Melbourne and Sydney Group 1 tips and previews

Cameron Rose Columnist

By , Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    Rosehill racing. (AAP Image/David Moir)

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    We’ve reached the last Victorian Group 1 of the racing season, the William Reid Stakes, to be run over 1200m under weight-for-age conditions.

    It doesn’t always assemble a crack field, but this years edition has a little bit of depth to it. Which is not to say it should be afforded its Group 1 status, as it should not.

    The only three-year-old in the field, Star Turn, is the market-elect off the back of three Group 1 thirds in a row, in arguably tougher races – the Coolmore Stakes on Derby day last year, the Lightning Stakes, and last start in the Newmarket Handicap.

    All three of these races were down the Flemington straight, and in his last three runs around a bend, only one horse has beaten Star Turn home – Astern. His last run around a corner was the Schillaci Stakes in the spring, when he bolted in at WFA against a crack field. He’s the one to beat alright.

    The stiffest competition comes from Oakleigh Plate winning mare Sheidel, who finished alongside Star Turn in the Newmarket and now meets him better at the weights. She looks an each-way lock at around the $5 mark.

    Of the other proven competitions, Japonisme didn’t turn up on the heavy track in the Canterbury Stakes and could be taken on trust at big odds, The Quarterback was fair in the Newmarket and ran a bottler the last time he saw the 1200m at Moonee Valley, while Flamberge won this race last year but hasn’t run a placing since. This is his kind of field though, and his fourth in the Lightning Stakes says he still has a bit of fire in the belly.

    Rebel Dane was the big odds winner of the Manikato Stakes at this course and distance in the spring, and will be double figures again. Perhaps he could go back-to-back, but coming back from an overseas trip in form is never easy.

    Rock Magic arrives from Perth, off the back of a last-start third behind Takedown and Sheidel, which puts him right in the reckoning here. It’s a different story away from home for the WA gallopers though.

    Illustrious Lad disappointed in the Newmarket, but can win on his Lightning Stakes run in this easier affair. More was expected of Kaepernick in the Oakleigh Plate but he got too far back and ran well. Hellbent is becoming a money muncher of late, but will put it all together and get things his way at some point.

    Silent Sedition is using this race as a bridging run before heading back to a Group 1 target in Sydney over a more suitable distance, but she is too honest to run badly, and should be on the heels of the placegetters at the least.

    Selections: 1.Star Turn 2.Sheidel 3.Illustrious Lad 4.Hellbent

    There is also Group 1 racing at Rosehill on Saturday. The BMW is one of the marquee races of the Sydney spring, and is the only 2400m WFA race in the country (although that might change if the MRC gets its way and rides roughshod over history with the Caulfield Cup).

    Our Ivanhowe has been heavily backed in the early markets off the back of last weeks’ Ranvet Stakes win, where he sailed through the wet track in a dominant performance. A repeat of those heavy track conditions means he’ll be awfully hard to beat, with the rise in distance in his favour.

    The main challengers are led by the Australian Cup trifecta, Humidor, Jameka and Exospheric, and last years ATC Derby winner, Tavago.

    Humidor put it all together to take out the Australian Cup against the pattern of the day, and has a heavy track Group 3 win and very soft track Group 1 placing from his New Zealand days. Darren Weir looks to have ironed out his quirks.

    Jameka is ever-honest, and once again didn’t have everything go her way in the Australian Cup only to go down narrowly. She won the VRC Oaks on a heavy nine, but wet tracks in Melbourne and Sydney are two different things. Her record at 2400-2500m is two Group 1 wins and a Group 1 second. Tick.

    Exopheric keeps putting the writing on the wall, and has two Group 1 placings since arriving in Australia, but is yet to win. His time will come, and while he enjoys the cut out of the ground, is an unknown on a very wet track.

    Tavago didn’t come up in the spring, and was rightly spelled after two below-par performances, but he looks ready to go on with his career now after winning the Sky High last start with authority. He’s only had 11 starts, and should be getting better each time he steps out.

    Lasqueti Spirit was the runaway winner of the VRC Oaks in the spring, and has a second to Winx on her resume this campaign, so connections couldn’t be more thrilled. She needs to lead in order for her best chance at winning, and she’s a knockout hope if they leave her alone.

    Selections: 1.Jameka 2.Our Ivanhowe 3.Exospheric 4.Humidor

    If we ranked all of Sydney and Melbourne’s unnecessary Group 1s in order of what needs to be dumped, the Vinery Stud Stakes would rank highly. But, here we are.

    Foxplay is a super filly, and starts favourite her after building into her campaign nicely, but there have to be queries on her at 2000m out of Foxwedge.

    La Bella Diosa ran last taking on the older mares at Group 1 level start, but swan through wet ground to beat the likes of Omei Sword and Global Glamour in the Surround Stakes two back. She had Foxplay five lengths behind her in that win, and should be favourite.

    Dawn Wall is a familiar Chris Waller late bloomer, who has made her way through the grades with three wins in a row and is a legitimate danger to stablemate Foxplay. Lubiton ran second to Dawn Wall in the Kembla Grange Classic last start, after trying to lead all the way in a brave performance.

    Harlow Gold leads the Victorian charge, and is coming off a very good fourth against the colts in the Australian Guineas behind Hey Doc. As a VRC placegetter in the spring, the distance is a welcome step up for her, unlike some of her rivals up in the market.

    Montoya’s Secret is coming off two big wins, albeit at maiden and benchmark 64 level, but we’ve seen worse form win some of these lower rated Sydney Group 1s. Pat Carey is no stranger to winning a Sydney Group 1 with a maiden runner, and is represented by a runner here.

    Selections: 1.Harlow Gold 2.La Bella Diosa 3.Dawn Wall 4.Foxplay

    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.