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.
Melbourne’s Saturday metro meeting is at headquarters this week, of course known as Flemington, for Australian Guineas day.
The Guineas itself might be one of the best editions we have ever seen, with horses like Ringerdingding, Mystic Journey, Hawkshot and Amphitrite all going around. There’s three group races on the card to accompany the feature, and three races at listed level.
The bureau predicts a hot summer’s day in Melbourne, with a top of 37 degrees predicted. Luckily there’s lots of shade at Flemington, so there’s no excuse to not head down to the track for a brilliant day’s racing!
The first on the program is the Festival of Racing 1000 at listed level, over 1000 meters down the Flemington straight. There’s a few first starters which always makes things difficult, but I think Cheer Leader represents superb each way value here. She hit the line well in a trial at Geelong, being hard held to the line, and then narrowly missed against a very smart one in Fact or Fable at Bendigo on debut.
She also beat Flit home who I’ve had a nibble at in the Inglis Sires in just over a months’ time, so I think that’ll be a pretty hot maiden, and the Peter and Paul Snowden yard has to be respected in these two year old races. Should go close.
Isa Rocket is a threat at the $13 quote currently. She beat Fact or Fable and Charvet in a trial at Cranbourne a few weeks back, and then ran very greenly at the Valley to finish four lengths off Andrassy Avenue who some were spruiking in the Blue Diamond last week. She’s got plenty of scope for improvement, and I think she’s over the odds here.
Lanigera has to be respected. He ran well over this distance two starts ago at Caulfield when he finished a length and a half behind Loving Gaby and Bella Rosa, and then failed at Flemington over 1100 down the straight. I couldn’t take him at the $4 quote, but he’ll get a good run from the inside gate.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on #7 Cheer Leader.
The Roy Higgins Quality is the next on the program is the next on the program, at listed level over 2600 metres.
It seems like a race in two here, but the pattern of the race will suit the short price favourite in Schabau, and it’s hard to see him getting beaten here.
He’s been excellent since coming over from Germany, beating the in-form Prince Ziggy in his Australian debut, and then holding out Looks Like Elvis last start.
He shouldn’t have any problem with the trip today considering the owners brought him to have a crack at the big Cups in the spring, and from barrier three he maps beautifully to sit on the speed in a race without any in it.
He’ll be hard to beat getting out in distance. Surprise Baby is the big threat. He won impressively over a mile at the Valley two starts back, after travelling three wide with no cover, and then did a lot wrong last start in the same race as Schabau was in, when he layed in the whole way down the straight.
He still managed to finish a length and a half off them, and he will absolutely relish this trip, being bred by Shocking and out of Bula Baby. If the pace does come from somewhere unexpected, we’ll be in for a grandstand finish.
Bondeiger is one for the multiples. He’s been coming home strongly against the likes of Tarquin and Al Galayel, and should appreciate the 2600 metres. Hard to see him winning giving the fancied runners four kilograms though.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #5 Schabau.
We’ve got another race down the straight here, with the ATA/Bob Hoysted handicap at listed level over 1000 metres coming here in the third.
Pretty convinced that She’s So High will win here. Her form lines last preparation are brilliant for a race like this, winning down the straight here at listed level, and then being narrowly beaten by I’ll Have a Bit and beating Nature Strip home in the Euclase stakes in Adelaide.
She’s two from two fresh, unbeaten at the track and distance after one try, and she maps well to get a nice sit off them with cover. Very hard to beat. I am Someone looks like the only danger. He’s form is hard to measure up considering he’s been running in Benchmark 70 races, however, he’s been winning them impressively.
He won by five lengths at Bendigo, and then streeted them over 1100 metres down the straight last start. He’s got the fitness edge over a lot of these and I don’t think they’ll go to quick in front which gives him a chance.
Moon Lover is the best of the rest. She won at listed level in Geelong over 1200 metres, and then was narrowly beaten down the straight behind Teleplay. She’ll race on the speed from the inside gate and take luck out of the equation.
Recommended bet: Decent sized win bet on #7 she’s so High.
The lowest graded race on the card comes here in the fourth, with a Fillies and Mares Benchmark 84 handicap over 1100 metres.
I don’t think this race has any business being on this type of a card, but there’s still a winner to be found and I’ve seen worse $30 chances than All About Nicci.
She carries the top weight which isn’t ideal, but her form last preparation wasn’t too bad for a race like this. She ran two lengths off Holy Blade twice, at Bendigo and Adelaide respectively, with the latter being at listed level.
She’s won two from five fresh and I think Sister Kitty Mac will set a good pace, so I’ll be specking her at the big odds. Island Daze has come back well in this preparation and she seems to be the most consistent out of the fancied runners.
She beat up on a small field at Sandown resuming, but her win at the Valley over Dancing Tycoon was impressive. If she jumps well and gets some cover in the run, she’ll be hard to hold out. Miss Toorak Flyer is the best of the rest.
Her win in front of Redcore a couple of months ago is a good form line for this race, and she came home strongly last start over 955 metres at the Valley. The 1100 metres suits here, and she’ll be coming home strongly.
Recommended bet: Something small each way on #1 All About Nicci.
We get to a super Vobis handicap here in the fifth, over 1400 metres. There will be a lot of winners going forward out of this race with some very progressive types in this field, and I’ve landed on Brilliant Choice in a very open race.
His form lines from last preparation are impeccable. He ran half a length off Maid of Heaven on debut, who went on to win the Spring Champion Stakes, and he beat Adana and Nakeeta Jane in what turned out to be a very hot maiden.
He went out for a spell and was gelded, and it worked wonders in his return at the Valley, where he settled a lot better and powered away from them late. He will get a lovely run on the speed from barrier five, and he’ll be hard to hold out.
The short priced favourite in Age of Chivalry is a big danger. He’s made his way through the grades really well this preparation, breaking his maiden at Sandown and then winning easily in a Benchmark 64 over No Drama Darci.
He fought as hard as he could in the CS Hayes Stakes and narrowly went down to The Inevitable after leading all the way, who is a $20 chance in the feature. He should have the speed to cross from barrier nine, but there’s a lot of speed on in this race which is the main query. Is as honest as they come.
Winning Partner and Write Your Name are the two next best. They’ve both been unlucky in recent campaigns after getting too far back or not getting a run in the straight, and they should benefit from the speed on up front.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #9 Brilliant Choice, and will be playing exotics around #9, #4, #6, #10 and #8.
The first of the group three’s come in the sixth, with it being the Shaftesbury Avenue handicap over 1400 metres.
Every horse bar two of them has claims in this race, which makes it difficult to pick a winner, but I’ve been a big fan of Furrion since his debut at Stawell last year. He made his way through the grades nicely last preparation, and he beat Best of Days over 1700 metres at Caulfield, which is obviously a good form line for this, and he was unlucky in both the Cranbourne and Bendigo cups.
He hit the line nicely in his trial at Wodonga, and he’s undefeated first up, winning two from two. He has good versatility in terms of where he can run in the race, so McNiel should be able to judge where to place him, and he’ll be hard to beat if he’s wound up for this.
Streets of Avalon has been in good form this preparation, barring one bad run at this track three starts back. He ran second to Heptagon two starts back at Caulfield, finishing two lengths off him, and then he won at this track last start over Widgee Turf.
He got a charmed run in that race, but from barrier four he looks set to do it again. He maps to get the run of the race, and even though this is a step up in grade, he’s rock hard fit compared to most of these. He’ll be hard to beat.
Sticking with Rock ‘n’ Gold as the one who could put some early value into the quaddie. He’s form line is good for this, running two lengths to Manolo Blahniq in the Chester Manifold after having no luck in the run, and then winning the John Dillon Stakes after leading all the way.
He had to do a power of work to get across to the lead last start, and nothing went right for him in the run. There won’t be as much pace on up front in this race, so he should be able to get a nice sit, and produce a big run down the straight.
Recommended bet: Probably a good race to play exotics with #7, #12, #5, #1 and #13 all involved.
The time honoured Blamey Stakes is the seventh on the card, in the lead up to the big one, and one of my best on the card comes here in the form of Material Man.
He was racing all the best horses in Western Australia a few months ago, running behind Arcadia Queen and Galaxy Star respectively, and he’s had no luck at all since coming to Melbourne.
He just hasn’t had a crack at them in either the C.F Orr or the Futurity, and has only ran a length and a half, and then two lengths behind the winners.
Barrier one isn’t ideal, but he’ll do no work in the run, and at Flemington they’ve usually got time to get out. Very hard to beat. Manuel is the only legitimate danger. He’s been up for a while now but he’s been superb this preparation.
His win in the C.F Orr was tremendous, beating the likes of Material Man and Kementari, and he ran a lot better than I thought he would backing up in the Futurity after doing a fair bit of work to get to the lead.
From barrier seven, if he jumps well, he’ll probably sit on the speed and he’s lion hearted, so he’ll be hard to run down. Johannes Vermeer is the unknown in the race, and the Bookmakers are keeping him very safe.
I can’t take the current quote of $3.60 for a horse that hasn’t raced for over a year and has never won fresh, but he’s a Group 1 winner overseas over 1400 metres, so a big finish down the outside wouldn’t be a shock.
Recommended bet: Big win bet on #1 Material Man, with a saver on #4 Manuel.
We finally get to the feature on the card, which is the star studded Australian Guineas over the mile at set weights.
It might be the best edition we’ve ever seen, and it’s hard to see Mystic Journey getting beaten with even luck. She’s a superstar this Tasmanian filly. She ran ridiculous sectionals at the Valley in the spring to beat Fundamentalist by two lengths, who the favourite in this race Amphitrite has struggled to beat twice, and she’s been fantastic against some smart types in Tasmania this preparation.
She maps to do no work from barrier one and Anthony Darmanin will probably settle her just off the speed. With even luck she’ll be very hard to beat. Stars of Carrum is one that can run a big race at odds.
He was the runner up in the Victorian Derby in the spring, after beating Aramayo in the Moonee Valley Vase, and he’s resumed well. He was out sprinted behind Tin hat in the Manfred, but was absolutely trucking behind a wall of horses in the CS Hayes Stakes. Had he got out when he needed to in that race I think he would have went close to winning, and therefore been a shorter price here.
He’s drawn wide but he was going to go back anyways, and as long as he gets cover in the run, he’ll be flashing home. Dealmaker is another one at odds who is flying under the radar. He’s been really good this preparation.
The sondelon form from his first up run has been franked by him beating Kolding on Wednesday, and he beat Ringerdingding home in the Autumn Stakes and was motoring home late. He’ll get a perfect run in midfield from barrier eight, and he’ll be hitting the line hard.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #15 Mystic Journey, and the exotics pool will be huge, so I’ll be playing around #15, #11, #3, #4 and #13.
The ‘lucky last’ on the program is the Frances Tressady Stakes over 1400 metres at group three level for the fillies and Mares. Clarice Cliffs will have the hopes of many a punter here in the last as the last favourite of the day, but I think she’ll be hard to beat here.
She ran a length off Declarationofheart last preparation, who’s a $34 chance in a brilliant Australian Guineas, and she destroyed La Tigeresa who is a $13 chance here two starts back at Geelong.
She destroyed them by six lengths at Pakenham last start, and she draws beautifully from barrier four to race on the speed, in a race without much speed in it. She’ll be very hard to beat.
Set To Sparkle is a danger at double figure odds. She’s been in really good form this preparation, beating Naantali over this exact track and distance, and then only going down by a length to Heptagon and King’s Command.
She draws wide though due to the lack of pace on up front, she should be able to cross and get a lovely spot in the run. The main danger.
Temple of Bel is the best of the rest. There’s some queries surrounding her first up record, only registering a third from four starts fresh, but she screams out to me as a horse that will win a good race this preparation.
She ran a length behind I am A star in the ladies day vase over a mile, and then was far from disgraced running only two lengths off Shillelagh in the Empire Rose. From barrier twelve she’ll get back in the run, and if the swoopers are coming late she’ll be finishing the best of them.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #14 Clarice Cliffs, with a saver on #8 Set to Sparkle.
BEST BET: Race 7 #1 Material Man.
SECOND BEST BET: Race 3 #7 She’s So High.
BEST VALUE: Race 4 #1 All About Nicci.