A little over six weeks now until Day 1 of ‘The Championships’ so it’s about time we looked at the contenders, penned the pretenders, and started to get serious about finding some value for that elusive fat multi. Hopefully, one that covers all punting expenses this side of Christmas and let’s throw in a tropical holiday over the winter to boot. Sounds like a plan!

Here’s a look at the seven Group 1’s for 3yo’s and upwards across the two main days.

The Doncaster Mile (1600 Hcp)

The Contender: Peltzer for mine. Undefeated at the track, already a winner at the mile and your bet is more than safe if he strikes a wet track. Was a little shocked at how forward he was 1st up but no knock on that. Comes through a gun crop of 3yo’s but he might turn out to be the pick of them. Will get a pretty fair indication Randwick Guineas day but tipping the winner might come from that race.

The Banker: Probabeel sits on top of betting and rightfully so after her dominant Epsom win. She’d had enough Cox Plate day but I have her as one of the top mares in the country. Couldn’t have been more impressive first up, hard to beat in the Futurity Saturday and I expect her to win the All-Star Mile which will only see her shorten. Dry track the key.

The Roughie: Dawn Passage is an underrated galloper. His one bad run in the last year came on the concrete surface in The Straddie. The two queries always were a wet track and a strong mile and he ticked both those boxes with his last two runs. Yet to crack a big one but weights and measures will work in his favour here. No better stable when it comes to the Randwick mile. Looks overs.

The Pretender: Ole Kirk was the star 3yo of the Spring but his record dictates he will get that extra impost compared to his 3yo rivals and there might just be a couple that have at least caught him if not gone past. Big call but I’m taking him on.

T.J. Smith (1200m WFA)

The Contender: Bivouac was puzzling first up. I’ve my own opinions on that but park those to the side and he’s still our best sprinter at 1200m with Classic Legend, Gytrash off the scene. Has mixed his form in the past but with stud duties beckoning he’ll be screwed right down for this. Apply the adage ‘always forgive a good horse one bad run’ and he has to go on top.

The Banker: September Run was very impressive winning the G1 Coolmore in the Spring and she was awesome first up in the Lightning. Hard to see her not winning the Newmarket at the weights and expect she’ll jump favourite in this.

The Roughie: Dirty Work was stiff not to get an Everest slot. He resumes this Saturday in the Oakleigh Plate and looks very well placed. Yet to win at 1200m but the 0.9L defeat to a couple of handy ones in the Manikato pretty much ticks that box. Smart galloper.

The Pretender: Nature Strip is an enigma wrapped in a riddle that leaves even the great C J Waller scratching his melon at times. I’ll include him in my quaddie numbers on race day, but never in a pre-post multi!

ATC Derby (2400m 3yo’s)

The Contender: Cherry Tortoni was a raw-boned looking fellow in the Spring but I liked what I saw first up particularly seeing him work through runners. Came to Sydney and was completely lost in the Spring Champion but won’t be here on a hit and run mission this time and I’m certain connections would have pencilled this in as his GF long ago. He’s the most talented on exposed form.

The Banker: Aegon is undefeated, for the Murray Baker stable, and is purple with NZ staying pedigree. Hard to see him not featuring here.

The Roughie: Mo’unga is not as well credentialled as Cherry Tortoni but was equally as good resuming. Did a bit of work early in that but was sharp late. Beautiful Classic’s pedigree.

The Pretender: Young Werther was the boom horse heading into the VRC Derby. Given every conceivable there and wasn’t good enough and this will be tougher. Very plain first up.

Queen Elizabeth (2000m WFA)

The Contender: Colette could well be our next Queen of the turf. Different horse since they canned her Caulfield Cup prep and trained her as a miler/2000m horse. Beat a smart field with ease first up. Superior in the wet and heavy tracks and Sydney Easter go together like Bundy Rum does with Coca-Cola. Goes on top.

The Banker: Verry Elleegant is the best horse in the country so this needs no further explanation.

The Roughie: Mugatoo was the run of the race in the Cox Plate. Swap the rides around and he wins pulling up with his rider rising in the irons. Found the line strongly resuming. A lot to like here.

The Pretender: Sir Dragonet just doesn’t strike me. A few hard luck stories behind him in the Cox Plate and he never looked the staying type. Very ordinary first up. Prepared to lay.

Sydney Cup (3200m Hcp)

The Contender: Mount Popa is an exciting prospect. I’ve had plenty of luck in the past following the stables progressive stayers and he ticks all of those boxes. Couldn’t have been more impressed with him resuming. One of the better pre post bets in my opinion.

The Banker: The Chosen One is as well-credentialed a Sydney Cup runner as you’ll see. 3rd in the Caulfield Cup and 4th in the Melbourne Cup has him a lock for top 3 here. The one they’ll all have to beat. Place bet anchor.

The Roughie: Master of Wine ran 4th in last year’s Queen Elizabeth on the back of a short, sharp prep of just three runs. Think they went to the well too often with this European breed in the Spring and he was found out at the top level. Kicks off in the Chipping Norton which will see him 4th up into this. I think that’s the right formula and worth specking at overs if he can find his best.

The Pretender: Carif always pops up in these kinds of conversations. Broke a long run of outs in the Sandown Cup. That was closer to a Hurdler’s Flat and I think that’s about his right level.

ATC Oaks (2400m 3yo fillies)

The Contender: Montefilia should have won the VRC Oaks and I see no reason why she won’t atone back at home. Trialled as expected, imagine she resumes in the Group 1 Surround and takes a traditional path to the Oaks. Stable has had plenty of success with their juveniles and think they’ll get the spoils here. Like her but always wait and see them resume off a Spring Oaks prep.

The Banker: Personal looked sharp resuming chasing home race fit Zou Dancer and was the VRC Oaks winner. Clearly come back well and has to be ‘The Banker’.

The Roughie: Butter Chicken is a delicious price here and steps out of an impressive maiden win at Pakenham last month into a Group 2 on Saturday. If she wins there, her current Oaks quote won’t be hanging around for long.

The Pretender: Hungry Heart was deep the trip resuming so no guide there. She is a Frankel so open to further improvement over ground. But her lack of intent last prep was concerning when placed in a winning position. Happy to risk.

Coolmore Legacy (1600m F&M WFA)

The Contender: Funstar loomed before peaking on her run in the Heavy conditions first up. Forget she ran in the Golden Eagle where she drew the car park. Like the fact she’s being prepped with this in mind where it is an afterthought for some of the others.

The Banker: Icebath comes out of the Triscay on Saturday which I expect to be a strong form reference for the girls this Autumn. Ran Colette to 0.1L in the Golden Eagle and that form looks to be stacking up quite well.

The Roughie: Emeralds is loaded with talent and was the run of the race along with Kolding first up. He franked that form again Saturday whilst she has been kept safe for later targets. A silly price given her talent.

The Pretender: Arcadia Queen was a different horse in Melbourne than she was in Sydney. She sits at the top of the market here but does her best racing out to 2000m so I imagine they’ll head to the rich QE race on the same day.

Suggested Multi

September Run/Win (T.J. Smith)

Cherry Tortoni/Place (Derby)

Mount Popa/Win (Cup)

Icebath/Place (Coolmore Legacy)

Multi Current Price- $1690.50