2014 Blue Diamond Stakes day: Group 1 preview and tips

Cameron Rose Columnist

By Cameron Rose, Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    The 2017 Blue Diamond Stakes has a huge field (Image: Joe Castro/AAP)

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    In the spring, we get strong Sydney races leading into the Melbourne spring carnival, while as summer becomes autumn, we get Victoria hosting their Group 1’s first, before all attention moves north to New South Wales for what will be a lead up to the Championships.

    While there are four Group races at Randwick tomorrow, all eyes will be on Caulfield for what many might call their strongest card for the year, although with the recent changes to Caulfield Cup week, Guineas day will now lay claim to that beyond dispute. Either way, it’s a wonderful time of the year for fans of the sport.

    Let’s get into the first of three Group 1’s – the $1 million Blue Diamond Stakes for two year olds, over 1200m.

    Two horses have been dominating all Blue Diamond talk over the last two or three weeks, the Snowden filly Earthquake and the Gerald Ryan colt Rubick. Their profiles are eerily similar.

    Both strolled in by two and a half lengths on debut at Randwick before coming to Melbourne and treating their rivals with contempt in the Blue Diamond Preludes at their second start. They even ran identical time while doing it, despite both races being run in vastly different fashion.

    Earthquake was more impressive to the naked eye, accelerating off a slower speed and showcasing the turn of foot required to win a Blue Diamond, trouncing the leader Eloping, who had shown her quality in winning her Blue Diamond Preview two weeks earlier.

    Rubick was flat-out sprinting from the start in order to hold the lead on the rail, with three horses on the outside pestering away. They all tired early in the straight and finished well back in the field while the backmarkers made their play. Despite coming of the hottest of tempo’s, none could reel in the leader, who fought on doggedly to still win by a margin in what was considered a deeper Prelude.

    While it seemed the market might be unable to make up their minds about the merits of the two wins, Earthquake had maintained her position ahead of Rubick at the top of the betting. Her favouritism was never threatened, all the way until Tuesday’s barrier draw.

    Rubick drew well in gate 10, as Ryan and jockey Brenton Avdulla had publicly declared a preference for a middle barrier, but Earthquake was treated unkindly in drawing 15. Thus a devastating swing in the markets occurred, the filly easing from around $2.70 to $3.70, with the reverse occurring to the colt.

    It’s extremely hard to see both favourites being beaten given even luck in running, and bad luck would need to befall each of them in order for another horse to claim victory.

    Chivalry is next best, and rightly so when drawing a line through Bugatty two starts back, as well as his blazing finish last time out. He has shown a preference to get right back even when drawing well though, and may be forced to dodge a few traffic hazards when having last crack at them.

    Nayeli also has Bugatty as a reference point, and would be fighting for favouritism in many other years. Gai Waterhouse will be full of confidence that her horse is actually the one to beat but, as we know, she’d be full of confidence that she could take out a Newmarket Handicap with Mourayan.

    Jabali could run a competitive race despite never having greeted the judge ahead of all others, and Nostradamus has got more than his share of talent, and could also be competitive with the right run from a tricky gate 11.

    The others look to be making up the numbers from a winning perspective, while acknowledging that any horse in the field could jump out of the ground to run a minor placing.

    My bet for this race was going to actually be a reasonable go at Lumosty the place at big odds, after she ran a giant of a race behind Earthquake. Once she wasn’t going to be in the field, I was happy to go with whichever of the two favourites was at the best odds.

    While it looked likely to be Rubick for the most part, now Earthquake will be the one for me. When you can’t split two horses, I’m happy for the odds to make the decision for me, always leaning toward the greater.

    Selections: 1. Earthquake 2. Rubick 3. Chivalry 4. Jabali

    The Oakleigh Plate must be one of the toughest Group 1 races to pick on the 12 month racing calendar. There is often a hot favourite or two coming off a dominant win, but rarely do they find their number in the frame. The first dozen across the line often barely seem to have a length between them!

    The average price of the winner in the last ten years has been $14, with only three in single figures in that time – all three year olds, and all already Group 1 winners – Fastnet Rock ($3.10, Lightning), Weekend Hussler ($2.15, Caulfield Guineas, Coolmore) and Starspangledbanner ($7, Caulfield Guineas).

    Tomorrow’s favourites don’t quite have pedigree of those mentioned above, but they are both coming off three successive wins of increasing margin in pretty good company.

    Lankan Rupee sits at the top of the market, and certainly deserves his place there. He has a super winning record, especially since being gelded, he’s at his home track, and has a barrier draw that should enable him to stalk the speed. All of these are to his advantage.

    Knoydart is another that has appreciated being gelded, and showed off an explosive turn of foot to win the Hareeba last start. One of the most versatile horses in the race, he’ll have come in a long way in a short time if he can go from a benchmark 80 to Group 1 glory in less than two months.

    Shamal Wind hasn’t always been the easiest horse to catch since winning her first three starts, but is a talented sprinter who burned home to just haul in General Truce last time out. The latter will appreciate a bigger drop in weight, while the extra 100m tomorrow plays more into the hooves of the former. One is $8.50 and the other $31.

    Bel Sprinter is the top weight, a first-up specialist in a race that is often won by a horse appearing for the first time in a prep. He’s often slow to begin, and too many times for my liking has to make do with excuses rather than prizemoney.

    Spirit of Boom is an incredibly consistent dry-track sprinter that comfortably beat Shamal Wind over this track and distance in the spring and meets her a kilo better for it. $18 the win and $5 the place is attractive if you want a rock-solid shout for your money. Good distance record, good track record, good first-up record, good ‘good’ record, good price.

    Look past Richie’s Vibe’s last start failure against Knoydart when he was found to have mucous and you’ll see a weight-for-age victory over subsequent Group 1 WFA winner Moment of Change two starts back. When you see he’s at $26 you gain an understanding of why horses at such odds often win this race.

    Karacatis is another at $26, and beat Richie’s Vibe last time they met, which was at Caulfield. Karacatis now has Moment of Change tied into his formline too, and meets Richie’s Vibe better at the weights for that victory as well.

    Dystopia is the resident distance specialist in the field, and some say 1100m is a race for those. She’s another who left Shamal Wind in her dust in the spring, and is right in the hunt at $15.

    Happy Galaxy will be the best 50-1 chance anywhere in Australia this week if he turns up in his best form. He basically hasn’t been seen in a year, when he walked away with a Group 2 WFA win in the Expressway at Warwick Farm.

    Flamberge is one of the hardest runners to assess, but his Standish win and overall prizemoney has him as one of many in the conversation.

    There are also plenty of three year olds to add another dimension to the race.

    Kuroshio is the speedster of them, a colt whose Victorian record (7: 3-1-2) is far superior to his overall thanks to his Sydney failures.

    He was able to scoot around the Valley to defeat Moment of Change and General Truce in the WFA McEwen in the spring, and his third in the Schillaci looks even better after last week’s Lightning Stakes, where the quinella of the former both ran superbly to finish top five in the latter.

    Gregers also has speed and is capable of using it, Iconic normally finds himself a few lengths astern of the best horses but is sure to run well, while Minaj is yet another who’ll go forward and is a Listed winner coming off a six length Friday night demolition.

    First Command, Vatican and Magnus Reign look outgraded here at the weights, but could all still finish in the top half dozen with the right run.

    As I often like to say, this is a leg where you could take field in the quaddie and still not find the winner!

    On paper, the race looks set to be run at breakneck speed. Over a sprint trip, this can often see the leaders keep going as they get the chasers off the bit, while at other times the backmarkers will come storming home.

    We also have to allow for some of the natural leaders to want to take a sit, which may mean a slower tempo than expected.

    Good luck deciding on who to back in this lottery, but I’m going to stick with the horses at odds.

    Selections: 1. Spirit of Boom 2. Karacatis 3. Happy Galaxy 4. Kuroshio

    If you’re still with me in this extra-long preview (and I think you’ll agree that the best racing deserves it), we’ll try and fly through the other main races of the day.

    The Futurity is the remaining Group 1 of the day, and will be heavily favoured to be taken out by either Moment of Change or Bull Point.

    Moment of Change is the current measuring stick for these sort of races. Finish well in front of him and you’re a very good horse, but finish too far behind and you may never quite make the WFA grade.

    Bull Point’s credentials are well established by now, and his impressive first-up win at Caulfield should see him taken seriously in everything he contests.

    Lidari could spring the surprise of the day. His first-up win at this track and distance last campaign sticks in the mind, and it was followed up by a unlucky WFA third in the Feehan Stakes, beaten 0.3 lengths behind the flying Fiorente, which we now know was Cox Plate-type form. We haven’t reached the ceiling for this horse yet.

    Polanski is the interesting runner who should prove up to this if his delayed campaign hasn’t taken any toll, while the likes of Sizzling, Pinwheel and Smokin’ Joey should find this grade just beyond their reach.

    Moment of Change will no doubt lead again and try to repeat his Orr Stakes heroics, but this time Bull Point and Polanski will be the three year olds trying to chase him down, rather than Eurozone and Shamus Award. Lidari will provide the X-factor if right.

    Selections: 1. Bull Point 2. Moment of Change 3. Lidari 4. Polanski

    Elsewhere around the place, in the Peter Young Stakes Foreteller looks a good price for a horse that won a G1 WFA race second-up last campaign, and won this race last year under those circumstances. His first-up run was everything it needed to be.

    Fiorente is obviously the one to beat, and we’ll be keenly watching a few still-improving horses like Pakal, Star Rolling and Let’s Make Adeal to see if they can make the jump in grade.

    Not Listenin’tome looks to have the Zedative in his keeping if he runs, although Thermal Current will keep him honest. Lion of Belfort was flat out disappointing first-up, and needs to improve.

    The Mannerism is the last race on the Caulfield card, and I’ll be looking for Bonaria to either consolidate a winning day or save me from a losing one.

    Looking at Sydney, I’m an Albrecht fan and will be following his progress in the Southern Cross Stakes, the Light Fingers looks a magnificent affair as we see the return of Guelph, Boban gets to prove his doubters wrong in the Apollo after a flat first-up performance and Appearance will ensure he’s tested again, and the Triscay to finish the card looks anyone’s race.

    As racing fans, these are the days we live for. Bring it on!

    Cameron Rose
    Cameron Rose

    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 there's nothing better than a roaring debate. He tweets from @camtherose.

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • February 21st 2014 @ 7:57am
      Bondy said | February 21st 2014 @ 7:57am | ! Report

      (My bet for this race was going to actually be a reasonable go at Lumosty the place at big odds, after she ran a giant of a race behind Earthquake. Once she wasn’t going to be in the field, I was happy to go with whichever of the two favourites was at the best odds.)

      Thats the tried and true betting theory if you follow that path you should be making money or at least finding it hard to lose.

      If Rubick can get a sit in 5th 6th he could win by three with Earthquake trapped deep and back looking for runs.

      I want to lay Fiorente and if he’s evens or shorter the better for mine with Pakal and Forteller and solid odds.

      Take note when prize money is raised so is the tempo of races, there should be solid and genuine tempos to these races..

      Good Punting.

      • February 21st 2014 @ 1:01pm
        casper said | February 21st 2014 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        Jabali has to be a show with natural improvement as he wasn’t that far from Rubick & has the good Risen from Doubt formline. I would love a share in Nayeli who is a More than Ready filly out of a Danehill mare (Mahisara nick) and MTR is dam of Unencumbered so breeders will be looking for that.
        Oakleigh Plate almost always serves up a roughie so why not look at Gregers or Dystopia.
        Moment of Change is vulnerable & Sizzling only has to get back to his early form to be a chance. has 2 wins & 2 seconds at 1400 from 8 starts. Waller magic might give him a length or 2 improvement.
        I wonder if the Melb Cup run took something out of Foreteller? they often don’t come back when stretched beyong their comfort zone. Fiorente looks a class above although Pakal, Bass Strait or Star Rolling might pinch it if he’s not primed.
        Notlistenin’tome is short & yet to see a decent Dylan Thomas. I’d forgive Lion of Belfort for the first up run.
        Bound for Earth will show her true mettle tomorrow, weights a bit more in her favour.

    • Columnist

      February 21st 2014 @ 9:20am
      Cameron Rose said | February 21st 2014 @ 9:20am | ! Report

      It’s funny, when I think of Blue Diamond’s I tend not to think of hard luck stories, it’s seems to be a race where every horse has their chance and most aren’t fast enough. Some probably get too far back, but the best horse on the day usually wins.

      Foreteller has had the classic St George lead-up, and we know what he can do. Perennially under-rated, he was only a length or so from victory in the Cox Plate. Granted, Fiorente finished in front of him after a tough run, and is the one to beat tomorrow, but I’ll stick with the horse at triple the odds.

      Good point point, the Diamond and the Plate should both be hectic. Can’t wait.

    • February 21st 2014 @ 9:27am
      Drew H said | February 21st 2014 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      If a horse must make its own luck in top class racing then Rubick will win.

      …..but I’m not sure about IF.

      Rubick can maintain the final section of the race regardless of the pace or position. (obviously why it’s the fav)

      When the going gets tough……..let’s hope.

      • Columnist

        February 21st 2014 @ 9:39am
        Cameron Rose said | February 21st 2014 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Browne is going to know he can’t afford to be giving Rubick too many lengths start, so can’t settle too far back. Of course, the other jockey’s are going to know where Browne wants to sit on Earthquake and will be keen to keep them posted out wide. Every chance the race could be won and lost in the first furlong.

        • February 21st 2014 @ 9:49am
          Drew H said | February 21st 2014 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          Fair enough Cameron. I was trying to figure out if the reverse could also be applicable, or if they can spoil each other.

          It is most daunting when the backmarker can come on and reverse the leader bias theories. (perhaps not in this race)

          • Columnist

            February 21st 2014 @ 10:14am
            Cameron Rose said | February 21st 2014 @ 10:14am | ! Report

            I reckon bias can be a touch over-played at times, and is more often speed related. We should see a genuine tempo in the two main races at least, so I’d be surprised if every horse didn’t have their chance.

            Certainly in the Oakleigh Plate, always run on this day, horses come from everywhere – the last eight winners for instance, have settled 2nd, 17th, 10th, 4th, 1st, 7th, 13th, 1st.

      • February 22nd 2014 @ 5:49pm
        Drew H said | February 22nd 2014 @ 5:49pm | ! Report

        Rubick – you non trying lou lou.

    • Roar Guru

      February 21st 2014 @ 1:43pm
      Brad Durrant said | February 21st 2014 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

      You summed it up perfectly Cam.. “These are the days we live for”

      Agree with you regarding Foreteller, can’t work out why he is not the second favourite.

      I am with the Fillies in the Blue Diamond! Earthquake & Nayeli. Connections of the losing brigade in the Blue Diamond shouldn’t be too disheartened though. Take a look at last years unplaced runners, Shamus Award (4th) went onto to win the Cox Plate and Guelph (9th) went on to win 4 Group 1’s!!

      Dystopia for the Oakleigh Plate. Don’t be fooled by her 6th out of 8 runners in her recent trial. She trialled at the back of the field alongside Appearence and in my opinion was stronger to line (and we all know how well Appearence ran first up!)

      • Columnist

        February 21st 2014 @ 2:29pm
        Cameron Rose said | February 21st 2014 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

        Good comments Brad, and all of those mentioned must be taken seriously. The Oakleigh Plate is one of my favourite races. Dystopia is a huge chance at terrific odds.

    • Roar Guru

      February 21st 2014 @ 1:50pm
      Will Sinclair said | February 21st 2014 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

      Not sure why Earthquake has drifted so much in the betting based on barrier alone.

      A quick review of the barrier stats for Caulfield over 1200m shows that barrier 15 has been more successful than barrier 10 in the past six years (with a strike rate of 14.3% to 9.3%).

      Indeed, the stats tell us that the most successful barriers over that distance are 15 and 16…

      https://www.racenet.com.au/stats/barrier-stats.asp?venue=CAULFIELD

      I’m on Earthquake at the $3.70 and if she gets out any further I’ll be going again.

      • Columnist

        February 21st 2014 @ 2:04pm
        Justin Cinque said | February 21st 2014 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

        Here here Will.

        I honestly think bookies and punters over-rate the imporance of barriers. Yes they are inportant but the market often overstates their importance. I’m more than happy to back a good horse drawn wide especially over a course like the Caulfield 1200m where logic and stats say barriers don’t matter heaps.

      • Columnist

        February 21st 2014 @ 2:36pm
        Cameron Rose said | February 21st 2014 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

        I saw Centrebet had drifted her out to $3.80 Will.

        The barrier may play a negative role or it may not, but the over-reaction has been ridiculous.

    • February 21st 2014 @ 3:50pm
      andrew said | February 21st 2014 @ 3:50pm | ! Report

      Barriers matter depending on the track. Draw wide at flem over 2500m, and its tough. Ditto for 1400 and 1600m starts at caul, work wide up the hill and then cop a 145 degree turn. 2000m at flem, wide draw = no worries. Same for sand over 1600 and 1800m. at caul over 1000-1200m, the wind is more important than barriers. Inside can often be worse, and it all depends on the horse and speed map.

      im investing on textnhurley tonight. then notlistentome, Marianne, star rolling, moment of change (getting out to good odds now, $3.20 available), star rolling ($3.40 in fave out markets), karacatis, hi belle.

      in the blue diamond, I will take a soft play and back the 2 faves to run the quin. in a big field, the quin will pay more than $5, and is arguably easier to pick than the winner (and paying better)

      good punting to all on one of my fave local days at the track for the year.

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