Welcome to December racing everyone.
The Mounting Yard returns to Caulfield on a historic day as the first All-Star Mile is raced at the track.
It’s a cracking edition of the Mile with Queensland champion Alligator Blood opening up as a $2.70 favourite, while the New Zealander in Melody Belle is a $6 chance. The Inglish Dash worth 500,000 dollars accompanies the feature, along with the Redoute’s Choice Stakes for the two-year-olds where the daughter of champion Black Caviar debuts.
Hopefully the track plays fairly throughout the day and we get some good racing. Let’s get into it.
We kick off the day with the Grand Handicap Mile at Benchmark 80 level. I’m prepared to take on the short-priced favourite in Rainbow Thief.
Seberate out of the Lindsay Park Yard looks like he’s over the odds in this. The Hasta La War form from three starts back isn’t too bad and he just never handled the heavy track at Morphettville two back. He came back to Melbourne and went to the Valley and won by a neck in a similar field to the one he faces today.
There isn’t too much speed up front on paper so he should be able to slot in and get the run of the race. He looks a great each-way bet. Skiddaw beat the likes of The Lifeline and Leven Lass last preparation, before being far from disgraced in the Caulfield Guineas behind two brilliant horses.
He peaked on his run late when resuming at Sandown but he should be better for that run here. Rainbow Thief was brilliant when beating his opposition by three lengths last start and there should only be an improvement to come.
This is slightly harder, but he shapes as a winning chance again. Just can’t take the even money on offer for him.
Recommended bet: #3 Seberate E/W at $10.
The Grand Handicap Classic over 2400 metres is the next race to assess. I’ve got a pretty high opinion of this Kiwi galloper in Clementina and she’s ready to win today.
She resumed at this track over 1800 metres and only finished three lengths off Just Benjamin and Aktau, before producing a brilliant last 400 metres at Ballarat behind Grand Promenade and Igniter who are the two favourites in this. Her run at Flemington last start was brilliant when coming from near last to finish only half a length away from the winner.
She’s been looking for 2400 metres for a while now and she gets it here. Grand Promenade is giving her 5.5kg in the run and she just ticks all the boxes today. No Commitment shapes as the main danger. He only ran two lengths off King of Leogrance two-back, before finishing off nicely last start behind Aktau.
He will love the 2400 metres one would assume. Grand Promenade and Igniter have had some brilliant duels this preparation and it wouldn’t be a surprise if either of them won. Grand Promenade, in particular, is very progressive.
Recommended bet: #8 Clementina E/W at $5.
The Redoute’s Choice Stakes is the next on the program for the two-year-olds. It’s an intriguing race with two of the debutants sharing a lot of the market support early.
I’m siding with Masseuse here though. She jumped as a favourite on debut without an official trial and did a lot wrong in the race. She wobbled around the sharp Valley bend which probably cost her a length and she just never straightened up in the straight.
Factoring all that in, it was a tremendous performance to run only a neck away to Hard Rock Girl, who she faces again here. I think she’ll appreciate Caulfield more than she did the Valley and she should have learned a lot from that run. She looks progressive.
It was hard not to be taken aback by Celestial Sol in his trial at Cranbourne. He beat Hanseatic, the runner up in the Blue Diamond, by five lengths. He draws to do no work and if he can replicate that on race day he will go close.
Ready for Caviar, the daughter of legend Black Caviar, jumped out well recently and has to be respected.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #6 Masseuse at $4.
The Vobis Gold Reef over a mile arrives here in the fourth. I’m happy to take the $26 on offer for Imperial Lad here and I think he is way overs.
He comes in with a similar form line than a few of the fancied runners here, running two lengths off Paradee in his last start. He over-raced in his last start and I think today if he settles down better, he can find a better kick and be hard to hold out. He draws to do no work (4) and should find the front with relative ease. He will be hard to get past.
Western Sun is one of the big dangers. He’s won or been in the placings in each of his five career starts and he strikes a winnable race. He only finished a neck away from Paradee. That form has been franked and he draws (2) to get a lovely run.
Parmie isn’t the worst, although I think she’s a bit short. She only ran a length off Sylvia’s Mother last start and didn’t have the best of luck. She’s been up for a long time but she should have one run left in her. She deserves a win.
Recommended bet: #3 Imperial Lad E/W at $26.
The Mornington Cup Prelude is the next race to analyze over 2000 metres at listed level. The favourite in Secret Blaze will be hard to beat here.
His wins over Rupture and Defibrilate last preparation were pretty good and he resumed with a big run in the Blamey Stakes when finishing second, 1.5 lengths away from Fifty Stars who subsequently won the Australian Cup last weekend. He was three-wide without cover there for most of the race. He comes back in grade here, draws well and only needs even luck in running to be winning.
Odeon shapes as the main danger. He’s another who is coming back in grade after running a length behind Miss Siska and Kings Will Dream last start. That form line is inferior to the Blamey but he draws well (3) and looks like the only danger.
Inverloch and Vaucluse Bay are the best of the rest. They will run bold races out in front but don’t look to be winning chances.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 Secret Blaze at $2.80.
The co-main event comes here in the sixth with the Inglis Dash over 1100 metres. Wayupinthesky looks hard to beat. She was terrific last preparation when coming to Flemington and beating Absolute Flirt by a length.
She got close to Taraayef in the Poseidon, before running on okay in the Red Roses Stakes behind Sisstar. It’s her first time at Caulfield which is the only real worry. She draws perfectly (4) to get a gun run behind the leaders and with even luck she should be winning.
Born A Warrior seems over the odds. He’s only had the three starts but two of them were behind Time to Reign and Cosmic Force. He resumed at the Valley a month ago after a long layoff and just peaked on his run late. He should get a good run and strip fitter second-up.
Excess Funds and Sartorial Splendor are the best of the rest. They’re both coming back in grade and can improve sharply after poor performances last start.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #6 Wayupinthesky at $4.20.
The feature comes here in the seventh in the form of the All-Star Mile worth $5,000,000. From a punting perspective, it’s not a race I’m overly keen to get involved in.
For the sake of a couple of small speculative bets though, one I’ll be on is Flit. She’s still very underrated after winning the Thousand Guineas last spring in front of Missile Mantra. She also only ran two lengths off Libertini as well as beating home Villami, who have both franked the form.
She resumed with a brilliant win by nearly two lengths in the Light Fingers, before having plenty of excuses when being caught wide and without cover in the Surround. She only ran a length off superstars Probabeel and Funstar off that tough run and that bodes well for this.
She draws wide (15) but without any pace, in the race, she should be able to cross and find a nice spot in the run. Mr Quickie is the other I think is flying under the radar. He goes brilliant first – up this bloke, evident by him beating Age of Chivalry a couple of preparations ago, before flashing home to finish 0.75 lengths off Mystic Journey in the Makybe Diva last spring.
He’s primed for this after a trial win at Cranbourne and will run well. Alligator Blood and Melody Belle are the top two seeds. I personally think that it’ll be very hard to beat the Gator with the way the race looks like panning out, but I just can’t take $2 going up against the older horses for the first time.
Recommended bet: Small E/W plays on #7 Mr Quickie at $14 and #15 Flit at $17.
The Anniversary Vase is the next race to dissect, over the mile at listed level. I’m taking a set against the favourite in Admiral’s Joker as he is way too short, and I’m siding with a couple at Each way odds.
The old Tasmanian in Hellova Street can run a big race here. He won well in the Sky Stakes at Launceston, before narrowly losing to the talented Mandela Effect in the Thomas Lyons and the Mowbray Stakes. If there’s an on-pace bias like many are expecting, he will cross from his wide gate (6) and be very hard to run down.
Scarlet Dream is one who can surprise here and I’m having something on her. She’s run three seconds from three tries first-up and she generally races best when fresh. She was superb behind Articus over 1500 metres the last time she was first-up,= and she narrowly beat home Sweet Deal, who has gone on a rampage since.
There are queries on how she goes the Melbourne way of going, but she comes back in grade from what she was up against last preparation and has been primed for this with two lead up trials. Polanco is a favourite of mine and he maps to get a pretty good run behind the leaders. I’ll be including him in exotics.
Recommended bet: E/W plays on #1 Hellova Street at $5 and #6 Scarlet Dream at $10. Will also play a trifecta including #1, #2, #6 and #9.
It’s nice to see that Caulfield has joined Flemington in making it as hard as possible for the punters to get out in the last. The Grand Handicap Sprint awaits punters in the ‘get out’. Happy enough to play around two of them in the last and one of them is Leiter.
He had excuses when resuming at this track, but since then has been excellent. He flashed home to finish a length off Princess Flagrant at the Valley over 955 metres, before sustaining a long run to win over 1200 metres at the Valley last start.
He maps to get a beautiful run here from a good draw (4) and he should be at peak fitness. Maritana is big odds but I’ve been impressed with his last two wins at Moe and Wangaratta. The jockey hasn’t really had to push the button on him at any stage, even though the margins don’t say that.
He draws perfectly (1) to get a good run behind the leaders and only needs even luck from the fence to give the punters a run for their money. Grandview Avenue, Battle Storm and Villa Sarchi are the best of the rest in an open race.
Recommended bet: E/W plays on #6 Leiter at $5.50 and #13 Maritana at $21.
Race 5 #4 Secret Blaze.
Race 2 #8 Clementina.
Race 4 #3 Imperial Lad.
R2: 2, 3, 8
R3: 2, 6, 7
R4: 3, 4, 7, 9, 1
R5: 4, 2
R6: 1, 2, 4, 6
R7: 11, 9, 15, 7
R8: 1, 2, 6, 9
R9: 5, 6, 2, 13, 7