This Saturday in Melbourne we head to Caulfield, where there’s a nine-race card in store for us.
The feature of the day, Race 8, is the Anniversary Vase Handicap at listed level. The rail is out ten metres for the entire circuit and the bureau is predicting a cold Melbourne day with a top of 20 degrees. Rug up and get down to the track!
The first on the program is a Super Vobis two-year-old handicap over 1100 metres. I’m prepared to take the $8 on offer for Lil’ Angel here. She’s bred well by Wandjina and out of Rapidement and she trialled really well under a pretty tight hold. She trialled behind Deserved, who won impressively at Sandown on Wednesday, and the Tony McEvoy stable has to be respected in these two-year-old races.
The favourite, Meuse, is the obvious danger. She’s another that’s bred well by Snitzel and out of Precious Lorraine and she won with absolute ease on debut after leading all the way. She maps well from barrier five to sit on the speed, and having the rail out might be advantageous.
Order of Valour is another that won on debut. He beat Stand to Attention there, who ran fourth at Bendigo last Saturday, and he’ll take catching from the inside gate.
Recommended bet: Each way play on No. 10 Lil’ Angel.
We’ve got a Benchmark 78 handicap here in the second over the mile. It’s a really open race here, evident by it being $6 the field, but I’m happy enough to give I Got You another chance. The form lines around this Gelding are pretty impressive. He ran a length behind Mystyko and Redcore resuming, who are both subsequent winners, and then went to Sydney, where he ran two lengths off the talented duo of Star of the Seas and Archedemus. He had a forgive run at Geelong last start after being posted wide, and he draws really well from gate two here. If he can get the run when he needs to, he’ll be hard to hold out.
I’ll be having something small on Dane Thunder. He won well at Seymour two starts back before going to Adelaide and running two lengths off Lieder and Lostarc over 2000 metres. He gets back to the mile here and he maps to get a lovely run. Danon Roman has form lines around Best Of Days and Furrion from last preparation, and he was doing his best work to the line resuming over 1400 metres.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on both No. 10 I Got You and No. 8 Dane Thunder.
The third on the card is a Benchmark 84 handicap, again over the mile. I’ve settled on Pria Eclipse at double-figure odds. She’s a very consistent mare who finished a length off them at the Valley behind Winkelmann two starts back, when she took a while to balance up and then was pipped by Master Shuhood, who put in a huge effort last start at Mornington. There will be next to no pace in this race, and she can launch to the front from the inside gate and dictate the race. The large claim assists her chances.
Remember The Name seems like a logical danger. She faded to finish two lengths off Pure Scot two starts back, but her effort last start behind Prometheus and Mr Reckless at Flemington was very good for this. She maps to get a nice run on the speed and she’ll be in it for a long way.
Think Bleue ran a length off them at Group 1 company last preparation, and even though her first two runs in this time haven’t been great, she can be a big improver third up from barrier three.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No. 9 Pria Eclipse.
One of the better races of the day comes here in the fourth, a Super Vobis three-year-old handicap over the mile. Obviously the Mornington Guineas form is the best coming into this, and with the price differential I’m happy to back Star Missile. He resumed with a brilliant win at Cranbourne over 1400 metres after travelling three wide the trip, and you can completely forget he even went around in the Guineas, when he was knocked from pillar to post for the best part of 400 metres. Last time he was third up he finished second to Botti, who has competed in very good races, and he gets a six-kilogram weight swing on the $2 favourite here.
Starouz is one at odds that can run a good race. He was impressive at Adelaide two starts back, beating So We Are, and I thought he stuck on well to finish third after travelling four wide without cover in the Guineas. He maps to get a nice run from the inside gate and he’ll be in it for a long way.
I’m prepared to lay the odds on pop in Mr Quickie. Obviously he’s been brilliant, winning his last five, but he carries a huge weight today, and I think there are some progressive types going around in this race. Unders at the $2 quote.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No. 4 Star Missile.
The fifth on the program is a three-year-old fillies handicap over 1100 metres. I think Thine is the Power shapes as a good bet here. She lost momentum and had to weave between runners at the Valley two starts back behind Algadon Miss, and she really hit the line hard last start to narrowly miss against Causeway Girl, who’s gone up to Sydney for day one of the championships. I think it’ll be a genuinely run race, and with even luck I think she’s good value at the $7.
Lady Pluck is the main danger. The Tasmanians are on fire this autumn and they’ve brought her here on the back of an emphatic win at Launceston. She ran two lengths behind Smart Melody and Music Bay in Melbourne last preparation, and if she brings that effort here, she’ll be hard to beat.
Propelle won like a good horse at the Valley last preparation before being outclassed at group three level. She got nosed out resuming at Ballarat, but she can improve second up from the good draw.
Recommended bet: Sizeable each way play on No. 6 Thine is the Power.
We’ve got a mares handicap here in the sixth over 1100 metres. I’m very keen on Leather’n’Lace here. She finished within a length of Winter Bride and eventual Group 1 winner Booker in three consecutive starts last preparation at Group 3 level and she ran within two lengths of Hiyaam a while back. She’s only ever missed a placing once when fresh, and she maps to get a lovely on the leaders backs. Most of the field is giving her three or four kilograms in the run, and she’ll be very hard to beat here.
Non Paear is the danger. She’s finished second to Spirit of Aquada and Tell Me in consecutive starts at the Valley, and she’ll cross and go straight to the front today. With the rail out she could prove had to catch.
For the roughie punters Fuhryk seems overs in this market. She resumed really well at Group 3 level, going down by a long neck before being outclassed at Group 1 level. She had excuses last start, losing a plate in the run and being on the wrong part of the track. She’ll be running on late.
Recommended bet: Sizeable win bet on No. 8 Leather’n’Lace. No. 1 Fuhryk might be worth saving on.
A handicap race over 1200 metres is next in store, with some very promising and consistent gallopers going around. I like two of them in this, and one of those is Mastering. He ran well in a good form race behind a talented one in Usain Bowler last preparation before being given no chance after being posted wide at Flemington behind Heptagon. He knuckled at the barriers last start and it did take him a while to balance up. Once he did, though, he hit the line well, and he’s only missed the top two once from three tries second up. He should get a nice spot in the run and be running on late.
Superhard is the other horse I want to be on. He resumed brilliantly at Flemington when he ran lengths above the Benchmark, and he just didn’t seem to handle the Moonee Valley track last start. He’ll appreciate the rise to 1200 here and he should be showing his best, which is definitely good enough to win this.
Spirit of Aquada resumed well, winning with ease at the Valley and then just missing last start at Flemington behind Villa Sarchi. He’ll be able to sit off the rail from barrier eight and be running on out wide.
Recommended bet: Happy enough to back No. 9 Superhard and No. 12 Mastering.
The feature of the meeting comes here in the eighth, with the anniversary Vase at listed level over 1400 metres. I want to be on a swooper here, considering there will be an electric pace on up front, and I’m going to give Manolo Blahniq another chance. I think he shapes as a very good bet here. He won the Chester Manifold at listed level over 1400 metres before being a certainty beaten in the John Dillon Stakes, when he just never got a run at them. He was caught five wide without cover in the Hareeba after an interrupted lead-up and I think he did well to finish within three lengths. He only needs even luck from the rail to be winning this.
Snippets Land is a danger. He came home really well behind Dreamforce two starts back before winning the National Sprint at Canberra with relative ease. He’ll get a nice spot behind them from barrier five, and he only needs to handle the Melbourne way of going to be a big threat.
Kemono can run a big race. His two best performances in Australia have both come at this track, and he came home steadily in both runs this preparation. He’s never missed a placing third up, and with even luck he’ll be running on strongly.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No. 9 Manolo Blahniq. Playing exotics around No. 9, No. 5, No. 6, No. 13 and No. 1.
The ‘lucky last’ on the program is a handicap race over 2000 metres. I’m going to go with some value here with Gallic Chieftain. He’s had two runs in this preparation, in the Blamey Stakes and the Yarra Valley Cup, and he came home very well in both of them. His form last preparation was brilliant for this race, finishing two lengths off Prince Of Arran in the Lexus. He’s three from six third up and draws well, and if he brings that form, he’ll be hard to beat.
Valac is the big danger. He faded late behind Antah and Thunder Cloud in what is a strong form race and then missed by half a length to Hang Man after leading all the way. There doesn’t look to be too much pace on, so he’ll go to the lead and prove hard to run down.
Our Libretto is a very promising stayer but I’m not sure whether she is fully wound up for this type of a race second up. She’ll be an eye-catcher, though. A very smart mare.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on No. 1 Gallic Chieftain.
Best bet: Race 6, No. 8 Leather’n’Lace.
Second-best bet: Race 8, No. 9 Manolo Blahniq.
Best value: Race 9, No. 1 Gallic Chieftain.