It is the horse racing version of fantasy, and this Saturday, Star Stable kicks off for the 2014 Spring. In previous years, the major prize has been trips away to see the Arc, The Durban July and/or The Dubai World Cup, but for this Spring, $10,000 will go the overall winner. Not bad for sitting on your backside doing the form!
The format seems simple- Pick 10 horses, a jockey and a trainer, but as regular players would know, it is much harder than what it seems on the surface, managing the $1 Million budget across the next few weeks and making the right calls on who to replace and who should come in to the stable.
So, here is how I’ll tackle my first week of Star Stable:
Look for a good thing to kick start the comp, and I think that is clearly Hallowed Crown in the Roman Consul Stakes (1200m). He should prove too classy for his rivals, and pick up an easy $100,000 in prizemoney, and at a price of $100,000, he is a very good trade for next Saturday.
Looking ahead to next Saturday at Caulfield with the both the Caulfield Guineas and Thousand Guineas. Almalad looks a safe way to go at $150,000 in the Caulfield Guineas, then will run in the Cox Plate, so he is a safe spot in the stable, while in the Thousand Guineas, Go Indy Go was very good in the Prelude and will take a power of beating. She is also at $150,000.
In Sydney we have the Flight Stakes. I personally like Thinking Of You, but at the time of this piece being written up, she wasn’t available, so go with Winx at $100,000. If she wins, she could back up next week in the Thousand Guineas, but again, she is good trade bait for next Saturday.
The sprinters aren’t really catered for in the Star Stable, so steer of them this week in the Gilgai and next week in the Schillaci. Given the Manikato on Cox Plate Eve isn’t a part of the schedule for the comp, wait until the Stakes Day in Cup Week to launch into the sprinters.
The big three races this Saturday are the Epsom, Turnbull and Metropolitan. We will start off with the Epsom.
I really like He’s Your Man in the race, and he is surprisingly quite cheap at $75,000 for this weekend, so he is a must. Would love to include Royal Descent as back up, but she is too pricy at $200,000, so I have to leave her out and hope Moreira can get the job done on this horse, who does look hard to beat.
The Turnbull is an absolute beauty, with a great deal of depth engaged. I am going to go for the juggler in the shape of Happy Trails to win. I thought his Underwood placing was outstanding and appears to be in better form than what he was in 12 months back when he won the race. Pricy at $225,000, but given he is going to be a serious threat here, and in the Cox Plate, he is worth a good gamble. And if he fails, you can substitute for him for a horse like Sacred Falls, who is at $250,000. That leaves us with $200,000 left and four spots to fill in the stable, so we have to go thin from now on and look for value.
In The Metropolitan I’ll put in La Amistad. I thought she was quite good in the Hill Stakes given the slow tempo was totally against her and she was at WFA. Gets back to handicap and is now up to 2400m, so it’ll be interesting to see how she performs, because her first up run was a beauty. At $100,000 she is worth a gamble given she’ll more than likely head to Melbourne.
As for the rest?
Going a bit left field, but I’ll include a couple of runners, one in the UCI Stakes and the other in the Edward Manifold, each race at Flemington, and both horses are at $25,000 – Light Up Manhattan and Little Hottie. They are both very progressive three year olds who broke their maiden status in fine style at their last outing, in particular Little Hottie, who was awfully sharp at Kyneton. Both are heading towards the Derby and Oaks path respectively and appear to have plenty of upside.
One spot left, $50,000 remaining. Well we saw the dominant win of Lumosty at Sale on Wednesday, and she has now rocketed to near the top of the betting for the Thousand Guineas, so despite not being nominated, I am fairly certain owner Phil Sly will pay the late entry fee because she looks a serious threat.
Jockey and Trainer?
This is where punters who punt on the Jockey/Trainer Challenges come to the fore. Given he has an outstanding book of rides at Randwick, I’ll be putting in Hugh Bowman due to the fact he’ll steer Hallowed Crown, I’ve Got The Looks, Royal Descent and Winx, as well as a couple of others.
Given he has a massive presence in the big races at Randwick, Chris Waller looks the obvious way to go, but don’t entirely rule out Gai Waterhouse. She’ll go close to dominating the early part of the program at Randwick and has a solid hand at Flemington, as does Waller. One of those two should be chosen.
My Star Stable:
1: Hallowed Crown
3: Go Indy Go
5: He’s Your Man
6: Happy Trails
7: La Amistad
8: Light Up Manhattan
9: Little Hottie
Jockey: Hugh Bowman
Trainer: Chris Waller