They are two stars of horse racing, who could hardly come from more different backgrounds, but they both want the same thing at Royal Randwick's mega meeting in Sydney today: A good track.

If Japanese raider Danon Premium (in the A$2 million Queen Elizabeth) and Kiwi filly Probabeel (in the A$500,000 ATC Oaks) get the track conditions to suit, they both become the horses to beat in their respective Group 1 races.

That is a very big if, though, and one that may not become apparent until after the second day of The Championships starts today.

Sydney's rich autumn carnival has become a wet-track slugfest, which has aided plenty of the Kiwis in the last six weeks and seen New Zealand horses win four Group 1 races.


But one horse the big wet doesn't suit quite as well is Probabeel, the best filly in today's Oaks.

On top of the ground, with the chance to wind up down the long Randwick straight, she is near-freakish, as she showed winning the Surround Stakes here three starts ago.

She has been beaten twice since on heavy and soft tracks, but with arch rival Funstar contesting the shorter Coolmore Classic today, Probabeel on top of the ground might have too much class for an Oaks field with a long tail.

But the track conditions are important for the Waikato filly.

"She just doesn't show the same sprint on a wet track," said champion jockey Opie Bosson.

"The track is crucial. It was a soft 6 on Thursday night and it has been drizzling much of the day today," he said from Sydney last night.

"If it gets back to a 5 or even stays a 6, she has a great chance. But once it starts getting towards a 7 or heavy, it becomes a lot harder for her."

That is why New Zealand punters, starved of local racing, would be smart to wait until after the first race today to hear jockey reports, sectional times and be able to see whether the inside or outside of the track is the place to be.


Those same questions could determine whether Danon Premium justifies his favouritism for the A$2 million Queen Elizabeth, Sydney's weight-for-age championship for the season, in which he clashes with two of New Zealand's superstar gallopers in Te Akau Shark and Melody Belle.

As good or even great as the two Kiwis may be, the performances of Japanese raiders Mer De Glace (Caulfield Cup) and Lys Gracieux (Cox Plate) last spring hammered home to Australian punters the best Japanese horses are simply better than theirs, especially in the post-Winx era.

Danon Premium rates as good as Lys Gracieux on his best form but his New Zealand jockey James McDonald admits the track conditions could determine whether his long trip proves worthwhile.

"On his best Japanese form, he would win," said McDonald matter-of-factly.

McDonald's form research is next level and he has a simple punting guide for the Queen Elizabeth.

"I think on a better track, I win, I think if it gets heavy, then the English horse [Addeybb] wins, and if it is a 7-8 type track, then Verry Elleegant comes into it.

"I love both the Kiwi horses but this is a very good field and I think Melody Belle from her draw has just as good a chance as the Shark."

The Chosen One will represent Cambridge staying supremos Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman in the Sydney Cup, and while he can win, he is another who would be better suited by a 5-6 range track.

So while punters may be busting to get involved early today, watching the first race or two may give the best punting guide.

What the Kiwis had to say

James McDonald: "My best of the day would be Cosmic Force (R5, No.1). I can see him sitting just off them and getting over the top."

Opie Bosson: "She (Probabeel) still feels at he peak to me but the track conditions are crucial. I'd love it to get back to a 5 but I think we might struggle with that."

Andrew Forsman: "I have felt all along the Sydney Cup was the best race for The Chosen One but he would be a better chance on good ground rather than really wet."