AAMI Victoria Derby Day is upon us!
The best day’s racing on the Australian calendar is here, and while it looks a day for the favourites, it doesn’t always work that way!
Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins has gone through the races at Flemington and has given his thoughts on today’s bumper nine race card.
Race 1 – Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m)
A nice race as always. On the strength of his Caulfield win, it is hard to see GALAH being beaten – especially given he was one of only two horses to defy the track pattern at Caulfield. Looks hard to beat again. I always thought CROSS OF GOLD would enjoy the 1600m and I was surprised they took their time to get there. Doubt he can turn the tables on Galah, but you never know. MEETHAQ just keeps improving and he was very good when defeating subsequent Mitchelton Wines Vase runner up Collar, while SAINT ETIENNE could be the best of the “unexposed” types.
Race 2 – Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m)
With the scratching of Home On A Wing, all entrants are now still in the Melbourne Cup. This promises to be an intriguing affair, with the winner going on to the Melbourne Cup. Older Than Time, Tactic and Booming are already guaranteed runners on Tuesday, but they will want to show something here, while the connections of Tullamore and Moyenne Corniche have decided to take the chance that they will get a run. I spent ages trying to find something to beat it, but I’m struggling to see how GREEN MOON will be beaten. He was outstanding at Newcastle, brilliant in the Caulfield Cup and he looks the one on form. MIDNIGHT MARTINI has a very similar profile to Shocking at the same stage, when Shocking won the Lexus Stakes two years ago. The barrier makes it hard for her though. BOOMING is an underrated Kiwi galloper and although he is already qualified for the Cup, he should get a nice run from barrier 2 and has the quality to win, while I’m expecting a big run from the Patinack mare GALIZANI. However, you could make a case for the majority of the field. Probably the most interesting race of the day.
Race 3 – Group 2 Wakeful Stakes (2000m)
No surprises that I’m putting ATLANTIC JEWEL on top. If she brings her Thousand Guineas win here, she’ll just win. That said, it hasn’t been done since Arborea in 1993, although it has been attempted a number of times. She has the class to win though. DOWAGER QUEEN is already looking for 3200m but she has a bit of class. Probably runs second here, but will be a bigger chance in the Oaks of knocking off Atlantic Jewel. RAHVEEL will appreciate the 2000m and must be a chance, while GLIDING won the Ethereal Stakes nicely last start. I can’t include her in my selections but keep an eye on La Dolce Diva – the second of Makybe Diva’s progeny, it would be fitting if she could win a race during Cup week.
Race 4 – Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m)
I’ve tipped all favourites so far, and I have to stick solid here! SEPOY is the best horse in the race. He’s too short for mine, but he should just win on the form he has shown to date. ZAMORAR is a nice improving type, I was really taken with his win at Moonee Valley four weeks ago albeit against much weaker company. Don’t be surprised if he runs a place at odds. FOXWEDGE has the Sydney form on the board, with good runs around the likes of Helmet and Manawanui. I still think the horse is slightly overrated, but he has to be a chance. I will be very interested to see the Hong Kong horse BEAR HERO here. I’m not sure how Hong Kong griffin form stacks up here, but he’s apparently settled in well at Werribee.
Race 5 – Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m)
FINALLY! We can shoot for some value here, as this is an incredibly open race. I understand why the money has come for Foreteller, and the sting out of the track will suit him down to the ground. But I’m concerned about where he’ll end up in the run from barrier 1. For me, I’d have preferred to see him draw wide. As they come around the home turn I can see EFFICIENT getting into the spot where Foreteller wants to be, and seeing as I have a soft spot for the grey, I’m putting him on top. Loves Flemington, has been trained for the shorter trips this preparation, will appreciate not having to take off at the 800m like he did at Moonee Valley and his run in the Cox Plate was very good. Can win. FORETELLER has to go in, based on his last start win – yes, he only beat Extra Zero by a length, but he defied the track pattern to do so. Loves the sting out of the ground too. GLASS HARMONIUM should be able to get up on the speed, and if Flemington is playing leaderish, he’s the one I want to be on. And it wouldn’t be a Mackinnon Stakes if I didn’t include Bart’s runner so I’m going to include PRECEDENCE for fourth. Hasn’t showed much this preparation but his form is very similar to Sirmione’s in 2007, so I have to include him in the mix.
Race 6 – Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m)
I think we have a fairly good edition of the Victoria Derby this year. MANAWANUI is the clear class runner. He’ll appreciate a bit of give in the track, and really, I don’t think he’ll need to stay the trip to win here. Rates on top. I think the Vase is the form race, so I’m going to put COLLAR in for second. Will lap up the 2500m and wasn’t bad behind Manawanui last week. INDUNA looked a strong stayer in the making at Geelong, so he must be given a chance, while ZABEELIONAIRE has been waiting for this distance all preparation and he gets the blinkers on here. He could be the value runner at odds. Also give chances to Sabrage, Perfect Punch, Costly Commitment and Niagara.
Race 7 – Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m)
What a cracking group of mares here! I’m going to start by stating the obvious – if MORE JOYOUS is anywhere near her best, she wins. But is she near her best? I do have my doubts to be honest, but I still believe that she should be good enough to win here. She’s starting to get out to a backable price! I was really hoping the emergency GUISEPPINA would get a run, and with the scratchings of Yosei and Moment of Time, she is in. She is not suited at all at weight for age, but shrewd Kiwi judges have told me she may be one of the better mares to come out of New Zealand, despite her so-so form this campaign. I’ll be keeping an eye on her. SACRED CHOICE has shown nothing this campaign, but she loves the sting out of the ground and the four weeks between runs. She was a huge winner of this last year and she can’t be dismissed, while DYSPHONIA has been going very well this preparation and galloped enormously with Sepoy this week.
Race 8 – Group 2 Salinger Stakes (1200m)
I swore I would never back this horse at 1200m but he has proven me a fool so I have to tip him on top. TEMPLE OF BOOM loves Flemington, or more importantly, the straight six at Flemington. His last start had to be seen to be believed, and he is the logical tip for mine. SISTER MADLY has been racing in great heart since she joined the Troy Corstens stable. She has to go in. NEESON looks the only real threat to the top two, and I think he’s best when trained for sprinting trips. Next best PHELAN READY, who had been promising to win a race prior to his last start flop. Will appreciate the sting out of the ground and I think he could be competitive.
Race 9 – Group 3 www.tab.com.au Stakes (1400m)
I resent this race every year, because it is rather difficult to find the winner. Interestingly, the last few runnings of this race that I can remember saw the winner duck through along the inside. All Silent did it, Centennial Park did it. With that in mind, I’m going to go for a horse who is likely to get that nice run and who may come through. That is the Flemington 1400m specialist NIBLICK. I’m only starting to warm to the horse now but he looks the ideal horse for this race. I’d love to see them running on, because if they are, WOORIM is a massive chance. Will love Flemington and I can see him steaming down the outside of the track. HAPPY ZERO was disappointing in the Manikato but has drawn nicely here and may be looking for 1400m at this stage of his career, while ROTHERA should be able to settle closer with his barrier and could be the surprise.