The feature race of the day sees a cracking field contest the G1 Newmarket Handicap to be run up the Flemington Straight. Last year’s quinella, Shamexpress and Moment Of Change are back and come into the race in good form, as does the Mick Price duo of Lankan Rupee and Samaready. Punters can’t split Lankan Rupee, Samaready and Shamexpress with $4.60 available about each of them. A strong market creates plenty of value and there’s good odds available about quality horses that are in form and under handicap conditions, get their chance to bag a Group 1.
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1. MOMENT OF CHANGE – L Nolen (7) 58kgs
Peter Moody’s galloper broke a frustrating run of placings in major races by winning the G1 C. F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield two starts back. The 5yo backed that up with another strong on-pace effort to score a long neck win in the G1 Futurity (1400m) a fortnight ago, defeating Sertorius and Pinwheel. He returns to 1200m here but his two hit-outs over seven furlongs will have him well prepared for the straight sprint. He finished a nose second to Shamexpress in this race last year (giving the winner 5kgs) and third to Buffering in the G1 VRC Sprint at his only other start over this track/trip. Given his form and stats for this trip, $9.00 is an attractive price but also highlights the depth of the race.
2. LANKAN RUPEE – C Schofield (13) 56.5kgs
The son of Redoute’s Choice continues to go from strength to strength and in winning the G1 Oakleigh Plate in good style last start, made it four wins on the trot and seven from fourteen overall. He camped just of the speed in the Oakleigh Plate before letting down well in the home straight to win by a comfortably 1 ¼ lengths on the line from Spirit Of Boom and Knoydart. The 4yo’s previous start up the Flemington straight resulted in a nose win over Snitzerland in the Listed Earl Gray (1000m) back in November, when carrying 55kgs. Only has an extra 1.5kgs on that run and is now in much stronger form.
3. SAMAREADY – C Newitt (9)
First up off a sixteen week break, the daughter of More Than Ready was sent out favourite for the G1 Lightning Stakes three weeks ago. Some tightening soon after the start saw her back further in the field than anticipated and giving the leader and subsequent winner Snitzerland, too much of a start over the 1000m. Her effort to run third (1 ½ lengths) was a good one. She’s fitter for having had that run and won the G1 Moir Stakes (1200m) second up last preparation by four lengths.
4. SHAMEXPRESS – D Oliver (3) 56kgs
From four starts at this track/distance, the 4yo by O’Reilly has won two (including this race last year) and been placed in the G1 VRC Sprint (second to Buffering) and as a 3yo, in the G1 Coolmore Classic behind Nechita. Judging by his recent second to Snitzerland in the G1 Lightning Stakes when first up off a fourteen week spell, he looks set to enhance that record even further here. He trailed Snitzerland throughout in the Lightning but over the 1000m and giving her 2kgs; found her a touch too quick. He is well suited to the 1200m and drops 2.5kgs on his Lightning run, a combination that makes him a serious contender.
5. FONTELINA – B Rawiller (1) 55.5kgs
Won the G2 Yellowglen Stakes over this track/trip back in the Spring, carrying 57.5kgs to defeat Spirit Of Boom by 1 ¼ lengths. Anthony Cummings’ Testa Rossa gelding resumes here off a twelve week spell and ran seventh (5.7 lengths) behind Shamexpress when competing in this race first up last year. He has been well accounted for his last two fresh runs and more recently, produced better performances at his second and third starts into his campaign.
6. SPIRIT OF BOOM – M Rodd (5) 55.5kgs
Nothing if not honest is this 6yo stallion who ran a place for the third time in his career at Group 1 level when finishing second to Lankan Rupee in last fortnight’s Oakleigh Plate. The son of Sequalo was first up off a thirteen week break and finished well through the middle of the field to get within 1 ¼ lengths of the winner on the line. He ran sixth in this race last year after running third in the Oakleigh Plate and at a track where he has placed five from eight, looks a genuine chance to better than effort. Might be too much of a stretch for him to win but he’ll be working home well and can fill a place.
7. GENERAL TRUCE – D Yendall (10) 53.5kgs
Won the Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) first up three starts back on this track, defeating Pocket Rockets by a head before, although running second, producing a career best effort under 60kgs and camping on the speed in the Listed W. J. Adams, was caught right on the line by Shamal Wind. The 6yo then lined up in the Oakleigh Plate and was tightened for room on the point of turn from which he never recovered, running twelfth of eighteen (6.2 lengths). Goes well here but has had a few attempts at this level in the past and been found wanting on each occasion.
8. PAGO ROCK – S Baster (15) 53kgs
An ultra consistent galloper from the David Hayes yard who kicked off this campaign two starts ago with a fast finishing fourth (2 ¼ lengths) behind Snitzerland, Shamexpress and Samaready in the G1 Lightning Stakes. He then stepped out last week in the Listed Bob Hoysted (1000m) and again closed in good style under 60kgs, to run a head second to Adamantium. Drops to a luxury 53kgs here and meets Shamexpress and Samaready much better at the weights. The step up to 1200m also suits and he rates a good each-way chance at big odds.
9. UNPRETENTIOUS – C Williams (14) 53kgs
The Stratum 5yo closed well from the tail of the field to run fifth first up off a fourteen week spell to Snitzerland in the G1 Lightning Stakes three weeks back. That run will help and as will the handicap conditions of this race. His previous two attempts at G1 races have been under the WFA scale. He can produce a big finish with the right run.
10. KNOYDART – T Clark (4) 52.5kgs
The 4yo has taken everyone including his trainer, by surprise with the rapid rise through the grades this campaign. He kicked off this prep back in late December with a win in a BM 80 at Canterbury, followed by a win in the Listed Canterbury Classic, an impressive 3 ¼ win in the Listed Hareeba Stakes and last fortnight, he dashed home after forcing his way through a gap at the top of the straight, to run third to Lankan Rupee in the G1 Oakleigh Plate. This is his first look at the Flemington straight but off his last run, would have to rate a legitimate chance especially if Clark can find some cover for the first half of the race.
11. ALBRECHT – C Symons (2) 52kgs
Had a nice run just off the speed when resuming last fortnight in the G3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m) at Randwick. He closed well to run a half length second to race favourite Terravista. He’ll take good benefit out of that run but only carries 2.5kgs less in this race despite facing a stiff rise in grade. Has only managed 1 placing from five starts at this track and would prefer him in something easier.
12. FLAMBERGE – V Duric (11) 52kgs
After winning the G3 Standish Handicap on New Year’s Day by an impressive 2 ¼ lengths from Essay Raider, trainer Peter Moody decided to hold his gelding by Exceed and Excel back a little and wait for some the better races during the autumn. Flamberge returned in last fortnight’s G1 Oakleigh Plate but after drawing the widest gate in the field of seventeen, was stuck out on a limb for the duration of the race. His effort to fun fifth, three lengths behind Lankan Rupee, was full of merit. Will find this no easier than the Oakleigh Plate but will run a race better than his current quote of $31 would suggest.
13. MISTER MILTON – D Gauci (8) 52kgs
The Norman Waymouth trained galloper hasn’t shied away from taking on the good horses in the good races during his career and does have a G1 placing to his name (3rd Aust Guineas 2012) but the reality is, he still only has the two wins from twenty-nine starts to his name. He’ll contest this event first up off a twelve week spell and will find more than a few in the race too slick for him.
14. BERNABEU – G Boss (6) 50kgs
The lightly raced son of Fastnet Rock has always showed above average ability and after producing a scintillating jump-out the week before the G1 Lightning Stakes, the John O’Shea 3yo entered that race as one of the leading contenders at a price of 15/4. He took up a forward position but when asked for his effort was quickly found to be wanting and finished last of twelve, a dozen lengths from the winner. That margin was magnified as the jockey, Glen Boss, virtually stopped riding the horse for the last furlong. He is a better horse than that and for those who took the price last start, it may be worth having a little something on him here at $19.00 for insurance purposes. A much improved run would not surprise.
15. VA PENSIERO – K O’Hara (12) 50kgs
Speedy Sydney colt from the Warwick Farm stables of Jason Coyle, the son of Stratum has had two barrier trials this month as he prepares to tackle this race first up off a fifteen week spell. He was good enough to win the G3 San Domenico fresh last prep but this is a whole new level again. With the light weight, he’ll waste not time going forward by can’t see him holding off some quality performers over the last furlong.
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It is hard to go past the top four in the field here. They’re all in good form, proven at this level and not too harshly treated under the handicap conditions. Having to put one on top though, will go with Samaready. Not much went right first up in the Oakleigh Plate and she was devastating second up last prep. Lankan Rupee is still on the improve and showed last start that he can be just as effective when ridden off the speed. Would’ve liked to see Shamexpress draw a little further out than gate three. He’ll get back and would have preferred to see him come down the grand-stand side rather than along the fence which he may have to. There are a couple of good value options in the race for going wider or playing the multiples. Pago Rock, Unpretentious and Spirit of Boom are all big odds and capable of running bold races.
- LANKAN RUPEE
All odds are subject to change. Odds listed are correct at the time of the latest update.