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Cup week…the best seven days in Australia racing without question, and it kicks off this Saturday at the home of Australian racing, Flemington, with what is regarded by many as the best race day of the year. Nine races, four Group l’s and five other Group races…it doesn’t get much better.

The feature race is the $1.5 Million AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m), where Gai Waterhouse trains the well fancied Hampton Court, and a win would ease the pain of losing her Melbourne Cup runner, The Offer, who pulled out of the race that stops a nation earlier in the week.

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Race One (11:30am) : Carbine Club Stakse 1600m: Form Guide

Back Me: I am pretty sure that punters can start Cup week on the right note thanks to the above average filly Azkadellia (Best Odds: $3.20), who had absolutely no luck last time out at Caulfield when narrowly beaten by Sea Spray. It was more so pilot error that cost her victory, and not just bad luck. The big surroundings of Flemington should be perfect, as should the rise to 1600m. She looks a future Group l horse and I am confident she can get the job done here for Ciaron Maher and Joao Moreira.
Big Danger: Kermadec (Best Odds: $5.00) also suffered a defeat last time out, this time at Randwick, and again I’d say it was more pilot error that cost him victory. It was a stop/start steer, where I think he is better suited just going through his gears without any momentum being stopped. Chris Waller knows when to send them to stakes grade, so I am tipping this son of Teofilo to run a ripper here at his Melbourne debut.
Roughie: Stratum Star (Best Odds: $8.00) has that Trust In A Gust feel about him. He isn’t anything to flash at, but he is a winner and knows where that post it, as he showed last time out at Caulfield when wide throughout, but stormed up to the front 200m out and fought superbly to get the bikkies for the lethal combination of Darren Weir and Brad Rawiller. Question mark at the mile, but hopefully a cold ride will help the cause.

 

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Race Two (12:10pm): Racing.com Wakeful Stakes 2000m: Form Guide

Back Me: Sportbet.com.au offered $5.50 for Fenway (Best Odds: $4.40) prior to acceptances earlier in the week, and I gladly took that, because I think she could well be one of only a couple of threats to Robert Smerdon winning the Crown Oaks (2500m). Fenway was a highly impressive debut winner at Bendigo, then went to Caulfield and should have clearly won, but got boxed in by Bondeiger and got badly held up the final 150m. She has plenty of natural improvement to go with the talent she already has produced, and given she has fresh legs, and really good form, I’ll put her on top.
Big Danger: You’d think on the breeding that Fontein Ruby (Best Odds: $4.00) would be a sprinter, but she is showing that she is a very capable stayer against her own age, as we have seen at her past couple, winning the Edward Manifold (1600m) and the Caulfield Classic (2000m), and on both occasions she has done a power of work yet hung on and fought her rivals off. Has to give weight away here, but she is the form filly going into this and will prove hard to beat.
Roughie: Veuvelicious (Best Odds: $31.00) was ridden completely upside down in the Ethereal Stakes (2000m) last time out, going forward from a wide barrier, and she folded up in the straight to run sixth to Set Square, who is a contender for the Oaks, so that form does read okay, and from the good draw here, I’d like to see her ridden with cover and build up and go through her gears in the straight. If that eventuates, she is an outside chance at odds.

 

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Race Three (12:50pm): Yellowglen Stakes 1400m: Form Guide

Back Me: Going to put the star Adelaide gelding Hucklebuck (Best Odds: $2.65) on top. He proved in the Spring last year and in the Autumn that he can mix it with some really high class gallopers, which is why he was odds on when producing a brilliant finish burst to win first up at Morphettville in the Durbirdge Stakes (1200m). Don’t worry about what he beat, it was the manner in which he won that was the impressive part. Sensational record second up, runs well at Flemington and the Phillip Stokes/Dom Tourneur combination should always be respected when they travel to Melbourne because they rarely leave empty handed.
Big Danger: Generalife (Best Odds: $6.50) should have bolted in two back in the Premiere Stakes (1200m) behind Famous Seamus, who then arguably should have won the Manikato last Friday night. Generalife then ran in the Moonga Stakes (1400m) and was far from disgraced when third to Lucky Hussler after coming very wide from the back on the home turn. Drawn to sit much closer, gets in relatively well at the weights…hard to beat.
Roughie: Woodbine (Best Odds: $7.50) toughed it out strongly to win two back at Rosehill, then perhaps was ridden a touch too aggressively in the Epsom Handicap (1600m) when eighth, beaten three lengths by He’s Your Man. I’d like to see him ridden off the speed and come with one run, and he did look very sharp in work at Moonee Valley last week.

 

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Race Four (1:30pm): Coolmore Stud Stakes 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: I’m taking on the Caulfield Guineas/Thousand Guineas runners here, because history says unless you’re a once-in-a-generation horse aka Weekend Hussler, then you can’t come back from the mile to 1200m and win. Taking that in, I’ll be putting the filly Earthquake (Best Odds: $8.00) on top. The jury was out on her after two defeats to kick off her Spring, but she bounced back to form with a soft win in the Thoroughbred Club Stakes (1200m), a race that Headway used to salute in this race in 2009. Trained on the track, so she would have numerous gallops down the straight, and given she hangs a bit, I think the one straight run will really suit her.
Big Danger: Rubick (Best Odds: $7.50) has been set for this race since the day he got beat in the Blue Diamond by the top tip. He resumed against the older horses in the Schillaci Stakes (1000m) and led all the way to record a top win, and the form has stood up with the likes of Platelet and Iconic running rippers in the Manikato. Given this has been his target for some time, I am expecting him to be 150% wound up and ready to rock and roll.
Roughie: A combination of track bias and a great steer by Steve Baster got Eloping (Best Odds: $26.00) home two back in the Champagne Stakes (1200m), showing good speed throughout the 1200m. She then went to the Blue Sapphire (1200m) at Caulfield and just kept finding despite looking gone on the turn, and ended up drawing clear of her rivals. She is an absolute beauty, and while she probably lacks the class to win, she is very tough, and that is something that a few of these don’t have.

 

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Race Five (2:15pm): Lexus Stakes 2500m: Form Guide

Back Me: Can we dare to dream? I think so, which is why I’m putting La Amistad (Best Odds: $10.00) on top. She has had quite a mixed Spring. First up I thought she was fantastic in the Rowley Mile (1600m) at Hawkesbury, then had been par at best at her next three outings, with some bad luck being added. She then went to the City Tatts Cup (2406m) and tried her guts out when second to Mulaqen, who dominated from the front. She started off her career in Victoria, so she would have galloped many times of the track. Give in the ground suits, as does the distance, and Dwayne Dunn jumps back in the saddle.
Big Danger: Signoff (Best Odds: $2.85) tried very hard last time out in the David Jones Cup (2000m) when third to the classy Godolphin import Contributor. His run prior was in the 2400m Herbert Power where he ran second to Big Memory, and he now meets that horse 1.5kg better off the at the weights for a long neck defeat. Drawn to get to the gun and Moreira takes the ride.
Roughie: Shoreham (Best Odds: $17.00) was very good two back in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m), making up ground from the back. He then went to the Geelong Cup (2400m) last week and cast a plate, so there were excuses with his sixth to Caravan Rolls On, who he meets 1.5kg better off. Might lack class, but he will be very strong at the end of 2500m.

 

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Race Six (3:00pm): Longines Mackinnon Stakes 2000m: Form Guide

Back Me: He’s Your Man’s (Best Odds: $6.00) form this Spring has been very good, and his Epsom Handicap (1600m) win was unbelievable given he lost all momentum 1200m out and nearly came crashing, but the ‘Magic Man’, Joao Moreira, got the horse balanced up again, had beautiful three wide cover, peeled out, lunged and nabbed Royal Descent. The key with this horse is that he has an electric turn of foot, but on the occasions he has showed that this time in, he has carried less weight and the depth of horse he has raced against hasn’t been as strong as what he faces here, so it’ll be intriguing to see how he measures up and whether or not he can mix it with the best of the best. But the advantage is that he didn’t run in the Cox Plate and has fresh legs.
Big Danger: It was hard to make excuses for other runners in the Cox Plate last week given the run Adelaide had, but missing the start cost Happy Trails (Best Odds: $9.00) dearly in the race. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but had he jumped cleanly, he would have positioned much closer…what could have been perhaps. But he backs up here and loves the Flemington 2000m.
Roughie: Foreteller (Best Odds: $11.00) was another who didn’t have the best of luck in the Cox Plate. Tommy Berry rode him and Jamie Spencer rode Side Glance, and at the top of the straight, there was a one-horse gap between Fawkner and Wandjina. Side Glance, with his big frame, eventually got the run, but had Foreteller got it, gee he would have gone close to winning. Boss is back on now, and three back they combined to win at Group l level. He loves Flemington and the 2000m.

 

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Race Seven (3:45pm): AAMI Victoria Derby 2500m: Form Guide

Back Me: Hampton Court (Best Odds: $2.80) looks the obvious way to go. He has the Group l form on the board, winning the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick last time out, beating home First Seal, who is a star, and Sweynesse, who ran unbelievably well last week in the Cox Plate. He worked earlier in the week and looked very good, as he did last week at Moonee Valley. 2500m at Flemington should be relished by him and I will be a touch surprised if he doesn’t greet the judge first.
Big Danger: Preferment  worked home powerfully in the Geelong Classic (2200m) last week behind Nozomi (Best Odds: $26.00), narrowly losing in a close photo finish. He has real upside, but is still a maiden, and a maiden hasn’t won the Derby in the last 30 years, so history is against him. In saying that, take away the top tip and this isn’t the strongest Derby we will see.
Roughie: Bondeiger (Best Odds: $9.00) really caught the eye last week in the Dilmah Exceptional Teas Vase (2040m), making up a stack of ground from the back to run seventh to Moonovermanhattan, beaten just under four lengths, but he had to duck and weave on the turn and was eased down the final 50m so he should have finished closer. James Winks, the rider, said after the race that this horse will win the Derby off that run, so taking that in, as well as racing on his home track, I give him a serious chance.

 

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Race Eight (4:30pm): Myer Classic 1600m: Form Guide

Back Me: Going to stick very solid with Politeness (Best Odds: $9.50). She has had no luck in three runs this Spring, whether it’s been running wide with no cover, getting too far and/or a slow tempo, which is what happened last time out in the Tristarc Stakes (1400m) where Sweet Idea crawled them in front and gave nothing a chance from the back to win. More speed engaged here, so I doubt Sweet Idea will run the mile, whereas Politeness gives the impression she will handle it.
Big Danger: One mare that will definitely be strong at the end of 1600m is May’s Dream (Best Odds: $4.60). Her three runs this Spring have been outstanding, in particular her Tristarc effort. She was wide the whole way with no cover for the entire trip, was carted near the centre of the track on the turn, and despite wanting to lay in, she still attacked the line with purpose when she really had no right given how the race was run. Fast run mile will be right up her alley and loves some cut out of the track.
Roughie: Catkins (Best Odds: $7.50) has been off her game since winning first up in the Sheraco Stakes (1200m). She has suffered two defeats since, firstly thanks to Arabian Gold in the Golden Pendant (1400m) and then in the Tristarc where she had every chance. The key to her here is that the track will have some give in it, and that could be her saving grace for Group l glory, because there is no other mare more deserving of a major than this grey.

 

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Race Nine (5:15pm): TAB.com.au Stakes 1200m: Form Guide

Back Me: Quaddies, Big 6’s, Multis, any exotic really, will rest on the shoulders of Deep Field (Best Odds: $1.60) here. He has been highly impressive so far in his career, winning four from four, and he was very impressive last time out in the Lightning Handicap (1100m) at Randwick, leading all the way and running slick time. Drawn to be away from trouble here, he should get a clear run, and if he brings his Sydney form here, he’ll be winning.
Big Danger: Big Money (Best Odds: $15.00) didn’t have the best of luck when resuming in the Caulfield Sprint (1100m), running a half length fourth to dead heat winners Bel Sprinter and Miracles Of Life. Bigger track should help him here, and the big advantage is getting Robert Thompson back aboard, and he knows the horse so well.
Roughie: Eclair Big Bang  (Best Odds: $15.00) was an impressive first up winner at Gawler, then ran at Caulfield and should have bolted in when third to In Cahoots, but he never really got a clear crack at them until it was all over. Like I said earlier, the Philip Stokes/Dom Tourneur combination have a lethal record when coming to Melbourne, and this horse did win the Guineas Prelude last year, so we know he can be competitive at a high level.

 

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BEST BET: Race Nine Number 6 Deep Field

NEXT BEST: Race One Number 15 Azkadellia

VALUE: Race Four Number 14 Earthquake

 

Quaddie Tips (Races Six Through To Nine):

Leg One: 1, 2, 3, 8, 13, 15

Leg Two: 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13

Leg Three: 2, 4, 14, 16

Leg Four: 6

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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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