Pat Carey has worked some magic over recent Sydney Autumn Carnivals

Pat Carey has worked some magic over recent Sydney Autumn Carnivals, pulling off Group 1 upsets the past two years.

The Mornington trainer first struck with unheralded stayer Cedarberg in the 2011 The BMW and last year won the Australian Derby with Ethiopia, at just his fourth career start.

Carey is returning north with the latter this weekend and will score his greatest achievement yet if he can get the four-year-old to win the $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile.

The son of Helenus is attempting to win what is arguably Sydney’s most prestigious race first-up from a spell. The gelding hasn’t started since finishing tailed-off in last year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Sadly, Form Focus doesn’t relate stats all the way back to the running of the first Doncaster, which was run in 1866, so it is unsure how many times the Doncaster has been won first-up, if at all. What Form Focus does tell us is that light preparations haven’t been the key to Doncaster success in the past 30 years.

Since 1983, only four winners have gone into the Doncaster with fewer than three lead-up runs. Pharaoh did it in the first of his two wins, in 1994, with Catalan Opening (1998), Sunline (2002) and last year’s winner More Joyous the others.

Pharaoh and Catalan Opening both entered the Doncaster off a second-up run in the George Ryder Stakes, which has been clearly the prolific producer of Doncaster winners of late. Thirteen of the past 30 winners have had their final prep run in the 1500m Ryder.

Seven of this year’s field of 20 have taken that path this year, including raging favourite Pierro, who won the Ryder.

Eighteen Ryder winners have contested the Doncaster in the past 30 years, but just four have completed the double. Few of them, however, boast the record of Pierro, who is yet to be beaten in Sydney and has won 11 of his 13 starts, including the Golden Slipper and four other Group 1 races.

That’s why he will carry 57kg, which will make him the new owner of the weight-carrying record for three-year-olds if successful.

Tontonan, who along with Fine And Dandy are the only Golden Slipper winners to have won a Doncaster, won with 56kg which is the only time a three-year-old has carried more than 54kg to victory.

He did it on a 49.5kg limit in 1974, whereas this year the lightest weight carried by any runner will be 53kg.

Eight horses will carry that limit weight with a further six to carry between 53.5-54.5kg. More Joyous and Rangirangdoo (2010) are the only winners to carry more than 54.5kg to victory in the past decade.

Perhaps more disturbing than the weight for Pierro fans is the deplorable record of horses drawn close to the fence in modern Doncasters. Just once in the past 30 years – when Haradasun won from the inside alley – has the winner started inside barrier four. Pierro will start from gate four.

Nineteen of the past 30 winners – including the past four – have started from a double-digit barrier.

Five of them have started from barrier 12, which is the alley Appearance will jump from if emergency Strike The Stars doesn’t gain a run. Already the only mare to win Australia’s three biggest mares-only races – the Myer Classic, Coolmore Classic and Queen of the Turf – in the same season she is out to create further history this weekend.

The Doncaster Mile is one of two Group 1s at Randwick on Saturday, the other being the $550,000 ATC Australian Oaks, in which Dear Demi will be looking to add the Sydney version of the Victorian classic that she won at Flemington last November.

The ATC Oaks has been run in the autumn since 1946 and 13 times the VRC Oaks winner has done the double but Serenade Rose (2006) is the only one since Research in 1989.

Dear Demi is looking to emulate recent ATC Oaks winners Dizelle and Once Were Wild and win the Oaks after finishing fifth in the Vinery Stud Stakes.

That 2000m event has been the most prolific producer of ATC Oaks winners of late, finding half of the past 30 winners, with Dizelle and Once Were Wild the only Oaks winners to come through the Vinery that didn’t fill a top-three placings.

This year’s Vinery winner Norzita will be in action in the day’s other Group 1, but minor placegetters Longport and Habibi will run.

Habibi, the New Zealand Derby winner, will start favourite and 10 of the past 30 favourites have saluted including Streama at $1.40 last year.