The first Group 1 of the season in Melbourne is taking place this Saturday, with it being Memsie Stakes day at Caulfield.
Spring is definitely in the air with the likes of Alizee, Hartnell, Humidor and Black Heart Bart resuming. We’ve got a nine race card in store for us, with three group three races to accompany the Group 1. The track will most likely be rated in the Good range, with the rail being in the true position for the entire circuit. Let’s get into it!
The first on the program is a Handicap race for the stayers over 2400 metres. Lucky this race isn’t in the early quaddie! It’s pretty much a dart board job here, and not a race I’m keen to invest in, but I stuck Alfarris on top. He’s a pretty dour stayer this bloke, but he did put in a brilliant run against two Melbourne Cup fancies in Surprise Baby and Steel Prince in the Andrew Ramsden a few months ago.
He travelled three wide without cover that day and was brave to the line. He couldn’t go with them over the mile at the Valley resuming but the rise in trip suits. Outside of him there’s nothing between Jinda who has been in brilliant form and Naval Wafare, who at his best can definitely win a race like this.
Recommended bet: Not at all interested in this race. There might be a slight watch on Alfarris from a futures perspective but that’s about it.
The next race to assess is a Benchmark 78 Handicap over 1200 metres. There are plenty of different form lines coming through this race which makes it somewhat tricky, however it’s hard not to have Diamond Effort on top.
She was brilliant last preparation with back to back wins (one a six length win) before going out for a spell. She resumed last week in what I thought was a really good run behind the talented Pippie. She settled five deep without cover and was brave to the line, beating the rest of the field home. She won by six lengths last time she was second up and getting back onto a good track will help her. Only needs even luck from the inside gate to be winning.
Bravo Tango shapes as the main danger. He’s a bit of an enigma this horse but he ran well last preparation – beating Declarationofheart and Toy Boy. He’s only been unplaced once from five starts fresh, and he maps to get a perfect run here. Chess Star and Exceltara can both run big races.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #16 Diamond Effort.
We’ve got a Mares Handicap here over 1400 metres. I think it’s a race in three here. It was hard to split them but I ended up putting Shokora on top. Since coming back to Melbourne she’s hit a very good vein of form. She won a Benchmark 90 two starts ago, before going down too My Pendant by two lengths – who is the $2.60 favourite here. She travelled four wide that day on a heavy 8, and her run just peaked late. She draws well from barrier four, gets back onto a good track and gets a 2Kg weight swing on the favourite. She’s good value at the $7 quote.
Music Bay and My Pendant shape as the two main dangers. They’ve both won some very good races and ran times which suggests they are seriously good horses. Special Diva is way under the odds here and I wouldn’t be touching her at the $5.50.
Recommended bet: Each way play on #5 Shokora.
The Heatherlie Handicap at listed level over 1700 metres is the next on the program. He still might need further but I’m prepared to back Captain Cook at double figures here.
He brought over good form from England, running four lengths off Best Of Days who has since come to Australia and been a Group 1 winner. His debut run at Caulfield was excellent I thought, coming from last on the bend to only finish just over a length away. He had the best late sectionals of any horse in that race. He should strip fitter second up and the rise to 1700 metres suits. He’s good value.
Super Titus is an interesting runner. There was a big boom on him on debut where he had mucus post-race and his run resuming here a few weeks ago was really good. He ran similar splits in the last 400 than the winner did and Romancer has since franked the form. Getting back onto a good track and the rise to 1700 metres are positives. It’s hard to knock the form of Benitoite, but I’d like to see him in this grade before I launched in.
Recommended bet: Each way play on #6 Captain Cook.
The first group three of the program comes here in the McNeil Stakes for the three year olds. I’m backing two of them in this race and one them is the second elect in King of Hastings.
He was impressive last preparation, just going down to Can’t be Done before coming to this track and beating the talented SizzleFly. He trialled beautifully at Cranbourne in the lead up to this run and he profiles to get the run of the race. He just looks like a winner as well this horse. He’ll give himself every chance.
I’ll be saving on Sebrekate. He only had the one run last preparation for an easy victory at Flemington, before resuming and beating home Dubious at group three level whose $8.50 here. Without much pace in the race he’ll sit on the speed and give a pretty big sight in the straight. The market has got this one wrong.
Peidra and Missile Mantra both place unbeaten records on the line, but this is their biggest test to date.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #3 King of Hastings with a saver on #2 Sebrekate.
We’ve got one of the weaker editions of the Heath 1110 this year, at group three level. There’s not a chance I can back Vega Magic at $2 so I’ve decided to stick with Malaguerra on top. He ticks a lot of boxes here. Outside of the two favourites, he’s definitely got the best form lines coming into this, running a length off Alizee and Hartnell in the Futurity last preparation and four lengths off Osborne Bulls in the All Aged Stakes.
He’s five from eight fresh, draws well in barrier five and steps back in grade. Looks the best value in the race. Outside of him, the two favourites are obviously prevalent. They’re both just too short for my liking. Gytrash is the South Australian raider who could make an impact if he’s wound up for this after a trial win.
Recommended bet: Each way play on #5 Malaguerra.
Probably the second best race on the program comes here in the form of the Cockram Stakes. I wasn’t on Pippie last start, but I won’t be making that mistake again. She beat Fidelia home last preparation after travelling four wide so I don’t think she can beat her here, and she’s going for five in a row.
She’s come back in brilliant fashion this mare. She beat Precipitate by three lengths resuming in Brisbane, before coming to this track a fortnight ago and absolutely trotting in ahead of Diamond Effort. This is her biggest test to date, but the times she’s been running suggests she’s a proper group sprinter and she should have some upside after only five career starts. She should be winning.
Spanish Whisper is the best roughie in the race. She was brilliant winning a group two in Melbourne last preparation before having no luck in Sydney. She runs well fresh and she maps beautifully from barrier three. Sylvia’s Mother and Amphitrite are both quality horses who have to be given a chance.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #13 Pippie.
The feature of the program has arrived – the Memsie Stakes over 1400 metres at Group 1 level. It’s hard to go past the favourite in Alizee and I’ll be backing her here.
She’s just a star this mare. She won the Expressway second up last preparation over Le Romain who is a very good horse, before coming to this track when she won the Futurity over Hartnell. She only narrowly won resuming but she just hit the front too early in the straight there and I doubt that happens here from the wide barrier. Damien Oliver jumps on board and she should be winning this and adding to her impressive resume.
Scales of Justice does seem like the main danger. He was terrific resuming when winning the Bletchingly over Cliff’s Edge, and nothing went right for him over in Adelaide. He’s three from four third up and he maps to get a good run. He’ll be hard to beat. Hartnell and Humidor are the old war horses who could spring a surprise.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #11 Alizee.
We’ve got a Handicap race over 1400 metres here in the ‘lucky last’. It’s practically a field job for the quaddie, but I put Iconoclasm on top.
He went through a purple patch a couple of preparations ago, and that form is definitely good enough to win this. He resumed beating Miss Vixen at this track (where he has a good record) before bounding at the start at Flemington which gave him no chance of winning. We can completely forget about the Aurie’s Star as he just doesn’t go in the wet ground. He draws well here and Damien Oliver jumps on board. He’s the top pick in an open race.
Outside of him, the two emergencies who are currently favourites in Age of Chivalry and Rox the Castle can win a race like this, as can Antah and Night’s watch who’s resuming for the Waller Yard.
Recommended bet: Small each way play on #2 Iconoclasm.
Best bet: Race 7 #13 Pippie
Second best bet: Race 8 #11 Alizee
Best value: Race 4 #6 Captain Cook