Surround Stakes tips and best bets
The Surround Stakes is one of the premier races for three year old fillies and a key target for many trainers given the $600,000 prize money the race has available.
The race is named after the great Surround who remains the only three year old filly to have ever won the Cox Plate. Surround had an immense three year old season having won the Cox Plate, VRC Oaks, Caulfield Guineas, C F Orr Stakes, AJC Oaks, Queensland Oaks, Blamey Stakes and Alister Clark Stakes all in the 1976-77 racing season.
Not many runners have lived up to the lofty levels of Surround when running in the race named after her however we have seen a number of big name winners who have gone on to become multiple group one winners including Probabeel, Shoals, Dear Demi and more recently with Forbidden Love and Hinged.
Today the Surround Stakes is featured on a bumper day of Australian Racing where it headlines the race day at Royal Randwick alongside the Group One Chipping Norton Stakes while three Group One races, the Futurity Stakes, Oakleigh Plate and Blue Diamond Stakes take place in Melbourne at Sandown Racecourse.
This years running of the Surround Stakes definitely looks at home flanked by 4 other Group One contests with a number of high quality runners set to contest the $600,000 prize pool.
2023 Surround Stakes Race Overview
There are certainly a number of talented fillies set to contest the 1400m Surround Stakes in 2023 with 4 Group One winners set to contest the Royal Randwick feature on Saturday.
Godolphin look to have a stranglehold on the market with another one of there stars heading back to the track to claim more black type glory. In Secret comes off the back of winning the Group 2 Light Fingers Stakes and sits at the top of the market around even money.
Sunshine in Paris was eye catching when finishing second behind In Secret in the Light Fingers for the Annabel Neasham stable. The late surge from the three year old filly saw her jump up to the third in the line of betting at $7.
Chris Waller heads to his home track with a strong contingent in the race. Winner of the Group One Flight Stakes, Zougotcha as well as stablemate Madame Pommeray who was winner of the Group One Thousand Guineas are both live chances in the betting for the Sydney trainer.
Of the best of the rest of the field Gary Portelli trained Fireburn once again heads back to the track to try and claim another Group One title with the now 3 year old struggling to regain her strong two year old form which nearly claimed her the 2yo triple crown during last Autumn.
Revolutionary Miss and Sheza Belter are likely to line up for the Snowdens along with Cinderella Days who led for a long period of the Light Fingers before tiring to finish second.
2023 Surround Stakes Top Selections
The 2023 Surround Stakes are set to be contested by one of the strongest fields we’ve seen in recent years with a host of previous Group One winners set to line up in the 1400m contest. We pick our top three chances for the race as we look to narrow down the field to find a winner.
Surround Stakes Top Selection #1 - In Secret
Trainer - James Cummings
Price - $2.00
It was a couple of weeks ago we tipped Anamoe to win the Apollo Stakes and suggested that Godolphin have a conveyor belt of Group One winners ready to churn out. It’s hard to argue with that logic when it comes to their three year old filly, In Secret.
The rising star of the Royal Blue ranks has rarely put a foot wrong when heading to the racetrack and demonstrated how she is a class above when arrogantly easing out late and putting the foot down to win the Group 2 Lightfingers Stakes.
On that day it was a confident ride by Nash Rawiller which saw her settle at the back of the field but quickly move through the gears under hands and heels to come out on top from the fast finishing Sunshine in Paris.
In Secret has won 5 of her career starts to date with two seconds. If there is a slight chink in the armour then it is the fact that one of those second place finishes was over 1400m and she is yet to win over 1200m.
She does look a lot stronger this time out and that Lightfingers run was very strong despite getting so far back. Should be fighting out the finish once again here.
2023 Surround Stakes Top Selection #2 - Fireburn
Trainer - Gary Portelli
Price - $13.00
If there's a horse at a bit of value I don't mind having a look at it’s Fireburn for New South Wales based trainer Gary Portelli especially around the $13 price i think she presents great value.
She returned to the track in the Lightfingers which was won by In Secret however from Gate 9 she was forced right back in the field and made good ground late having to come round the outside of runners.
In all her runs in the Spring as well as her recent resumption race she has been forced to settle at the back of the field and come around runners late to try and win. Unfortunately against fields of this quality there isn’t that luxury over 1200m and i also don’t think it suits her.
When you look against her two year old career in the Golden Slipper and Sire’s Produce wins she was able to grab the rail and surge late up the inside. This campaign as well as Spring the same runs haven't been there.
The 1400m is definitely this fillies cup of tea and her run in the Lightfingers she was traveling late under hands and heels riding so the extra distance should make her extremely competitive. If we can add a strong barrier draw to this mix i don’t see why she can’t recover the form that saw her win back to back Group Ones last Autumn.
2023 Surround Stakes Top Selection #3 - Zougotcha
Trainer - Chris Waller
Price - $5.00
Another filly with a lot of potential and a strong record in her three year old season has to be Zougotcha for the Chris Waller stable.
Is yet to head to the track this campaign however she is two from two fresh and has trialed twice in the lead up to this one suggesting that Waller has got the three year old where he wants her for this one.
Zougotcha defeated a number of these runners when winning the Group One Flight Stakes during the Spring including Fireburn and stablemate Madame Pommery who recently finished off on the tails of In Secret in the Lightfingers.
She enjoys the distance and returning to her home track she should have a good chance to record another Group One victory here.
Top Tip for the 2023 Surround Stakes
It might come as a surprise that we’re deciding to go against the favourite here in favour of Fireburn to reignite her winning instinct.
She hasn’t looked particularly out of puff when crossing the line in her last two starts with the issue being the race is over before she’s had a chance to be competitive.
Returning to 1400m is a big tick and as mentioned if she can get closer to the speed from a good barrier she should be right in this.
Back Fireburn eachway.