Wednesday 1, 2020 2:00 PM By Best Bets

The Championships were launched in 2014 as the grand finals of Australian racing – an ambitious claim but one that has gained some credibility from subsequent results.

In five of The Championships’ first six years, Australia’s horse of the year has raced (and won) at the Randwick carnival. The exception was 2014/15 champion Dissident.

The champion racehorse in four of those years was Winx. She won the 2016 Doncaster, and the Queen Elizabeth in each of the three following years, but in all four of those seasons she also won the Cox Plate.

The 2013/14 horse of the year was Lankan Rupee, and his win in the T.J. Smith at The Championships was probably decisive in getting him the nod.

With Winx out of the picture, The Championships could again decide Australia’s champion racehorse.

To say the race is wide open would be an understatement. Of the 53 Group 1s run in Australia this season, no horse has won more than two.

The horses that have won two – Bivouac, Fierce Impact, Loving Gaby, Nature Strip and Shadow Hero – don’t exactly scream “horse of the year”, but neither did Lankan Rupee or Dissident.

We can probably add Kolding and Regal Power to the current contenders, as each won one Group 1 plus one of the big-money races that are yet to attract black-type status (Golden Eagle and All-Star Mile respectively).

Bivouac, Nature Strip and Loving Gaby clash in Saturday’s T.J. Smith. If one of them wins, that horse will likely be named Australia’s sprint champion and will have a strong case for the main award.

An out-of-sorts Kolding tackles Saturday’s Doncaster, but I think it’s the Australian Derby that might provide our champion, with Shadow Hero taking on Castelvecchio, the Rosehill Guineas winner and first Aussie horse home in this season’s Cox Plate.