Sydney – Champion jockey James McDonald concedes Japanese star Danon Premium will need to be at his best to win a star-studded Group 1 $2 million Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Royal Randwick.
Danon Premium shares the top of the Queen Elizabeth betting with another foreign raider, English stayer Addeybb, but the duo won’t lack for opposition.
Tancred Stakes winner Verry Elleegant, New Zealand’s outstanding Te Akau Shark, boom stayer Master Of Wine, veteran champ Happy Clapper and possibly Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare are among likely starters for one of the best Queen Elizabeth Stakes fields for years.
McDonald has a good handle on Danon Premium’s opponents, having ridden Verry Elleegant to her runaway win in the Tancred Stakes last start.
“Verry Elleegant will be a massive force to be reckoned with,” McDonald said. “She can’t be any more impressive. And Addeybb beat Verry Elleegant (Ranvet Stakes) and is a star in his own right.
“This is a tough renewal of the Queen Elizabeth but Danon Premium is up there with the best of them.’’
Danon Premium is one of Japan’s best racehorses, winning six of his 10 starts, including the Group 1 Futurity Stakes. He also has a second placing in the Group 1 Tenno Sho behind champion mare Almond Eye.
He is certainly regarded as a far superior horse to another Japanese raider Kluger, who ran second to 1.50-length winner and all-time great Winx in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes last year.
McDonald rode Danon Premium for the first time at Canterbury trackwork late last week, galloping over 1200m with the five-year-old picking up pace from the 600m.
“He felt terrific,” McDonald said. “He is obviously a horse that oozes a lot of class.
“He is a very balanced horse and very push-button the way he executes his gallops. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he felt today.”
McDonald picked up the ride on Danon Premium when Melbourne jockey Damian Lane was unable to travel to Sydney due to the coronavirus protocols.
Sydney’s leading jockey said Danon Premium reminds him of another outstanding Japanese horse, Real Impact, who he rode to win the George Ryder Stakes and finish second in the Doncaster Mile five years ago.
“Real Impact was a star that year, too,” McDonald said. “He was a great miler.
“Danon Premium feels every bit as good as that and is a bit more exposed in terms of better form, so it is pretty exciting.”
Queen Elizabeth Stakes Hot 3
* Danon Premium from Japan comes to Sydney with a huge reputation. He is at the top of betting for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but has never raced on anything but firm or good tracks. The likelihood of a rain-affected surface could hinder his chances.
* Master Of Wine is a talented stayer on a four-race winning streak. He has brilliant acceleration and toyed with his rivals to win the Sky High Stakes by more than three lengths last start. Team Hawkes has concentrated Master Of Wine’s autumn campaign on this race.
* Verry Elleegant was beaten by Addeybb in the Ranvet Stakes after a stirring struggle, but she backed up a week later and romped away with the Tancred Stakes. Mares have won the past four Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Lucia Valentina (2016) before Winx’s hat trick (2017-18-19).
Queen Elizabeth Early Odds
$4 Addeybb, Danon Premium
$4.50 Te Akau Shark
$6 Verry Elleegant
$11 Master Of Wine
$15 Melody Belle, Shadow Hero, Vow And Declare