Nine races have been set down for Flemington this Saturday, where the feature race is the $120,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m). The weather is overcast, the track is good (4) and the rail is out three metres for the entire circuit.
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Race One (12:43pm) : Better Beyond Plate 1000m: Form Guide
Back Me: Landmarks (Best Odds: $6.00) is having his first run for John O’Shea and Godolphin off the back of a solid Flemington jump out placing on December 12 when showing good early toe to lead before being grabbed on the line under no pressure. Not sure where he ranks in terms of the Godolphin babies, but he is in the right stable and draws well.
Big Danger: Mr Jagger (Best Odds: $11.00) made his debut at the Valley a couple of weeks back and ran well when third to the highly impressive Team Hawkes runner in Headwater, beaten three lengths. I don’t think there are any youngsters as good as Headwater here, so Mr Jagger only needs to repeat his debut run to be a force here.
Roughie: Ragazzo Del Corsa (Best Odds: $10.00) hasn’t been seen since making his debut at the Valley on December 12 when third to Secret Agenda, beaten five lengths. Margin was big, but the winner was very smart and they ran really good time. The jump out prior to the debut was here and it was excellent, so I’ll give him another chance here.
Race Two (1:18pm) : Jezzabeel Handicap (84) 1600m: Form Guide
Back Me: Every Faith (Best Odds: $2.70) worked home very strongly first up at Sandown, then improved off that to record a dominant win at the Valley two weeks back, putting away an inferior field to what she faces here. She has come back in outstanding order and looks the lone threat to Madam Gangster.
Big Danger: Chiquada (Best Odds: $6.00) was given a peach ride in front by kiwi apprentice Lisa Whelan to narrowly hold off Coronation Shallan and get the job done at the Valley. That was on November 29, so it’s been six weeks between runs, but she did have a six week break after her second last start and it paid off.
Roughie: Bec Said No Credit (Best Odds: $8.50) was dreadful first up behind Tycoon Tara then bounced back sharply with an eye catching third to Every Faith. Gets a nice weight pull on that mare now and does appear to have a touch more upside, so she is the upset chance at odds.
Race Three (1:55pm) : Rain Lover Handicap 2500m: Form Guide
Back Me: Christmas, Easter, New Year, Halloween…any occasion you can think of, combine them all and they are coming here for whoever wins this race. I think the massive weight drop is going to suit Tanah Lot (Best Odds: $8.50), who looked as though he was going to win last time out at the Valley, but the hard run and lumping 58.5kg just told the last bit and he couldn’t get past Murphy’s Delight. Drops to 52kg now and finds himself in not that much harder of an event.
Big Danger: Tanby (Best Odds: $3.70) is clearly the horse to beat here given he was very good behind Averau in the Bagot, sticking on very strongly for third, beaten five lengths. On paper, it looks his race…but the last time he won, Jesus was walking on water.
Roughie: Crafty Crusier (Best Odds: $11.00) was a bit unlucky not to win first up at Werribee, then went to the Valley and lumped 69.5kg when tenth to Murphy’s Delight. Drops 11.5kg and gets John Allen back aboard. Could be an improver at odds.
Race Four (2:33pm) : Nouvelle Star Handicap (70) 1400m: Form Guide
Back Me: A majority of these are coming through the race at Sandown in which Herstory (Best Odds: $9.50) led all the way in a slowly run race. Looking outside of her and going for Mossbeat. Her opening two runs back from a break were just fair, but the senior rider went aboard last start and it almost paid dividends when the filly stormed home from the back to just fail in picking up Herstory. Gets a weight pull on the winner and appears better suited at Flemington I think with her racing style. Great each-way chance.
Big Danger: Boundary (Best Odds: $7.00) has been excellent in three runs since winning first up at Geelong. She ran a cracking second in the Ballarat 3YO Magic Millions, then flew home at her next two at Sandown, the latest when fifth to Herstory. Like Mossbeat, I think Flemington is going to be ideal, and while she has been up for a while, she shouldn’t be ruled out.
Roughie: Wedding (Best Odds: $8.50) comes to Melbourne after breaking her maiden status in fine style on Boxing Day at Randwick, being lifted over the line by Hugh Bowman. The switch to Melbourne is a good lead from the stable, so I am respecting her immensely here. I am a huge fan of Relaunch, but I’d rather watch her here given the form from her latest run hasn’t stood up at all.
Race Five (3:10pm) : Straight Draw Handicap (78) 1700m: Form Guide
Back Me: Native Land (Best Odds: $9.00) was ridden on speed two back here and just failed to hold off Spanish Love, who ran well last Saturday night to frank the form. Native Land then went to the Valley a couple of weeks back and bungled the start, and pretty much lost all hope when sixth to Every Faith. Giving her another chance back to the bigger track.
Big Danger: Lord Athenaeum (Best Odds: $7.00) was crunched in betting last week at Echuca, and thanks to a brilliant ride from Jackie Beriman, the son of Encosta De Lago savaged the line from the back to get the job done despite a slow pace being set. He did run fifth in a SA Derby last prep, so we know the class is there, and now hopefully the confidence after that win.
Roughie: Churchill’s Wit (Best Odds: $7.00) was well backed last time out at Sale and didn’t let his supporters down with a comfortable on speed win, winning by over three lengths. Trainer Patrick Payne has taken his time with this one, he hasn’t been tempted to rush him to town, but after that win, he looks ready for the bright lights of the city.
Race Six (3:50pm): January Handicap (78) 1400m: Form Guide
Back Me: Going for some value in Cross Of Gold (Best Odds: $31.00). On pace bias didn’t suit him first up at Sandown behind Onpicalo, then he was sent to Morphettville Parks and was completely luckless when steaming home late for third to Creance, an in form horse over in Adelaide. Last time he was at Flemington he was a length of Play Master, which reads well for this. Just needs luck from the draw.
Big Danger: Gracious Prospect (Best Odds: $5.50) stuck on really well here on New Years Day when third to Calming Influence. He was caught three wide with no cover and the effort just got to him late and ended up a length from the winner. Draws much better now and gets the services of Nick Hall. Hard to beat.
Roughie: Such Hope (Best Odds: $17.00) was specked in the Christmas Stakes at a long price and he didn’t run too bad in the end, finishing a five length fifth to Tried And Tired. His record here isn’t great, but they have been in much harder races than what he faces here, and is drawn to get a nice trail out wide and out of trouble.
Race Seven (4:30pm) : Comedy King Handicap 1600m: Form Guide
Back Me: I was quite keen on Tax Evader (Best Odds: $10.00) in the Lord Stakes at Sandown on Boxing Day, but gee he was plain when eighth to Jacquinot Bay, beaten just under five lengths. His run prior here was very good without much luck, so I am prepared to give him another chance, but this is D-Day for him in terms of this preparation.
Big Danger: The horse who did catch the eye in the Lord Stakes was the Warrnambool Cup winner Akzar (Best Odds: $9.00), who worked home very strongly from the back to run fifth. He won over 2000m here second up last prep, so the fact he is at 1600m here and stays there after the fresh run tells me Darren Weir is training him to have speed in the legs, and adding more speed to the turn of foot he does have will ensure he is right in the finish.
Roughie: Big, big watch on Shamardashing, (Best Odds: $19.00) who has his first run for Darren Weir after formerly being with John Thompson and Patinack. He hasn’t been seen since May 2013 on raceday, but did trial in March last year. Complete guessing game as to where he is at, but a dash of Weir magic and he could win this. Watch the market with him.
Race Eight (5:05pm) : Kensington Stakes 1000m: Form Guide
Back Me: I think Robbie Griffiths has figured out The Quarterback-fast (Best Odds: $3.70) run 1000m-1100m races, and that formula proved successful here over this track/distance on New Years Day, charging home from the back to win. Matty Allen takes back the ride now and he knows the horse very well. Drawn the right part of the track and should get good speed in front.
Big Danger: Hard Stride (Best Odds: $6.50) is a very good horse who returns to the track after a really successful Spring, which saw him win at stakes level, beating home a multiple Group l winner in Moment Of Change. Jump outs have been sharp and his last run here was a beauty. $7.50 looks tremendous overs.
Roughie: Danger Close (Best Odds: $9.50) was too good for his rivals in the Christmas Cup, then went to the Christmas Stakes and just got too far back when eighth to Tried And Tired. Back to a track he has won at it in the past, and Nick Hall jumps aboard, and his patient hands will really suit this horse, who has en electric turn of foot when ridden properly.
Race Nine (5:45pm): Tauto Handicap (78) 1200m: Form Guide
Back Me: I am going to give Kievann (Best Odds: $14.00) another chance here. I liked him last start at the Valley because he looked as if he was going to get a good run on the speed, but he bungled the start and did a power of work out wide, so completely forget he went around there. Back to his home track and the last time he ran here, he was only four lengths off the likes of Pyrrolic and Hard Stride in the Creswick. 1200m is as far as he wants it, but with a clean getaway, he’ll be hard to beat.
Big Danger: Shaf (Best Odds: $13.00) was five weeks between runs when attempting to lead all the way at the Valley, and he looked the winner when he kicked on the turn, but he just tired the last 100m and weakened to run fourth. I also don’t think leading is his caper, so I think with a more conservative ride, he can prove hard to beat.
Roughie: Scarlett Billows (Best Odds: $5.00) was first up at Mornington and thanks to a lovely steer by Michelle Payne, the mare proved much too good for her rivals and won convincingly. Some runners have since raced with a couple racing quite well and franking the form. Placed in her lone run here and is a second up winner.
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BEST BET: Race Two Number 2 Every Faith
NEXT BEST: Race Eight Number 5 Quarterback
VALUE: Race Six Number 11 Cross Of Gold
Quaddie Tips (Races Five Through To Eight):
Leg One: 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 15
Leg Two: 1, 3, 7, 8, 10
Leg Three: 2, 3, 4, 5, 9
Leg Four: 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15
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All odds are subject to change. Odds listed are correct at the time of the latest update.
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