It’s not often that Sandown hosts a Saturday meeting, but we are into the winter season now, which means that we have one.
We have some terrific racing, though, with some progressive types going around. Races 7 (Masked Crusader) and 9 (Buffalo River versus Harbour Views) are the best on the program, with all three horses mentioned looking to have group-level ability. We are back on the Lakeside track, which means we are racing on fresh ground, although the track will be at least rated as a heavy eight due to the rain we have had in the last few days. Look at the form guides and check whether their mother was a mudder!
Race 1: two-year-old, fillies, handicap, 1200 metres
We kick the program off with a small field for the two-year-olds. I am pretty keen on one in the first and that is Wyld Savanna. She was very good on debut at Mornington when running three lengths behind Soul Obsession, who is very talented, and she probably should have finished closer considering she got held up for the last 150 metres. She went to Caulfield after that and just raced erratically and never settled in the run. It was a terrific effort to get within three lengths of the winner after racing like that and it showed to me that she has tons of ability. The cross-over nose band goes on today so hopefully that can settle her down in the run. Rose of Sebring is the main danger. She ran on well enough on debut behind Darbanville at the Hillside track, before going to Ballarat on a heavy ten and winning by five lengths. She didn’t beat a lot there but it was a dominant win and a repeat of that performance would see her measure up again here. Wegobam is a must for exotics, but the winner comes from the two mentioned previously.
Recommended bet: #7 Wyld Savanna each way at $5.50.
Race 2: benchmark 78, handicap, 1600 metres
This race has a very long tail to it and many that don’t have a chance, which always makes it easy for the punters. Duke of Plumpton looks very hard to beat in this field. He was a good horse in New Zealand, winning three races from nine starts, which included some impressive wins. He was brought over to Australia and sent to the Patty Payne yard and couldn’t have been more impressive on resumption when winning by three lengths, only making the margin bigger closer to the line. The second horse from that race has since won well, which franks the form. He rises up to the mile today, which isn’t an issue and he will relish the heavy track, which we are expecting to get. Very hard to beat. Shot of Irish is the only other winning chance. The tough Tasmanian was only a length off both Age of Chivalry and Junipal last preparation, which reads well for this race. He ran on well last start and gets to this race third up. Maps to get the run of the race and give the favourite something to chase. Midas Prince and Break and Enter are the best of the rest.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #6 Duke of Plumpton at $2.15.
Race 3: benchmark 78, handicap, three-year-old, fillies, 1400 metres
One of the better races on the program awaits the punters here. The favourite in Lunakorn is a bit short coming up in grade and I’m prepared to play around her. I’m happy to be with La Chevalee at a price. She has been very good this time in. She was a tough winner on resumption over Isola Comacina at Kyneton, before running a close up second on a heavy ten at Geelong behind Key to the Mak. The fact that we know she can handle that really heavy going is a big positive today. She was also unlucky last star when going up in grade behind Florent and Affair to Remember when never getting a look at them in the straight. She maps to get a brilliant run either on or just off the speed today and she will give you a run for your money. Knowles was the main danger. Her run two back on a heavy eight was terrific when coming from back in the field on a leaders-biased track, and she was on the inferior ground last start when having to go back to the rails. As long as she can get some cover in the run, she should be in the finish. Lunakorn has been faultless this time in and there’s nothing suggesting that she can’t win again, while Top Pins must be included in all exotics.
Recommended bet: #13 La Chevalee each way at $14.
Race 4: benchmark 78, handicap, fillies and mares, 1200 metres
It’s a wide-open race and I found it hard to discount many of them. So You Swing was over the odds. She was fantastic last preparation when beating Arctic Shock, before running half a length off Nudge and beating home Affair to Remember at Flemington over 1700 metres. She resumes here after a 25-week break and the major query is whether she will be fast enough for this lot over 1200 metres. I’m prepared to take the chance and we are getting a good price for her. Too Good Too Hard is the main danger. She ran home well on resumption at Mornington against I’m Telling Ya, before going to Caulfield and winning well last start. She only ran two lengths off Tofane last preparation and that reads well for this race. Atlantica has to be considered. She was terrific at the end of last preparation behind News Girl before going out for a break. She resumed well at Geelong and the wet track suits here. Rapidora and Cath’s Village are the best of the rest and must be included in exotics.
Recommended bet: #7 So You Swing each way at $9.
Race 5: Super Vobis, three-year-old, handicap, 2100 metres
This is one of the more intriguing races on the program. I’m happy to be on The Mockingbird at an each-way price. She only needs to get through the ground to be in the finish. I’ve followed this filly all preparation and her last two runs have been good enough to measure up here. She finished off nicely two back at this track on a soft five when running only a length off Translator and Hasseltoff, before going back to maiden grade at at Geelong and winning arrogantly by two lengths. That was over 1700 metres and it seemed like she had plenty in hand, so the 2100 metres today won’t be an issue. She could be group quality and she is well over the odds. Tooradin is the main threat. He was brilliant two back when winning by two and a half lengths over Atame at Ballarat, before going to Caulfield on a heavy eight and running a length off the Lifeline and Chuck a Luck. He is bred to get this trip but I’m not sure he loves the heavy ground, which is the query. Power Scheme and Vegas Knight are the best of the rest and have to be respected as they have been very consistent this preparation.
Recommended bet: #10 The Mockingbird each way at $8.50.
Race 6: three-year-old and up, handicap, 2100 metres
The bookmakers have this race as the most open one of the day, but I don’t agree with that. The Waller import in Surrey Thunder is well over the odds. He is a winner at listed level over in France before coming out here and he is only just starting to get out to his preferred trip. He resumed at Randwick over 1400 metres and hit the line well behind Royal Celebration, before going to a mid-week meeting at Warwick Farm and getting out-sprinted over the mile behind Royal Celebration again. That form line reads okay for this race and providing he can get some cover from the wide gate (12), he ticks all the boxes rising up to the 2100 metres and third up today. Starcaster was an excellent winner on resumption and does shape as the big danger. The genuine wet track is a slight query, as is the wide gate (17), but he should appreciate the 2100 metres here. The last time Gundown saw a wet track, he was an easy winner of the Moe Cup. He gets to this race third up and his run last start was actually an okay trial for this, while Midterm and Rising Red both love the wet and have to be respected.
Recommended bet: #11 Surrey Thunder each way at $9.
Race 7: Super Vobis, three-year-old, handicap, 1200 metres
What a cracking race this is! There’s no doubt that a few of these will be seen in some early spring races in a few months’ time. I wasn’t ready to jump on the Masked Crusader bandwagon last start, but I am now. He was fantastic last preparation when winning with ease at Caulfield by 3.75 lengths, before going to Bendigo on resumption, striking interference for most of the straight, and then getting the gap at the 150-metre mark and sprinting quickly to put them to the sword late. The only reason we are getting above even money for him is because of the wet-track query, but the Hawkes team seem to think he will handle it and who am I to question them? He’s a star in the making and should be winning. Lombardo is the danger, if there is one. I heard great things about this bloke before his debut and he lived up to the hype when demolishing his opposition by four lengths. He has had a two-month break since then and only needs to handle the ground to be the big threat. Open Minded is proven already on a heavy track and that will go a long way today. He draws perfectly (3) to dictate on the speed, while Ancestry and Final Man have to be respected on the wet ground.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #8 Masked Crusader at $2.70.
Race 8: benchmark 84, handicap, 1200 metres
The penultimate event of the program is an interesting race. She draws a horrible gate, but I’m happy to stick with Mystery Love. She is underrated. This is a lightly-raced mare out of the Price yard. She won three in a row last preparation, which included a win in the Bendigo Guineas at listed level, before running three lengths off Tofane and Haut Brion Her, which now reads like an excellent form line for this sort of a race. She resumed after a long break at Caulfield a few weeks ago and was brilliant when putting the race away in about 100 metres, coming from near last. She draws out wide (13), but she has good tactical speed so the jockey should be able to find a spot in the run and she should improve second up. Hard to beat. Anjana seems like the main danger. If you disregard her run in Sydney, she has hit the line well in each Melbourne start, one of them being a Group 1. She is rock-hard fit now, being fourth up and loves the wet tracks. Labuan Star drops in weight and the conditions suit here. Rises in grade but is the blow out chance, while Barthelona can run into a place.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #5 Mystery Love at $4.
Race 9: handicap, 1400 metres
The get-out Stakes arrives here and it is probably the headline event of the day, with two of Victoria’s most progressive horses running around. I’m happy to take the evens on offer for Buffalo River. He was an imported galloper to the Moroney stable after looking promising in England and he has been very impressive in Australia. He has only lost the one race in Australia from five starts and that was in the Silver Eagle in Sydney when he ran behind the Inevitable. He went out for a break after that and resumed in fine fashion when leading throughout at Caulfield on a heavy eight to win by two and a half lengths. He draws perfectly here from the inside (1) and he will take plenty of running down. Harbour Views is the danger. Their form lines tie in with Mr Exclusive, who Harbour Views beat by a length after travelling four wide and without cover last preparation. He then won well at Geelong over a talented field, before running second in the Country Final at Flemington. He maps well and is the threat. I would be putting Vassilator in the quaddies in case he blows you out. He loves the wet ground and has seemingly come back well after a big run first up.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #13 Buffalo River at $2.15.
Best bet: Race 2 #6 Duke of Plumpton
Next best bet: Race 7 #8 Masked Crusader
Best value: Race 6 #11 Surrey Thunder and Race 3 #13 La Chevalee