My fearless predictions for the Spring Carnival
Jockey Nash Rawiller riding Pierro wins race 3 at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on Saturday, April 28, 2012.
There’s always conjecture about when the Spring Carnival officially begins but I believe Saturday’s Turnbull meeting is when the racing gets serious.
Randwick’s bumper Super Saturday program, underlined by four Group Ones, is the last day of Group racing in Sydney for several weeks and signifies the change of focus from Sydney to Melbourne racing.
So, with the Melbourne Cup only five weeks away it’s time to jump off the fence and make some declarations for the spring.
The last three Spring Carnivals unearthed three future champions – So You Think (who won the Cox Plate in 2009), Black Caviar (who demolished the Patinack Classic field in 2010) and Atlantic Jewel (who was brilliant in the Thousand Guineas and Wakeful last season).
And in 2012, another superstar will emerge. But unlike So You Think, Black Caviar and Atlantic Jewel, Pierro will dominate the Carnival.
The undefeated Gai Waterhouse-trained colt will claim three Group Ones. Pierro will win the Caulfield Guineas by five lengths, in what I believe will be one of the most dominant performances in the history of the race.
As far as I can tell, no horse has won the Caulfield Guineas by over three lengths since the Second World War, so Pierro’s victory will rank as the greatest in modern times.
Pierro will then head to Moonee Valley for the Cox Plate where he will become the 20th three-year-old to win the championship. But stablemate More Joyous will ensure the margin isn’t spectacular.
The victory will be Gai Waterhouse’s first in the race, a feat made even more special because she will saddle-up the second (More Joyous) and fourth (Proisir) placed horses.
Lloyd Williams’ Green Moon will firm into Melbourne Cup favouritism with an exciting third-place finish. But he will struggle to run a strong two miles on the first Tuesday in November.
Pierro will back-up in the LKS Mackinnon and take his perfect record to 11 with a commanding victory on Derby Day.
Interestingly, it will be Waterhouse’s fifth win in the race with each of those occurring in even years – 1996 (All Our Mob), 2004 (Grand Armee), 2006 (Desert War), 2008 (Theseo) and 2012 (Pierro).
With victory, Pierro will become the first three-year old since 2003 and only the third since 1948 to win the Mackinnon.
If Pierro was nominated for the VRC Derby I would’ve happily declared him the winner but neither he nor stablemate Proisir are entered in the 2500m classic.
We could see this year’s Derby quinella line-up on Saturday at Randwick in the Spring Champion Stakes with Honorius and It’s A Dundeel showing ominous staying quality.
I’m pretty sure It’s A Dundeel is going to develop into a quality stayer next season but I’m not as certain about his Derby chances.
The VRC Derby is such a long race so early in the three-year old season and often throws up a surprise result so my confidence, in tipping the early Derby favourite to win the race, is somewhat tempered.
But, the last three VRC Derby winners came through the Spring Champion, and all are New Zealand bred horses trained by New Zealand nationals, so that bodes well for It’s A Dundeel, who fits the description nicely.
I’m saying the Caulfield Cup is going to be won by an Australasian-trained horse for the 132nd time in its 134-year history.
And I’m pretty sure that horse, whoever it maybe, will be running somewhere, in some race, on Saturday.
For whatever reason, internationals – who have registered one win, one second and a third in the last ten Caulfield Cups – don’t tend to perform well in the 2400m handicap.
Even though, this year’s Caulfield Cup could boast the strongest overseas contingent in its history, I’m sticking with the locals.
I think Southern Speed can go back-to-back in the feature. She’s in good form this preparation and seems to be relatively well weighted with 54.5kgs. Her main danger could be the Italian import Voila Ici whose strength at the distance (as a winner over 2800m) gives him a slight advantage over the South Australian mare.
I’m also a big fan of Moudre and Zurella. Moudre has always promised to win a big handicap and after his brilliant first-up return a month ago, will be worth watching in Saturday’s Turnbull.
New Zealand mare Zurella was disappointing in the Naturalism a fortnight back but pulled up with respiratory problems. Horses can quickly return to their best after such issues, so I’m not giving up on the 2012 New Zealand Oaks runner-up.
I think an international will run a place in the race and I’ve been all over Gatewood since Royal Ascot.
John Gosden may well be the most in-form trainer in the world at the moment and he is likely to give the Australian-owned five-year-old a lead-up in Saturday week’s Herbert Power, which is a massive positive as far as I’m concerned.
The only query with Gatewood is that he isn’t assured of a start in the Group One yet.
I’m not prepared to state my thoughts on who will win the Melbourne Cup because it’s way too early in the spring for that but I’m confident the race will be heading overseas for the third-consecutive year.
I gave Mount Athos a massive push in a July article but I’m not as confident in October as I was in the winter.
While Luca Cumani got enough out the English summer to guarantee Mount Athos a start in the Melbourne Cup, the horse hates the wet, won’t be having a lead-up run in Melbourne (no horse has won the Cup first-up since 1993) and will be steered by English jockey Ryan Moore, who has never ridden in Australia before.
All these things are negatives (or at least queries), so as the Cup favourite, Mount Athos has enough against him. But at least he’ll be in the field and I certainly won’t be complaining if he is victorious because I backed him to win the race three months ago.
If an Australian-trained galloper is to figure in the finish it could be the imported Mourayan who was my tip last year. Importantly, he’s returned in better order this season and is on track once again.
I’m also warming to Exceptionally, who is racing with great zest. She’ll require a lot of luck to make the field but I hope she does because her presence will be felt.
If Exceptionally isn’t there, I’ll be cheering for More Joyous. She’ll have to carry 56 kilos to victory (which is a massive impost for a horse that has only won once at a distance longer than 1600m) but I’ve got a feeling MJ will line-up in the race.
But can More Joyous win?
Well, she wouldn’t be the first champion mare to defy history in the Melbourne Cup.