Group 1 racing returns to the calendar this Saturday with the running of the Winx Stakes (1400 metres) at Randwick.
Some of the biggest names we’ll see this spring are lining up in this race.
Of the ten starts, seven of them have won at Group 1 level, while two have placed Group 1s.
Just one runner outsider Samadoubt hasn’t placed at group level but has won a listed race.
While most of these talented gallopers are stepping out first-up from a spell, don’t expect it to be anything but a fiercely contested race.
But because it is a 1400-metre race when the bulk of the field wants it further, there’s no way I could suggest having a bet in the Winx Stakes.
I certainly couldn’t entertain backing Oaks winner Verry Elleegant, who will go from winning over 2400 metres in April to a strong sprint on Saturday.
Having said that, she’s a classy mare who has won twice over 1400 metres, so a win wouldn’t surprise, but her current quote of $3.90 is under the odds.
Happy Clapper would be my suggestion, but I’ll be just watching with interest.
Below are five races that I think are better wagering prospects on Saturday. If you’re having a bet, do it responsibly.
Race 6 at 3.05pm – $160,000 Group 3 Open Quality (1200 metres)
I’m breaking a few of my own rules here, but Cascadian could be a very nice horse for the Godolphin yard and he is going to finish off strongly.
There appears to be enough pace on paper to suggest it will be a genuinely run race, and that’s why I’m leaning towards the former French galloper. He won over 1400 metres and 1600 metres in France and was placed at Group 1 level, so he is the real deal.
Kerrin McEvoy is booked for the ride and his record for Godolphin is superb. Expect Cascadian to drop to the rear of the field and power home. Stablemate Deprive is probably the biggest danger, but I’m tipping Cascadian to kick off a winning streak.
Suggested bet: Cascadian (6) to win.
Race 8 at 4.25pm – $160,000 Group 3 F and M quality (1100 metre)
Very tough race in which we get to see this year’s Golden Slipper winner, Kiamichi, return to the track. I think the filly will be hard to beat, but I’m looking elsewhere in this high-class race.
The Matthew Dale-trained Notation has been up for a while, with runs in May, June and July (two), but she has been given a month off in the lead-up to this. The four-year-old has five wins from nine starts and has only missed the place once, so you know she is genuine.
I think she’ll be the fittest horse in the race and apprentice Blaike McDougall gets the ride on a horse he’s familiar with. From barrier two, she shouldn’t spend a penny behind the leaders and is going to be poised to finish over the top of them. Each-way all day.
Suggested bet: Notation (8) each-way.
Race 5 at 2.45pm – $140,000 Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000 metres)
A very ordinary race for a $140,000 blacktype event – just six horses accepted for the sprint – but I’m previewing it because I think there’s a standout.
Assertive Approach is the biggest moral on Saturday if Dwayne Dunn rides him correctly. The experienced jockey should know how to count to ten by now and if he rattles off those kinds of sections from the 600 metres to the 200 metres, he’ll have these off the bit and floundering. But if he rides too cute in front, we’ll see history repeat itself when Assertive Approach squibbed it at the finish last start at Flemington.
The Hawkes gelding opened at $2.50 and had drifted to $2.70, but I think he leads and wins on Saturday.
Suggested bet: Assertive Approach (3) to win.
Race 6 at 3.25pm – $125,000 Open Handicap (1519 metres)
If you’re ever with me at the track, you’ll hear me say one thing often when judging a horse’s form: “It’s a proven winner”. I love horses that win often and hate horses that are hit and miss.
In this race there’s a horse called Mosh Music, who is first-up for Archie Alexander and will probably start at $7 or more on Saturday.
This mare has had eight starts for six wins. She’s had three starts at Moonee Valley for three wins. On Saturday she gets the services of jockey Jye McNeil who is going to be hungry for a win.
I know she won’t be rock-hard fit and will eventually want it further than 1519 metres, but I think she’s the best value on Saturday.
Suggested bet: Mosh Music (9) each-way.
Race 8 at 4.45pm – $125,000 Ranvet Handicap (1200 metres)
There was early money for the Phillip Stokes-trained Terbium here, but I’m going to take on this favourite because I think he’s going to have to be bloody good to win first-up in this race from an outside barrier.
Jockey John Allen could get stuck wide and that’ll be suicide in this competitive race. The like leader is Tavisan for Mick Price and Ben Melham, who will be fitter having had two runs back this prep.
He’s not as classy as Terbium, but at this time of year a fitness edge and a better barrier can be the difference.
If you’re looking for a roughie, the ex-Perth galloper Epic Grey is going to get a beautiful run in transit and could surprise if he’s found an extra length in Victoria.
Suggested bet: Tavisan (11) to win.