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Spring is well and truly in the air this Saturday at Caulfield with a stack of feature races on the cards, headlined by the return of Mystic Journey taking on some proven WFA stars in the PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m). The weather is fine, the track is soft (5) and the rail is out ten metres for the entire circuit.

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Race 1. (12:15) MRC Foundation Supports Legacy Handicap (78) 1100m

Back Me

5 Exceltara (Bet Now: $16.00 TOP ODDS) had trialled up well prior to resuming over 1000m at the Valley where it was tough to make significant ground from the back out wide, so I think his run was a definite pass mark in defeat behind Queen Annabel. Much better suited on the bigger track and up in trip. If he can get some decent cover and a drag into the straight, he’ll be hard to beat.

Danger

Really keen to see how 12 Pippie (Bet Now: $2.70 TOP ODDS) goes for Chris Meagher. On this day last year, this girl was hard in the market in the Quezette and wasn’t far off Sunlight, which just reads so well for this. Was sent to Queensland and her first up win at Doomben was stunning, burning the candle at both ends and making a mess of them. Hasn’t been sighted since, but I think short course racing against is her go and I think sustained speed will see her prove hard to beat.

Long Shot

Have always had time for 17 Suplex City (Bet Now: $13.00 TOP ODDS) and he can measure up here for sure. He was enormous against the track pattern two back behind Bold Star before just missing out on the win last time out in a driving go behind Akkacan. Will Clarken stable is flying at the moment and this bloke is in really good form. Think he is worthy of a chance in Melbourne.

Race 2. (12:50) Black Caviar Tribute Handicap (84) 1700m

Back Me

Bit of a nothing race but for the sake of a tip, I think a safe option is 5 Rat With Goldtooth (Bet Now: $3.60 TOP ODDS), who hasn’t really put a bad run in this prep for Paul Preusker. Just hasn’t won, which is the concern. Looked to get every chance in the Mildura Cup last time but the tough nut Husson Eagle just proved too good for her in a driving go to the line. She’s working up to a win I think. Could I back her? I’ve been on her a couple of times this time in and she hasn’t won, so personally, I couldn’t, but couldn’t talk you out of backing her yourself.

Danger

The Clinton McDonald trained mare 2 Benitoite (Bet Now: $4.60 TOP ODDS) was given a 12/10 steer from Olly to win over the mile here three weeks ago, getting the suck run in behind before the gaps appeared late and she dashed hard then was lifted late by Olly to win. Not much harder here and has carried 58.5kg to win recently so weight no issue. Hard to beat despite a tricky gate.

Long Shot

7 Collectable (Bet Now: $13.00 TOP ODDS) comes through the Benitoite race from three weeks ago here. She was relatively unwanted in betting late and was forced to go back to near last from the wide gate, so her fate was pretty much sealed there and then, but she made up good ground in an eye catching third. Not the greatest of winning strike rates but concede she’s going well.

Race 3. (13:25) Nitto Denko Handicap 1600m

Back Me

Has to carry the grandstand, but I reckon 1 Duretto (Bet Now: $26.00 TOP ODDS) has these covered re class. Just a matter of whether or not he’s ready with his fitness levels. Now with Matt Cumani and had one in the Spring last year, seeing him run a game fourth in the Caulfield Cup. Liked the way he moved in a recent Cranbourne trial. 1600m is short of his best, but he might just be better than these.

Danger

6 New Universe… (Bet Now: $4.80 TOP ODDS) dear me. Was all over him two back at Flemington and he did nothing, albeit pulled up with the thumps post race. Then went to the Valley, Meech gave him a 12/10 steer and he was too good for his rivals. Once he finds form, he generally holds it, but this is a step up in depth for mine. Not sure I could back him to win, but certainly a must for multiples.

Long Shot

I think back to Caulfield will be a massive tick for 7 Guizot (Bet Now: $11.00 TOP ODDS). He comes through the New Universe race at the Valley where he was back and forced to make his run very wide on a day where on speed/rail was the spot to be, so for mine his run had merit to it despite the replay saying otherwise. Saves his best for Caulfield and is a knockout chance for sure.

Race 4. (14:00) Blue Star Print Handicap (84) 1400m

Back Me

Buttering up with 6 Age Of Chivalry (Bet Now: $2.70 TOP ODDS). Was on him when he resumed at the Valley two weeks ago and I think with clear air, he goes close to winning. Just didn’t get the clear air he wanted and was unlucky when fifth to Usain Bowler, beaten a length. Up to 1400m on the bigger track and fitter, if he can get clear air from the outset, he’s the one to beat IMO.

Danger

3 Shot Of Irish (Bet Now: $7.00 TOP ODDS) is a solid animal that rarely runs a bad race and the set up here suggests he’ll run well once again. Got a dream run near the speed under Melham last time at Sandown and chased hard in the straight to wear down the in form Smart Elissim to win impressively. Should get run of the race from gate one and good lead that Melham sticks.

Long Shot

5 Smart Elissim (Bet Now: $8.50 TOP ODDS) is racing much more consistently in recent times. Impressive winner at this track/distance three back before a narrow second to Turn The Tide. Then had a freshen up and raced at Sandown where he was near the speed and fought on well, but was clearly no match for Shot Of Irish. Lands on speed and will try hard. Just not sure what upside he has left compared to others.

Race 5. (14:40) Vain Stakes 1100m

Back Me

Keen on 1 Dubious (Bet Now: $3.30). The Maher/Eustace stable trains this three year old, who is first up having last raced in the Kingsford Smith Cup as a two year old and I thought he ran an enormous race when a close up fifth to The Bostonian. Returns as a three year old against his own age/sex and his recent Cranbourne trial win was very good. Think he can get away with this.

Danger

2 Bivouac (Bet Now: $2.30) looks a smart colt for James Cummings so keen to see how he goes here. He last raced in the Kindergarten during the Championships when too good for a quality field, including boom filly Libertini. Closed off nicely in a recent Rosehill trial and though prefer him at 1200m, he has enough class/quality to beat these fresh over the 1100m.

Long Shot

7 Excess Funds (Bet Now: $4.80) is the race fit animal with decent form next to his name. Resumed with an impressive win at Sandown, which saw the stable send him to Morphettville for the Lightning where he was far from disgraced behind Assertive Approach, which does read very well. Has race fitness on his side and with that last start form, he’s a knockout chance.

Race 6. (15:20) Quezette Stakes 1100m

Back Me

I think the class of 1 Lyre (Bet Now: $4.00) gets her home, just. Blue Diamond winner who returns for Anthony Freedman and is certainly in the mix to get the Godolphin slot for the Everest, so will be very interesting to see how she resumes. Recent jumpout was solid enough without jumping up and down, but she does seem a race day horse who doesn’t need to trial up a storm.

Danger

6 Cheer Leader (Bet Now: $7.00) will look the winner most of the way. Team Snowden trains this nippy filly, who is first up after a mixed Autumn prep. Brilliant sustained speed saw her win the St Albans at the Valley before finishing midfield in the Percy Sykes and was tipped out. Loved the way she went in a recent Flemington jumpout and I suspect she’ll lead these and run along.

Long Shot

Gee James Cummings speaks in glowing terms when it comes to Magic Millions winner 4 Exhilarates (Bet Now: $7.00). He’s talking as if this girl could be the pin up for the stable and the 3YO ranks this season. The Magic Millions win was stunning before a game effort in the Reisling, then raced like a tired horse in the Slipper. She’s got a brilliant finale on her and has class.

Race 7. (16:00) Regal Roller Stakes 1200m

Back Me

1 Fundamentalist…(Bet Now: $6.50) what to do with her? She has only won the two races from 18 starts, but has had a stack of Group l placings next to her name and has performed at the highest level very well without winning. Has paid the price as a result with the weight here, but she does have class and was a standout in a recent set of Flemington jumpouts.

Danger

I think you have to believe what you see when it comes to 9 Begood Toya Mother (Bet Now: $2.70). He was the real find of the Winter, winning 5/5, and after the latest win, the stable tipped him out for a little break with eyes towards the Spring. His jumpouts have been outstanding and looked to move very well between races last week at Warrnambool. He looks one happy horse.

Long Shot

6 Long Leaf (Bet Now: $10.00) will be suited over a tad further but he’s got a touch of class about him to be competitive here first up. He hasn’t raced since the Australian Guineas in the Autumn when midfield behind Mystic Journey. Recent jumpout told me he wants 1400-1600m, but if the speed is genuine in front here, he’ll be one of the strongest at the end of this race.

Race 8. (16:40) PB Lawrence Stakes 1400m

Back Me

Concede that Mystic Journey could well be a superstar and one day we might be thinking why did we let her go around at the price she was, but I think the opening price of $5.50 for 1 Hartnell (Bet Now: $4.20) is more than acceptable. Outside Winx, he’s been the best WFA horse in Australia the past few years and returns for another campaign in a very winnable race. Recent trial and jumpout has looked good and $5.50 for him is a price I’m happy to take, especially given his outstanding record at the Caulfield 1400m.

Danger

The Cox Plate journey begins here for 11 Mystic Journey (Bet Now: $2.00), who took all before her in the Autumn, highlighted by wins in the Australian Guineas and All Star Mile. Has been kept on ice for a little bit to dodge the wet tracks, and has been prepared for her return with two trials, doing what has been expected of her. Interesting to see what the market does with her.

Long Shot

In terms of quality stayers finding the line late, 9 Kenedna (Bet Now: $15.00) is one that interests me. She had a fab Autumn/Winter, highlighted by wins in the Coolmore Legacy and Doomben Cup, then ending the prep with a dominant win in the O’Shea. Liked the way she found the line late in a recent Cranbourne trial and expecting something similar to happen here.

Race 9. (17:15) Ladbrokes Odds Boost Handicap 1100m

Back Me

Sticking with 9 Jorda (Bet Now: $15.00). She comes through the Miss Iano race from three weeks ago here where she tried hard when off the speed and got the gaps at the right time, but was no match late for the impressive finale from the Mark Webb trained mare. Gets really good weight relief this time around, McEvoy on, soft gate…tricky race but she’ll do me in the get out.

Danger

12 Victory Kingdom (Bet Now: $7.50) is a four year old mare returning to the races after a pretty good Autumn prep, which saw her run a couple of placings at Stakes level against her own age/sex before ending the prep a tired horse in the Alexandra at the Valley. Liked what I have seen from her at the jumpouts and she looks a more mature animal compared to what was seen in the Autumn.

Long Shot

I wouldn’t underestimate 4 Working From Home (Bet Now: $20.00), who is first up. Talented mare when right and she showed glimpses of that in the Autumn, placing behind Haunted here first up before being down the track in the McKay at Morphettville behind subsequent Group l winner Despatch. Recent jumpout and work between races alongside Begood Toya Mother was good enough to be competitive here.

Best Bets & Quaddie Tips

BEST BET: Race Eight Number 1 Hartnell

NEXT BEST: Race Five Number 1 Dubious

LONG SHOT: Race Three Number 1 Duretto

 

Quaddie Tips (Races Six Through To Nine):

Leg One: 1, 4, 6, 9

Leg Two: 1, 5, 6, 9

Leg Three: 1, 11

Leg Four: 3, 4, 9, 10, 12

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