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Redkirk Warrior will be out to be crowned Australia’s new sprint champion after defeating Everest champion Redzel in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes, the import the only runner returing from last year’s event. He will have to carry 5 kilograms more than last year however, his weight up from 52.5 to 57.5 kg, still a relief from his last run however. Redkirk Warrior will come up against big chances Supido and Missrock, as well as last start winners Brave Smash, Fastnet Tempest and Ken’s Dream.
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1. Redkirk Warrior (15) – Regan Bayliss
Not the same horse in The Everest and Darley Classic, but bounced back in incredible fashion last run. Going on that, he will be hard to beat in any sprint race this year. Ran almost unheard-of sectionals (32.35 last 600), recording consecutive splits of 10.41, 10.45, 10.60 and 10.56, hitting the finish line at 68.18 kp/h, unbelievably fast. Straight specialist with a best time of 1:09.05 for the 1200m journey.
2. Brave Smash (2) – Craig Williams
Missed a place just once since his arrival in Australia, last start winner and 3rd in The Everest. Very flat and disappointing in a small field in the Australia Stakes but bounced back well to win the Group 1 Futurity Stakes ahead of Tosen Stardom. Yet to be tested over the straight six but placed 5/6 over 1200. Accelerating through the line last start, always a good sign. Best time over the distance – 1:08.52.
3. Lord Of The Sky (1) – Kathy O’Hara
Beat Shoals when winning in a recent trial but 10L last behind Brave Smash over 1400 last start. Beaten less than a length in the C.F. Orr however won a Group 3 over this distance on New Years Day. Placed in 6 of 10 over 1200m, booted by winning at this track and distance. Ran 1:08.98, coming home in a smart 32.83. A lot more depth here.
4. Rich Charm (5) – Patrick Moloney
Won consecutive race towards the back end of last year, including a victory in the Group 2 Linlithgow Stakes over Missrock at this track and distance. Placed in 9 from 10 over 1200, winning 6. 100% at the track and distance, another straight specialist. Close to the best late speed in the race, clocking 1:08.90 in his last try at 1200. Has won 2nd up.
5. Rock Magic (6) – Damian Lane
Hasn’t placed in last 4 runs however all in Group 1 company. Last win came in June last year over in WA. Finished off well however in the Lighting, getting back to 8th at the 400 to storm home in 32.65 for the final 600, finishing less than 2 lengths off Redkirk Warrior and Redzel. Will relish the rise in distance after recording closing splits of 10.51, 10.46, 10.72 and 10.90, hitting the line at 66.06 k/ph. Came close to Redkirk Warrior’s last 600 (32.35) and will be searching for a group 1 placing. 3 wins over 1200 but yet to score on the straight track.
6. Supido (14) – Beau Mertens
Was impressive in the Lightning Stakes, just being edged out for a place. Too good at Caulfield back in July last year but disappointing when 3L behind Russian Revolution in the Group 2 McEwen Stakes. Should improve from being just 1 and a half lengths off Redkirk Warrior. 1 from 1 at the track and distance, 2 wins second up and a straight specialist, winning 4 of 6 here. Best late speed in the field over the distance, clocked 1:08.82 when winning over the distance here in 2016, hitting a top speed of 70.52 kp/h.
7. Thronum (7) – Michael Dee
Beat Brave Smash in the Australia Stakes over 1200 at the Valley before finishing just 0.3L off Hartnell and Single Gaze in the C.F. Orr. Impressive record of 5 wins from 11 starts, 3 wins and a 2nd placing over 1200m. Ran 1:10.48 at best over the distance but 3 of 4 starts have been on a heavy surface. Can improve.
8. Fastnet Tempest (10) – Ben Allen
UK import who settled nicely into Australia with a victory over a mile in November. Twice placed first up and 1/1 here at Flemington. Redkirk Warrior was impressive over 1500 before winning this race last year. Yet to be tried over 1200 but has been relatively strong late over further and will have speed to burn. Big wraps.
9. Ken’s Dream (8) – Dean Yendall
Came from 8th to score here last start over the distance, beating Lucky Liberty. Also won over the straight here 2 starts ago but almost 3L off Thronum in the Australia Stakes. Only missed a place twice in 6 starts at the track, also with an impressive record over 1200 with 7 places in 11 starts. Accelerated well to run consective late splits under 11 seconds, highlighted by a 10.26 between the 400 and 200 hitting 70.18 kp/h (32.62 final 600). Best time over 1200 is 1:09.43.
10. Lucky Liberty (13) – Chris Parnham
Came from last to run 2nd to Ken’s Dream last start and has been massive late in the past without winning. Won 5 of 9 over 1200, placing in another 3. Hasn’t won since Boxing Day 2016 however. Came from last when beaten 1.35L by Rich Charm last year and placed in 3 from 5 on the straight track. Expect him to be strong late. Recorded a best time of 1:08.80 over 1200, and once won 5 in a row over the distance. Needs to be at his best.
11. Merchant Navy (4) – Chad Schofield
Won a Group 1 on this track and distance back in November last year and was expected to go close in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes but beaten by Super Cash and Flamberge. 2 from 2 at the track, 3 from 3 at the distance. Boasts an impressive career record of 5 wins from 7 starts. 17th with 800 to go last start over the distance here, running good splits through the middle with a high speed but needs to finish off better. Ran 1:09.10 when winning the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes.
12. Missrock (11) – Craig Newitt
Knocking on the door, massive late over the short distances, forgetting run in the Darley Classic. Easily the best average speed in the race, can get home with any lucky. Another one with unbelievable late splits last start, clocking 10.43, 10.45, 10.60 and 10.98, hitting the line strongly at 65.57 kp/h. Has ran 1:08.92 here before. Recently won an 800m Cranbourne trial.
13. So Si Bon (12) – Michael Walker
Showed good form towards the end of Spring last year but needs to improve plenty on runs as of late. Shorter distance will definitely suits, but yet to place at the track and distance. Has won just the 1 race in his 20-start career, which came at Pakenham in September 2016. Can show a big turn of foot however, highlighted by a run over 1000m at this track in August last year, coming from 13th to run 2nd. Best time over 1200 is 1:10.08.
14. Booker (3) – Ben Thompson
One of 2 runners that will carry just 50 kg. Beaten by Catchy over 1200 but turned the tables over 1400 when taking care of Shoals as well. Placed in 6 of 8 career runs and yet to be out of the money over 1200. Came from 10th at the 400 to miss Russian Revolution by 0.4L in the Oakleigh Plate over 1100, hitting almost 70 kp/h during the run. Ran the trip in 1:10.52 when finishing runner up at Morphetville in May last year.
15. Catchy (9) – Cory Parish
Has had a win at this track over 1200 in September last year, beating Jukebox and Booker. Failed in last 2 at Group 1 level but can forgive. Won 4 in a row to start her career and has beaten some quality opposition. Will also carry only 50 kg, looking for win number 3 over 1200. 2 from 2 second up, ready to fire, be weary. Ran 1:09.38 when beating Pariah and Formality in the Blue Diamond at Caulfield last year.
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