The City of Churches holds Australia’s best meeting on Saturday, with the Schweppes Oaks and the Tab Classic (Sangster) kicking off what shapes up to be a brilliant Adelaide Carnival.
There are tons of other group racing on the program, with a lot of the Victorians and Sydney-siders crossing state lines to take part. The rail is in the true position for the entire circuit so we should see fair racing. The track condition will almost certainly be in the soft seven to heavy nine range due to the rain predicted in South Australia throughout the week. Let’s find some winners!
Race 1: AAMI Queen Adelaide Stakes, listed level, two-year-old, set weights, 1050 metres
As usual we kick the race the program off with a race for the juveniles. There are two that are over the odds here and I’m prepared to back both. I loved the way Soul Obsession jumped out before her debut in the Magic Millions clockwise at Ballarat, when she ran a length off a couple that competed in the Golden Slipper. She went out for a spell and resumed at Mornington when drawing away late to win by three lengths in very impressive fashion. She steps up in grade today but is now proven on a wet track and draws perfectly (3) to win again. Hard Rock Girl is another who is over the odds. She was terrific two back when winning over Dottie Dee. They ran very good time in that race and she then only ran two lengths off Ecumenical last start. Draws perfectly (1) to sit on the speed and give a big sight at double-figure odds. Outside of those two, Forever Free is the main danger. The form line out of her last win at Caulfield over Ranting and the Last Charge is excellent and she is another proven on wet tracks. The conditions will be similar to what they were last start. Zoushine and Dottie Dee are musts for trifectas and first fours.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on both #6 Soul Obsession at $7 and #4 Hard Rock Girl at $14.
Race 2: benchmark 64, handicap, 1200 metres
The bookmakers have been generous in the first couple of races. I’m keen to play around two again here, and one of them is La Croft. In a race where most of the class horses are out of form, you have to respect her debut run last preparation behind Fortune Follows, when she did a lot wrong in the race. That galloper was excellent on resumption here last week when beating the very smart Aten. She was brilliant when resuming in a Strathalbyn maiden, winning by the best part of five lengths in an arrogant manner. She rises in grade here, but she maps to get a lovely run and only needs to handle the ground to be the one to beat. I want to have something on Rock Harbour. His win at the end of last preparation over French Rock could measure up here. He resumed at Murray Bridge when only warming up late over 1000 metres, before being out-sprinted early last start over 1050 metres. He gets back out to the 1200 metres today, which is ideal and is ready to do something third up. Star of Monsoon was tough last start behind Seemingly Discreet after travelling wide throughout. Draws a lot better today (2). She’s Never Late likes the give in the ground and was excellent last start in a much weaker race than this.
Recommended bet: Bets on both #14 La Croft at $4.20 and #4 Rock Harbour at $21.
Race 3: benchmark 82, handicap, 1600 metres
It’s a bit of a minefield considering they love taking turns. I’m going to have a small play at one at huge odds and that is Lieder. The old boy doesn’t win out of turn but he is building towards a win this preparation. Barring his run two back, he has been good this time in. He worked home well on resumption when running two lengths off Shrouded in Mist, and he was doing his best work through the line last start behind Roselli Sting. They are going to go quick up front, which will suit him, and he has no worries with the give in the ground. Ticks the boxes. Gigglon shapes as the main danger. He had excuses last start when pulling up lame but his run before that was excellent when covering ground to beat Roselli Sting over 1550 metres. Loves the wet track, which brings him right into this. Sky Punch and Roselli Sting never run badly and have to be respected again in a race like this.
Recommended bet: #6 Lieder each way at $34.
Race 4: Port Adelaide Cup, listed level, 2500 metres
From here on out the races increase in quality, which is always a positive. I’m happy to be with Oceanex here. She is a deserving favourite and should be hard to beat. She was terrific last preparation when winning the Matriarch at Group 2 level over Miss Siska. She was also unlucky countless times so probably should have won a couple more races. Went up to Sydney this preparation and was far from disgraced when running four lengths off the likes of Amangiri (Hawkesbury Cup winner since then) and Shared Ambition last start (one of the favourites for our big spring features). She goes better with the Melbourne way of going so I expect her to run better today. She draws perfectly (3), and she likes the give in the ground, which will help her cause today. I will save on Bramfield. I couldn’t believe she opened up at the price she did. She was brilliant two back in the Port Lincoln Cup when winning by four lengths, before the weight tolled on her last start. She drops in weight today and has plenty of upside. Sopressa is a Group 1 winner at this track and is the only other winning chance. She draws a tricky gate (11), but loves the Adelaide Carnival, loves a wet track, and reaches this race fourth up and ready to peak.
Recommended bet: Backing #3 Oceanex for the win at $2.40, with a saver on #6 Bramfield at $21.
Race 5: Queen of the South Stakes, Group 2, three-year-old and up, fillies and mares, set weights and penalties, 1600 metres
The time-honoured Queen of the South arrives here in the fifth. The two equal favourites do seem the two to beat, but I’m putting November Dreaming on top. She is a bit more unproven than a few others, but she gets in brilliantly at the weights (53 kilos) and has plenty of upside. She resumed at Pakenham on a heavy track over 1200 metres when running second and three lengths behind Final Man, who has won again since against some very smart types, before staying at Pakenham last start when winning by three and a half lengths. She rises in grade here, but draws well (3) and loves the wet ground, which is a big positive today. Seabrook is the main danger. She is already Group 1 placed and is the proven quantity in the race. She resumed off a 41-week break in the Hareeba at Mornington two back and ran on well, before running second to Bam’s on Fire on a soft seven at Caulfield. Rising to the mile suits perfectly, she likes the give in the ground, and she maps perfectly from the rails draw (1). Outside of those two, Poysed to Rein shapes as a danger. She was terrific last start with the blinkers going on and only needs even luck to be in the mix late, while Snogging was a good winner at Bendigo and shouldn’t be underestimated with the added fitness under her belt.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #13 November Dreaming at $4.20.
Race 6: TAB Euclase Stakes, Group 2, three-year-old, set weights, 1200 metres
The three best races on the program come in succession here and this is as good as the Group 1. What an intriguing race it is. I’m going to stick with Xilong. We are getting somewhere near an each-way price at the moment and that is good value. She was huge on resumption in the Surround Stakes in Sydney when only running half a length off Probabeel and Funstar, before coming back home to the Redelver when being trapped wide and without cover on the speed and given no chance. She draws ideally today (1), and only needs to handle the wet ground to be right in it. Roccabascerana shapes as the main danger. The Alligator Blood form from last preparation (only a length away in the Guineas prelude) still does stack up here. His first-up run in the Redelver was very good and from the good draw (2), he should improve off that second up. I’m going to lay Garner. He isn’t without a winning chance, but he is way too short in this. Draws the car park (12) and is going into this fourth up so he won’t have as much improvement to come as the others. They can make up that two lengths from last start. I Am Eloquent is the blowout hope. He’s a bit of a mudder and goes well first up and over this trip.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #8 Xilong at $4.80.
Race 7: South Australian Oaks, Group 1, three-year-old, fillies, set weights, 2000 metres
It is a cracking edition of the Oaks this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few come out of this and run well in some of the spring features. I’m happy to speculate on a couple at odds and one of them is Moonlight Maid. She is way over the odds here. She was brilliant last preparation when winning at Flemington over this trip, before running third in the Oaks after just getting a bit too far back in the run. She went out for a spell after that run and resumed at the Valley over a mile, when she ran on quite well with the pattern against her, before going to Caulfield and really hitting the line hard in the last 100 metres. She has no issues with the heavy ground and as long as she can get some cover in the run, she will be in the finish. Beauty Bolt is the other I want to be on. She was brave in the Victorian Oaks when going from 1600 metres to 2500 metres. She resumed after a break at Sandown when hanging on to win over 1300 metres, before getting too far back at Caulfield last over 1400 metres and rattling home late. She is going to need luck from the rails draw (1), but she will relish the heavy going and the rise to 2000 metres today. There are numerous other chances, which include Affair to Remember, Silent Sovereign and Vegas Jewel.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on #3 Moonlight Maid at $14 and Beauty Bolt at $27.
Race 8: TAB Sangster Stakes, Group 1, fillies and mares, weight for age, 1200 metres
The other headline act on the program is the time-honoured Sangster Stakes and it is a hard race to analyse this year. This is not a race I’m overly keen to be involved in, but I’ll have small play on Bam’s on Fire. She rises in grade here, but she maps perfectly from the ideal draw (6) to get the sit on whoever is leading (sunlight crossing with Bella Vella?) and she is in terrific form. She went extremely fast at the Valley two back when nailed late by Mamzelle Tess, before winning with ease over the talented Seabrook over 1400 metres last start. She will relish the heavy going today and looks over the odds at the current quote. Away Game is big threat. She is a very tough two-year-old filly and she gets in with 47 kilos today, dropping nine kilos from her last-start win over Vangelic. She maps to get a perfect run from the ideal gate (4), and seemingly doesn’t have issues with a heavy track. The favourite in Sunlight is another danger. She draws the car park (16) and there are queries surrounding the wet track, but she is the best horse in the race. She’s a multiple Group 1-winning filly already and I’m prepared to forgive her for her first-up run considering she is generally below par when first up. If she wins this with everything going against her, she is an out-and-out star.
Recommended bet: Small each-way play on #6 Bam’s on Fire at $17.
Race 9: DC McKay Stakes, Group 3, quality, 1100 metres
It is a good race to end the day on and I’m pretty keen on one in the get out and that is Home of the Brave. The current each-way quote on offer is a gift for punters. His form from last preparation was brilliant when running a length off Trekking and Pierata, as well as running a length a length off Deprive and Brutal. He went out for a break and resumed well, when running a length off Sunlight, who is favourite for the Group 1 in the previous race. He seems to hold his form well enough second up, loves a rain-affected track and I’ve got him sitting on the back of Jungle Edge in the run, which should give him every chance. Behemoth is a query on the wet track but he shapes as the main danger. He ran well in Adelaide last preparation when beating Waging War, before going up to Sydney and only running a length away in the Golden Eagle, just behind Kolding and Sunlight. He goes well first up and the pace should be genuine up front. Shamino is the unproven but rising horse in the race. He was terrific last start and shouldn’t be underestimated. Jungle Edge will always give the punters a sight, especially on a wet track. Go on old boy!
Recommended bet: #2 Home of the Brave each way at $6.50.
Best bet: Race 2 #14 La Croft
Next best bet: Race 9 #2 Home of the Brave
Best value: Race 7 #3 Moonlight Maid