The autumn carnival isn’t far away and we can notice with a very good meeting taking place at The Valley on Friday night.
The group two Australia Stakes is the headline race on the program, with horses such as Brave Smash and Land of Plenty returning from a spell to kick off their campaigns.
The Vobis Gold Carat is also one of the headline races on the card, with some smart three year olds such as Hawkshot running in it.
It’s going to be a stifling day on Friday with a top of 42 degrees predicted, however, the late change will start to move in at around 6PM with it dropping to 26 degrees. It promises to be a perfect summer night in Melbourne so head out to the track!
The first on the card is a maiden for the two year olds over 1000 metres. As with most of these two year old races this is very hard to predict, and this is no exception with no form lines to match up at all.
I’m siding with LANKAN STAR in a very competitive race. She went to Flemington on cup day without trialling and put in a gutsy run, just getting pipped by the winner on the line. That form line has been franked by Champagne Boom who she beat home in that race, finishing midfield in the Magic Millions.
She will get across from the wide barrier and be hard to run down with Ollie on board. LOVING GABY is a debutant out of the Maher yard, her trial was super impressive when she came from the back of the field to win barely being touched.
I AM who ran second to her there is racing here and will have to improve lengths to beat her in a real race, expect them both to be in the market though. AUXIN is the other who could run a race, he came home steadily on debut at Flemington down the straight and he draws really well here to get a nice run.
Recommended bet: Would be staying out of this one. If pushed would side with a win bet on #7 Lankan Star.
We’ve got a race for the stayers here in the second, A BM78 over 2500 metres. I like NEGASI in this one. He’s been racing really well lately, winning three out of four, including a win against So Belafonte.
I think the little rise in trip suits him more than most of the the others in this race and the top two are giving him three and nearly four kilograms in the run. He’s drawn well from barrier one to either take a sit just off them or lead and he will be hard to hold out.
PRINCE HLODOWIG Is the main danger. He ran five lengths off Top of the Range two starts back, however, that was over 2000 metres and he gets out in trip again here. He seems to like tighter tracks which he gets here and from barrier four he could do exactly what he done last start at Caulfield and boot clear around the turn.
TOP OF THE RANGE is the other obvious threat. However, I couldn’t have him due to him racing at the Valley for the first time and getting out to this trip for the first time. He could prove me wrong but there are too many doubts for me.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 Negasi.
One of the headline events on the program is the Vobis Gold Carat over 1200 metres for the three year olds. HAWKSHOT is an extremely smart gelding and it’s hard to go past him against this field. He has horrible manners during most of his runs which is the only major concern, however, even with his horrible manners, he still stormed home last start to beat Expansion and another fancied runner here in Halvorsen.
From barrier one Zahra should try and push him up to sit about midfield and with any luck it will be over by the time they hit the straight. COLUMBUS CIRCLE is the main danger and it will be interesting to see what the punters think of he’s chances.
That debut win at Caulfield two weeks back was impressive and if he got the run earlier he probably wins by five or six. From barrier six he should get a lovely run in behind the leaders and if he improves again off that debut run he’s the only one that has the talent to match it with the top selection.
NO TIES is an outside hope. He’s been racing really well in South Australia but this is his biggest test yet. With Kah on board he will cross early and look to lead and hold them off down the straight.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #1 Hawkshot.
The fourth on the program is a BM70 1000 metre dash for the sprinters. Pretty interesting race here but I’m very keen on MAKAHU BOY.
The old boy has been in exceptional form in his last couple of starts, beating home a couple in this field and being narrowly beaten by the inform Miss Norway. He seems to like the Valley and he loves a dry track which he will get here. From barrier six Riordan should either lead or sit handy and he will give them something to chase down in that short straight. PRIVATE LOUNGE is the big danger.
Big query on her is coming off a year out and going back in trip to 1000 metres, which is a distance she hasn’t raced at previously. Going off her form last preparation she is clearly the best horse in this race, however, being a get back and run on type of horse who has had a year off and is resuming at the valley, I just couldn’t have her as my top selection.
VILLA SARCHI is the other threat, like Private Lounge though he gets back and runs on. His win last start at Sandown was outstanding and a repeat of that here would see him go pretty close.
Recommended bet: win bet on #2 Makahu Boy.
We have another sprint here in the fifth race, a Fillies and Mares BM78 over 955 metres. Very open race here with half the field being genuine chances, however, I’m siding with MISS NORWAY.
I know it’s a very short sprint race but she maps absolutely perfectly here. From barrier four Zahra should sit her midfield behind the front four or five who are going to go as quick as they can and she should be running over the top of them. Her form has been excellent excluding last start when she had to lead, that didn’t suit her at all and she should be able to run to her usual pattern here and be hard to beat.
SWIZZLE STICKS could be one who will run a good race at good odds. She had been racing really well before last start where she knuckled at the jump and pulled up lame. From barrier two today she should be able to either lead or sit handy and do absolutely no work in the run. Linda Meech finds a way to get the best out of these front runners and she could be hard to run down in the straight. FREEZE OVER is the outside hope.
From barrier nine she will need luck not to be covering half a track more during the run than the others, which is the big concern. She’s been racing well though and with luck and a good run she will be hard to hold out.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #1 Miss Norway with a saver on #9 Swizzle Sticks.
We have a pretty good race here in the sixth over the mile. It’s a pretty open race and there’s not many you can rule out, but I’m leaning towards WETAKEMANHATTAN. This Cumani trained gelding has been running well lately for this race, finishing four lengths off Indian Thunder and Vellastar two starts back. He had a really long layoff and should be about to hit his peak this preparation, he draws well from barrier six and with Melham on board he should either lead or sit just off the pace and give a big sight in the straight.
SEMARI is definitely the class horse in the race, she was far from disgraced in the Group 1 South Australian Oaks last start before she went out for a spell. She resumes here, however, the two big queries are how fit she is, and whether she will be able to storm over the top of them coming back to the mile at the Valley. Barrier five doesn’t really suit her and Bayliss is going to have to give her a peach of a ride.
DIAMOND BOW is probably the best outsider, I doubt they’ll want to get to far back from barrier seven and she is versatile in how she races. She just got pipped last start after looking the winner and if Poy can sit her midfield in the run she will be charging home late.
Recommended bet: Not overly keen to invest here, maybe spec #9 WetakeManhattan at each way odds.
We finally get to headline event of the program, which is the group two Australia Stakes over 1200 metres. This is as open as a race that you will ever see, evident by the favourite being at $4 and drifting. I’m going to go with FELL SWOOP in the feature.
After the spring finished he went north and won at listed level there over this trip, and then finished two lengths off of Alizee in the Christmas Classic. He draws to do absolutely no work here from barrier one and will either lead or sit handy which is a big positive in these types of races at the Valley. McEvoy has come down from Sydney to I assume ride him in this race which gives more confidence to his chances.
WHISPERING BROOK is another who is wound up for this race. She’s come back in fine order winning two in a row, one being the group three Standish Handicap where she beat Smart Coupe. From barrier two she draws to do no work at all and she will be hard to run down. BRAVE SMASH is the class horse, but whether he is ready for a race like this is the query.
He loves the Valley but from barrier nine he will have to go back and most likely have to sustain a wide run around the bend, outside chance with some luck.
Recommended bet: each way bet on #3 Fell Swoop.
The ‘get out’ stakes has arrived, which of course is the last on the program, a BM70 over 1200 metres. My best for the night comes here in the form of GREYWORM. This gelding’s first three runs were very impressive, winning two out of three including a narrow loss to the smart Al Passem. He’s had a long layoff after changing trainers from Mick Kent to team Hawkes. He resumes here in what is a pretty average field for a horse of his quality and I think the $3 on offer at the moment is probably overs.
From barrier seven Ethan Brown will look to place her just off the speed and with luck she should win with a leg in the air. ABSOLUTE is the second selection. He only ran a few lengths behind Paret in Sydney last preparation before being spelled after running two lengths behind Signore Fox. He changed trainers from Cummings to Weir since.
The wide barrier is a concern and it will take a good ride from Johnny Allen to get across early, outside hope. GOT THE MOVES is probably next best. He’s an inconsistent type out of the Corstens yard, but at his best he can give this race a shake. The wide barrier is the biggest concern for him. Will also need a great ride from Baster.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #9 Greyworm.