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The Kosciuszko 2022 - Race Preview

Racing And Sports analyst Jaike Altieri takes a look at the $2 million The Kosciuszko.

The Kosciuszko – personally my favourite race of the year.

I was lucky enough to get my start in racing through a country stable and have seen first-hand how much it means to the team that can win this rich $2 million feature.

As always with these country races, there's plenty of storylines leading into the race with race favourite It's Me being found lame during race week.

Sydney's weather has held off for the most part with some rain forecast on Friday, but just how will this tiring Royal Randwick track play? And more importantly, which runners will handle it?

There's plenty of questions, but thankfully the mighty Monte Carlo Machine takes away all the variables and focusses solely on the data at hand.

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One horse who I think has a similar profile to recent winners of The Kosciuszko, is FAR TOO EASY.

He looked to have the Country Championships won with 1 f to run in April, but peaked late in that effort. His two highest ratings have both come at 6 f, 108 and 104 with Timeform, with the former a rating good enough to win The Kosciuszko. Only Redouble produced a higher-rated performance in the feature, running 110 when second to It's Me in 2020.

He's shown he can handle all going, he's looks as though he still has more to offer and he just fits the mould of recent Kosciuszko winners. That's why I have him on top.

 

Monte Carlo on-topper, FRONT PAGE has finally made it to The Kosciuszko this year.

The five-year-old has looked a winning chance the past two years when selected, but has been forced to withdraw from the race due to injuring himself in the lead up.

He was dominant in this year's Wagga Town Plate when first-up, running 109 and backing that up at his most recent start when running 102 in the Golden Topaz at Swan Hill.

He has plenty of issues does Front Page, and the possibility of a heavy surface is some query, but come 3pm Saturday we may be wondering why we ever questioned him.

 

HANDLE THE TRUTH returns for his fourth attempt at The Kosciuszko after a heartbreaking (and wallet lightening) defeat in last year's renewal. He's known to peak on days like this, and although the form guide reads 4.4 and 6.8 length defeats this time he's running right up to his Kosciuszko winning numbers on the Timeform scale.

Barrier 6 looks ideal for him to sit off the speed and run over the top of them. Could he become the first two-time winner? Or will ART CADEAU come through and spoil the party again?

The Terry Robinson-trained gelding had been serviceable since his victory last year, but a big win at Randwick in May returned a peak figure of 108 and showed he's still up to the task. He'll meet his rivals slightly worse at the weights this year, but there's no doubt he'll make his presence felt once again.

 

This year, we reinstate 2020 victor IT'S ME after missing last year's edition through injury. She has been favourite almost all the way through, but when Brett Cavanough revealed she had been lame just 7 days out from the big race and continued to show signs of soreness into raceweek, plenty of punters began to move away from the mare.

She returned a Timeform rating of 105, a new peak for her, when an unlucky fourth behind Everest contender Shades Of Rose in the Sheraco a month ago. Can she overcome an injury scare to blow her rivals away? That's the $2 million question.

Cody Morgan managed to get three horses into The Kosciuszko this year, a phenomenal achievement, but LE MELODY and TALBRAGAR would be fantastic chances in the 6 f Highway in a fortnight's time. This recipe has been tried before with lightly raced gallopers 'on the up', but without much success.

 

TALBRAGAR has a similar feel about him to another Morgan-trained galloper Ice In Vancouver, who raced in the 2020 edition, and Nadaraja in last year's event.

Ice In Vancouver headed into The Kosciuszko at just his third race start, rated 89 by Timeform after winning a bm58 at Scone. Nadaraja had a better profile coming into the race last season, rated 95 off a Scone class 2 victory. Both he and Ice In Vancouver failed to feature, and unfortunately Talbragar gives off the same vibe. Rated 83 off a Class 2 win at Tamworth, it's a big jump in grade for the son of Snitzel. Yes, he may have upside and prove me completely wrong, but there are too many similarities for me to believe he can take the major prize.

The same could be said for LE MELODY who was dominant in a Tamworth Class 3 most recently. She ran to 87 on that occasion, but again gives off a similar feel to the aforementioned gallopers.

 

ANETHOLE got everyone's chins wagging when running a blistering 8th in The Shorts, storming home over the closing stages, but I'm not too sold on him.

He ran to 101, a new peak for the gelding, but that number stands alone amongst his Timeform ratings. He'll not only have to repeat that number, but set a new peak to be winning The Kosciuszko. He was 100-1 last time he lined up in The Kosciuszko, with Handle The Truth, It's Me and Fender all part of that edition. You're now being asked to take $8 in what (on paper) appears a more competitive edition of the race, based off one outlier rating. He'll need to be even better than he showed that day, and after drawing barrier he's going to get a long way back in the run. He's worth including in exotics, but I'm against him as a winning proposition.

FENDER could have a big say on the outcome of this race just on where he settles in the run. Barrier 14 is definitely not ideal for the galloper, but he all of a sudden becomes a live chance if he can slot in behind the likely leaders. He is capable of producing a peak in the low 100's on his day, and if he can run up to that mark, he'll prove very tough to run down.

 

SPIRANAC returned to her best when running a slashing third at 60-1 first-up. She appears a level below the other contenders in the race from a ratings perspective, but she may have more to give yet. She was about this price last year, but loses McDonald for Reece Jones. It's hard to have a solid opinion of her, but she's looks a top-5 chance on her best efforts.

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Mitch Beer-trained MNEMENTH holds a similar profile. He was a 20-1 winner of the City Handicap in Albury, before being beaten at Tocumwal non-tab's (yes, that's correct), to producing back-to-back peaks when running 92 in the Wagga Town Plate and 101 when winning a BM78 at Rosehill. Being first-up is the big query for this galloper, having never run better than 78 in his six first-up attempts. He did come on in leaps-and-bounds last campaign, but this a big query for mine and I'm happy to go around him.

His southern compatriot ANOTHER ONE looks to follow the footsteps of last year's winner Art Cadeau, attempting to do the Country Championships-The Kosciuszko double. He hung on gamely to secure the Country Championships in very tough going, running a new peak of 98 in the process. He was belted by Front Page in the Wagga Town Plate just one start later though and it's hard to see him turning the tables on him. He'll get all the favours in running though and it wouldn't surprise to see him threatening at the finish.

COMMANDO HUNT beat CAVALIER CHARLES in the Country Championships earlier this year, but was most recently beaten in an Open Handicap at Tamworth by a 90-rater. Not the exact I'm looking for heading into a $2 million race and in my opinion, he would need to lift substantially.

CAVALIER CHARLES does bring some stronger form into the race, finishing off nicely behind Brigantine over The Kosciuszko's track and trip first-up. That returned a solid rating of but he would need to improve some 20lbs to be close to the finish. Matthew Dale is winning 1.62x more than the market expects over the past three months, but I doubt we could throw 'Cav' into that mix.

It looks a top-notch edition of The Kosciuszko in 2022, with plenty of depth as highlighted above. For me I'm happy to be in the corner of FAR TOO EASY, but I am weary of FRONT PAGE and HANDLE THE TRUTH.


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