Winton's big and history-making day

by Jonny Turner

The proven and the unknown will clash in the inaugural running of the Group 2 Entain Two-Year-Old Fillies Stakes at Winton on Saturday.

Southland’s newest group race, which comes courtesy of the new operators of the New Zealand TAB, is part of a bigger and richer than ever Winton Cup Day. It is also the first Group race to be held at Winton in its more than 100 year history.

Forever Dream is set to start a warm favourite after putting the Group 2 Leonard Memorial Stakes on her resume last weekend.

The two-year-old faces the big task of travelling to Southland and competing just six days later.

It is an assignment trainer Cran Dalgety thinks his filly is capable of handling.

“We have a filly that is in the zone and fit and well, so we are heading down south to have a go at a lovely stake,” Dalgety said.

“She knew she had had a run after her win at Addington, it was a big battle up that straight and it was her determination that got her there.”

“But she has come through the week well and we head south with full faith in her.”

Forever Dream showed crucial gate speed in her last start win, blasting across in front of her rivals to lead easily.

Barrier 6 hardly looks like an inconvenience on Saturday considering how fast the two-year-old can leave the gate.

There are many more unknowns about the leading Southland hope in the province’s new Group feature.

Captains Mistress comes into the Entain Two-Year-Old Fillies Stakes with just one start to her name and plenty to prove. 

But her trials both before her debut second placing, and more recently, point to her having all the ability needed to win for trainer-driver Nathan Williamson.

“I was really happy with her last trial, it was just what I wanted heading into this week,” Williamson said.

“It wasn’t an overly taxing run and I am happy with her, she has trained well this week.”

“So everything looks good.”

Captains Mistress has drawn in a much more tricky spot than Forever Dream, being handed barrier 7, outside her main rival who has speed to burn.

Williamson brings his stable star Dreams Are Free to Winton Cup Day to seal his start in next weekend’s Group 2 Southern Supremacy Stakes.

The pacer comes in fresh following a luckless Group 1 Northern Derby tilt, but his trainer is confident his star three-year-old is forward enough to run a nice race. 

“I took him into Ascot Park this week and he trained nicely, I am happy with him.”

Dreams Are Free will clash with his stablemate Miraculous in Saturday’s Alabar Southern Supremacy Stakes Heat.

Racing journalist Jonny Turner's five of the best for Winton Cup day.

Dreams Are Free :

The three-year-old became a viral sensation with his epic win in his last visit to Winton.

A repeat of Dream Are Free’s effort to catch the field after losing up to 20 lengths at the start looks unlikely on Saturday, but he can still play a starring role on Saturday.

The pacer comes in fresh after returning from a luckless Northern Derby tilt, but his class should take him a long way.

Taking on a small field also makes the pacer’s wide draw a little more workable.

All factors look to add up to Dreams Are Free being hard to beat.

Always Dreaming :

On bloodlines alone, Always Dreaming has to be a horse to watch at Winton on Saturday.

The pacer’s baby brother just sold at the national yearling sales for a record $340,000 while older brother Don’t Stop Dreaming will start favourite in the $1,000,000 The Race by Grins on Friday night.

Always Dreaming has built a handy reputation of his own which only went up following his strong last start third in the Kindergarten Stakes behind two classy two-year-olds.

Though drawing wide on the front line is against the pacer on Saturday, Always Dreaming should take plenty of holding out.

Falcons Watch :

He’s not one of the pin up horses heading into Saturday’s meeting but he does look like a big winning chance.

Falcons Watched produced a strong last start third at Winton, coming in off a freshen up and fighting on strongly in a race dominated by swooping backmarkers.

Having leading reinsman Blair Orange back in the sulky looks one of several plusses for the pacer on Saturday.

An improved draw this week and his gate speed big hopes that Falcons Watch can lead and take some catching.

Fiery Bandito :

The rising star of southern trotting will be out to strut his stuff at Saturday’s big Winton Cup meeting.

The big striding trotter produced an emphatic statement when continuing his outstanding form with a crushing last start win at Addington.

Fiery Bandito will face another tough task on Saturday, with a 30m handicap no easy mark to overcome over 2400m.

But the trotter has all the class needed to win and there will be no shortage of fans to cheer him on.

Pinseeker :

This impressive pacer keeps meeting every challenge put in front of him, so it is hard to doubt him heading into the Winton Cup.

As well as showing speed and stamina, Pinseeker has shown standing start manners and tractability in his short but impressive career.

Lining up from a 20m handicap, giving many of his rivals a head-start, will be no simple task for the four-year-old on Saturday.

But if trainer-driver Jonny Cox can negotiate the right path for Pinseeker he should take plenty of holding out.


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