The Group 1 $1 million Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) is shaping up as a tough race for the punters at Flemington on Saturday with a trio of mares battling for favouritism in the markets.
Victoria Derby Day features a bumper all-Group race card headlined by three Group 1 events including the Empire Rose Stakes for the female gallopers run over a mile.
Currently the Chris Waller-trained stablemates Atishu and Princess Grace are installed as the equal $6 favourites in Empire Rose Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.
They are followed closely by the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained $10 million import Alcohol Free who is hot on their tail at Empire Rose Stakes odds of $6.50.
Princess Grace, due to jump from barrier 12, is the early market mover with early support to finally secure a well-deserved win this spring.
The perennial place-getter has finished runner-up in three of her four starts this prep including Group 1 placings in the Winx Stakes and Memsie Stakes.
She was fourth two back to Mr Brightside, who franked the form with a Cox Plate second last weekend, in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) before going down as the beaten odds-on favourite in the Group 2 Blazer Stakes (1400m) here on October 7.
The American-bred seven-year-old is after atonement now back up to a mile at headquarters.
Waller chases a third Empire Rose Stakes trophy following previous victories with Red Tracer (2013) and Shillelagh (2018).
Along with Princess Grace he also saddles-up the aforementioned Atishu to be ridden by James McDonald and fellow Group 1 winner Hinged ($20).
Alcohol Free meanwhile is drawn to get a charmed run from barrier five with New Zealand jockey Opie Bosson in town and taking the mount.
The six-year-old is a four-time Group 1 winner overseas but remains a maiden down under for Yulong Investments who paid a record 5.4 million guineas ($10.8 million) for her at a Tattersalls sale last December.
She hasn’t won since taking out the Group 1 July Cup (1207m) at Newmarket back in July last year.
This weekend she is on the quick back-up off an improved run for fourth when under a length off Espiona in the $2 million The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick last weekend.
“She ran a sensational race (last weekend),” co-trainer Gai Waterhouse told Punters this week.
“When you see her over a mile and 2000(m), she’ll come into her own.
“Even though she won sprinting races in England at Group 1 level, it’s different.
“Their six-furlong races are like mile races in Australia, the tracks are so testing.”
A further two runners are also at single-figures for the win with the Kerry Parker-trained Hope In Your Heart ($8) drawn the rails who also has form around Mr Brightside from the autumn and the flying Wishlor Lass ($8.50) chasing a fourth win on the trot.
Wishlor Lass comes off three straight wins including the Group 3 Ladies Day Vase (1600m) at Caulfield and the Group 3 Tesio Stakes (1600m) last weekend at The Valley with 59kg.
She is rock hard fit now and will relish the drop back to 57kg.
The Empire Rose Stakes is scheduled as the penultimate Derby Day event running as Flemington Race 8 at 5:00pm (AEDT).
2023 Empire Rose Stakes Field & Barriers
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||4913x0x404||ALCOHOL FREE (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||Opie Bosson||5||57kg||113|
|2||23x31x2242||PRINCESS GRACE (USA)||Chris Waller||Jamie Spencer||12||57kg||111|
|3||2x1442x368||HOPE IN YOUR HEART||Kerry Parker||Tim Clark||1||57kg||108|
|4||3x216Px520||ATISHU (NZ)||Chris Waller||James McDonald||8||57kg||110|
|5||x26844x407||HINGED||Chris Waller||Blake Shinn||13||57kg||106|
|6||5x12116x03||FOXY FRIDA||Andrew Noblet||Billy Egan||6||57kg||103|
|7||9x6124x512||RENAISSANCE WOMAN (NZ)||Bjorn Baker||Harry Coffey||14||57kg||103|
|8||3102341742||BARBIE’S FOX||Ben, Will & JD Hayes||Mark Zahra||16||57kg||101|
|10||7x4298x626||PRIDE OF JENNI||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Declan Bates||17||57kg||101|
|11||15931×1736||DENY KNOWLEDGE (IRE)||Michael Kent||Ms Jamie Kah||7||57kg||97|
|12||112x74x421||LIFE LESSONS (NZ)||Peter G Moody & Katherine Coleman||Daniel Stackhouse||15||57kg||99|
|13||121146×852||SHUFFLE DANCER||Peter G Moody & Katherine Coleman||Luke Nolen||2||57kg||92|
|14||1115×4111||WISHLOR LASS||Symon Wilde||John Allen||11||57kg||103|
|15||12x614x125||AUSBRED FLIRT||Brad Widdup||Ms Rachel King||9||57kg||92|
|16||413x353x53||MORE SECRETS||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Damien Oliver||4||57kg||97|
|17e||15x27213x1||JENNILALA||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Jamie Spencer||3||57kg||86|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.