Ad Alcohol Free and Oisin Murphy (centre) coming home to win the Qatar Sussex Stakes during day two of the Goodwood Festival at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

TAB Empire Rose Stakes Preview

2 November 2023 Written by Trent Crebbin – Racing & Sports

A different looking Empire Rose Stakes this year, but an intriguing race with plenty of contenders as the Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks-off on Derby Day.

The mares clash over the famous Flemington mile, and we’ve been treated over the past few years to some terrific winners and some outstanding rides.

James McDonald on Shillelagh darting up the inside and Damien Oliver launching Colette through gaps have been thrilling to watch, and this year’s edition should be just as hotly contested.

There are no stand outs this year, and also no three-year-old fillies, due to the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) being pushed back. Nevertheless, it’s $5 the field with five runners in single figures which will be excellent viewing.

Perhaps the most interesting runner is Alcohol Free, the $10 million mare. A four-time Group 1 winner in the UK including twice over a mile, she’s been slowly building in Sydney, running clearly her best race on our shores last start in The Invitation.

The rating she ran there is identical to what Colette ran to win two years ago and better than Icebath last year, and it wouldn’t surprise if she’s able to improve again out to the mile from a good draw.

Opie Bosson won this race on Melody Belle in 2019 at her Australian debut and will be out for more Group 1 success in Australia.

Atishu was excellent in this race last year before going on to win the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) a week later. She’s typically pretty consistent and her run in the King Charles in Sydney wasn’t as bad as it looked from a hopeless position.

Speaking of consistent, we see Hope In Your Heart in Melbourne for the first time in her career. Her past 11 starts have all rated within about two lengths of each other which is very impressive. She’s going well and should be running in the first four if she holds her form.

One Flemington fans will know about is Princess Grace. Fourth in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) behind Mr Brightside and Alligator Blood certainly reads well, but she was beaten fair and square last in the Group 2 Rose Of Kingston Stakes (1400m) at $1.65.

She’s been perhaps a bit flattered by racing handy to slow tempos which make it difficult to be beaten too far. This should be quickly run and will be a stern test of where she’s at.

Helping to make a stronger pace should be Wishlor Lass who has won her past three. She’s progressed nicely and comes here with a good platform on the quick backup. She’s still 1-2 lengths off what will be required here and won’t get an uncontested lead but is capable of taking the next step.

Alcohol Free looks ideally placed up to a mile at Flemington getting a great run behind the speed. In what promises to be another exciting Empire Rose, she looks like the horse that appeals to most.

Experience the Magic of the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival

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