How long will it take for Australian racing jurisdictions to bite the bullet and open their tracks on Good Friday?
This Saturday, we head to Caulfield for the metropolitan meeting in Melbourne.
There’s a nine race card for the meeting, with the group three Manfred Stakes as the feature on the program and the Victorian Derby winner Extra Brut returning, as well as Stars of Carrum and Sandown Guineas winner Ringerdingding.
The WJ Adams stakes is the most talked about race on the program, with superstar sprinter Nature Strip running against the boom three year old in Written By.
The bureau predicts a top of 35 degrees, so get some shelter and head out to the track!
Interesting race here in the first on the program. Pretty open race as shown by the market and I’m going for some value here in the form of Redcore.
The Greg Eurell trained gelding isn’t the most consistent type, but on his day he can run a very big race at double figure odds here. He hasn’t won for a while, but he only ran two and a half lengths away from Mystyko, who is $5 in the current market in this very same race.
A couple of the class horses aren’t really wound up yet and I’m hoping he can catch them on the hop, as he is rock hard fit. From barrier four Thornton will look to sit midfield off what will be a pretty strong speed, and with any luck he’ll be running on very strongly.
Tony Nicconi is the obvious danger. He faces a big step down in grade today, after beating the likes of Long Leaf and Native Soldier last preparation. He ran three lengths behind Written by in the blue sapphire before being spelled, which is obviously a brilliant form line for this race.
From barrier one, King should push up and either lead or sit handy and be pretty hard to run down in the straight. I Got You is next best. The unknown in the race. Joseph Waldron clearly thinks something of this gelding, but being first up after forty nine weeks, and drawing the outside barrier, I’d prefer to see.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No.11 Redcore.
A staying test over the Caulfield Cup distance of a mile and a half here in the second on the card. One of my best of the day comes here in the second, in Second Bullet.
His recent form is very impressive for this type of a race, running behind Mahamedeis and beating Another Coldie, and Tarquin. He wasn’t fully tested last start, when he had no clear running and was always tightened down the straight. Al Galayel ran second in that race, so clearly those are very good form lines for this.
He looked like he was crying out for the mile and a half and he gets it here. Big chance running on the speed with no tempo in the race.
If there is a danger, it’s probably Crafty Devil. She has beaten Box on Collins this prep, and ran third behind the talented Etymology, so this is obviously a step down in grade.
She disappointed last start in the same race Second Bullet was in last start though, so it is hard to see her turning the tide here. Khezerabad is next best. Really good win last start fighting off the canvas at Flemington, but his form before that was ordinary, would like to see.
Recommended bet: Large win bet on No.2 Second Bullet.
Relatively small field here in the third, a benchmark 84 for the fillies and mares over 1400 metres. Very open race here with plenty of chances, but it’s pretty hard to go past the favourite in Naantali.
I’ve always had a lot of time for this mare, even with her inconsistencies. She was running in better races than this last preparation, running behind the likes of Miss Siska and Seductive Miss. Since coming back from a spell she’s been progressing well, running better with each start.
She only ran three lengths off Social Spin and Long leaf, the former going on to win a group race in New Zealand last weekend, two starts back. Last start was the best of her preparation though, she was caught wide the whole way with no cover and still only went down by a length against the talented Set To Sparkle.
From barrier four she shouldn’t get caught wide today, and with any luck she will be hard to beat. Magnesium Rose seems the big danger. She had a forgive run two starts back when she couldn’t get out down the straight against Bold Missile, and then had to do a ton of work last start to cross over from the wide gate.
From barrier five today Oliver will look to get a nice spot with some cover, and she’ll be running on very strongly.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.2 Naantali. If No.4 Magnesium Rose drifts, she might be worth a go each way.
We come to the fourth on the program, which is a benchmark 84 handicap over 2000 metres. The favourite again looks very hard to beat here in Prince Ziggy. He ran second behind Schabau two starts back and in front of Into Rio, and therefore has better form than most of these who have ran in similar races against the same horses this preparation.
His last start win at Sandown was fantastic, he basically travelled three wide for half the race as he went around the field, and still beat the talented Into Rio. From barrier three, Chelsea MacFarlane should be able to dictate where she wants to place him, and he’ll be very hard to beat.
Prima might be one at odds that can run a good race here. He was given no chance two starts back by McNeil when he got caught three wide, and he battled on very strongly last start at this track, where he was beaten half a length by Black Sail. Allen should sit her on the speed and she will give a sight down the straight.
Good Idea is next best. He touched them up in South Australia, winning by five and four lengths in consecutive starts, before fading to finish fourth behind Box on Collins and Teodora at Sandown. Kersley should sit him on the speed and he will go well.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.4 Prince Ziggy.
The group three Chairman’s stakes for the two year olds is the fifth on the program, over 1000 metres. Extremely open race with legitimately every runner having legitimate claims, but Bella Rosa is my on topper.
The Ciaron Maher trained filly trialled really well at Cranbourne on top of the ground, before winning on debut on cup day, in the torrential rain. It was a really gritty win that day, fending off the swoopers late. From barrier seven today Zahra will sit on the speed and she will give them a very big sight if she can hit the front in the straight.
Lanigera is one of the dangers. He ran really well on debut in what was a very good maiden, running fourth behind Champagne Boom and Biscara. He sat on the speed that day, and with the rail out today Dunn will most likely push him to the front and he’ll be hard to run down.
Loving Gabby is a dual acceptor. She trialled brilliantly at Pakenham Park and the Maher camp have a very high opinion of her, from barrier two, Lane should be able to dictate where she sits in the run, will go well.
Recommended bet: Would probably leave this one alone. If pushed, would go for No.1 Bella Rosa.
Pretty good race we have here, a benchmark 84 handicap over the mile. I’ve always had a lot of time for Mount Kilcoy, and I’m sticking with him again today. He’s no doubt the class horse in the race, running second to Remember the name and Mr Money Bags in consecutive races last preparation, before beating Masculino.
He went out for a spell and returned nicely at Flemington last start, chasing the leading bunch home solidly. He gets out to the mile now which suits him a lot better, and if Benny Allen can get him some cover in the run, he’ll be hard to hold out.
Sabotage is a big danger in this, at double figure odds. He hasn’t been racing too badly this preparation, he led at Caulfield before being swamped late to finish fourth, a length and a half off the winner. Last start he battled on gamely after being caught three and four wide the trip, he basically finished level with the chasing pack and in a race without any speed in it, if MacFarlane can get some cheap sectionals out in front, he’ll be mighty hard to run down.
Antah is next in line. He’s won two on the trot since coming to Melbourne from Tasmania, including a good, tough win last start, should run well.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.9 Mount Kilcoy, with a saver on No.10 Sabotage.
One of the features on the card comes here in the seventh on the card, the listed W.J Adams Stakes over 1000 metres. It’s basically a race in three here, With Nature Strip, Written By and Encryption all very good horses. I’m not comfortable taking the price on either Nature Strip or Written By, so I’d look at Encryption on an each way basis.
He’s probably the most underrated three-year-old in the country, after finishing four lengths off Native Soldier and Seabrook last preparation, and beating Thorondor and Tavisan. He only ran a length behind Written by in the Blue Sapphire last preparation, and I can see him pushing him for a fair while again today.
Williams will go back on him, but he’ll be storming home down the outside.
Neither Written By nor Nature Strip are at prices good enough for me to consider, and while they might fight out the finish, Encryption definitely represents the most value in the race.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No.7 Encryption.
The feature on the program is the eighth on the card, and that is the group three Manfred stakes for the three year olds over 1200 metres. There’s a raft of chances with some of Australia’s best horses returning but I’m going with the rock hard fit Halvorsen here.
This Robbie Griffiths trained gelding has been in really good form lately, finishing third behind Hawkshot and Expansion when caught three wide. He then backed that up with an excellent win coming from last at the Valley to beat Hawkshot and Columbus Circle.
From barrier three Mallyon will sit about midfield and with any luck we might see that electrifying top speed down the straight to storm over the top of the leaders.
The favourite in Tin Hat is the obvious danger. This is his chance to claim a group race early in the autumn when the superstars aren’t fit yet and he’s a pretty good chance, to take that chance and win. He’s been in brilliant form this preparation, winning two on the trot, and from barrier ten, Lane will look to cross and lead in a race without too much speed in it.
If he gets some cheap sectionals he’ll be mighty hard to run.
Extra Brut, the derby winner, is also one that could run a good race at double figure odds. He beat Prince of Caviar who is a pretty smart colt over 1300 metres last preparation, before going on the derby campaign and ultimately winning it, which shows he can sprint with the best of them.
From barrier four he should sit handy or midfield, just like he did in the derby, and have a very big burst in the straight.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No.5 Halvorsen.
We conclude the meeting here with a benchmark 84 handicap over 1400 metres. I’m loading up on the favourite here in the form of Mr Money Bags.
He’s no doubt the class horse in this race, running behind the likes of Order of Command, Kazio and Haunted who would all be very big winning chances in this field. He’s been caught wide in his last few starts and even though the barrier might look bad here, it probably advantages him. McNeil will have to go back in the field and hopefully he switches off during the run.
There looks to like there’s going to be a hot tempo up front with the likes of Critical Thinking and Tried and tired, so hopefully they will set it up for the last favourite of the day to salute.
Rib Eye is definitely overs in the market here. He was spelled after a short preparation last time and in that preparation, he ran second behind Moss ‘n’ Dale and beat So Si Bon home which is a pretty good form line for this race. He resumed at Flemington where he couldn’t get out the whole way down the straight, and still only finished two lengths off the winner.
Oliver will sit him midfield and with luck he will be running on very strongly when it counts. Mantastic is next best. He ran behind the likes of Al Galayel, Another Coldie and Trap For Fools last preparation and was far from disgraced in any of those races. He resumes here over the 1400 metres with a pretty good first up record. Will get back and be running on.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.7 Mr Money Bags.