The fourth and final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival rolls around on Saturday with it being Emirates Stakes Day, also known as family day. The feature race is the $1 Million Emirates Stakes (1600m). As always, it appears to be a very open race, with boom galloper Fawkner the early favourite to take the prize after a dominant come from behind victory last Saturday. Solzhenitsyn, Fat Al, Ambidexter and Free Wheeling are hot on his heels in the market.
The $1 Million Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) has been saved for Black Caviar over the past two years, but with the star mare out, along with Hay List, the race appears to be a hard one to sort out for punters. Sea Siren, a brilliant winner of the Manikato Stakes (1200m) a couple of weeks back, is the top pick with bookies ahead of the Queensland bulldog Buffering, with Mental next best.
The other two key races are the $300,000 Group ll Matriarch Stakes (2000m) and the $250,000 Group lll Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m)
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Race One: H.K.J.C. Maribyrnong Plate 1000m Form Guide
Back Me: Very keen on Citations. This son of Redoute’s Choice trialled superbly before making his debut at Randwick. He jumped well but in the end was caught four wide with no cover. For a horse on debut to endure that sort of run, you would expect it to drop out badly…but this bloke kept giving and finished third. He is obviously well above average and will prove hard to beat.
Don’t Back Me: Hard to say given there are many first starters.
Big Danger: Crack A Roadie was confidently backed to win on debut at Moonee Valley and after looking in big trouble on the turn, he picked up and charged hard late to win right on the post. He is another good type who will prove testing material. Il Cavallo is on debut for Peter Moody and bolted in a recent barrier trial at Cranbourne. Diva Dee never looked comfy around Moonee Valley yet still ran a nice second to Crack A Roadie. She could easily turn the tables.
Roughie: Excites Zelady looked pretty good when winning on debut in Adelaide. He has a win on the board and has race experience, which is an advantage.
Race Two: Momentum Energy Trophy (95) 1600m Form Guide
Back Me: Galah does look the one here. Resumed in the Gilgai and caught the eye. Then he went to Caulfield and didn’t have much luck in the straight when finishing two length sixth to Whateverwhenever. The Flemington mile looks perfect and given his record, he appears beautifully weighted against this even bunch.
Don’t Back Me: Why Not is an unbeaten German galloper making his Australian debut for David Hayes. He has looked good in all three runs, but there are huge question marks about him here.
Big Danger: Morant has been up since July, but he hasn’t had hard racing because he has had absolutely no luck in most of his starts since coming to Victoria. He was very good last week behind Fawkner, who is the favourite for the Emirates Stakes. He gets out to a trip now and looks a major player.
Roughie: On his old form, Strike The Stars would be a short price favourite here. But he hasn’t done a great deal in two runs this preparation. In saying that, he gets out to 1600m now and drops big time in class. He could be the big improver.
Race Three: Antler Luggage Handicap (95) 2000m Form Guide
Back Me: Sertorius looks the good thing of the program. His biggest test was the Sale Cup last start and after sitting on the speed, he did his usual thing of hitting a flat spot before going right on with it and on the line, he was quite impressive. I have no issues with him running 2000m because he seems much more improved and has a bit more toughness.
Don’t Back Me: Happy to put a line through Mourinho and Keep Cool. Mourinho has turned the corner and is racing ok, but he was handed the race on a platter at Moonee Valley. I doubt he’ll get a picnic in front here. Keep Cool was good first up in Adelaide before turning in a fairly poor run at Bendigo, even though he sat three deep early on.
Big Danger: This will be a good test for Hoylonny. Thanks to Jimmy Cassidy, this horse has really turned the corner, winning his last three in impressive fashion. He has always promised to deliver on the big stage. This is his chance to prove it.
Roughie: Forget Turnitup went around in the Sale Cup. He was caught wide early, then was forced to ease back and the pace was quite slow hence he had no chance. He has a good record at Flemington and at 2000m. He could be a blowout chance.
Race Four: Hiltons Hotel Stakes 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: I am prepared to launch into Academus. This Darley gelding was group one placed in his two year old season when finishing third behind Sizzling and Kabayan in the TJ Smith at Eagle Farm. He resumed the other day at Hawkesbury and was sent out a $1.28 favourite…and boy he looked impressive. I have no issue with him here, despite drawing awkwardly and being asked to carry 60kg. $6.50 looks overs.
Don’t Back Me: Not sure why Essay Raider is short in the betting. I thought his run at the Valley was just fair and his form prior to that was ok at best. I am prepared to rule him out.
Big Danger: Generalife hasn’t had a great deal of luck in two runs since destroying his rivals at Bendigo to break his maiden status. Should have won at Moonee Valley then would have certainly been right in the finish at Caufield had he got out earlier. He deserves to be near the top of the betting, but not sure he deserves favourtism.
Roughie: Timely Truce had absolutely no luck last Sunday at Mornington. He was bolting in between runners, then he got out before the turn but the horse that was outside him, Backen Lay, layed in all over the top and restricted his racing room. He is a definite bolter to include in exotics.
Race Five: Patinack Farm Classic 1200m Form Guide
Back Me: I think there is value to be had in the shape of the straight course specialist Temple Of Boom. Caught the eye behind Buffering in the Schillaci before appearing all at sea around Moonee Valley in the Manikato yet he still ran quite well. Apart from the Galaxy, his best career runs have been saved for the Flemington straight six. He appears great value.
Don’t Back Me: Not quite sure which horse to point out here because it is that open.
Big Danger: Sea Siren was superb in winning the Manikato. It takes a special horse to win a group one sprint first up and this mare did it, and did it quite comfortably on the line. Mental also produced a belter in the Manikato when finishing second. I am tipping him to be a major player here. The forgotten horse is Buffering. He wasn’t ridden the best in the Manikato. If he is allowed to roll along at a strong tempo, he can bounce back and claim that elusive group one victory.
Roughie: All reports are that Tiger Tees has come through his Yellowglen run in great order and all concerned are confident he can run a cheeky race, especially if any rain arrives.
Race Six: Emirates Stakes 1600m Form Guide
Back Me: This race usually produces a rough result and I am tipping that may happen again thanks to Happy Zero. He should have won the Stradbroke, but during his Australian career he hasn’t had a great deal of luck. He ran ok first up behind Pampelonne before not having a clear crack at them at Caulfield behind Whateverwhenever. The mile suits, the bigger surroundings of Flemington looks ideal and he looks great value at $31.
Don’t Back Me: Again, very hard to leave a horse out because they all look hard to beat.
Big Danger: Fat Al looked a bit lazy in his first two runs this prep, but made amends with a strong on pace win in the Epsom. Was sent for a break, and trialled a couple of weeks back at Cranbourne and despite not taking on much, he looked awesome. Big threat. Solzhenitsyn was brilliant in winning the Toorak, then didn’t handle Moonee Valley at all in the Crystal Mile behind gun kiwi mare Silent Achiever. He is the improver back to a bigger track. Ambidexter probably has the habit of being a non winner, but his Crystal Mile run was good and he’ll also love a return to wider surroundings. Fawkner was excellent last week and the time he ran was awfully slick.
Roughie: Happy Trails is back from the Cox Plate where he was outclassed yet ran a nice race. He can be a serious danger here if het gets the right run. Wall Street seems as if he is getting back to his best form, which saw him win this race a couple of years back. He was solid last week and looks to be a roughie to throw in, as does Secret Admirer and Streama.
Race Seven: Matriarch Stakes 2000m Form Guide
Back Me: Banker of the afternoon appears to be Silent Achiever. She was outstanding in winning the Crystal Mile, which was aided by a gun from from James McDonald. She has loads of class on these and the $1.75 on offer looks a gift.
Don’t Back Me: Looks to be a one horse horse.
Big Danger: Midnight Martini looks the second pick. Great win in the Cranbourne was followed by a nice second at Moonee Valley behind Mourinho. Cruised up to win on the home turn, but that horse had a picnic in front and produced a powerful kick. This mare is in form and is back to her home track.
Roughie: Manilla Jewel is a consistent mare who is never far away from the action. Was held safely by Lady Sententia, but she does meet that mare better at the weights. A place/first four hope.
Race Eight: Queen Elizabeth Stakes 2600m Form Guide
Back Me: Gee this is a very tough race. I am going for some value in Lost In The Moment. Has only been since once in Australia, which was the Melbourne Cup last year where he ran a gallant sixth. Was last seen in late September where he finished third overseas. From all reports, he has worked very well in Australia and he looks great odds at $13.
Don’t Back Me: Puissance De Lune is a very good horse, make no mistake about that. But $2.80 is rock bottom odds.
Big Danger: Shawardi just oozed class in winning the Herbet Power at Caulfield. He would not have looked out of place in the Melbourne Cup, so he has the ability and class to win, and I doubt weight will be an issue.
Roughie: Dare To Dream should have won the Lexus last week, but he had absolutely no luck getting a run until the final 200m, and by then Kelinni built up all the momentum and was able to cling on. He is a massive threat here.
Race Nine: Emirates Airline Handicap 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: It was in this race 12 months ago that yours truly tipped Down Under Boy to win and yep, he got up for us at 100/1…and I think he can do it again. Does race well when fresh and his two trials to get ready for this has been super. He is a great value bet to conclude the carnival.
Don’t Back Me: Tokugawa has the class on these, but his form away from Moonee Valley is a concern. He is the favourite, and deserves to be, but I’d rather watch him go around here.
Big Danger: Instinction was ridden a treat to win last start at Caufield. The form out of that race has been very good with Sea Lord and Whateverwhenever subsequently winning soon after. He has a good record at the track and distance and Nick Hall sticks with him.
Roughie: Hot Spin has been scratched a few times this week. He looks well placed here and looks a knockout chance given he was most unlucky behind Sea Lord at Moonee Valley last start.
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