The third day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival rolls around on Thursday with it being Crown Oaks Day. The feature race is the $1 Million Crown Oaks (2500m) and on paper, it appears to be a two horse race between Zydeco and Dear Demi, with the former being the clear favourite after a dominant win last Saturday in the traditional lead up race, the Wakeful Stakes (2000m).
Several blacktype races support the drawcard. The first of these is the $150,000 Listed G.H. Mumm Stakes (1100m). This race was won last year by Ortensia. She went on to group one glory in Perth, Dubai and England. This years edition doesn’t have that sort of depth, but it does look to be a quality race.
The three year old fillies will do battle in the $150,000 Listed Gucci Icons Of Heritage Stakes (1200m). Queenslander Emmalene, trained by Liam Birchley, showed a nice turn of foot to win this event 12 months ago. Birchley is represented by Snipzu, who looks a live chance after a couple of eye catching runs in Melbourne.
The other two blacktype events are the $150,000 Listed Myer Spring Fashion Stakes (1800m) for the three year olds, while the sprinters will slog it out in the $150,000 Listed Fashions On The Field Stakes (1000m).
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Race One: Visit Victoria Plate (72) 1700m Form Guide
Back Me: This race appears to be a tricky one from a betting point of view. I think there is some value about Ready Diva. Her first three runs were very good before she put it all together at Hamilton with a dominant win over 1400m. The way she hit the line there suggests that 1700m will be no issue. In a race that’s even, I’ll go with her.
Don’t Back Me: Prepared to put a line through Moreau. She was solid at Moonee Valley, but I’d rather watch her try to repeat that sort of run rather have money on her.
Big Danger: Gladius has looked very good in two career starts for two wins. Her last start win at Kembla was enormous given she sustained a long run yet still came hard to win on the line. Matty Dale has a very good record when racing horses in Melbourne. Triquetra won with ease first up at Ballarat, then worked home well last start at Caulfield in a strong fillies race. The step up in trip looks perfect.
Roughie: Royal Amati looks like the sort of filly who will appreciate racing at 2000m and beyond. She got off the bit last start at Seymour, but wound up strongly late to break her maiden status. She could definitely surprise at odds.
Race Two: Swisse Wellness Trophy (89) 1800m Form Guide
Back Me: I was quite impressed by Micken and his strong win last week at Ballarat. He was quite green in the straight, but once he got balanced up, he attacked the line strongly. 1800m is no issue, barrier one looks perfect, the track rating looks ideal and trainer Kevin Myers is one of the most astute trainers in New Zealand and his satelite stable at Ballarat has been on fire recently.
Don’t Back Me: I can’t have Orbital Motion here. He loomed up to win the Seymour Cup last start, but paddled the last 150m, suggesting that he fails to get a trip. That was 1600m, so 1800m is a major worry.
Big Danger: There is not a more consistent horse at the moment than Commanding Time. Started a $2.30 favourite in the Hamilton Cup last start and after hitting the lead at the 200m mark, he was grabbed near the post. The drop back to 1800m looks ideal and Bossy takes the ride.
Roughie: Pelicano was the real eye catcher when resuming in the Murray Bridge Cup. The winner of that race, Eclair Surprise, was very impressive when winning at Flemington on Tuesday, so the form has held up very well.
Race Three: G.H. Mumm Stakes 1100m Form Guide
Back Me: Very keen on Dystopia. Her two runs during the Sydney carnival were excellent, winning one and finishing third behind the quinella of the Epsom Handicap. Trialled sensationally last week and if she is anywhere near fit, she’ll be going very close to winning.
Don’t Back Me: Mrs Onassis is a quality sprinting mare. However, I think she’ll struggle at the 1100m down the straight against a good field here that boasts some depth.
Big Danger: Serene Star is absolutely flying at present. Stunning win at Caulfield two back before she came from near last and just failed to pick up Mrs Onassis. She can and will turn the tables on that mare and is a definite threat, especially if the rain arrives. The other threat is Ever The Same. She has been quite good in Sydney. If she gets a trail into the race, she can win.
Roughie: Flash Of Doubt is another mare that is in form. She caught the eye in the race that Mrs Onassis won at Caulfield and she is one to include in multiples.
Race Four: Gucci Icons Of Heritage Stakes 1200m Form Guide
Back Me: First of my specials here in the shape of Isabella Snowflake. Ran her debut over the 1000m here and she absolutely bolted in, and won in smart time. She was sent for a spell and resumed on Thousand Guineas Day. She jumped brilliantly, led, kicked on the corner and sprinted hard to win again. She is a good filly heading places and although this is her toughest test to date, she has fresh legs and plenty of upside.
Don’t Back Me: What you see is what you get with Agueda. She always gives 110% and busts her gut every time. However, she rarely wins and she is taking on some nice fillies here.
Big Danger: The freshen up of Meidung looks perfect for a race like this. Just found the distance and class of the Tea Rose a bit much last start and was sent for a break after that. More than likely would have had a few gallops down the Flemington straight and the stable has had a good Cup Carnival so far.
Roughie: The query runner is Shamal Wind for Robert Smerdon. Made her debut at Ballarat and was crunched into odds on…and she didn’t disappoint her supporters with a brilliant on pace demolition of her rivals. Big ask stepping up from a Ballarat maiden to blacktype company during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, but Smerdon is a very good trainer and he knows where to place his runners.
Race Five: TCL 3D TV Greys Plate (89) 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: Arinosa does look the one here. She won three and placed in another two from six starts last campaign. She resumed the other day at Rosehill. She didn’t begin great and was forced to sit wide early. She then was off the bit a fair way out and seemingly going nowhere quickly yet she picked up and savaged the line late. With a clean jump here, she can sit near the speed and prove hard to run down.
Don’t Back Me: I loved Specters effort at Caulfield at behind Free Wheeling…but that’s what he does. Just puts in a good effort without winning. He can win this, but he seems unders.
Big Danger: New Beginning was good in the Tristarc without getting much luck. She is a talented mare who has the class to flash home over the top of these, especially if there is any rain about.
Roughie: The bolter who could run a race is Dashalot. Stuck on well first up at Echuca, then was dreadful on Geelong Cup Day. If she brought her best form, she’d be a first four contender.
Race Six: Crown Oaks 2500m Form Guide
Back Me: Sticking with Zydeco. She was very impressive in the Wakeful and still appeared to have plenty left in the tank when she hit the line. Barrier seven is perfect for her and she takes on the same bunch of fillies. Can’t see her getting beat.
Don’t Back Me: Dear Demi has been up for a long time and given the way she races, she will receive more bad luck than good luck. I think Zydeco has her measure.
Big Danger: The knockout horse is Summerbliss. Produced a barnstorming win on debut at Ballarat, then went to the Ethereal at Caulfield and after coming off the bit at the 600m mark, she got going late and finished a close second. Barrier one here, Williams should put her to sleep and being trained by a master of stayers in Mick Kent, she will run the distance right out.
Roughie: Maraatib looks the big overs at $21. She was a bit unlucky behind Zydeco because she was held up briefly and wasn’t allowed to build up momentum. If she gets a clear run, there is no reason why she can’t be in the placings again.
Race Seven: Myer Spring Fashion Stakes 1800m Form Guide
Back Me: Keen on the kiwi galloper Scapolo. Was very impressive on his Australian debut from Murtoa, then was very unlucky on Cranbourne Cup Day. He made amends at Ballarat last week with a dominant on pace peformance. Carrying weight is no issue and he’ll improve a length or two if the rain arrives because he is a swimmer.
Don’t Back Me: Looks to be a three horse race between the top three acceptors.
Big Danger: Kazanluk was quite impressive in the fillies classic at Moonee Valley. If she was prepared differently, she would have been a genuine chance in the Oaks. In saying that, she does look very well placed against this lot. Pharomac was the run of the afternoon on Thousand Guineas Day behind Ava’s Delight. He sat near last and wide in a very slowly run race yet still got home strongly out wide late. He’ll appreciate the step up in trip and the inside barrier is a big help.
Roughie: The two roughies are The Principal and Host Of The Party. The Principal has gotten better with each run and looks quite capable of stepping up here while the other horse was quite impressive on debut at Seymour, beating Pretty Gully. That horse won well on Tuesday at Rosehill.
Race Eight: Fashion On The Field Stakes 1000m Form Guide
Back Me: If he handles the straight course, I Get Around will prove very hard to run down. He trialled like a bomb before his first up run at Moonee Valley where he had no idea how to handle the circuit. His effort to only get beat a head was excellent. He is talented and is on the minimum for Bossy.
Don’t Back Me: Golden Archer had his chance in the Yellowglen last Saturday behind Fontelina. Dropping back to 1000m is ideal, but a question mark about the weight and his enthusiasm is a concern.
Big Danger: It’s Crunch Time is a beauty. Very good strike rate, admittedly around tight circuits, so it will be interesting to see how he handles Flemington. In saying that, he is flying, he is nippy, jumps on the pace and keeps going. Big threat.
Roughie: Zaratone ran a cracking first up race in the Lightning at Randwick where he set a very fast speed and kicked on strongly, only to be grabbed in the last couple of strides. There was on pace bias there, so the run could be a risk to look at, but he will give a great sight here at odds. Another roughie to include is General Truce. He has been a quality performer for a while now and is in form.
Race Nine: Grazia Ultimate Style Handicap 1600m Form Guide
Back Me: New York for me in the last. Resumed in a metro race at Mornington and found the line well, then made amends with a dominant last to first win at Cranbourne. He then ran on Geelong Cup Day and had a soft run on the fence before shoving into the clear and flashing hard late to just miss in a very close photo finish. He looks very well placed provided the track is no worse than dead.
Don’t Back Me: Lord Wimble proved me wrong with a strong win at Moonee Valley last start. However, that was a race for Country Cup class gallopers. There is a bit more depth here.
Big Danger: Prizum has been in fantastic form this time in. A win in the Bairnsdale Cup two back was followed by a strong second to the flying Sertorius in the Sale Cup. Has good overall records at the track and distance as well as handling all conditions, but he would prefer some rain to drop. Whatever the case, he’ll be hard to beat.
Roughie: A bolter to keep an eye on is Streets Of Seattle. She didn’t have a great deal of luck when resuming on Geelong Cup Day when finishing second last, but she was only beaten just over five lengths. She races well second up and loves a soft track. Don’t be surprised if she runs a cheeky race.
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