The first slipper I witnessed ‘live’ was George Moore winning TJ Smith’s first Golden Slipper on Fairy Walk in 1971.
The Melbourne Autumn Carnival continues this Saturday, this time at the home of racing, which is of course Flemington.
The feature on the card is the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes over 1000 meters down the straight.
We’ve got two other group races on the card, coming in the form of the Vanity and the CS Hayes Stakes.
The bureau has predicted it to be twenty-five degrees and sunny, so a beautiful Melbourne day. Get out to the track and back a winner!
We kick off the day with a Fillies and Mares Benchmark 84 handicap over the mile.
Pretty hard race to go through as there are so many different form lines, however, I’ve landed on HereComesMyBaby in the first.
She’s a lightly raced mare out of the Richard Laming yard, only having the six starts as a five-year-old, but she’s putting together a pretty good resume.
She’s won three from six with two placings. One of those was a win at Pakenham by nearly three lengths, and a close second at Sandown, both two preparations ago.
She resumed a couple of weeks ago at the Sapphire Coast and destroyed them there. Dwayne Dunn should look to place her just behind the leaders, and she will be hard to beat.
Mountain Breath is next best. She was running really well in England before coming out to Australia, and was far from disgraced in her first Australian run at The Valley.
She got too far back there, but was doing her best work in the last 150 meters, racing at a distance that doesn’t suit her at all.
She’ll appreciate the trip out to the mile, and the more spacious track of Flemington. The Damien Oliver and Chris Waller combination has been working well lately.
Jester Halo is the best roughie in the race. She’s had excuses in her last two starts, travelling three and four wide in both of them.
She maps a lot better today from barrier three, and should get a lovely suck run in behind them. Jack Martin’s claim helps.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No.8 HereComesMyBaby.
A few promising stayers are running in the second, a Benchmark 84 Handicap over 2000 meters. I’m pretty keen on two runners in this, and will be backing them both accordingly.
One of them runners is the favourite in Schabau. He was running really well in Germany over these sort of distances, before being imported to Australia under the watchful eye of Robert Hickmott.
He won well at this track in his first Australian run, and showed a brilliant turn of foot doing so. He should improve off that run, and any improvement would see him hard to beat here.
Looks Like Elvis is a big danger and way over the odds in this. He’s been in good form, without winning, in Brisbane and Sydney this preparation, placing behind Star Reflection, and then Cisco Bay last start where he only went down by a length.
He reeled off really good late sectionals in that race coming from back in the field, and from barrier three Lachlan King should sit him a bit closer to the speed, and he will relish the rise in trip.
Hang Man looks like the best of the rest. Can’t knock his form, winning four from nine and only missing a placing once.
He returned in really good fashion beating Smart Ellisim at Caulfield, and then gave the leader too much of a head start at Sandown last start.
Will appreciate the rise to 2000 meters and he draws to do no work, not out of it.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.3 Schabau, with a saver on No.2 Looks Like Elvis.
We get to a benchmark 90 handicap, over 1200 meters, down the famous Flemington straight.
Order of Command looks like one of the better bets on the program in this one. He’s the class horse in the race, running second to Nature Strip and beating Egyptian Bullet last preparation, and he’s come back in very good form.
His runs have been staggered this campaign with him running every month or so, but it’s definitely working for him.
He beat Sirius Suspect and Esperance first up in a pretty good form race, and then went on to beat Demolition, also down the Flemington straight.
He draws wide on the track which is generally advantageous in these races down the straight, and if he gets some cover, he’ll be very hard to hold out.
If there is a danger, it’s probably Chauffeur. He beat Order of Command in that race when he had no luck, charging home down the outside rail, and he draws the widest again which is a big positive.
He wasn’t doing much before that though, being beaten ten lengths by Easy Eddie, and then being convincingly beaten by Bon Amis. Would prefer to see him go around.
Man of His Word is the best roughie, he only finished a length off Brave Song at Caulfield last preparation, and was only beaten three lengths down the straight in a listed race when he was on the wrong part of the track. Resuming here and could run a bold race.
Recommended bet: Ein bet on No.6 Order of Command.
The Talindert Stakes is the fourth on the program, at listed level for the two-year-olds, over 1100 meters down the Flemington straight.
Pretty open race, as most of these two-year-old races are, but I’ve found one I liked in Microphone.
He’s been pretty impressive in his two runs to date, beating Pretty Brazen and Auxin with a barnstorming finish here about a month ago, and then going down by a length to I Am Immortal, who is one the Blue Diamond favourites.
Not in love with the fact that he’s drawn the inside gate, but he’s experienced down the straight and his good closing speed last time out has him on top.
Art Collection looks like one of the dangers at double figure odds. She was narrowly beaten on debut in the Maribyrnong Plate, and was very unlucky last time out at Caulfield, where the winner shifted out on her and she lost all momentum.
The winner was Loving Gaby, and she’s practically the favourite for the Blue Diamond. With even luck she’s a big chance.
Chavret is the best of the rest. She ran really well in the Magic Millions clockwise on debut, which has been a pretty good form race, going down by a length to the talented Hawker Hurricane.
It looks like she will appreciate the 1100 meters off that, and from the widest barrier, she should get some cover and be letting down strongly late.
Recommended bet: Win bet on N.1 Microphone, exotics with three I mentioned could be worth it in this race.
One of the better races on the card comes here in the fifth, The Vanity at group three level for the three-year-old fillies.
Pretty keen on the equal favourite in Fundamentalist here. She’s clearly a very good horse, getting narrowly pipped by Amphitrite in the Thousand Guineas last preparation, and then being beaten by the superstar in Mystic Journey the start after that.
She didn’t like the Sydney way of going when she went up there and apart from that she is as honest as they come.
She looked like she needed the run when resuming at Caulfield, and still finished just under two lengths away from Tin Hat and Halvorsen.
There’s no speed in the race, so she’ll sit pretty behind the leaders, and have plenty left in the tank down the straight.
My Pendant looks like one of the main dangers. She’s had that ‘wow’ factor that you want from a young filly in her last few starts, coming from last to win at the Valley and then winning here over the same trip last start.
As said previously there’s no pace in the race, so even though he’s drawn wide, Damien Lane should be able to dictate where she goes early in the race.
If she’s within striking distance at the 300 meter mark, she’ll be hard to hold out.
The Closer is the best of the rest. She should lead in a race without much speed, and her win last start in front of Winning Partner at Ballarat was brilliant.
Born to run further than this, so if she can get an easy lead, she’ll be hard to run down.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.4 Fundamentalist, with a saver on No.5 My Pendant.
A benchmark 90 handicap over the mile is the sixth on the program. Pretty big field in this, with a few live chances, but I’m going for some value in Groundbreak.
He’s a pretty progressive gelding out of the Hawkes Yard, and hasn’t had the greatest of luck so far in his career.
He ran two lengths behind Paret at Rosehill last preparation, before being outsprinted at Kensington over 1200 meters.
He resumed at Caulfield winning by nearly three lengths over 1400 meters, and then was badly held up at Caulfield last start. After he got clean air he ran the quickest last 100 meters of the day to finish a length off them.
From barrier two he draws to do no work in the run and hopefully sit midfield. With even luck he’ll be hard to beat.
Mr Money Bags might be worth one more chance. He’s clearly a good horse, beating Kazio and Haunted three starts back, before being unlucky at Flemington the next start behind Manolo Blahniq.
He was disappointing at Caulfield last start, but again was doing his best work late. Should enjoy a nice run from barrier six, and should appreciate the step up to the mile.
Heptagon is next best. His win at Caulfield last start was tremendous, and even though he draws the widest barrier, Mark Zahra should look to get him some cover, and he can still be running over them late.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No.15 Groundbreak.
The CS Hayes Stakes comes here in the seventh, and what a race it is, with some of Australia’s best three-year-olds preparing for later in the autumn.
I’m going with Adana in this one. He has shown glimpses of absolute brilliance in his short career so far.
He’s gone through the grades nicely, from winning his maiden at Warwick Farm, to then coming to Melbourne to compete in the Carbine Club last spring.
He would have no doubt finished closer in that race if he got out at the top of the straight, though he still came home strongly to finish three lengths off the likes of Ranier and Wild Planet.
He resumed really well at Rosehill a fortnight ago, storming home to miss by half a length against Vegadaza and he looked like he would be better for that run.
He maps brilliantly today from barrier six. Jimmy McDonald should sit him midfield with cover, and he’ll have plenty to give down the straight.
Ringerdingding is next best. He’s obviously a brilliant horse, winning both the Springtime Stakes and the Sandown Guineas last spring.
He will appreciate the hot speed that will be put on by the likes of Scottish Rogue and Age of Chivalry, and Johnny Allen getting back on board is a positive.
He’ll have to go back to basically last, but he’s probably the best finisher in the country. He’ll be storming home.
Starouz is the best roughie in the field. His maiden win at Benalla was exceptional two starts back, and he should have finished closer to Social Spin last start at Caulfield.
He maps beautifully to sit in behind the leaders, and he should have plenty to give when it matters.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No.13 Adana.
The feature on the card comes here, The Black Caviar lightning stakes over 1000 meters under weight for age conditions.
One of the more intriguing races you’ll see, and it’s been a long time since a horse carried forty-four kilograms in any race.
I’ve narrowed it down to the two main chances though and one of them is In Her Time. She really come of age last preparation, running third in the Premiere stakes, and then finishing second at this track in the best sprint race in the world, the VRC Sprint Classic.
She was beaten by an out and out champion in Santa Ana Lane that day, and it could be argued that if they were on the same part of the track it would have been a lot closer.
She hasn’t run over 1000 meters before, but her, like a few others in this race, will appreciate the strong speed set by Jedastar.
She is four from seven first up, and if she’s close enough with 300 meters to go, she’ll be winning.
Sunlight is the big danger. She gets in well at the weights as a three-year-old, and she’s one of the only horses to have experience with 1000-meter races.
Her win in the Coolmore down the straight here last start was simply breathtaking, as she basically led the whole way.
She draws out which is a positive, and she’ll be close enough to strike in the latter stages, big chance.
Divine Quality and Osborne Bulls can both run really good races here. Both of them have never ran over 1000 meters before, but both will appreciate the strong tempo up front.
If they are both close enough, we could see one of the great finishes of all time.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.4 In Her Time, with a saver on No.10 Sunlight.
The ‘lucky last’ on the card is an open Handicap over 1400 meters. Very open race with probably three quarters of the field having proper claims, but I’m going with Widgee Turf.
He ran really well last preparation without winning, running behind group winners in Hartnell, Showtime and Iconoclasm.
He has had four seconds from his last five starts, though this is one of the easiest races he’s been in for a while.
There looks to be a lot of pace on up front, so if he can get some cover back in the field, they could set it up for him to run all over them.
Only has to bring last preparations form to be going very close.
Rock ‘n’ Gold seems the big danger at big odds. The wide barrier is a concern, but if Riordan can get him across and into a nice spot, he’ll be very hard to hold out.
He’s definitely flown under the radar this preparation, winning two out of his last three, one of them coming against the talented Manolo Blahniq and Chamois Road. Don’t leave him out of any quaddies.
Streets of Avalon is the best of the rest. He has been in good form this preparation, running two seconds from three races.
The second behind Heptagon last start is a very good form reference for this, and he should be able to sit behind the leaders. Not out of it.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on both No.1 Widgee Turf and No.4 Rock ‘n’ Gold.
Best bet: Race 3 No.6 Order of Command.
Second bet: Race 5 No.4 Fundamentalist.
Best value: Race 6 No.15 Groundbreak.