Group 1 racing returns to the calendar this Saturday with the running of the Winx Stakes (1400 metres) at Randwick.
We’re halfway through the Flemington Melbourne Cup carnival, and Derby Day and Cup Day haven’t been the easiest cards to find a winner.
It doesn’t present as much easier on Oaks or Stakes day, but we owe it to ourselves to have a crack anyway.
Pure Scot is a mare from the Hayes and Dabernig yard that showed glimpses of class in her two- and three-year-old season, without quite being able to compete at Group 1 and Group 2 level like she was asked to do.
The fact the trainers kept throwing her in the deep gave an insight into the ability they thought she possessed though.
She returned as a four year old in a Ballarat benchmark 64 over 1400m and proved far too strong for her rivals, winning with contempt off the back of an arrogant ride. The third horse there, Vitani, is a promising mare herself with form around some good ones, so we can trust the race going forward.
Pure Scot steps up to 1700m for her second-up assignment here and draws a gate that should see her sitting in the third pair with cover. If she can reproduce what she did first-up, she should be in the finish at each-way odds and get us a return early on Oaks day.
Bet: 3.Pure Scot – each-way $6.50 / $2.30 with BetEasy
The question in the Oaks is often one of trying to pick the best stayer among the three year old fillies, or do you just stick with the best one and hope that her class will carry her to victory.
Sticking with the best filly is often the right formula, as proven by Jameka, Dear Demi, Mosheen, Samantha Miss and Miss Finland in the last decade or so.
If that is going to be the case this year, then Amphitrite looks the bet in what isn’t a deep edition of the Oaks.
The Darren Weir filly has bounced all the way from maiden grade to a Group 1 win this preparation, peeling off four wins in a row to do it. Her win in the Thousand Guineas from last was one of the best of the spring, and had all the hallmarks of a top class horse.
Amphitrite started favourite in the Empire Rose Stakes against older mares on Saturday, but never got a chance to make an impression trapped away in the ruck. She looked like she was going to be in the finish.
Three 1600m runs is an unorthodox preparation for a 2500m Oaks run, but connections have kept paying up for the Oaks the whole way through, so it has always been in their mind. Not having a gut-buster on Saturday should be more of a help than a hinderance, and question marks are littered throughout the rest of the field.
Bet: 1.Ampritrite – win $3.30 with BetEasy
We’re going to try and finish Oaks day with a bang by finding something at double figure odds to close out the meeting, and set us up for Saturday with a pocketful of cash.
Propelle is a promising filly that has been set for this race and hits it second-up off a strong win at Moonee Valley on Manikato Stakes night. Remember, it was much better to be on the rail and near the speed across the Cox Plate carnival, yet Propelle was tracking wide from a midfield position and still got the chocolates.
The horse she beat into second at MV, Final Choice, had the preferred run and was coming off two wins in a row herself – the latter of which was over Bleu Roche who fronts up as equal favourite in this race. Being trained at the track is also a plus when it comes to inexperienced horses tackling the Flemington straight.
It’s an attractive set of circumstances upon which to have something on Propelle at great value.
Bet: 8.Propelle – each-way – $11 / $3.40 with BetEasy
We’ve spoken about the Moonee Valley track bias already in this preview, and we’re picking another horse that ran well against it to find another winner here.
Ringerdingding was probably the run of the day on Cox Plate day at Moonee Valley, a meeting in which the bias toward the fence was even more savage than on the Friday night.
He settled last in a race completely dominated by leaders (the quinella horses sat first and second respectively) and ran the winner Charge to just over a length on the line despite coming wide in inferior ground – only Winx was able to win from a similar position on the day – any time a comparison can be made to her you’re in the greatest possible company.
Ringerdingding was the clear eye-catcher of the day from a go-forward perspective, and now gets back to 1400m and at Flemington should get his chance to reel his rivals in. We can bet with confidence.
Bet: 6.Ringerdingding – win – $4 with BetEasy
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes is a race for stayers that didn’t quite make the Melbourne Cup field, or chose to avoid it for something easier, but it still always assembles a decent field.
Libran will carry the number one saddlecloth in the race and has top-weight but is only 4kgs above the minimum, so don’t let that score you off. He is flying, this horse.
He settled last or next to it in his first four runs this campaign, and simply had too much to do in all of them. His Chelmsford Stakes placing, at WFA behind the likes of Unforgotten and Ace High, is proof of how well he’s come up this prep, and he was never a chance from where he was in the run at his next two starts.
Last time out Libran ran third in the Moonee Valley Cup; he was a month between runs there so it will have topped him off nicely for this. The winner of that race, Ventura Storm, had just run fourth to Winx and ran superbly in the Melbourne Cup – he just didn’t stay. The form is solid.
Libran has had two runs at the 2600m of this race, winning them both. He is also a Sydney Cup placegetter and ran very well in the Melbourne Cup last year. The world’s best jockey Ryan Moore should be able to settle him no worse than midfield from a good barrier, and he looks a good each-way bet.
Bet: 1.Libran – each-way – $8 / $2.70 with BetEasy