We welcome the new financial year with another likely dry day and wet track at HQ.
Winx fever returns to the racetrack on Saturday when the champion mare lines up in a race named in her honour, the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400m).
But will the Chris Waller-trained champion win again? The bookmakers think so. She’s $1.18 to win on Saturday, ahead of $6.50 second favourite Kementari.
Do I think she will win? Yes. She should be too good and will probably go on to win her 26th straight race, surpassing Black Caviar’s streak.
But would I even consider backing her at those odds? Absolutely not.
I think she’s closer to a $1.40 chance and I think Kementari is worth having a few dollars on if you are a sadist and want to see the great mare go down.
Here’s why I think Winx can be beaten on Saturday. Firstly, she hasn’t run in a race since April. Although she’s had a couple of soft trial runs, we can’t really be sure she’s rock-hard fit for this assignment.
Secondly, she will have to circle most of the field, if not the whole field. Backing short-priced horses that don’t sit up on the speed can be a painful and costly exercise.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly, she’s meeting a top quality opponent in Kementari.
At any distance further than 1400m, Kementari wouldn’t be in the same league as Winx, but over seven furlongs I think she can test the seven-year-old.
In order to do so, jockey Glyn Schofield must be positive on the Godolphin entire.
If Schofield sits back and tries to match motors with Winx in the final 300m, he will lose.
The way I see the race panning out is for there to be a decent tempo in the field, mostly due to the fact Waller has nominated some stablemates to ensure a genuine speed.
For Kementari to win, Schofield needs to try and get a forward position, just behind that early speed, and take off around the 600m mark. With race fitness on his side and more of a genuine sprint than Winx, who prefers the 1600m and 2000m distances, Kementari could be an upset chance.
Forget the other runners. If these two turn up ready to race, nothing else in the Group 1 Winx Stakes can win.
It should be an intriguing event and I can’t wait to see it unfold.
However, it’s not the best 1400m race on the day. That honour goes to the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield, which has attracted a dynamite field of quality gallopers.
You can read a preview of that race below, along with four other races.
Caulfield (VIC) – Track rated Good 4 at time of writing. Rail out 3m. Showers forecast Saturday
Race 6 – 3.20pm Group 3 Quezette Stakes (1100m)
Hot little race here and with some rain around you would expect every horse to get their chance as it’s unlikely the rail will be a fast lane.
Favourite Sunlight is probably the best horse in the race, but might get caught in an early speed battle.
I’m looking for a horse at each-way odds who can position just off that early speed and finish over the top of rivals to win. Impressive filly Fidelia was excellent when winning on debut and was probably unlucky not to vie for victory last time out at Moonee Valley.
She’ll run from a very wide gate on Saturday, but providing there’s the expected speed up front, I would be looking for her late. She was about $10 at the time of writing, but could be even better odds on Saturday. Jye McNeil just has to make sure she gets a crack at clean air in the final 400m.
Suggested bet: Fidelia each-way.
Race 7 – 4pm Group 2 Sir John Monash PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m)
The best race being run around the country on Saturday and it will be one to watch if you are interested in potential horses for races like the Cox Plate, Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and even the Toorak Handicap.
Darren Weir has accepted with six horses and four of them are realistic chances. But in a field of 16, there are potentially 12 winning chances. Grunt was the favourite at the time of writing and will probably be around the $4.80 mark on Saturday. He has only raced five times for four wins, having run third on debut, and looks to have a lot of upside.
In a hot race here with a lot of class, he will be tested, but I wouldn’t leave him out of your quaddie.
I thought Black Heart Bart’s first-up run had black-book written all over it and that’s why I like him here on Saturday. It was his first run since December and previously the horse had never experienced a decent spell.
If he finds his best form, he will be very hard to beat here and might even put a margin on them. Sounds a silly comment to make in a quality field, but I think he’s a quality horse who has probably been overraced at times.
He likes Caulfield and runs well second-up. For me, I think he’s the best value in the race. But Grunt might simply be a class above. He’s still a bit of an unknown in top class open company, though.
Suggested bet: Black Heart Bart each-way.
Race 8 – 4.40pm Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m)
Brave Song is my best bet of the day if he turns up happy and healthy. He’s better than his rivals in this race and comes into the event with good fitness after a first-up win and then a solid third against top opposition last weekend.
Providing he wasn’t taxed by that run, he’ll be winning on Saturday. Of his nine rivals, six are first-up from a spell. Even if some of them have more talent, Brave Song’s excellent fitness levels will come to the fore.
Peter Snowden is the best trainer in Australia and if he’s set him for this race then Brave Song will be winning.
Suggested bet: Brave Song to win.
Randwick (NSW) – Track rated Good 4 at time of writing. Rail out 7m. No rain forecast
Race 7 – 3.40pm Group 3 County Quality (1200m)Terrific race here, but I think it’s almost a genuine match race between topweight Le Romain and the Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott-prepared Siege Of Quebec.
Bookies had Le Romain as the slight favourite in early betting, but I think that could be reversed by jump time on Saturday.
If Randwick is favouring on-pace runners, Siege Of Quebec will be hard to run down. Even from an outside barrier, Tim Clark should find the front quite easily on the talented entire, who is unbeaten first-up.
Siege Of Quebec was superb as a three-year-old and wasn’t far behind Kementari in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas in March. The son of Fastnet Rock will be very hard to run down.
Le Romain will carry 8kg more and will probably sit outside of his rival or just behind.
Whether he can match motors with the younger horse while carrying that much extra weight remains to be seen. Personally, I think he’s worth risking.
The Kris Lees-trained gelding is more of an out-and-out sprinter than Siege Of Quebec, but the Waterhouse runner is probably more dynamic. It should be a great duel.
If there’s a knockout horse, veteran Boss Lane might be able to flash home late and cause an upset.
Suggested bet: Siege Of Quebec to win.
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Race 8 – 4.20pm Group 3 Toy Show Quality (1300m)
Tricky little fillies and mares race with plenty of talent and some spring hopefuls to watch. If you forget her last run, Egyptian Symbol could be the horse to beat here.
She was dreadful last time out in the Missile Stakes behind Pierata and Kementari. She had no excuses and dropped out to finish a long last.
This won’t be as hard and she should benefit from that hit out. Some of her rivals on Saturday will be looking for further and won’t have that turn of speed shown by Pierata.
Smart Amelia doesn’t have the runs on the board in this company but will be competitive, as will Luvaluva. I wouldn’t say it’s a high confidence race, but nonetheless, it will be an interesting watch to see which spring hopefuls emerge.
Suggested bet: Egyptian Symbol to win.
Total spend in 2018: $600*
Total return in 2018: $937*
* Based on $20 spend per selection and BetEasy’s top tote dividend.