PB Lawrence Stakes and Warwick Stakes: Spring come early

Cameron Rose Columnist

By , Cameron Rose is a Roar Expert

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    Winx is already one of Australia's best horses. (AAP Image/David Moir)

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    It’s spring racing come early in Melbourne and Sydney this Saturday.

    Winx is the headline act of the day, as she has been now for the best part of two years, resuming in the Warwick Stakes at Randwick. At Caulfield, we’ll see what is shaping as the best edition of the P.B Lawrence Stakes for many a year, with seven individual Group 1 winners in the field. Not bad for winter!

    Since crossing over from Perth, Black Heart Bart has made the Caulfield 1400m circuit his own in the finest traditions of a horse like Regal Roller, who won the Lawrence Stakes in 2004.

    Black Heart Bart has won the Memsie, Orr and Futurity, all Group 1 races, over this track and distance, and while the Lawrence is only a Group 2, he can complete the set of weight-for-age 1400m events at the Heath.

    He’s tricky to assess given he’s looked in need of the run in his last two first-up efforts for Darren Weir, but they were over 1200m, and he’s far better suited at 1400m.

    Hartnell is the other star horse resuming in the Lawrence, sent to Melbourne early this preparation to avoid the mighty Winx. He’s run second to the great mare four times, and chased her home another three times besides. Fair enough to escape her clutches now.

    Hartnell’s last two first-up runs have been over 1400m, and provided two of those seconds to Winx. His case is an easy one to make based on that alone. Any cut out of the track advantages him over Black Heart Bart.

    A couple of Weir imports are the other horses in single figure odds in the early betting, behind the two stars.

    Humidor went from talented three year old Kiwi to genuine Australian WFA performer in his four year old season, taking out the Australian Cup in the autumn before running second to Jameka in the BMW. He’ll be steaming late, and is short odds to be the eye-catcher of the field.

    Ex-Japanese galloper Tosen Stardom has better credentials over the shorter trips than his stablemate, and his first-up second, beaten narrowly behind Black Heart Bart in the Futurity earlier this year, says he’s in the race.

    Star Exhibit is another Weir recruit, but one that plied his early trade in the west rather than overseas. He was a Perth cup winner over 2400m before Weir sprinkled his fairy dust to deliver a first-up victory in the Anniversary Vase over the 1400m back in April. Another horse that can win, but will also be watched with interest from a futures perspective.

    Something says this batch of classy Weir runners will be seeing a bit of each other over the next few months.

    Of the other horses in the race, Gailo Chop has obvious class and is proven on Australian soil, but the early money is saying not yet. He goes in a box first four of all Weir runners, if you’re so inclined. Amelie’s Star, yet another from the Weir yard, will find more suitable races.

    He’s Our Rokkii was a good handicapper that has so far been found wanting at WFA. He’ll likely have been set for this to pick off an early, potentially weak Group 2, but Hayes and co couldn’t have predicted he’d run into this sort of field.

    Charmed Harmony will ensure a genuine tempo and stick on gamely as he always does. Abbey Marie can defy the odds first-up at 1400m, and hopefully gets back on track this prep. Montoya’s Secret came from nowhere to win a Group 1 against the fillies in the autumn, and is a watch.

    The race should be run in a manner for every horse to have their chance, but with both Black Heart Bart and Hartnell sure to settle in the front half of the field, those trying to come from behind and get passed both will find it too tough an ask.

    Selections: 1.Black Heart Bart 2.Hartnell 3.Tosen Stardom 4.Star Exhibit

    We’re about to embark on a campaign for Winx that could see her heralded as the best horse Australia has ever seen, and it’s hard not to get giddy thinking about it. It’s rare for a horse to completely transcend the punt in this sport of ours, but she does it.

    We’ll all watch again, waiting for Bowman to unleash her majesty, and hoping that she’s come back even better than ever. What a pleasure it will be to witness her once more.

    But the Warwick Stakes is a “race”, and there are other horses in it.

    winx-hugh-bowman-horse-racing-cox-plate-2016

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Foxplay won a Group 1 against mares and a few Group 2s in her own class as a three-year-old filly, but stepping up to open WFA company is a big step. It will be good to get a handle on where she sits against some of these honest battlers.

    Inference is in the same category as Foxplay, a Randwick Guineas winner looking to find his place through the spring. The wraps on him are big, and we want to see something pleasing through the line.

    Antonio Guiseppe will be placed correctly at some point in his campaign, and will be looking to show that he can win a race when that time comes. Ecuador is coming off a prep where he was twice Group 1 placed at 1400m, so deserves some respective for those looking for a place bet here.

    Selections: 1. Winx 2.Foxplay 3.Ecuador 4.Inference

    Scattered throughout Melbourne and Sydney are a host of top class juveniles looking to make a stamp as three-year-olds – Catch, Tulip, Invader and Formality, among others.

    It’s not always easy for the early season three-year-olds to carry penalties and win, for those tempted to back the form from when they were two to carry over. Buyer beware in that situation. Look for something on the minimum that has made the necessary improvement over winter.

    We’ve also got Lankan Rupee racing in Adelaide as he looks to continue his comeback. There are also some other classy black type events on both programs.

    We really do have a winter delight on Saturday. Racing, welcome back.

    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.