Punters have had an easy time of it in recent years when it comes to the Caulfield Stakes. Four of the past five favourites have saluted, the last three (Atlantic Jewel, Ocean Park and So You Think) all at incredibly short odds-on quote however, punters will have to work harder to find the winner of the 2014 edition. With ten of the twelve runners already with at least one Group 1 on their resume, it makes for a competitive renewal, one that’s reflected in the betting markets. Dissident, in search of his third Group 1 this prep, holds favouritism in early markets at $4.00, just in advance of Sacred Falls ($4.40). Fawkner is $5.00 with Happy Trails, who is on the quick back-up after last week’s luckless run in the Turnbull, is $8.00.
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1. SACRED FALLS – Z Purton (12)
Chris Waller’s 5yo stallion claimed his fourth Group 1 win over a mile with a comfortable 1.3 length win in the George Main Stakes three weeks ago. Sitting behind the speed, he took an opening closer to the fence better than stable-mate Royal Descent, and extended away well late. Form out of that race has been strong and only previous attempt at 2000m resulted in him running second (0.8 lengths) to It’s A Dundeel in the G1 Queen Elizabeth earlier this year. Despite the wide draw, going too well to leave it.
2. SIDE GLANCE – J Spencer (5)
Last time we saw this now 8yo in Australia he won last year’s G1 McKinnon Stakes (2000m) at his second local run, leading throughout to defeat Dear Demi. He’s clocked up the miles since racing in Dubai, Hong Kong and United Kingdom, all in G1 races, but from seven runs since his last visit, hasn’t registered another win. Likes to roll along out in front but having his first run for eight weeks, would be happy for him to have this hit-out and wait for him to get to the bigger Flemington track early next month.
3. FAWKNER – N Hall (4)
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner has only had the three runs since that win and all have been very good. He ran sixth in the Melbourne Cup, got within two lengths of Spirit Of Boom over the unsuitable 1200m journey of the William Reid Stakes at his only start during the autumn, and was ousted on the line by the in-from Dissident in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) first up from a spell of six months a fortnight ago. Only fitness prevented him from winning first up and like he did in the Makybe, he’ll secure another good run here from an ideal gate. Rates highly.
4. HAPPY TRAILS – D Oliver (6)
After getting little luck from the back of the field in a slowly run Memsie Stakes (1400m), the 7yo was sent out over the odds in the Underwood Stakes and almost saluted, only being shaded on the line by Foreteller who saved precious ground on the turn closer to the fence. He then contested last week’s Turnbull Stakes, the race he won last year; however had no luck in the straight after settling back in the field and on the fence. He was never tested in the run home and his final position of fourteenth should be totally ignored. Oliver’s last ride on this horse resulted in the pair winning the G1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) back in 2012 and they could easily make it a feature double here.
5. FORETELLER – G Boss (10)
After good runs in both the G2 P B Lawrence (4th) and G2 Dato’ Tan Chin Nam (1600m) where he finished strongly for third at his two runs back from a spell, the 8yo recorded his third Group 1 win with a narrow victory over Happy Trails in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) last start. A great ride by Boss saw the Chris Waller trained galloper save ground closer to the fence early in the straight which proved vital over the final stages. That was his third Group victory at Caulfield and a solidly run 2000m, which this should be, is his pet trip.
6. SERTORIUS – C Williams (7)
Drawing the widest gate in each of his two runs back hasn’t helped this 7yo gelding. He got a long way back when sixth (4.2 lengths) in the G1 Memsie Stakes before pushing forward in the Makybe Diva, sitting deep midfield and holding his position to the line when seventh (3.2 lengths) behind Dissident. The step up to 2000m helps but from seven WFA runs since last spring, his record reads 0-1-1 and would think he needs to lift.
7. CRACKERJACK KING – M Walker (11)
Former import that has shown good improvement in each of his three runs since returning to racing after an extended break of two years. He led but raced several horses off the fence in the G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) and battled on well to hang on for third, 1.1 lengths behind Foreteller and Happy Trails. Can only be better again for that run and the step up to 2000m will not worry him – he’s won three from five over the journey previously. Will push forward from the wide gate and offer plenty of cheek again.
8. MASSYN – S King (2)
Did all his could do when first up off a six month break, finishing sixth (9.7 lengths) behind Kenjorwood in an Open class event over 1700m at Caulfield a fortnight back. That was only his third start in a year and he’ll need more racing, and a race easier than this, before he is a chance of recording a win.
9. CRITERION – J Bowman (8)
The Australian Derby winner returned to racing as a 4yo in pleasing fashion, running third to Tiger Tees and Royal Descent in the Warwick Stakes before an unexpectedly plain effort at this following start, when second to last in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) behind Hawkspur. He jumped to the 2000m of the Hill Stakes last start and trailed the leader and eventual winner Junoob, who had a soft time of things in front, all the way home, running second by 1.8 lengths. Gets the right conditions for the first time this campaign, a solidly run 2000m, and would expect to see him finishing strongly.
10. DISSIDENT – B Melham (8)
Went within a lip of making it three consecutive Group 1 victories when ousted on the line by Trust In A Gust, who carried 6kgs less, in the Rupert Clark Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago. His previous wins saw him claim the Memsie (1400m) in comprehensive style and fight on strongly to deny Fawkner by a small margin in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m). Tries the 2000m trip for only the second time in his career, the first saw him run unplaced as the 13/4 favourite in last season’s Rosehill Guineas. Come back a stronger and better animal since then though and sure to be in this for a long way.
11. DEAR DEMI – J Cassidy (1)
She recorded her seventh career win last start, her third this campaign, with a determined win over Solicit in the G2 Stock Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley a fortnight ago. Last time she competed at Caulfield she third in the Caulfield Cup behind Fawkner and backed that up with a second to Side Glance in the G1 WFA McKinnon Stakes (2000m). Displaying similar form as she did in this lead up to those races this year and from gate one, stepping up to 2000m, she’s not without her chance again.
12. KIRRAMOSA – T Berry (9)
Returned to racing with an excellent run behind Sweet Idea in the Missile Stakes before a month off and a sixth of eight, holding her spot in the run to the line, behind Cluster in the G2 Theo Marks (1400m). Her next and most recent run indicated that she was ready for a longer trip when running fifth (3.3 lengths) in the G2 Shannon Stakes to Rock Sturdy. Was in a good spot turning but under 57.5kgs, couldn’t sprint over the final furlong and could only maintain her position. We’ll see an improved run here now that she steps up to 2000m but there’s plenty of depth in this race and that improvement will have to be significant.
Crackerjack King and Side Glance the likely leaders with leading chances Dissident and Fawkner camped behind them. The leaders should ensure a genuine tempo here and that may play into the hands of Fawkner more so than Dissident over the 2000m. Three starts at or beyond 2000m have been excellent and with the benefit of his first up run, he can turn the tables here. Liked Happy Trails a lot leading into last weeks’ Turnbull and haven’t been able to watch the replay since! From six, Oliver will ensure a trouble free run and he’s in the mix.
- HAPPY TRAILS