Group 1 Memsie Stakes: Preview and tips

Cameron Rose Columnist

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    The first Saturday in spring. The first Group 1 of the season. And Winx is running. Does it get any better?

    Spring racing kicks off with a bang in the Memsie Stakes, with a million dollar purse on offer, $600,000 of which will go to the winner.

    Last year, it was Black Heart Bart who saluted at even money, in dominant style. Since then, he has added three more Group 1 wins, two of them at the track and distance, yet is not even favourite this time around.

    Black Heart Bart was put in the shade by Hartnell first up in the Lawrence Stakes, but it’s worth noting they both ran their last 600m in the same time. The three-length margin behind Hartnell was basically due to Bart settling about that distance behind him in the run.

    Trainer Darren Weir had suggested that Black Heart Bart would take benefit from the run, and no doubt he will be close to his top now, with such a prize on offer.

    Weir also has Tosen Stardom and Humidor engaged, both of which come in second-up from the Lawrence too. Tosen Stardom hit the wall at the 200m first up there, and he might need one more, but can still be considered a danger based on his Futurity Stakes second in the autumn. Humidor hit the line pleasingly first-up, and will likely do so again without being a winning threat.

    Vega Magic is the warm favourite, looking to complete the Goodwood / Memsie double that Black Heart Bart did last year.

    The former Perth galloper, now with the Hayes family, returned with a superb win at Caulfield two weeks ago. He lumped 60.5kgs to victory against a field of smart sprinters, and didn’t have it all his own way with the big weight, travelling wide the entire trip. It was a performance that suggested he could make the grade at Group 1 weight-for-age level, and now we get to see if he can.

    Mongolian Khan Opie Bosson win the 2015 Caulfield Cup

    (AAP Image/Mal Fairclough)

    Le Romain comes down from Sydney for the big prize on offer, and rightly so as one of that states best horses. He’s never raced at Caulfield before, but his only Melbourne run was when winning another million dollar race, the Cantala Stakes, last spring. He’ll be fine.

    Le Romain won the Canterbury Stakes second-up last prep, beating Chautauqua in the process, and his honesty and class is evident. His return run in the Missile Stakes was good, and has had a barrier trial in between to bring his fitness along.

    A few four year old’s present as the interesting runners, to see how they measure up against this sort of quality.

    Australian Guineas winner Hey Doc returned in winning style when taking out the Aurie’s Star, but appeared to be flattered by a bias toward the outside rail at Flemington on the day. Still, he carried 59kgs, and did it from wire to wire, so has to be respected.

    I Am A Star was fourth in the Aurie’s Star under the weight of 58kgs, which she appeared to feel when the whips were cracking in the last furlong or two, albeit she didn’t have as friendly a spot as Hey Doc in the run to the line. Almost all of her best runs have been against her own sex, and she needs to find a couple of lengths in this company.

    Yankee Rose hasn’t been seen for ten months, but she was a superstar two- and three-year-old. She won a Sires Produce and a Spring Champion at Group 1 level, and was also placed in a Golden Slipper and Cox Plate. It’s hard to know what she’s capable of now, but hopefully she is more boom than bust from this point on.

    Charmed Harmony ran second in the Lawrence Stakes, splitting Hartnell and Black Heart Bart, which is a fair line to put on the CV, but he’ll have it tougher this time around. The ground won’t be soft, and his opposition are classier and fitter, but he might sneak a place at big odds again.

    Seaburge had a disappointing autumn after a strong spring, and needs to respond. Jon Snow kicks off his Cups campaign, and will need further. Single Gaze doesn’t have the class to beat enough of these to contend.

    The pace should be genuine, and while Charmed Harmony will lead, there will be some jostling for position to be on the speed or handy behind him. The three main fancies, Vega Magic, Black Heart Bart and Le Romain will all be in the front half of the field, meaning that any horse settling behind them is going to need something special.

    The fact Le Romain and Vega Magic should settling in front of Bart gives them an edge, and Vega Magic looks unders at the short price taking on this sort of field for the first time.

    Selections: 1.Le Romain 2.Vega Magic 3.Black Heart Bart 4.Yankee Rose

    The main support races to the Memsie Stakes are in Sydney, with three Group 2s being run.

    Winx is the unbackable favourite in the Chelmsford Stakes for reasons that need not be explained. All eyes will be on her at the jump, to see if she bombs the start again. If not, we can expect a finish that should be much less spectacular than her win in the Warwick Stakes.

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

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    The Tramway Stakes is the race of the Randwick card, with a number of horses that have either won or placed at Group 1 level engaged.

    Ecuador is due another win, and will make the others get past him. Invincible Gem has already claimed the scalp of Le Romain this prep, and might prove herself one of the best WFA horses in the country this season. Happly Clapper, Mackintosh and McCreery have all been around for a while, and always give a good account, with any one of them capable of winning.

    Tom Melbourne was incredibly unlucky first-up for Chris Waller, and if he reproduces that effort, with clear running this time, he looks hard to beat.

    The Furious Stakes sees the three year old fillies take each other on, as they did in the Silver Shadow a fortnight ago. Formality was third favourite there, behind Alizee and Champagne Cuddles, but found the line first. These three meet again, and punters don’t seem to have learned, with the market order the same, and Formality underrated once more. Expect a similar result.

    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.