I have some catching up to do after an ordinary day in the wet last Saturday.
There’s no better time than this if you are an Australian racing fan.
This Saturday marks the last day of winter and the unofficial start of spring with the running of the Group 1 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield.
While it is not the first official Group 1 of the new season, it’s the traditional “major” spring opener.
The reason why this time of year is best is that punters have so many questions that need answering.
Which three-year-old is going to take the next step? Which horse is tracking nicely for the Caulfield Cup? Who is the one to beat in The Everest?
On Saturday, some of those questions will be partly answered.
A smorgasbord of racing has been assembled at Caulfield and there’s also some decent racing at Rosehill, too.
I’ve taken a look at five key races from Melbourne and Sydney and given my thoughts on which horses might be worth your punting dollar.
This week I’ve tried to target both races and horses that present value, except for Vega Magic, who I think could be the bet of the day.
Good luck if you’re having a flutter.
Track rated Soft 5 at the time of writing. Rail in true position.
Race 4 at 2.10pm – $140,000 Listed Heatherlie Stakes (1700m)
Beaten narrowly in the Swan Hill Cup back in June, I’ve been keeping an eye on Guizot over the winter. He’s been ultra-consistent since then, running third at Caulfield, fourth at Flemington and fifth at Moonee Valley before winning last start at Caulfield.
The key to success that day? None other than the great Linda Meech. She retains the ride on Saturday and I think they can make it two in a row. The seven-year-old gelding will carry no weight and is drawn to get an easy run in transit.
Provided it’s not a leader-biased track, I can see Guizot running over the top of them at an attractive price.
Suggested bet: Guizot (8) each-way.
Race 6 at 3.30pm – $160,000 Everest Series Stakes (1100m)
There are only two winning hopes in this race and they are the top two in betting. Vega Magic deserves to be the favourite, having drawn the inside marble and has the services of Damien Oliver. Ball Of Muscle probably starts shorter if he had a better gate, but Glyn Schofield will need a little bit of luck from barrier eight.
Vega Magic normally presents fairly well first-up and he’s a Group 1-proven horse. I’m hoping Oliver rides him the same way he did in the Memsie in 2017 and the Bletchingly last year when he pinged to the front and led his rivals a merry dance.
If Vega Magic wins and doesn’t cop too much heat, he wins. I think if he takes a sit, he’s vulnerable. I’m backing Oliver to get the job done.
Suggested bet: Vega Magic (4) to win.
Race 7 at 4.10pm – $160,000 Group 3 Cockram Stakes (1200m)
A very strong mares race for this time of year and it’s hard to know which way to lean. There’s quite a few with a lot of upside and five of the 13 runners are first-up from a spell.
The Team Hawkes-trained Sylvia’s Mother caught the eye last start when she let down nicely at Flemington, but was around $3.40 at the time of writing and that didn’t look value in an open race.
I thought topweight Amphirtite was worth considering. She’s drawn badly, but she’ll get back anyway and there looks to be enough speed in the race that will give backmarkers their chance. I think she’s the classiest mare in the race and the Craig Williams-David Hayes combination has been deadly at Caulfield in the past.
At double-figure odds, I think she’s worth a throw at the stumps.
Suggested bet: Amphitrite (1) each-way.
Race 8 at 4.50pm – $1,000,000 Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m)
This Group 1 race is shaping up as a cracker. You could make a case for 11 of the 13 runners, I reckon. It’s worth noting that Alizee opened at $2.70 and has drifted to $3.20 early in the market, while Scales of Justice firmed from $7 into $5 – read into that what you will.
Personally, I am not looking past Hartnell. The veteran galloper was gallant when first-up in the Group 2 Lawrence Stakes and was beaten by a freakish mare (and Cliff’s Edge). Hartnell loves Caulfield, has only missed a place here once in nine starts, and has drawn barrier one. His second-up record is also sound and he’s once again a great each-way price.
I think Alizee backers are going to have their hearts in their mouth for most of the race, as she’ll go back and try and storm home, while Scales of Justice is still unproven in this kind of company. It’s an open race, but Hartnell is the most dependable horse in it, so that’s why he’s getting my vote.
Suggested bet: Hartnell (1) each-way.
Track rated Good 4 at the time of writing. Rail out 3 metres.
Race 6 at 3.10pm – $160,000 Group 3 Premier’s Cup (1900m)
I’m reasonably keen on a good value runner here that is making its NSW debut after enjoying success in Western Australia. The Chris Waller-trained Come Play With Me was $8 at the time of writing and that looks too good to pass up.
His last run was on July 13 at Belmont when winning the Swan River over 2200m and he’s since had a trial in Sydney, winning over the unsuitable 1030m.
This might test his class as it’s a decent race, but the odds just look too good to be true. He’s fit and flying, having won four races in a row, and I think he is the best bet on the Sydney card.
Suggested bet: Come Play With Me (5) each-way.