Underwood Stakes day: tips and preview
Southern Speed just edges out Manighar (Image: AAP)
Tomorrow sees the first group one in Melbourne for the Spring, the time-honoured Underwood Stakes, and history says there’s a good chance the Caulfield Cup and/or Cox Plate winner will be racing in the 1800m Caulfield feature.
We’re also lucky enough to have racing at the highest level in a second state, with Sydney producing the running of the George Main Stakes over one of the most famous courses in the world – the 1600m at Royal Randwick.
Last week we were able to find the winner of the Dato Tan Chin Nam in Happy Trails at $6, and our top selection in the Golden Rose, Albrecht, ran a head second at the $10 mark.
The Underwood normally assembles one of the strongest weight-for-age (WFA) fields of the spring, and while there may not be the depth over nine furlongs in this edition, it does contain a powerful top end.
Manighar and Southern Speed resume hostilities after providing a line-ball quinella in the Makybe Diva (nee Craiglee) Stakes.
It has been well documented how Peter Moody has been able to inject some speed into the legs of the former international and, as the best credentialed WFA horse in the race after a sizzling 2012, he’s the punters’ elect, having been spectacularly backed from an opening quote of $3.40 into $2.40 with Tab Sportsbet.
The South Australian mare is having the fourth run of her campaign, and she ran second under those circumstances in this race last year. She continues to prove her quality with every outing and will be looking to get the best of Manighar two starts in a row.
Sincero brings his winning Memsie Stakes form into the race, with connections pleased to see those that finished behind him that day providing the trifecta in last week’s Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley. While not convincing as a WFA horse last Spring, he’s come back stronger and has the best finishing sprint of the contenders.
Ocean Park has arrived from New Zealand, after dramatically winning the group one Mafki Challenge over 1400m. He fits the profile of last year’s Underwood winner, the ill-fated Lion Tamer, as a four year old from across the Tasman coming out of the same race. I’m not convinced about the form around him just yet, but he deserves to be in the mix.
While these four will be favoured to fight out the finish, three of the last five winners have saluted at double figure odds, so a few runners might spring a surprise.
Voila Ici, who may get a soft time of it up near the lead and give them something to catch, Mawingo, who we can forget ran around at Flemington and had beaten Manighar the previous time they met, and of course December Draw, who does have superstar quality and will have arguably have derived the most benefit from any runner in the Makybe Diva.
The rest have got enough against them to suggest they won’t be furnishing the winners stall come race end.
I’m not keen to get terribly involved from a betting perspective here. With the trio of favourites all drawing wide gates, it won’t surprise to see one of them posted three-wide the trip, but which one?
Manighar probably has to go on top, but he’s rock bottom odds for mine. I can see Sincero pinging to the front in the straight and looking the winner at some stage if he can get the right run from the barrier, and Southern Speed has to be around the mark as the honest mare she is. Even Moody’s second-stringers can’t be underestimated, and Voila Ici can be closer than many expect.
Selections: 1. Manighar 2. Sincero 3. Southern Speed 4. Voila Ici
Each-way All Day
Like a lot of punters, I’ve been waiting for Lamasery to find his right race after huge first and second-up runs in the Warwick Stakes and the Chelmsford respectively, and he appears to have found it in the Hill Stakes over 2000m at Randwick tomorrow.
The spruik on him is huge in this event, and you’ll see Lamasery tipped at the expense of all others from Sydney to Slovakia, from Kensington to Kazakhstan. However, there might be more to this race than a simple ‘put in, take out’ job.
It seems that most haven’t bothered to assess the opposition carefully in their haste to back David Vandyke’s galloper into $2.90, and while I concede that he’s the one to beat, regular readers will know that I’m all about value, and I think there’s some to be found elsewhere in the race.
There are not many tougher horses around than Mourayan, from the flying Lloyd Williams/Robert Hickmott stable, and the evidence was on display first up in the Makybe Diva Stakes. He was posted out on a limb for the entire race and refused to go away in the straight, beaten only two and a half lengths behind two pretty handy horses that were mentioned above in the Underwood preview, Manighar and Southern Speed.
This is a horse whose resume boasts a second in the Mackinnon last time he raced over this distance, and has a second in a BMW and Metropolitan, as well as a third, beaten less than a length, behind Americain and Manighar in a Zipping Classic.
He’s produced some big second-up runs under huge weight since arriving at Macedon Lodge, and he’ll be going forward with ease from barrier nine to either lead or tack on behind Ginga Dude and Midas Touch, neither of which will prove difficult to pass.
Lamasery will be standing Mourayan two or three lengths at least when they straighten for the run to the post, and with the former drawing barrier one, favourite backers might be sweating on a run for longer than they’d like.
Meanwhile, Mourayan may well be off and gone, and he’s a tough horse to get past when not tackling the absolute elite. I’d rather take $7 on him than sub-$3 on Lamasery under the conditions of this race, and the beauty of backing the former is that we’ll make a profit even if he runs second or third, which is a stone cold guarantee.
If you’re ever going to look for value in a race, it has to be a 1200m mares sprint at Caulfield late in the day. Such races are famous for kicking punters out of a quaddie after they’re alive going into the last leg, and I think we’ve got one tomorrow we can throw in, and maybe write an each-way ticket at $18 or more.
Gossip Girl is a lightly raced six year old in career best form. She’s only tackled black-type races twice in her career – both this preparation, both over this distance and, crucially, both against the boys. Remember, she only faces her own sex this week.
In the first, the listed All Victorian Sprint at Flemington, she was beaten 0.2 lengths into second behind Ready to Rip, which then went on to win the Bletchingly and run third in the Liston.
In the other, which was her last start, the group three WFA Spring Stakes at Morphettville, she was beaten 0.2 lengths again, and split a couple of horses you may have heard of, Happy Trails and Southern Speed, both of which have since won the best WFA races in the state.
Gossip Girl will either lead or sit just behind Classy Chloe in the run, and she’ll give them something to catch in the run to the line. That’s the sort of roughie I like to be on.
In other races through the day, keep an eye on Formidable in race three at Caulfield, Speediness in the Bill Ritchie at Randwick, and as for the George Main, it’s too tough for me. Like most, I’ll be looking very closely at All Too Hard to see how he measures up against some of the toughest older horses in the land.
Cameron Rose is a born and bred Melbournian, raised on a regime of AFL, cricket and horse racing. He likes people who agree with him but loves those that don't, for in his mind there is nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.