Bob Hawke was nonplussed. He’d just gotten off a typically eloquent speech in front of a claque of media, and no-one had a question for him.
Punters get to take a slight breath this weekend with no Group 1 races scheduled. That doesn’t mean there isn’t some top flight racing, though, with some exceptional fields scheduled in Melbourne and Sydney.
The highlight from a fan point of view will be the McEwen Stakes at Moonee Valley.
The brilliant sprinter Nature Strip will go around as an unbackable favourite and should produce a commanding win to earn a ticket into The Everest.
The Darren Weir-trained gelding has drawn the pole position at the Valley and should be able to run them along and off their feet.
I’m keen to see what kind of time he records. We could see a new market set on Saturday if the rain stays away.
Personally, I’ll be watching the races from one of the best carnivals in the world – the Cairns Amateurs.
Around 16,000 people are expected to be trackside at Cairns on Saturday and it’ll be my first experience at the event. I’m hoping I can back a few winners and this is what I’ve come up with for some of the good races tomorrow.
Track rated Soft 5 at time of writing. Rail in true position. Some showers forecast.
Race 5 – 2.35pm Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m)
Tough race this because we don’t know if Trapeze Artist is going around for match fitness ahead of The Everest or if he’s in it to win it. If he’s fired up, he should be beating these, even with a 61kg impost. But I suspect the classy sprinter will be in need of the run.
So who will beat him? I’m looking down at the bottom and Siege of Quebec could be the one. He was somewhat disappointing first-up when he carried no weight and couldn’t get the job done, but should be improved off the run. I would expect Tommy Berry to be able to control the tempo and hold them off in the straight.
Suggested bet: Siege of Quebec to win.
Race 8 – 4.30pm Benchmark 88 Handicap (1100m)
A big field but there’s one I’ve been keeping my eye on for some time. The Godolphin runner Soothing looks a classy prospect. The mare out of Lonhro appeared to turn a corner in May with a nice win at Warwick Farm and then smashed rivals first-up at Randwick.
She looks like she might have a future in Group races so I would expect her to be winning this with any kind of luck. Definitely my best bet of the day.
Suggested bet: Soothing to win.
Track rated Good 3 at time of writing. Rail in true position. No rain forecast.
Race 3 – 1.40pm 3YO Handicap (1500m)
There isn’t a heap of speed on paper in this race, but I wouldn’t surprised if we see some on race day. Hopefully roughie Tavirun can get the job done for me at big odds. Anyone who knows me understands that I’m a big Linda Meech fan so I know the horse will get every chance.
At the time of writing, Tavirun was about $23 so I’ll explain why I think he’s a winning chance. On debut at Sale, he was well backed into about $2.30 and ended up running nowhere after being run off his legs by the eventual winner. That was over 1200m.
Then, last start after about six weeks between runs, he went to Donald and won his maiden over 1350m. It wasn’t impressive visually, but once again he was well in the market.
If Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young are bringing him to Moonee Valley on a Saturday they must have some kind of opinion of him. At big odds, he’s worth a ticket.
Suggested bet: Tavirun each-way.
Race 6 – 3.30pm Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m)
A tough race to pick, but I don’t mind another horse here at double-figure odds. The Robbie Griffiths-trained Fedelia has only had three runs to date and was beaten 1.2 lengths by Sunlight last start. That was from a wide barrier at Caulfield. If Sunlight was running around in this race she would be odds-on, so I’m not sure why Fidelia is $14.
Jye McNeil should be able to find a decent spot from barrier six and with enough speed in the race, I’d be looking for her to finish over the top of them. There are some promising types in this race, but none that stand out as superstars. I think he’s excellent value.
Suggested bet: Fidelia each-way.
Race 8 – 4.50pm Group 2 Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m)
My heart wants to say Hartnell after a very impressive first-up run the other day, but my head says he’s only won twice in the last two years and one of those was first-up in February and the other was first-up in the August prior to that. Both were over 1400m. He’s run some very good races in that time, but doesn’t win.
He could still win tomorrow, but I like the Darren Weir-trained Night’s Watch to win. The stable is in form and the horse is in form. The step up to the mile looks suited now and if he brings his best he should be able to go close. John Allen is a strange choice of jockey, but he doesn’t ride pretty, so that might suit him at Moonee Valley where you need to create your own luck.
Suggested bet: Night’s Watch to win.
Total spend in 2018: $900*
Total return in 2018: $1128*
* Based on $20 spend per selection and BetEasy’s top tote dividend.