We head to Caulfield this Saturday for the start of their two-week carnival.
It’s Guineas Day! The Caulfield and Thousand Guineas will take place on Saturday, along with two other Group 1s in the Toorak Handicap and the Caulfield Stakes. The Herbert Power Stakes and Schillaci Stakes will also have big impacts on the Everest and Caulfield and Melbourne Cups respectively. Let’s get into it!
The Inglis Debutant Stakes over 1000 metres kicks off the meeting. It’s nearly impossible to have any confidence considering the majority of these juveniles haven’t trialed yet. The Mick Price-trained Rock of Kryptonite is impeccably bred by Fastnet Rock and out Krypton. The Big Easy and Pounce are others who are well-bred. I’m not going anywhere near this race but if you are having a bet it’s probably best to watch the market.
Recommended bet: Leaving this one alone.
The Weekend Hussler Stakes at listed level over the 1400 metres is the next race to assess. I’ve backed two of them in this race and one of them is Waging War. His last four starts have all been very good and he has been incredibly unlucky not to at least win one of them.
He should have beaten Behemoth in the Penny Edition at Morphettville, who runs in the Silver Eagle in Sydney this weekend, and he just had to travel too wide in the Balaklava Cup and in a handicap race here a couple of weeks ago. He draws better from barrier two today and drops in weight down to the 54.5kg.
I’ll be saving on Renewal. He finished off last preparation beating Star of the Seas and Organza comprehensively in Sydney, before winning when resuming in the Testa Rossa a fortnight ago. He beat Zoustyle and Haunted in that race. He maps to get the perfect run from barrier five and the rise up to the 1400 metres suits.
I could regret going against the punter’s friend in Rox The Castle. He will lead like always but I think he runs into a couple who are better here.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both No.7 Waging War and No.2 Renewal. Pretty keen to invest in this race.
The Thoroughbred Club Stakes at Group 3 level over 1200 metres awaits us here. Tricky race. Might have a small play at Don’ttelltheboss at double-figure odds. She’s a promising filly out of the Robbie Griffiths yard. She ran about a length off Athiri two starts back down the straight when she was on the inferior ground, before being unlucky not to have finished closer to Loving Gaby who is a $3 favourite here.
She had to come off heels a few times around the bend and at Moonee Valley that is detrimental to a horse’s chance. She draws well in barrier five and with even luck should be fighting out the finish.
Loving Gaby is the danger. She ran second in both the Sires Produce and Champagne Stakes last preparation before resuming with a brilliant win at Group 3 level. She will be finishing strongly. California Zimbol was excellent when resuming, beating the talented duo of Kylease and Black Magnum. She can win here but I can’t have her at the $3.60.
Recommended Bet: Small each-way play on No.8 Don’ttelltheboss.
The Northwood Plume Stakes at Group 3 level over 1200 metres is the next on the program. Nothing would surprise in this race but the favourite in Manicure has to go on top.
She ran half a length off Dixie Blossoms last preparation who was the eventual Coolmore Classic winner and her effort resuming couldn’t have been more impressive. She was posted four wide without any cover and was incredibly strong to the line winning by 1.5 lengths. She will have to overcome a wide draw again but she’s a quality animal.
Embrace Me represents the best value in the race. The connections have finally figured out that she needs to settle back and run on. She was super in the Typhoon Tracy at the Valley when coming from last on the turn to win last preparation, and this doesn’t look much harder. She should be fit enough now fourth up. Prophet’s Thumb and Improvement will both get back and run on. Don’t dismiss them.
Recommended bet: Going to leave this race alone.
The Herbert Power Stakes is one of the more important races on the program when looking towards the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and I’m keen to back a couple in it.
Steel Prince looks like the one to beat. The Anthony Freedman-trained gelding is already into the Melbourne Cup due to winning the Andrew Ramsden by a nose over Surprise Baby, who qualified by winning the Bart Cummings last week, but his two runs in this preparation have been fantastic.
He came home strongly first up behind Super Titus in the Heatherlie, before hitting the line brilliantly without much going right in the Foundation Cup. He won by nearly four lengths last time he was third up and the rise to the 2400 metres suits him here. He draws well and will be very hard to beat.
Qafila is the only other danger to my eye and she’s worth saving on. She won the South Australian Derby last preparation at Group 1 level and she looks well over the odds at the $15 quote. She has been working home nicely in races this preparation and the rise to 2400 metres suits perfectly. She has good tactical speed so she should be able to sit on the speed and be hard to get past. Jamie Spencer has come over from England to ride Raheen House so he must be confident he can run good races in the Cups.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.3 Steel Prince with a saver on No.9 Qafila. Also playing a wide trifecta in this race including No.3, No.9, No.2, No.4 and No.15.
The first Group 1 of the program comes here in the form of the Thousand Guineas. Flit is a genuine superstar and she has the chance to show how good she is now that she is getting out to the mile. She won the Breeders Plate at Flemington in her first preparation, before narrowly missing against Anaheed up in Sydney.
She resumed clocking the best last 800-metre race sectional behind star filly Libertini in the Silver Shadow and she just had no luck whatsoever in the Prelude a fortnight ago. She draws inside but that is the only query. I’m prepared to take the $2.30 on offer at the moment because only bad luck can beat her.
It could be worth having a saver on Emeralds in case bad luck does occur. She has been terrific this preparation. She ran a length off Yao Dash and Funstar when resuming, before hitting the line nicely in the Tea Rose to finish two lengths off Funstar and Probabeel. She draws out here so there shouldn’t be any excuses in the run. Acting is the best of the rest. She will go to the front like she did in the Prelude and be hard to run down.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.3 Flit with a small saver on No.10 Emeralds.
The Caulfield Stakes is the next on the program over 2000 metres under weight-for-age conditions. It seems like it’s a race in three here but it’s hard to go past Avilius. The Godolphin superstar faltered in his first two starts this preparation when there was an on-pace bias, but he really hit his straps in the George Main last start winning by two lengths over Dreamforce and Happy Clapper.
He won both the Tancred and the Ranvet Stakes in the autumn so he is now a three-time Group 1 winner. He draws a pretty good gate here and the rise to the 2000 metres is beneficial.
The overseas raider in Danceteria is right in it if he has acclimatized. He ran five lengths off champion Enable, which is a good form line for any race anywhere, before winning the Group 1 Dallmayr before coming over here. He’s a very good horse who should give some of our features a shake.
Homesman is as reliable as they come. He was narrowly pipped by Black Heart Beat in the Underwood after travelling wide and without cover. He draws better here and should prove hard to beat.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.5 Avilius. Playing the Avilius and Danceteria quinella as well.
The feature on the program has arrived in the form of the Caulfield Guineas over the mile. I’m going with a couple of speculative bets here and one of them is Soul Patch.
I was on him on debut at Ballarat when he won at $31 in what was a very good maiden, but he has come back better than anyone expected this preparation. He stormed home at Sandown to finish a length off The Lifeline, before beating Stand to Attention and Triton Rising at Flemington. He will need some luck from the gate (14) but if he can get some cover $19 is way overs.
Vegas Knight is the other horse I’m keen on. I’ve had a big opinion of this horse since he broke his maiden by six lengths at Pakenham. He flashed home behind Heirborn at Flemington three starts back and his last start effort behind The Holy One was sensational. He travelled three-wide the trip and still nearly got up to win. He draws a good gate today (10) and there’s no reason he can’t be in the finish.
Dalasan and Alligator Blood are the two class horses but they represent no value at their respective quotes.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on No.13 Vegas Knight and No.15 Soul Patch. Playing a wide trifecta including No.13, No.15, No.2, No.3, No.10 and No.16.
The last Group 1 on the program comes here in the Toorak Handicap, again over the mile. The bookmakers don’t have a clue what to do with this race with it being $8 the field and frankly, either do I.
Going to go with a couple at double figures again here and one of them is Madison County. Obviously, the wide draw (19) is a concern but he gets back in the field anyway so hopefully, he gets some cover behind them. He’s the class horse in the race.
His form in Sydney last preparation was fantastic when running two lengths off The Autumn Sun and then three lengths off Angel of Truth in the Australian Derby when he didn’t see out the trip. He didn’t have much luck resuming and he has won two from three second-up. Big chance.
Sikandarabad is the other I will have something on. His second-up run behind Homesman when the tempo was against him was huge and he had to lead at this track last start and he just never looked comfortable. From barrier six he should get a very good run in this race and he should be peaking fourth up. Don’t discount Amphitrite off of one bad run either. She can bounce back.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on No.1 Madison County and No.6 Sikandarabad.
The last on the program is the Schillaci Stakes over 1100 metres. Trekking could be carrying the weight of the grandstand by the end of the day and he looks very hard to beat.
There should be a hot tempo out in front by the likes of Ball Of Muscle and Despatch and he will relish it. He won the Stradbroke Handicap last preparation in Brisbane and ultimately won three out of four in the preparation. All races were at least at listed level. He resumed with an eye-catching run at the Valley in the Moir behind Nature Strip and if he brings that performance here it’s hard to see him losing.
Booker is a big danger. She is an Oakleigh Plate winner at this track and I think her two runs in this time have been good. She was held up for the majority of the last 300 metres last start in the Moir and that shouldn’t be the case here. She’ll be peaking third up and this looks like a target race. Bons Away and the Bostonian can both feature if the race is run to suit.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No.2 Trekking.
Best bet: Race 6, No.3 Flit
Next best bet: Race 5, No.3 Steel Prince
Best value: Race 9, No.1 Madison County