One of the significant in terms of the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup landscape is the $500,000 Group l Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and the time honoured major highlights racing from Flemintgon this Saturday. Lucia Valentina, Silent Achiever and Puissance De Lune are at the top of the betting, closely followed by Crackerjack King and Happy Trails. Three $200,000 Group ll’s support the big one, including the TAB Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m), the Gilgai Stakes (1200m) and the Blazer Stakes (1400m).
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Race One (12:40) : Greenland Maribyrnong Trial Stakes 1000m:
Back Me: First two year old race in Melbourne this season with plenty of trials and jumpouts to glance over. There were some nice performances, but I was very impressed by the jumpout of Mihalic (Best Odds: $6.50) here last week. She pinged the barriers, led all the way and won under triple wraps. Time was a touch slower compared to the other jumpouts that morning, but she was easily the most impressive hence why she is on top.
Big Danger: Drill Master (Best Odds: $5.00) trialled last week at Cranbourne, and during the first half of the trial, he really had no idea what he was doing, but when given a couple on the rump coming to the turn, he switched on and was very good in the straight under no real pressure, running second. Stable likes to get them up and running early and draws close to the rail, which is very important with these youngsters as they have something to help down the Flemington straight.
Roughie: Iceflow (Best Odds: $6.50) was the third pick from the trials and jumpouts. He finished second in a Flemington jumpout after being tardy away, but was really untouched by the rider compared to the winner Patch Adams, who was given a good workout. Trained on the track, which is an advantage, and is drawn wide, so he should be out of trouble and allowed to do his own thing.
Race Two (13:15) : UCI Stakes 1800m:
Back Me: God bless Firehouse Rock (Best Odds: $13.00) for his win at Caulfield last time out at $15, and I am going to stay loyal with him. That win wasn’t a fluke in my opinion because his two runs prior, albeit in maiden company, were really progressive and showed that this horse can measure up to the Derby. Margin was only narrow at Caulfield, but I’d put that down to being ridden just off the space. I’d like to see him ridden a touch more quiet and saved a bit, in particular with the long straight of Flemintgon. Trained on the track, stack of upside left I think and will run the distance out.
Big Danger: War Point (Best Odds: $10.00) has been very consistent in recent starts without winning, but is certainly knocking on the door to win one. He closed of really well late behind Firehouse Rock at Caulfield, and like that horse, he will have no issues running out 1800m. He does have a bit more race experience on his side and the better formlines, and the stable is in form.
Roughie: Light Up Manhattan (Best Odds: $15.00) should have just about won when resuming at Bendigo, then was sent around as a $1.30 favourite at Wangaratta, and after a few hairy moments in the straight, he eventually wore down the leader and was very strong at the end of 1590m. Ciaron Maher is a very good trainer who doesn’t throw them in the deep unless there is success, so this horse should be closely watched.
Race Three (13:50) : The Bart Cummings 2520m:
Back Me: Pretty ordinary edition of this race, so Who Shot Thebarman (Best Odds: $1.85) goes on top. His first two runs back from a break were plain, then he came to Flemington and was quite impressive in winning, albeit in weak company. But the field he meets here isn’t that much stronger, and will only be benefited by the rise to 2520m. Clear horse to beat.
Big Danger: Ibicenco (Best Odds: $6.00) has been quite good in two runs back from a break. He worked home okay first up behind Stipulate, then went to the Naturalism and was caught wide early on and that effort probably cost him a place, but he did pick up late and was solid through the line. Drawn to be put to sleep on the rail and he will be very strong at the end of this race, so he rates as a serious threat.
Roughie: If Sea Moon (Best Odds: $4.80) turns up at his best, he beats these and beats them quite comfortably, but it’s hard to know where he is at given he is first up and his form so far since coming to Australia has been even. Had the one run in the Autumn, a last in the Blamey behind Lidari. Oliver being booked is a plus, and the field isn’t strong.
Race Four (14:25) : Yellowglen Vintage Stakes 1400m:
Back Me: I was quite impressed by the maiden win of Royal Standing (Best Odds: $13.00) at Seymour last week on a heavy track. He led them up at a good speed and just kept going in the straight to win by nearly four, and ran good time. Clearly the fastest out of the three maidens run over that distance on the program and was less than a second outside the fast class horses, so that tells me he can measure up, and this race doesn’t carry a great deal of depth, so I’ll go with him each way.
Big Danger: Wandjina (Best Odds: $3.40) produced a couple of ordinary runs to kick off his Spring, then was sent to last in the Guineas Prelude and really hit the line with purpose when fourth to Rich Enuff. As we know with Gai, her horses are generally ridden on the speed, but this could be one of the rare ones that needs to be ridden with cover. Reproduces that run last Sunday to here, and he’ll go close.
Roughie: Staviva (Best Odds: $5.50) steps up to Stakes level after winning impressively last time out at Mornington (metro meeting), coming wide on the turn and letting down with a powerful finish to win with authority and like Royal Standing, ran really good time and was only a half second outside the fast class horses who ran earlier in the day. Should get every chance from the paint and rates as a chance.
Race Five (15:00) : Gilgai Stakes 1200m:
Back Me: Second best bet on the card for me in Chatauqua (Best Odds: $3.00), who showed a Black Caviar-like turn of foot to win the Bobbie Lewis (1200m) with ridiculous ease three weeks back. There is a Group l in him, and with Lankan Rupee not being at his best, the door is open for the next up and coming sprinting superstar-enter Chatauqua. A repeat of his Bobbie Lewis run here and he wins again.
Big Danger: If the top tip is off his game, then the one to beat is Temple Of Boom (Best Odds: $4.60). He was the best of the beaten brigade in the Bobbie Lewis, running second, beaten a comfortable 2.5 lengths. The keys in his favour is that he is a proven straight track horse, fitter and gets a 6kg weight pull on the top tip, so he certainly comes into consideration for exotics, and is the logical quinella horse.
Roughie: Star kiwi mare Bounding (Best Odds: $4.60) makes her Melbourne debut for Ken Kelso after a fabulous Autumn, which saw her win two from two in New Zealand, both at Group l level, before coming to Sydney for the Championships and running a narrow second to Sidestep in the Royal Sovereign (1200m). The form out of that race has been franked thanks to the likes of In Cahoots, Turquoise King and Chatauqua, who was three lengths behind her there, and meets her at the same weights here. She was due to make her return a couple of weeks back home, but had an elevated temperature and instead resumes here. Her exhibition gallop last week was outstanding and she is certainly a mare who shouldn’t be treated lightly.
Race Six (15:40) : TAB Edward Manifold Stakes 1600m:
Back Me: Fontein Ruby (Best Odds: $9.00) for me here. She strung together two impressive wins at Sportingbet Park and here, then was freshened up and ran a couple of weeks back at Caulfield when a closing fifth to Thinking Of You, who will go around as a leading contender in the Flight Stakes at Randwick, so the form does read well for this, and certainly gives the impression she’ll relish the step up to 1600m. Hard to beat.
Big Danger: Unbeaten filly Maastricht (Best Odds: $3.10) steps up to city level for Team Hawkes after two impressive wins at the provincials, firstly on a bog track at Echuca, then went to Bendigo and was very impressive there against the older horses, running faster time than the better class horses on the same program, and that’s always a good measuring stick. Big class rise, but Team Hawkes know when to push the button.
Roughie: Royal Ocean (Best Odds: $9.00) comes back to Melbourne after winning the Morphettville Guineas, beating the highly touted filly Moody filly Betsy in a great finish. She ran the mile out strongly there and was good through the line, so she is one of only a few who are proven at this distance, so that is an advantage, as well as being rock hard fit. Also keep an eye on Little Hottie for Mick Kent. She looked high class when winning on debut recently at Kyneton and can certainly measure up.
Race Seven (16:20) : Turnbull Stakes 2000m:
Back Me: Putting Happy Trails (Best Odds: $7.50) on top. His first two runs back from a break were just fair, but then he really bounced back to his best with an unexpected narrow second in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) to Foreteller. Connections were expecting him to need that run to tune up for this and then the Cox Plate, but he has exceeded expectations and is right on track for this and the big dance at the Valley. Won the race last year, and is going much better than what he was 12 months, and beat a stronger field.
Big Danger: Been very impressed with the way Puissance De Lune (Best Odds: $6.00) has gone about his business this Spring. Loved the way he toughed it out in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), where he took a little while to wind up, but was very good late and was strong through the line, telling me that 2000m is ideal. If the rain came, he’d be on top, but nonetheless, he’ll be very hard to beat.
Roughie: It’s starting to get close to D-Day for The Offer (Best Odds: $21.00) in my opinion. First up run in the Dato was very good, then in the Underwood, he was good very late after coming off the bit a fair way from home. Getting out to a trip now, bigger track, fitter and both Gai and Tommy have been quite bullish the past week about this horse and his chances come Saturday.
Race Eight (17:00) : Blazer Stakes 1400m:
Back Me: Best bet on the card for mine in the shape of Politeness (Best Odds: $6.00). Loved the way she trialled prior to her first up run in the How Now where she was wide all the way yet stuck it out strongly and was very good late when a narrow fourth to Girl Guide. Up to 1400m, fitter, good record second up, and has that lethal turn of foot to really put these away if she is ridden with cover and saved for the final 250m. If that eventuates, she wins.
Big Danger: Suavito (Best Odds: $5.50) was given an Olly special to win first up at Caulfield, then ran at that track again and looked the winner, only to be nabbed right on the peg by Star Fashion. Gets much needed weight relief now, back to her home track, has the fitness edge and the stable is having a good little run at the moment.
Roughie: The prospect of a good speed should suit one of the better performed mares in the race, Bonaria (Best Odds: $6.50), who closed off really well in the Let’s Elope behind Commanding Jewel. The form out of that race has stood up with the likes of Dear Demi and Solicit, so that’s a tick. Gets in pretty well at the weights given her record, drawn to get a soft run and loves Flemington.
Race Nine (17:35) : Headquarters Tavern Stakes 1400m:
Back Me: There doesn’t appear to be much speed in the race, so I’m going to stick with Ryker (Best Odds: $3.90). I was quite keen on him first up at Caulfield, and I thought he was fantastic there. He came over and did some work from the wide barrier to sit outside the leader, and on the turn looked a beaten horse, but the horse just kept responding to the urges of Tommy Berry and the horse toughed it out for third to Fast ‘N’ Rocking and Anatina, both Group l performers. Remains at 54kg, should either lead or sit outside Spirits Dance and prove a very tough nut to crack, especially with the rail out.
Big Danger: Lucky Hussler (Best Odds: $5.50) has produced two cracking runs since joining the Darren Weir stable. Worked home with purpose first up at the Valley behind Atlante and Trust In A Gust, then ran second to the latter at Caulfield a couple of weeks back. Trust In A Gust went on to win the Sir Rupert Clarke last Sunday, so that is clearly the best form line, but as a result is getting hurt in the weights hence why he is not the top tip. A good draw and a soft trip with cover may get him home.
Roughie: Under The Louvre (Best Odds: $6.50) is low flying at the moment for Robert Smerdon. Produced a barnstorming finish to win three back at the Valley, then ran third to Trust In A Gust and Solsay at the same track before coming here and running a close up second to Late Charge. Nothing wrong with that form and he gets barrier one and the likely box seat trail.
BEST BET: Race Eight Number 4 Politeness
NEXT BEST: Race Five Number 5 Chautauqua
VALUE: Race Four Number 4 Royal Standing
Quaddie Tips (Races Six Through To Nine):
Leg One: 2, 5, 9, 13
Leg Two: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 16
Leg Three: 4
Leg Four: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11
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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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