We’re in the second week of the overlapping Adelaide and Brisbane Group 1 carnivals, and this week sees the Goodwood for the sprinters at Morphettville, and the Doomben Cup for the middle-distance horses looking to claim weight-for-age glory.
Black Heart Bart is the reigning Goodwood winner, claiming his first Group 1 in the 2016 edition. He’s won another four Group 1s since then, also finishing second three times along the way. It’s been an impressive 12 months for what is arguably Australia’s second best horse.
“Bart” will be bang on 12 weeks between runs, after last being seen collecting the Caulfield 1400m double with a win in the Futurity Stakes to complement his Orr Stakes victory earlier in the campaign.
He’s weighted beautifully under set weights and penalties, but does he have quite the sharpness at 1200m after a big year of racing? He’s an interesting bet as favourite, and gets the dream run from an inside draw.
Malaguerra is the other genuine WFA horse in the field, and comfortably beat Black Heart Bart last time they met over 1200m. Fresh and six furlongs is definitely his go, so if he’s right, he has the talent to put them away.
Secret Agenda is looking to complete the Sangster/Goodwood double, last achieved by Platelet in 2013. She had to run along from a wide gate in the Sangster, but never stopped in a win full of merit.
She won’t need to necessarily adopt those tactics from a cosier barrier this time, and must be respected. She’s never won in open company though, which is a knock on her.
Vega Magic is the other horse well up in the betting, in what is an unusual market – four horses between $3.50-$8, with the fifth favourite at $19 at the time of writing.
Vega Magic comes over from Perth and into the care of David Hayes. It’s never easy to line the WA gallopers right up, but his Winterbottom effort, when a length and a half off Takedown and Sheidel, with Malaguerra thereabouts too, puts him right in the conversation at the weights. He’ll be somewhere up near the speed.
Hey Doc is class three-year-old, but to win a Group 1 carrying 57kgs against older horses is a different set of affairs to taking on your own age at set weights.
Missrock is a three-year-old filly that has chased home Secret Agenda at her last couple, but gets a valuable 3kg swing in the weights to make up those couple of lengths.
Rounding out the capacity field are a swag of black-type sprinters, any one of which could pop in the right Group 1 on their best day.
Faatinah might have too much weight for his credentials. Illustrious Lad is going to need everything go his way jumping from the widest gate.
Rageese has the ability, and is just the sort of Darren Weir runner to claim the big prize second-up, after doing enough first-up.
Santa Anna Lane can pop up after a mighty performance at Wagga. First Among Equals is in the race based on his Winterbottom run from November, but more exposed form says he is behind Vega Magic in the pecking order. Riziz and Karacatis are in-form Adelaide gallopers that will can run a good fourth.
Kaepernick has always appealed as one who can win a big race, and this could be it after he tuned up nicely in the McKay Stakes, and drops to a winnable weight.
There’s a nice amount of speed in the race, and plenty of genuine back-markers that are going to need it. How fast they go up front will dictate the main chances.
Selections: 1.Kaepernick 2.Rageese 3.Malaguerra 4.Black Heart Bart
The Doomben Cup has also drawn a capacity field, with an assortment of good honest horses among them.
It’s Somewhat is the obvious market-elect after his three-start winning streak this campaign, including the Doncaster, and the Hollindale Stakes last start. He’s hit his straps running along up front, and is proving hard to catch when dictating.
Single Gaze, Preferment, Rudy, Sense of Occasion, Cylinder Beach, and McCreery were all good enough behind It’s Somewhat in the Hollindale, in what was basically a trot and canter, and the field basically finished in their running position.
Maurus was the exception in a pleasing run, the only horse to build momentum into the race thanks to Damian Browne taking off at the right time before the turn. He’ll have to go back and come with one run again, but may make for a nice each-way bet.
Articus is seen as the biggest threat after getting his first Australian win at Flemington last time out, and the way he swept into the race from the 500m, and the turn of foot he showed to put them away, was that of a “good ‘un”.
Amelie’s Star, the Darren Weir-trained stablemate of Articus, has returned from 18 months off the scene. She was a rising star before her layoff, and her Queen of the South win proved that she still has what it takes to mix it for higher honours.
Weir also has Star Exhibit, the Perth Cup winner who is competitive over any distance, but might have a flatter run after winning first-up, with other assignments in mind down the track.
Vanbrugh is certainly good enough to win at healthy double figure odds, and put the writing on the wall last start as he reaches his pet distance now, where he is already a Group 1 winner.
It’s Somewhat will likely lead uncontested again, unless the gaggle of Weir or Waller runners would like to conspire against him. It looks likely to be an even contest, and a blanket finish wouldn’t surprise. Articus looks the most likely to jump out of the pack, if there’s going to be a standout.
Selections: 1.Articus 2.Vanbrugh 3.Maurus 4.It’s Somewhat