By Jon Lees
Australia: Inspired decision or just a lucky call? Either way, William Haggas will be back in front of his TV early Saturday morning to see whether long-distance travellers Addeybb and Young Rascal can execute the coup de grace of a double act with jockey Tom Marquand in the top G1 racing left anywhere on the planet this weekend.
When the Newmarket trainer shipped two of his older stars to Sydney for a raid on New South Wales’s generous purses, little did he know the start of his season in Britain would be shut down by the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
It paid off instantly with Group-race wins three weeks ago for both Addeybb and Young Rascal – G1 success where the former is concerned in the Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill.
Now both horses line up in major races on Day Two of The Championships and Randwick on Saturday – televised live in Britain on Sky Sports Racing.
Royal Ascot winner Addeybb has massive shoes to fill as he contests the A$2 million (£1m) Queen Elizabeth Stakes (6.55am BST), Sydney’s most prestigious weight-for-age race – won by the great Winx for the last three seasons, including 12 months ago on the final start of her legendary career.
“Whatever happens on Saturday it has been worth doing,” said Haggas. “Nobody could envisage what’s happened here. From that point of view it is even better.”
A total of 13 horses were declared for the Queen Elizabeth, among them New Zealand contender Te Akau Shark, who had to pass a veterinary inspection before being allowed to participate.
Favourite for the race is the Japanese G1 winner Danon Premium, who has never before encountered the likely soft ground. The four-year-old, always a player in the highest class at home, will be ridden by Sydney’s leading rider James McDonald.
The Australian home team features Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare; better fancied is Addeybb’s Rosehill victim Verry Elleegant, who represents Winx’s trainer Chris Waller.
“The Queen Elizabeth looks a very strong race,” said Haggas. “Danon Premium is going to be dangerous. He is a very good horse.
“There were two winners to come out of the Ranvet, Verry Elleegant won a G1 and the fourth horse Nettoyer won the Doncaster which is a big G1 so the form got a nice boost but this looks a whole deal tougher.”
Young Rascal also faces 12 rivals in the A$1m Sydney Cup, a G1 handicap over 2m, headed by the Kris Lees trio, namely topweight Mustajeer, Saunter Boy and former Haggas-trained Raheen House.
Haggas said: “In a race between Mustajeer, Raheen House and Young Rascal in England, probably Young Rascal was a little bit better.
“But Mustajeer won the Ebor and Raheen House won well the other day. I don’t think he is quite as good as Young Rascal and I think Young Rascal’s task is slightly easier than Addeybb’s. But I’m not saying it is easy for a minute.
“I’ve said publicly for some time that I believe he will enjoy the step up in trip. I think he wants it now. If he is going to get it, he is going to get it there on a flat track.”
With the Melbourne Cup in mind Young Rascal could remain in Australia for the summer, while Addeybb will travel home as soon as a flight becomes available.
“At the moment it’s very difficult to get a plane to bring them back,” said Haggas. “It’s made us have a bit of a rethink and the likelihood is that Young Rascal will stay but Addeybb will come home when he can depending on when the borders open again. We have to get the staff out too if we can.
“Providing Young Rascal doesn’t run a disastrous race we have sort of decided we are going to keep him there. Who knows what will happen? Are European horses going to be allowed to travel to Melbourne in September?
“It may not be allowed so it would be daft to bring him home and then not get a ticket to get back. It makes sense to leave him out there, especially if he gets the trip well.
“He may get automatically into the Melbourne Cup and there would be lots of things in his favour so there is every chance he will stay.”
Elsewhere on a glittering card at Randwick, after a famous 40-1 victory in the Doncaster Mile, pizza-loving mare Nettoyer is set to back up seven days later in the Coolmore Legacy Stakes (7.35am BST), in which Waller’s Funstar will be sent off a heavy favourite in a big field.
The ATC Oaks (5.30am BST) features a rematch between Vinery Stud Stakes one-two Shout The Bar and Probabeel. Market leader, though, is Godolphin’s Colette.
• Learn more about The Star Championships at Randwick