Group 1 Preview - Chipping Norton Stakes

Adam Blencowe with the R&S Group 1 Preview for the Chipping Norton Stakes at Randwick.

A week on from a stumbling start to 2023 from Nature Strip, Anamoe steps out in the Chipping Norton looking to take charge as the number one racehorse in the land. 

No horse worldwide has won more Group or Grade One races in the Godolphin Blue than Anamoe who will make it eight wins at the top level with success in the Chipping Norton for which he is currently an odds-on chance. 

Anamoe is rated 126 by Timeform which makes him the third highest rated horse prepared by his trainer James Cummings. 

There is little doubt that Anamoe is the 'best' horse Cummings has trained, his versatility, longevity, and trophy cabinet testament to that, but he still sits shy of Hartnell (rated 127) and Bivouac (128) ranked by peak Timeform rating. 

That may change on Saturday, a Timeform rating of 122 when winning the Apollo first up a strong signal that Anamoe has returned at least as well as ever, but it won't have to with the opposition much the same as those he took easy care of there. 

Fangirl was finishing strongly, as she does, and on that evidence she has come back well enough to ensure that Anamoe will have to bring his A-game on Saturday – though it is worth noting that she produced the same first up rating of 115+ first-up last prep behind Anamoe before failing to trouble him second-up at a mile. 

Stablemate Hinged split the pair that day and has now had eight meetings with Fangirl, evenly split with the head-to-head 4-4. 

Hinged's first-up peak of 116 sits a pound higher than Fangirl's 115, but Fangirl has long been thought of as the slightly better of the pair having started shorter in the market in six of those eight meetings.  

That will be the case again on Saturday where she is currently priced up as the biggest danger to Anamoe. It is Mo'unga who boasts the second highest rating, however, with his 121-rated peak suggesting he might be the one most likely to trouble Anamoe. 

He did manage to beat Anamoe home in the Champions Stakes at Flemington in November, though he has come off second best in five other meetings, including first-up in the Apollo, and his chances of turning that around are far from obvious. 

In all likelihood it will be another Group One success for Anamoe and Cummings who continues to dominate Racing and Sports' trainer rankings which reward efficiency in Group races.  

No trainer is hitting the mark like Cummings at the top end, and he goes to Randwick not just with Anamoe but with In Secret at the top of the betting in a Group One race at Randwick on Saturday. 

In Secret is a dominant favourite for the Surround Stakes for the three-year-old fillies, and her chance looks very similar to Anamoe's having also returned with a win at the same course two weeks back.  

There she won the Light Fingers, a race that has produced nine of the past 14 Surround winners, though only Nakeeta Jane and More Joyous were completing the double. 

More Joyous is the best comparison of that pair, having gone to the Surround already rated 122 and winning as a deep odds-on chance. 

In Secret is rated 120 but the presence of Zougotcha, a filly rated 116 and good enough to have beaten In Secret in the past, means that she is currently odds-against to follow in More Joyous' footsteps. 

Hugh Bowman flies back from Hong Kong to take the ride on In Secret looking to win what would be his 100thAustralian Group One winner. 


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