An absolute belter of a program is set to be run and won on Saturday at Flemington where it’s Makybe Diva Stakes Day, named in honour of the triple Melbourne Cup winner and the only horse in history to win at four successive Melbourne Cup carnivals.
The feature race is the $300,000 Group ll Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m). Last year, Littorio resumed off a long break and swept past his more fancied rivals to record a stunning win. Never say never in regards to this year, but I highly doubt there’ll be a major upset. Southern Speed is the early favourite ahead of Manighar.
Other key races are the $220,000 Group ll Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m), where the boom mare Lady Melksham is looking to continue her winning ways, while in the Danehill Stakes (1200m), classy filly Snitzerland will be looking to improve on her impressive record, which includes a slick win in the San Domenico Stakes when resuming.
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Race One: Cap D’Antibes Stakes 1100m Form Guide
Back Me: Get the dartboard and throw them. How can you back just one horse here? I’ll stick with Agueda. I was very impressed by her barrier trial and she lived right up to that with a slashing second behind Elite Elle. Don’t worry about Elite Elle getting beat on the weekend because the track was too firm for her. With Agueda, she races better on top of the ground and she’ll get conditions to suit.
Don’t Back Me: I like Armed For Action as a horse, and although he has had experience down the straight, I don’t think he handles it. I think he is a risk, especially first up.
Big Danger: Omniscient bumped into She’s A Fox on debut then found the Magic Night a bit rich. Had a break, trialled nicely and won well first up in a strong maiden race at Canterbury. Being trained by Peter Snowden at Flemington, she would have had plenty of experience down the straight since being transferred south.
Roughie: She won’t be rough, but keep an eye on Dazzler. She was ultra impressive in two starts in the Autumn, both resulting in easy wins. She could be a Guineas/Oaks type, so look for her to charge home.
Race Two: Henry Bucks Best Dressed 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: Going to declare Awesome Bro. Lovely type of gelding for Leon Corstens. Had the easy kill on debut at Swan Hill, looked all at sea in the mud at Sandown but still won easily, then went to Moonee Valley and he had no idea what to do around the circuit. His effort to finish fifth was outstanding. The bigger surroundings of Flemington, wide barrier (clear galloping space), Oliver sticks, firm track. I am all over him.
Don’t Back Me: Forget is a nice gelding for Darley, but I question the horses he beat in the Centrebet Vase at Seymour. And his other win was on the Synthetic at Geelong where he didn’t beat much. Happy to pass.
Big Danger: I thought Dominant was excellent when resuming. Sat off a solid tempo, eased out wide, took a while to wind up, hit the front at the 100m but was only collared right on the line by Rusambo, a much improved youngster for Darley. From the awkward draw, I think Ben Melham will have to ride him cold, but he’ll be fitter and can definitely threaten if he is close enough at the 200m.
Roughie: Pat Carey always produces a handy one and Right To Roam fits that bill. He really caught the eye in the same race that Awesome Bro and Dominant contested at the Valley. I have no doubt he is a Derby horse, so whatever he does here, he’ll improve on. But he could sneak into the exotics if they want to go mad in front.
Race Three: The Sofitel Stakes 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: Very, very keen on Launay. I thought he ran a cracker when resuming behind Freereturn, who is nippy sprinter, at Caulfield. He is a very consistent type and he has found a perfect race here. Goes well on firm going, three from four second up, perfect barrier, can carry weight…Looks the winner.
Don’t Back Me: Mister Milton did finish fourth in the Memsie last Saturday. On face value, that form gets him home here, but remember he was up against stayers who were getting the kilometres in the legs for bigger and better things. Don’t get sucked in.
Big Danger: I rate Illo very highly in this. His two first up runs when under the care of Bart Cummings have resulted in a third behind Americain and a fourth behind Black Caviar. Sure, he has a wide barrier and 60kg, but one thing he has on these is class.
Roughie: Continuing the theme of stayers, don’t be surprised to see the Lord Stakes winner Ulundi run another cheeky race. He was a shade unlucky when resuming in the Aurie’s Star. Sure, he would not have won, or featured in the placings, but he should have finished much closer. In a race that lacks depth, throw him in your exotics.
Race Four: Let’s Elope Stakes 1400m Form Guide
Back Me: $7 for Total Attraction!? Hello! Gee that’s big overs for this mare. Was the run of the day when she resumed at Moonee Valley then she couldn’t pick herself up on the bottomless track at Caulfield. Been given a few weeks to get over that tough run by trainer Peter Moody. From the inside draw, Nolen should give her the run of the race.
Don’t Back Me: I am a fan of Lady Melksham, but like last week with Elite Elle, there has to be questions about whether or not she can handle a bone dry surface. If she does, then yes, she’ll be hard to hold out, but at $3.40? No thanks.
Big Danger: With the two star kiwi mares (Miss Artistic and Zurella) in the race, there is great value to be had. The value looks to be the two Ellerton/Zahra mares, Booklet ($15) and Twilighting ($13). Booklet never looked at home behind Lady Melksham at Caulfield when resuming and getting back onto her home track and dry ground will help while Twilighting is on the quick back up from last week where she didn’t have much luck behind Let’s Be Happy. She is knocking on the door.
Roughie: A three time Group l winner at $17 (Yosei)? Gee if the real Yosei, showed up, she’d be awfully hard to stop. Never travelled behind Lady Melksham. Went back to the trials and went ok in finishing third. Don’t rule her out.
Race Five: Danehill Stakes 1200m Form Guide
Back Me: Take the best price you can for Snitzerland because she is a fair dinkum moral against this lot. Classy filly from Sydney who resumed with a dominant win in the San Domenico. Her only defeat came in the Golden Slipper, where Pierro had to pull out everything to get past her. That form just gets her home here.
Don’t Back Me: Nothing. Just back Snitzerland.
Big Danger: I like Rusambo. Always have since day one, but he has really put it all together this time in with two wins from three starts. He is looking for further than 1200m, so that could be an issue, but he’ll be running on strongly at the end.
Roughie: Pronto Pronto had no idea how to race clockwise when he resumed in the Rosebud at Warwick Farm when beaten by star filly She’s A Fox. Back to Melbourne, back to Flemington and a slight drop in grade, apart from the top tip, should see him run an improved race.
Race Six: Makybe Diva Stakes 1600m Form Guide
Back Me: I’ll stick with Southern Speed. Caulfield Cup winner from last year, she has returned in great order. Good first up run in the Spring Stakes before kicking into action with a superb win in the Penny Edition. She didn’t appear that happy in the mud but still powered away late, so expect her to fire even more here on top of the ground. Hard to beat.
Don’t Back Me: I have potted Manighar since he joined Peter Moody. He proved me wrong on many occasions but I’ll take him on again. Just not sure he’ll be forward enough to win.
Big Danger: Really keen to see how Mawingo performs. Had a successful winter in Brisbane, which included a Doomben Cup win. Has had two trials to prepare for this and he has looked very good. Big watch first up.
Roughie: Second Effort probably isn’t up to this standard of horse, but gee he was brave last week in the Memsie. Bone dry track, which he hates, got checked several times by Sincero, lost plenty of momentum yet picked up to run third. He is rock hard fit for this, drawn perfectly and he proved last week that he can run a cheeky race in this company.
Race Seven: Bobbie Lewis Quality 1200m Form Guide
Back Me: Tough race. I’ll go with Smokin’ Joey. His record at Flemington isn’t flash, but he has contested some strong races against the likes of Shamrocker and the internationally performed Soul. Trialled nicely at Cranbourne and I am tipping a big first up run from this bloke at a nice price of $8.
Don’t Back Me: I know she is a star, but gee it’ll take a big effort for Mosheen to beat this big field first up down the straight after having a minor operation. From all reports, she has worked well leading up to this, but $5.50 does seem a tad unders.
Big Danger: Interested to see the return of We’re Gonna Rock. Last campaign he had four starts, the first three…I question the form. But then in his fourth and final run, he ran Black Caviar to 1.3 lengths…Sure, Nolen had her at cantering speed, but still, 1.3 lengths away from the best sprinter in the world is very good. Look for him to flash late.
Roughie: I’ll throw one out of left field- Veewap. I thought his first up run behind Broken at Moonee Valley was a beauty. Sat a clear last throughout, couldn’t get a clear, but when he did at the 100m, he rocketed. His record at Flemington, again, doesn’t read well, but at $51, put him in trifectas/first fours given that Dean Yendall is only here for a couple of rides.
Race Eight: Sofitel Girls’ Day Out Handicap 2000m Form Guide
Back Me: Excluded does look hard to beat in this. Made up ground when resuming behind Parthian, then did the job well, without being great, in beating Philda at the Valley. However, third up over 2000m at Flemington should see this bloke fire all cylinders.
Don’t Back Me: Not really sure, because it’s a three horse race I think.
Big Danger: Former European galloper Buxted produced a monster Australian debut behind Banca Mo. He was gone a fair way out but grinded away strongly and only just missed out on second by a lip. The bigger track is an advantage as well as the booking of Froggy Newitt. The horse needs an agressive rider and Newitt is one of the best in the world.
Roughie: Shewan was excellent in his first up run behind Excluded. Sat back, was niggled at all the way, but found the line well for a midfield finish. Goes well second up and is a deadset dry track horse. Look for him to run on again.
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