PUNTERS face a nightmare challenge finding the winners on the opening day of The Championships at Randwick tomorrow with plenty of chances vying for the big money on a track that looks certain to be in the heavy range.

Bookies have been keen to lay early favorites Messene (from a bad draw in the Doncaster Mile) and boom Victorian sprinter Lancan Rukpee (in the T J Smith).

Messene, drawn 18 and unknown in the wet, has eased from $4.2 to $5 which comes as no surprise considering the poor record favorites have in the race. Lancan Rupee has been $3.8 to $4.2 in the T J Smith.

Weary, one of six starters in the Doncaster Mile from the Chris Waller stable, has this week firmed from $11 to $5.5 second favorite. We think the best value of his runners is Hawkspur around the $9 mark.

PUNTERS are a forgiving bunch and it seems are prepared to back their confidence that Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente can stage a form reversal and win The BMW at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Fiorente ran the worst race of his Australian career when a struggling seventh in the Ranvet Stakes last month but has firmed from $3.8 to $3.6 to turn the tables on the Kiwi Silent Achiever, $5 to $3.8.

IRISH trainer TOM HOGAN took a tongue-in-cheek pot-shot at us Aussies after the upset Group One win by international raider GORDON LORD BYRON at Randwick on Saturday then shot himself in the foot by admitting he was to a degree using the G1 George Ryder as a barrier trial.

Asked by host SHANE ANDERSON on the CORRECT WEIGHT program on RADIO SPORT NATIONAL if he was surprised by the price of $19 that Gordon Lord Byron started, Hogan replied: “Aussies think they are better than anyone else.”

He went on to rightly bag the ridiculous quarantine requirements for international horses competing at The Championships in Sydney and how it was a major drawback to attracting overseas visitors.

“The logistics and expense of coming here are huge – almost prohibitive. These athletes are possibly the healthiest animals on the planet. The quarantine period for most other counties is seven to 10 days. Here is works out over a month. It is definitely a drawback. Hopefully the authorities here will see the difference between breeding stock and international racehorses.”

“FIORENTE is just looking for further now,” the ‘First Lady of Racing’ declared after the Melbourne Cup winner dropped out to beat only two home in the G1 Ranvet Stakes at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Forget about the much-hyped match race with IT’S A DUNDEEL (which finished third), Gai Waterhouse was more interested in declaring her disappointment that the Queen’s nag, Carlton House, had been run down on the line.

The big question is: “Did Liz go the early crow and toss the Royal Tiara in the air at the Palace?” We’ll probably never know but the scene is set for a consolation win in the race to be run in her name during The Championships.

Jokes aside, punters need to be a tough breed – seven of 25 favourites saluted on the east coast on Saturday.

Kiwi trainer Roger James summed up the result of the biggest race on both sides of the ditch when he declared: “It was supposed to be a race to decide the best horse in Australia. I don't know where that leaves Silent Achiever.”

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