The last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival arrives here in Mackinnon Stake’s day, and hopefully, the Mounting Yard can lift a little bit.
The two features of the day are the Darley Sprint Classic where Santa Ana Lane opens up as a $2.20 favourite, and the Mackinnon Stakes where Melody Belle opens up as a $4 favourite. We’ve got a nine-race program in store and hopefully I can find you a few winners.
We kick off the program with a benchmark 90 handicap over a mile. It’s a tough way to kick off proceedings and there looks to be no pace on in the race at all.
I landed on Reserve Street. He’s won both the Tatura and Bairnsdale Cups this preparation and his last run at the Valley behind Cuba was good enough. I don’t think he handled the Valley at all and he’ll appreciate getting back to a more spacious track.
From the low draw (1) he’ll have to be a bit more positive and if the run comes at the right time he can be winning. Mandela Effect has similar form lines although he was incredibly unlucky not to win two – back at Caulfield. He ran 0.75 lengths off Gold Fields last start in the Sale Cup and with a bit, better run in transit can go close.
Plot the Course is the best roughie. He’s been off the track in both of his runs this preparation and he has only missed the placings once from six tries third–up.
Recommended bet: Each way play on #4 Reserve Street.
Another benchmark 90 awaits the punters, this time over 2000 metres. Yet another hard race to bet into.
I think the market has got this race right and it’s hard to see how Wetakemanhattan doesn’t go very close again. He resumed at this track over 1600 metres when winning by 1.5 lengths before winning the Horsham Cup by a neck. I thought he was a bit flat at Horsham and I think we’ll see a better showing from him here. He draws all the favours from the gate (2) and he’ll dictate from the front yet again and be very hard to run down.
Grinzinger Star is the main danger. He hasn’t come back brilliantly but he’s probably the class horse in the race. He beat Mr Quickie, Star Missile and Divination last preparation and replication of those performances would see him go very close here.
Starcaster had excuses last start and will be better for that debut Australian run.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #2 Wetakemanhattan.
The Listed Springtime Stakes is the next on the program over 1400 metres. I’m prepared to take on the $2.15 favourite here in Knickpoint.
I’ll be backing two horses here and one of them is Regimental Band. This filly beat Akari on resumption at Wyong which now looks like a brilliant form line and she’s had excuses in her last couple of starts. She got into a bumping duel at Kensington which seemed to bother her, and she never saw daylight in the Brian Crowley behind Diamond Thunder and Cardiff.
She’ll need some luck from the rails draw (2) but if she gets it she probably wins. Sophia’s Choice is over the odds and it’s worth having something on her. She won by 1.25 lengths when resuming at Cranbourne after travelling wide in the run and then she was an impressive winner at Geelong in a Benchmark 64.
There have been two horses out of that race who have won since and she will get the gun run from the good gate (1). Floreat Pica and Banquo also have legitimate claims.
Recommended bet: Backing both #11 Regimental Band and #9 Sophia’s Choice. Playing a wide trifecta as well, including #11, #9, #7, #6 and #3.
The time-honoured Queen Elizabeth Stakes is the next on the program over 2600 metres. It seems like a race in three here but True Self has to go on top. We know that on a general basis the overseas stayers are much better than ours and this mare went very close to beating Prince of Arran, who was the runner up in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, in the Geelong Cup.
That is clearly the best form line and you have to wonder how she would have gone if she got a run in the Cup. She should be winning. Carif went super in both the St Leger and the Hotham. He finished 2.5 lengths off Hush Writer after travelling wide and without cover in the St Leger, before hanging in badly in the Hotham which probably cost him the race.
He’ll sit on the speed and he looks the main danger. Top of the Range was brilliant when winning the Bendigo Cup and if something puts some speed into the race he comes into the calculations.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #5 True Self. For those that play exotics a #5, #8 and #7 trifecta looks like a relatively safe bet as well.
The first of the Group 1s arrive here in the Darley Sprint Classic down the straight. If Santa Ana Lane produces his best he will win with a leg in the air.
He ran half a length off Sunlight when resuming in the Gilgai before being unlucky not to win the Everest when going down by half a length to Yes Yes Yes. You always felt like he might have been a run short going into the Everest but with the added fitness under his belt, he looks like one of the better bets on the program.
Outside of him, I think Nature Strip can run another big race. He won the Moir two – back in front of Trekking who ran 0.4 lengths away from Santa Ana Lane in the Everest and him, himself went well in the Everest, finishing a length off the winner. He’ll dictate the race and give them something to catch.
Rock Magic and Alizee are a must for exotics punters.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #1 Santa Ana Lane.
The Matriarch Stakes is the next race to assess at Group 2 level and what a cracking race it is. I’ll be having one my bigger bets of the carnival on Girl Tuesday.
She hit the line three – back I the Chelmsford in a race which was dominated by the leader and her run in the Kingston town was a complete forgive run. She just got too far back and they went as slow as they could.
Her run in the Tesio behind Amangiri on Cox Plate day was enormous coming from back in the field and she has undoubtedly been set for this race. She draws out wide (13) but if Nash Rawiller can get her some cover she’ll be storming home. Rondinella seems like the only danger. She was unlucky not to win the Stocks Stakes two–back and she hit the line well again in the Ladies Day Vase.
She maps beautifully from an ideal barrier (2) and she only needs even luck to be in the finish. Aliferous and Another Dollar are the next best, but I can’t see anything beating those two.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on #13 Girl Tuesday.
The Chatham Stakes is the seventh race on the program and is at Group 3 level over 1400 metres. Iconoclasm will be hard to beat in this. He’s been up for a while now which is the query but he seems to just keep on running well.
He ran 0.6 lengths off Age of Chivalry three – back who is now a Group 1 runner up and his run in the Rupert Clarke was a complete forgive due to some questionable tactics. He bounced back at the Valley over Widgee Turf who he faces again here and I can’t see the tables getting turned. He will get the perfect run in the race and should have plenty left to give in the straight.
Noble Boy is brilliant third–up and his first two runs of this preparation have been outstanding. He’s chased home a couple of very smart ones in Handle the Truth and Quackerjack and he’ll be flashing home late.
Don’t leave Ritch Itch or Streets of Avalon out of any exotics.
Recommended bet: Each way bet on #6 Iconoclasm.
The feature of the program arrives here in the Mackinnon Stakes over 2000 metres underweight–for–age conditions. One of the most open editions of the Mackinnon that we’ve ever seen and I’m going out wide.
I never thought I’d be backing Harlem to win a Group 1, but here I am. I thought his run in the Underwood was pretty good considering he got chopped off for a run and lost all momentum at the 300m mark, and his run in the Caulfield Stakes was super when finishing third.
He’s a two-time winner of the Australian Cup at this track and distance and he’ll sit on the speed from the low draw (3). Suzuka Devious is another who seems overs. He was running in Japan’s best races before coming to Australia and I was taken back by the way he hit the line in the Caulfield Stakes.
He just took a long time to balance up and we know that some horses just don’t like Caulfield. Flemington will suit him better and he will be storming home. The chances obviously don’t end there with Debt Agent, Melody Belle and Kings Will Dream all having claims.
Recommended bet: Small each way plays on #7 Harlem and #5 Suzuka Devious. Playing a wide trifecta including #5, #7, #4, #8, #15 and #6.
The last on the program is an 1100-metre handicap for the sprinters down the straight. It’s a very hard race to ‘get out’ in but I’m backing Esperance.
His form lines from last preparation when running two lengths off Order of Command seem good enough for a race like this and if there is any rain around I’ll be even more confident as he has never lost on Soft or Heavy ground. He was impressive resuming at the Valley when hitting the line hard over 955 metres.
I don’t think he likes the Valley all that much or the 955-metre races. He steps out to 1100 metres down the straight and he’ll be running on strongly. Poised to Strike has won the down the straight before and he’s come back well.
He never saw daylight when resuming and he probably just hit the front a bit too early at Randwick last start. She’ll put herself into the race and be hard to beat. The chances don’t end there with Screenager, Tahitian Dancer and Akkadian all having claims.
Recommended bet: Each way play on #1 Esperance.
Race 6 #13 Girl Tuesday.
Race 5 #1 Santa Ana Lane.
Race 3 #9 Sophia’s Choice and Race 8 #7 Harlem and #5 Suzuka Devious.
R6: 13, 7.
R7: 6, 12, 9.
R8: 7, 15, 6, 4, 5, 8.
R9: 1, 2, 12, 16.