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill.
With a purse of A$4 million (£2.22m) making it the richest 1m2f turf race in the world, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes provides the centrepiece of day two of Sydney's new Championships
A 5-2 chance with the New South Wales TAB, Carlton House was handed gate five in a 12-runner field at Tuesday's draw ceremony. He will be ridden by Tommy Berry.
Five of his rivals represent Sydney's champion trainer Chris Waller, who last weekend saddled a remarkable 1-2-3-4 in the Doncaster Mile, the highlight of day one of The Championships.
Sacred Falls, Royal Descent and Hawkspur - first, second and fourth in that A$3m contest - make a swift reappearance, as does the unplaced My Kingdom Of Fife, who used to be owned by the Queen in his former life in Britain with Stoute.
The nine-year-old won the Queen Elizabeth on heavy ground in 2011, since when his career has been interrupted by injury. Waller's fifth runner is the multiple Group 1 winner Boban.
Even in the absence of the injured Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente, the Queen Elizabeth features a star-studded field bolstered by the presence of two top-class New Zealanders in 2012 NZ Derby winner Silent Achiever and It's A Dundeel, second and third favourite respectively behind Carlton House.
After landing a Group 1 treble at last year's autumn carnival, It's A Dundeel was runner-up to former French Derby winner Reliable Man in the Queen Elizabeth but he hasn't won since beating star filly Atlantic Jewel in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield in September.
The five-time Group 1 winner posted a noteworthy effort two weeks ago when runner-up to Silent Achiever in the BMW despite a well-publicised shoeing issue in the build-up.
He delighted connections in a workout at Warwick Farm on Tuesday morning. "His work was very strong," said big-race rider James McDonald.
"Obviously his partner couldn't keep up with him but it's the best he's ever felt to me. He's definitely peaking for the right day and they don't work any better than that."
The going at Randwick is currently rated a 'Heavy 9' and track manager Nevesh Ramdhani will push the rail out four metres for Saturday's card.
"There's a storm now and rain is forecast for the next 24 hours but after that it's mostly sunny for Thursday, Friday and Saturday," he said. "That looks a little bit better than last week so I'm fairly confident there will be some improvement to come in the weather and the track but it will still be a real slow track."