Conditions set to favour Illuminates

Rosehill racecourse manager Lindsay Murphy’s preliminary track rating – and a forecast for more rain – will ensure Illuminates has everything in her favour for a potential Australian swansong on Saturday.

After 20mm of rain since Wednesday, Murphy posted a rating well into the heavy range at acceptance time on Thursday and the veteran trackman said he would be surprised if it budged.

“Even if we get good weather I would expect only marginal improvement,” he said.

“But at this stage the forecast isn’t the best.”

There is a chance of further showers on Friday and early Saturday, further boosting the Graeme Rogerson stable’s confidence about Illuminates’ prospects in the $100,000 Winter Championship (1500m).

With five wins and two placings from 14 starts on surfaces rated worse than slow, Illuminates is one of the best-credentialled wet-trackers racing at Saturday’s meeting.

“She’s just a terrific horse when there is plenty of give in the ground,” Rogerson’s Sydney foreman Roger Elliott said.

A Listed victory in the Civic Stakes is the most recent example of her prowess in the mud.

Coming from second last under 56.5kg, Illuminates rounded up her opposition in clinical fashion on a slow track to beat Falaise and Madibagold.

At her only run since, the five-year-old could finish only eighth to Mr Unforgettable in the Winter Stakes.

But Elliott said a form reversal for the 58kg topweight on Saturday would be of numerical value only.

“Even though she has finished at the back of the field last time she was less than two lengths from the winner,” he said.

“She was back and wide all the way and under the circumstances her run was sound.

“With the track given out as heavy, she’s right in the race.”

Illuminates ran a career-best race over the Winter Championship course when she was runner-up to outstanding mare Typhoon Tracy in the Group One Queen Of The Turf Stakes at Rosehill earlier this year.

She will be given her chance to go one better in a Group One race during a New Zealand spring campaign ahead of her retirement to stud.

A final decision on Illuminates’ Australian future will be made after Saturday’s race.

Illuminates, Rogerson’s only Sydney runner on Saturday, has drawn wide in gate nine in the 11-horse field but will have the services of leading jockey Corey Brown.