The Mounting Yard stays in Melbourne this week and also stays at Caulfield for the Easter Saturday meeting, where the punters get to have a crack at a nine-race program.
The Mounting Yard makes its return as the Autumn Carnival starts to ramp up with it being Blue Diamond Day at Caulfield where the favourite Hanseatic will try and add another two-year-old Group 1 to the Godolphin trophy cabinet.
The Futurity Stakes accompanies the Diamond with Super Seth and Melody Belle going to head to head, as well as the Oakleigh Plate where Bivouac goes around as favourite. It’s a brilliant day of racing and the track should be in the good range.
Let’s get into it.
A handicap race over 2000 metres kicks off proceedings, and it’s a tricky race to dissect. A few different form lines are coming into this but I tend to think the Benchmark 84 race at this track three weeks ago is the best one.
The winner of that was Just Benjamin, who is an import into the Anthony Freedman yard. He went super first-up in Australia when flashing home for fifth over the mile, before digging deep last start to win over 1800 metres on a soft track.
He draws well here and should be in the finish again. The Moroney import in Aktau ran third in that race after seemingly getting outsprinted early in the straight. He picked up late and found a second wind to get within half a length of the winner.
Rising to the 2000 metres suits him down to the ground and the in-form Jye McNeil takes the ride. I’m expecting the winner to come from those two, but Future Score and Taikomochi are musts for the multiples.
Recommended bet: be prepared to shoulder arms early in the day. There doesn’t look to be any value on offer.
The Autumn Classic at Group 2 level over 1800 metres is the next on the program. The Victorian Oaks winner in Miami Bound returns, but she’s short enough at the $2.60 quote.
Nonconformist looks overs in this field and I’m happy to be with him. He was completely dominant in a Pakenham win two-back at maiden grade winning by six lengths, before doing it with ease at this track last start when stepping up in grade.
Running out the 1800 metres seems like the only query as he looks like he has something special about him. Adelaide Ace is the only other danger.
He proved he can compete with the best of them last spring and he’s come back in good order. His win first-up at Werribee was superb and he only ran a length off Microphone last start, which is a good form line for this.
Recommended Bet: each way play on #2 Nonconformist.
The Zeditave Stakes for the three-year-old males is the next race to analyze. Pandemic starts as a short-priced favourite but yet again I don’t want to take the short quote of $2.
He’ll Haunt Us seems over the odds. He was unlucky not to win behind Deserved at the end of his first preparation when travelling three wide without cover and he resumed brilliantly in a strong maiden at the Gold Coast.
He travelled wide yet again on that occasion and was still too good for them. He draws well here (4) and he should have every possible chance. Express Pass had some excuses at the end of his last preparation and he resumed well when flashing home for second against Excess Funds. He’ll appreciate getting out to the 1200 metres here.
Recommended bet: I would have preferred it to be an eight-horse race but I still think #1 He’ll Haunt Us is worth a few dollars on an each-way basis.
The Mannerism Stakes over 1400 metres at Group 3 level for the mares is next. It’s a pretty open affair but I’m siding with Spanish Reef. She beat some very good horses last preparation in Rondinella and Fidelia before running two lengths away from Melody Belle.
She resumed fantastically here first-up when flashing home to finish fifth behind Sylvia’s Mother. She had the best race splits that day and she’ll be fitter second-up here. Rising to 1400 metres suits and she draws perfectly (4) and will be hard to beat.
Neighbourhood shapes as a big danger. She won three on the trot including wins at Sandown and Caulfield before basically costing herself the race at Flemington six weeks ago. If she shows up with the right mentality she will be hard to hold out.
My Pendant and Bam’s On Fire are the best of the rest.
Recommended bet: win bet on #1 Spanish Reef.
The Angus Armanasco Stakes for the fillies arrives here in the fifth. There are a few chances here but Score looks hard to hold out. She resumed really well at Mornington before being a dominant winner when coming from last to win at this track in a Benchmark 78 over 1100 metres.
She went up in grade in the Kevin Hayes and just got too far back to be a winning chance. She hit the line nicely though and the expected strong tempo should suit her down to the ground today. Watch out for her late.
Outside of her, Southbank and Acting are the two main contenders and they have basically exact form lines. They both went well in the Guineas last spring but were only even when first-up in the Kevin Hayes.
They should be better second-up. Mrs Beckham has been racing well but this is a big step up in class.
Recommended bet: each-way play on #7 Score.
The first of the Group 1s comes here in the form of the Futurity Stakes over 1400 metres. It seems as though it’s a race in two but I’m all in on the Australian in Super Seth.
He’s shown brilliant potential from his very first start and we saw how good he was when rocketing home to beat Alligator Blood in that brilliant Caulfield Guineas. He resumed in the Manfred and basically jog trotted up to them and put pay to them with a long way to go.
He will be fitter second-up and the rise to 1400 metres suits. The star Kiwi mare in Melody Belle is the danger. She has won 15 from 26 and she absolutely smacked them in the Empire Rose in the spring before flashing home for second in the Mackinnon. She draws well and her tactical speed could be very advantageous here.
Kolding won basically everything in the Sydney spring, which included the Epsom and the Golden Eagle. He resumed well in the Expressway but I just think he runs into two better here.
Recommended bet: win bet on #8 Super Seth.
The feature of the program arrives in the form of the Blue Diamond for the juveniles. As usual, it’s an open race, but the favourite in Hanseatic does look hard to beat.
The inside barrier isn’t completely ideal but he has smacked everything in his way so far in his career. He gapped them in the Preview two-back and then he came from last to win the Prelude last start.
Not sure I want to back him at the $2.50 and I expect he will drift, but there’s no reason as to why he can’t win again. The one I’m keen to be on at big odds is Personal. She ran into a smart one fresh when travelling three wide and without cover in the run, before coming from last after having nothing go her way down the straight at Flemington last start.
She’s had a trial win since, the 1200 metres suits and she can go close off a hot speed. Aryaaf isn’t the worst. She did everything wrong on debut down the straight at Flemington and still won before going to Caulfield and running a length off Mildred.
She will be fitter second-up and has to be a chance. Away Game and Glenfiddich can’t be underestimated.
Recommended bet: small plays on #13 Personal and #10 Aryaaf. I’m playing a wide trifecta including #2, #10, #13, #8, #7 and #5.
The last of the Group 1s arrives here in the Oakleigh Plate over 1100 metres. In a race without many of the top liners involved, Bivouac looks hard to beat.
He beat Yes Yes Yes and Exceedance in Sydney in the spring when having to dig deep to win before never getting a look at them in that famous Manikato Stakes run. He went to the Coolmore where he did a bit wrong and personally, I think on a good track he wouldn’t have lost that race to Exceedance, who just loves the wet ground.
He’s trialled well leading into this first-up assignment and the last time he was first-up he won by four lengths at this track and distance. He draws well (7) and will be hard to hold out.
Halvorsen shapes as a danger. He has won three on the trot since returning and has plenty of class about him. The expected strong tempo on upfront should suit him and he draws to do no work (4). He gets in with the low weight and all he has to do is replicate his Flemington form here and he will be right in it.
Zoutori is another Flemington horse who comes here for a tilt at a Group 1. If he can replicate his run when running Sunlight and Santa Ana Lane to within a length last preparation, he probably wins, but it’s a big query. He can go close if the gaps appear at the right time.
Recommended bet: win bet on #3 Bivouac.
The ‘lucky last’ is the Peter Young Stakes over 1800 metres. It looks to be a race between three and I’m sticking Kings Will dream on top. He returned in brilliant order in the Spring when he won the Turnbull over Finche and Hartnell, before being far from disgraced in both the Cox Plate and the Mackinnon.
He resumed well over 1400 metres in the C.F. Orr and he should only improve getting out to 1800 metres and fitter second-up. The race sets up perfectly for him and he will be hard to get past.
Regal Power is the big danger. The Western Australian went brilliantly in their carnival, winning the Railway, before having plenty of excuses in the Kingston Town. He was impressive in his last run when beating Gatting by two lengths and William Pike comes over to retain the ride. He will be motoring home.
Harlem resumed well and has to be respected as he can bob up when you least expect him to.
Recommended Bet: Win bet on #4 Kings Will Dream.
Race 8 #3 Bivouac
Race 6 #8 Super Seth
Race 2 #2 Nonconformist and Race 7 #13 Personal
Early quaddie numbers
R2: 2, 3, 9
R3: 2, 1, 6
R4: 1, 7, 5
R5: 7, 4, 1
R6: 7, 8
R7: 2, 10, 13, 6, 8
R8: 3, 2, 12
R9: 4, 5