Sydney Specials: Randwick - 4th April 2020

Easily one of my favourite days of the year with racing returning to headquarters for Derby Day (The Championships: Day 1).

As expected we are on a rain affected track (currently Soft 6) - 10 of the last 12 years have been a Soft 5 or worse.

The rail is in the true position and we have been served up 10 of the best, four of which are Group 1s.

The TJ Smith Stakes is often one of the main highlights and it is no different this year.

A Timeform rating of 125 is typically used to label a horse/performance 'Group 1'.

It's a point on the Timeform scale where a horse/performance is deemed competitive at the highest level anywhere around the globe.

This weekend's TJ Smith boasts six horses that have run to 125 or higher in their careers, few sprint races anywhere in the world can boast such strength in depth.

Those horses include Nature Strip (rated 128), Santa Ana Lane (128), Bivouac (127), Pierata (126), Redzel (126) and Exceedance (125).

The number grows to eight if we include the In Her Time and Loving Gaby who have both hit highs of 121 which, considering their 4lbs allowance, has them reaching similar levels.

Nature Strip can consider himself the headline act, having run to 128 last time out when winning the Challenge Stakes in formidable fashion.

He also ran to that level when winning the VRC Sprint in the spring and that was over 6 f – so he can produce his peaks at this trip, but when he produce those peaks is the big question mark.

Nature Strip has produced a performance >120 six times in his career, off that he's stepped out four times within the same preparation, all of which he failed to repeat, on average he dropped 13 pounds.

Of those six performances >120, four of which came off what would be deemed a "flop".

If you had backed Nature Strip at every start, his ROI is 30%, far from a punter's nightmare, he is a beast, but if his profile is any guide, Saturday isn't the time to be diving in.

The same can't be said about Pierata who is both reliable and predictable to go with his high class talent.

A big rating fresh leaves him with a potent set up and the wide draw is a big tick on Saturday.

At the elite level some may feel Pierata has been found wanting (The Everest, last year's TJ Smith Stakes), however on both occasions he drew inside.

He didn't appear to enjoy being cluttered in 24 starts he has only missed the money seven times, four of which he drew inside barrier five.

Of his eight career wins, five he drew outside six (11, 8, 7, 9, 11).

He needs room to build momentum and the wetter the better.

Only Nature Strip possess a higher last start rating and under more favourable circumstances it leaves Pierata looking like a coiled spring - get on!

The Jean Dubois trained Julian Rock arguably should have won his last three straight and appears well placed to run a big race in the Country Championships Final.

At his best with the sting out, he gets conditions to suit and the last time we saw him at Randwick he sat wide and won with a leg in the air.

When assessing Timeform weight adjusted ratings he rates clear off his last start win and found the line well in his latest trial at Hawkesbury.

Do concede the favourite Bobbing will be hard to beat, but he will likely be spotting Julian Rock a start, which won't be easy.

The capacity field should ensure a solid tempo and with clear air, Julian Rock should prove hard to hold out.

Simon Dinopoulos' Three Tips:

Race 3 #6 Julian Rock @ $8.00

Race 8 #2 Pierata @ $8.50

Race 9 #10 Cascadian @ $23

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