Group 1 racing returns to the calendar this Saturday with the running of the Winx Stakes (1400 metres) at Randwick.
If you are a racing fan, the next three months are about as exciting as they get.
The best horses are turning out, the best races are being run and it won’t be long until you start getting asked for tips from your co-workers who don’t seem to know one end of a horse from another.
The key to having a successful spring carnival is to be disciplined on the punt and to pay close attention to a horse’s progress and the trainer’s goals.
One way to have some fun and eye off a decent collect is to have some fun in the ‘futures’ markets. See a young horse with an eye-catching run? Back it for a Derby or an Oaks etc.
The next few weeks are critical from a punting point of view. Do you back fit horses or do you look for class runners who might be a bit underdone with a bigger goal later in the spring?
It’s the challenge for punters and that’s why I am always wary at this time of the year.
As per usual, I’ve previewed five different races from Saturday’s program and hopefully we can continue this profitable roll with a few winners.
Flemington (VIC) – Track Good 3 at time of writing. Rail out 7m.
Race 4 – 2pm Benchmark 84 Handicap (1400m): Nice little mares race here and most of the form is exposed. The Godolphin runner Harmattan is the class runner, but whether she’s ready for this assignment remains to be seen.
I like that Cummings has opted to run her first-up over 1400m, which should mean she’s further forward in her preparation. She will want further than this going forward, but you’d think Dwayne Dunn snags her back at the start and saves her for one run.
There’s been rain in Melbourne so it’s hard to believe the rail will be red hot, giving backmarkers their chance. If she’s fit she wins on Saturday. The knockout horse could be Spanner Head.
Suggested bet: Harmattan to win.
Race 7 – 3.55pm Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m): Tough, tough race. Nine confirmed runners at time of writing and I could make a case for seven of them.
Brave Song was super first up the other day. Voodoo Lad has Group 1 form and Home of the Brave is first-up in Australia for Godolphin.
Roughies Chamois Road and Camdus could also cause upsets with the right runs. Poetic Dream is first-up for David Hayes and should not be discounted.
Based on all of this, I’m going to back a horse that is first-up and each-way value.
The Shane Nichols-trained I Am A Star is a quality mare. She’s not an out-and-out sprinter, but you need to have some stamina in your legs to win a 1200m race at Flemington and her trial the other day at Cranbourne was super.
She’s about double figures and I think she’ll give you a run for your money.
Suggested bet: I Am A Star each-way.
Rosehill (NSW) – Track Good 4 at time of writing. Rail out 3m.
Race 6 – 2.55pm Listed Rosebud Stakes (1100m): Tricky little race here and keen to take on favourite Plague Stone who was OK first-up, but not visually strong.
I thought the Chris Waller-trained Charge could be an improver. Was a brilliant maiden winner at Warwick Farm and is well bred to be a quality sprinter. Last prep he showed glimpses of talent, but could have improved after a spell.
Will probably have to go around the field on Saturday, which is some concern, but I think he could be the knockout horse.
Suggested bet: Charge each-way.
Race 8 – 4.15pm Spring Preview (1400m): Previewing this race just because I’ll be backing I Am Serious so I thought I’d explain why. She’s a highly talented mare who loves to win.
She’s raced 11 times, won on seven occasions and only missed a place once. She’s first-up in two months tomorrow, but goes well fresh and carries just 53kg tomorrow. From barrier five, Jay Ford should have no excuses.
The favourite Flow is a risk for mine, while there’s no other serious class in the race. I think I Am Serious is the best prospect on the card tomorrow and if you can get even money about her for a place I’d snap those up.
Suggested bet: I Am Serious to win.
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Doomben (QLD) – Track Good 4 at time of writing. Rail at 7.5m.
Race 4 – 1.17pm Class 3 Plate (1050m): A pretty ordinary race here, but one of my first mentors in racing told me not to bag an unbeaten horse as sometimes they just step up at every opportunity.
The Kelly Schweida-trained Meet Mr Taylor has won both of his career starts to date, albeit at Gatton and the Gold Coast. This is a much tougher assignment, but he is drawn to lead and should be the horse they have to chase down.
With the rail out at Doomben and not a heap of speed in this event, I think he can do it. Favourite From Within has been supported in early markets and could obviously be too good, but I think he’s worth risking considering she hasn’t won for a long time.
Suggested bet: Meet Mr Taylor to win.
Total spend in 2018: $500*
Total return in 2018: $744*
* Based on $20 spend per selection and CrownBet’s top tote dividend.