A Closer Look – Girls in The Goodwood

Fillies and mares hold a strong hand in this year’s The Goodwood.

Black Caviar winning the The Goodwood
Black Caviar winning the The Goodwood Picture: Racing and Sports

South Australia's autumn carnival has evolved into an attractive proposition for those with sprinting mares.

The 1200-metre Sangster Stakes is Australia's only Group 1 race short of 1400 metres restricted to the girls and it is now firmly planted two weeks before The Goodwood.

That 1200m event will be run this Saturday and boasts strong female representation.

The $1 million event initially drew seven fillies or mares, which matched the record number of female acceptors from 2018, but the early scratching of Learning To Fly leaves six possible starters.

The only other year there has been at least six fillies or mares since the race became a set-weights-and-penalties event in 2007 was 2011, when Lone Rock and Crystal Lily provided a fillies quinella.

The girls dominate this year's market with Amelia's Jewel $4.20 favourite from Benedetta ($5) and I Am Me on the $7 fourth line of betting.

This year will be the first SWP The Goodwood with three fillies or mares at single-figure odds.

Only four females have started favourite in The Goodwood in that time with Black Caviar ($1.05, 2012) the only winner although the other three all placed. Crystal Lily ($4.20, 2011) ran second, while Spright ($3.20, 2019) and Zapateo ($3.50 last year) both finished third.

Black Caviar and Lone Rock are among five female winners since The Goodwood went SWP, joined by Velocitea (2010), Platelet (2013) and Royal Merchant (2023).

The strength of this year's female contingent is underlined by the fact that the winners of two of the key lead-ups are both at double-figure odds.

Exosphere filly Skybird, a $12 chance, won the Group 2 Tobin Bronze Stakes (1200m), the race that Royal Merchant won the start before claiming The Goodwood.

Royal Merchant posted a Timeform rating of 109 in the Tobin Bronze before elevating to 115 in The Goodwood, with Skybird having gone one pound better in her Tobin Bronze win.

At an even bigger price – $17 – is Climbing Star, a daughter of Zoustar who is coming off Group 1 victory in the Sangster Stakes.

She went 115 in that event, the same number Platelet ran to win the Sangster the start before she won The Goodwood in 118.

Lone Rock won her The Goodwood in a Timeform rating of 115, while Velocitea ran 111, which is the lowest number recorded by a winner of The Goodwood in its SWP era.

The highest-rated Timeform runner in this year's The Goodwood is Johnny Rocker, thanks to his 119 second placing to Imperatriz in the William Reid Stakes, while the top female is 118 mare I Am Me.

Of the other girls, Amelia's Jewel (115) and Benedetta (114) both matched their peak numbers at their previous starts, while filly Stretan Angel's best number is the 110 she ran to win the Group 2 Danehill Stakes last spring.