Welcome to December racing everyone.
The Mounting Yard heads to HQ today, which is, of course, Flemington, for Australian Guineas day.
Alligator Blood and Catalyst are the talk of the racing world since their brilliant duel in the CS Hayes Stakes and they look set to repeat the dose in front of a big crowd. There are three other Group races on the program, headlined by the Blamey Stakes where the winner gets automatic entry into the All-Star Mile.
The track should play fairly and we should be on a Good 4 come the first. Let’s get into it.
The first on the program is Benchmark 84 Handicap for the fillies and mares over 1100 metres. I’m pretty keen to be on Des Moines here.
The Michael Moroney trained four-year-old hasn’t raced for nine months but she is the class horse in the field and she generally goes okay first-up. Her last preparation when breaking her maiden at Mornington over Pinyin was a very good one for her.
She finished that preparation with an unlucky fifth against now Group 1 winner Gytrash and the second horse in that race was the very talented Halvorsen. She has experience down the straight, which most of these don’t, and I’d rather be on her at $1.70 for the place than the favourite at $1.75 for the win.
If she has come back well and she is ready, she should be winning. Diamond Effort is the main danger. She’s too short for my liking but she has to be respected after such a commanding win first-up at Caulfield. She should get a pretty good spot in running and they’ve found a decent race for her here.
Miss Vixen and Queen Annabel are the best of the rest.
Recommended bet: #7 Des Moines Each/Way.
The Roy Higgins Quality for the stayers over 2600 metres is the next on the program. I don’t usually like betting in these races but Naval Warfare represents pretty good value at the $7.50 quote.
He took a while to get going this preparation but his last couple of runs at Flemington and Warwick Farm have been good enough to win a race like this. He draws out wide but there looks to be a complete lack of pace in the race and the appointment of Linda Meech is a sign of intent from the Waller Yard who obviously want him to dictate the race out in front.
King of Leogrance shapes as the biggest danger. He should have beaten the likes of Alfarris and Ventura Storm in the spring before going out for a break. He resumed well when running a neck away from Ryan’s Fender and he should be better for that run while stepping out in distance.
Dabiyr is a bit short at the $3 but he can’t be dismissed after a tough win at the Valley last start.
Recommended bet: #5 Naval Warfare Each/Way.
We’ve got a 1000-metre scamper for the two-year-old’s down the straight here. I’m happy to be with Unstoppabelle.
The Maher and Eustace camp have been dominant in the two-year-old races this year and this filly has shown plenty without breaking her maiden yet. Her run in the Blue Diamond Preview when running two lengths away in third after having to weave through traffic was outstanding, and she just never had any luck at all in the Prelude when never seeing daylight.
She’s had experience down the straight which is important in these races and she is ready to break her maiden today dropping back in grade a bit. River Night can figure in this. She ran on strongly in the Merson Cooper on debut, finishing 1.75 lengths off the eventual Blue Diamond runner up in Hanseatic and I just don’t think she handled the slippery ground last time at this track.
Ilovemyself is the best of the rest. He showed plenty of ability in a recent Werribee jump out and the Eurell and Oliver combination is usually hard to beat.
Recommended bet: #6 Unstoppabelle Each/Way.
A Group 3 for the fillies and mares is the next on the program over 1400 metres. Spanish Whisper represents good value at the $7 she is currently at and I’m happy to be with her.
She beat home Sylvia’s Mother – who is a $2.50 favourite in this race – last preparation before beating Miss Siska who just won the Peter Young over Group 1 winner Kings will Dream last weekend. She generally does her best racing early in her preparations, only missing the placings once from four tries first-up and she has trialled beautifully leading into this.
She will do no work and have every possible chance. Sylvia’s Mother is a big danger but I don’t want to jump in at the $2.50. She only ran 1.5 lengths off Pippie last preparation which is clearly the best form line leading into this race, and she resumed with a good win at Caulfield.
She is undefeated from three tries second-up, but she will need some luck from the inside gate (1). Parmie was unlucky in consecutive starts over this track and distance before running two lengths away from Bonvicini in the Vanity. She wouldn’t surprise.
Recommended bet: #1 Spanish Whisper Each/Way.
The Shaftesbury Avenue arrives here at Group 3 level over 1400 metres. They’re going to go at a good clip here and I’m happy to be on the Eurell trained Blazejowski.
He was brilliant last preparation when winning three on the trot, before running Romancer to a very close second at this track and distance before spelling. He resumed with a big win at this track over 1100 metres before working home okay in a race that Streets of Avalon came second in, who is now a Group 1 winner.
He loves Flemington, is undefeated third-up and he will appreciate the speed being on up-front. Age of Chivalry draws no favours but he is the class horse in the race. He was a runner up at Group 1 level last preparation, as well as running third in the Toorak at a mile before spelling.
He resumed in the Rubiton and ran 2.35 lengths off the likes of Anaheed and Bold Star. He will strip fitter from that but he will need some luck getting across from the widest gate (9).
Ef Troop and Rock are also decent chances in an open race.
Recommended bet: #6 Blazejowski Each/Way.
The Bob Hoysted Handicap over 1000 metres down the straight is the next on the program. The Western Australian in Fabergino looks hard to beat.
She’s won seven from ten in the west and her last start win in the Summer Scorcher was breathtaking when winning by nearly four lengths. There looks to be no pace for a 1000-metre race, so she will either sit on the speed or lead and then be too quick for them in a sprint home.
Soothing is the main danger. She has to lug a big weight but her very best probably wins this race. She was sensational when beating the likes of Ball of Muscle at the end of last preparation and she has won three from five first-up which suggests we should see a good performance from her.
Embrace Me and Causeway Girl are consistent gallopers who shouldn’t be dismissed.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #6 Fabergino.
The feature of the program arrives in the Australian Guineas at Group 1 level over the mile. In one of the most anticipated races of the last ten years, I’m keen to be on the Kiwi in Catalyst.
He has won six from eight so far in his career and just been completely dominant in New Zealand before crossing the ditch and missing out by a neck to Alligator Blood in the CS Hayes Stakes last start. He draws beautifully (4), should have learned a lot from that first Australian start and getting out to the mile suits him down to the ground today. He will be hard to hold out.
It’s a class field and outside of him, nearly everything has claims. Alligator Blood has won nine from ten and just has that never-say-die attitude that endears a horse to the Australian public. The mile is the query for mine but if they crawl out in front and he does no work he can win.
Chenier and Alabama Express in any other year would be favourites. Chenier was outsprinted early in the straight but got going late to only finish a length off the two favourites here, while Alabama Express was brilliant when winning the C.F. Orr after travelling wide throughout the last start.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 Catalyst.
The Blamey Stakes is the next on the program over the mile, with the winner getting automatic entry into the richest mile race in the world, the All-Star Mile. It’s not a great field considering what is up for grabs but I’m happy enough to be on Guizot.
He’s been in good form without winning lately. He was outsprinted two-back in the John Dillon Stakes before doing his best work through the line, and his effort in the Carlyon Cup was excellent when he had no room at all in the straight. He draws awkwardly (9) but he should be able to get across easily and then dictate the race on the speed.
Ringerdingding finds a winnable race. He was really good two-back when rattling home to finish a length off Scales of Justice before finishing four lengths off them in the C.F Orr Stakes. He draws well (4), likes Flemington and should be fit enough now.
Admiral’s Joker and Fifty Stars can’t be discounted either in an open race.
Recommended bet: #8 Guizot Each/Way.
A Benchmark 90 Handicap down the straight over 1200 metres awaits the punters in the ‘get out’ Stakes. I’m pretty happy to back two of the fancied runners here as I find it hard to see them losing and one of those is Chicago Cub.
He absolutely loves the Flemington straight, winning two from his last three at this track and distance. He looks to get all the favours today.
There looks to be a huge lack of speed in this race so he can jump well, dictate the race out in front and then sprint home quicker than the rest of them can exactly like he did last start. I’m also backing Big Night Out. I’d prefer him at 1400 metres but he’s best wins this race regardless.
He ran Zoutori to within 0.5 lengths last preparation before beating Junipal by 3.5 lengths. He resumed over 1200m here a fortnight ago and was doing his best work through the line. He will take a more forward spot today and should be fitter second-up.
Villa Sarchi and Taniko get back and run on, but they might find it hard if it is a sit-and-sprint affair.
Recommended bet: Backing both #7 Chicago Cub and #11 Big Night Out.
Race 1 #7 Des Moines
Race 7 #4 Catalyst
Race 8 #8 Guizot
Early quaddie numbers
R2: 2, 4, 5
R3: 3, 4, 6, 11
R4: 1, 2, 4
R5: 1, 3, 6, 8
R6: 1, 6, 8, 10
R7: 1, 4, 7
R8: 2, 3, 5, 8
R9: 5, 7, 11, 12