Racing heads back to Flemington this Saturday for a bumper nine-race program.
After a good week last week at the Valley, hopefully we can keep the good run going. The track is currently rated as a soft five, but with rain expected on Saturday it could get into that soft seven type of range, so look for horses who run well with a bit of give in the ground.
The rail is out 11 metres for the entire circuit, which will be advantageous to those on speed, but it is always hard to lead all the way at Flemington.
Let’s find some winners!
Race 1: Benchmark 90, handicap, 1600 metres
The bookmakers think this is a wide-open event to kick off the program, but I have found two that look over the odds. There looks to be strong speed engaged with Man of Peace, Al Passem and Surreal Image contesting for the lead, which should allow Brilliant Concept to slot into a nice spot. The Matthew Williams yard is going well currently, and this gelding is in terrific form. Two back at Ballarat he beat Persan by 2.75 lengths, who has subsequently won at this track over some talented types, before going to Sandown and winning in tough fashion after travelling three wide and without cover the trip. This isn’t too much harder than those races were and with some luck from the tricky gate (7), he can win again. I want to have something small on Annarbor. Her last two runs have been better than they looked. Two back at Sandown she motored home late when it was all over to run four lengths off Yeldarb, before coming to this track and finishing off steadily after travelling wide. With a fast tempo on up front, she can sit back near last and have one big run at them. Man of Peace won two back when looking gone at the 200-metre mark behind Outrageous in a thrilling finish, before going too quick last start and doing well to finish 1.5 lengths off Dealmaker. He draws well (2) and could dictate the terms.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on both #6 Brilliant Concept at $6 and #5 Annarbor at $14.
Race 2: Super VOBIS, two-year-old, handicap, 1420 metres
Tricky little race here. The tempo will be very genuine with at least five runners wanting to lead. Happy to back two of them again here. Cherry Tortoni was backed late on debut at Sale and proved why with a fantastic win after travelling wide and without cover in the run. He clocked the sixth fastest last 200 metres of the meeting on a day when some quality horses went around. The second horse in that race, Not A Zak, ran a length behind Crosshaven at the Valley last week, which has franked the form. Billy Egan is in a purple patch and if he can find him some cover (8) he will be winning. I want to save on South Parade. The Sadler Colt was never going to be suited over 1000 metres or 1200 metres based on breeding, but he clocked good late sectionals in both runs. He is going to need luck from the inside draw (3) but if it does come, the 1400 metres seems ideal and he is another who will appreciate the leaders tiring. There was plenty to like about the win of Albarado. They galloped along quickly in that race, the leading few tired, but he didn’t and hung on to win in tough fashion. The wide barrier (12) is the query. Star of Leon is the blowout chance after working home nicely on debut. Include in all your exotics.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both #3 Cherry Tortoni at $3.80 and #12 South Parade at $8.
Race 3: Four-year-old and up, Benchmark 90, mares, handicap, 1420 metres
There doesn’t look like there is a whole lot of speed engaged here, with Honey Esprit looking like the clear leader and potentially Music Bay and Soaring Eagle sitting outside of her. Even with the lack of speed in the race, So You Swing is still the value runner. She was very good last preparation when running 0.75 lengths off Extreme Pride, before coming to this track and again running 0.75 lengths off Nudge, who is now Group 1 placed. She was tipped out for a spell and resumed well over this distance at Caulfield, running the quickest last 200 metres of the meeting. The query surrounds the break in between runs and the fact that she has been scratched a couple of times, but I can’t let her go around at that price in this type of a field. Kings Brook maps to get the run of the race from the rails draw (1). She was good two back when only a length off Naivasha and Cryptic Jewel, before chasing well around this track and route last start. This isn’t much harder, and she drops four kilos. Great Duchess is a consistent type who was very good on resumption at Caulfield. I’m not sure that is the superior form line, but she must be considered, while Soaring Eagle is the blowout chance if they absolutely crawl.
Recommended bet: #12 So You Swing each way at $8.50.
Race 4: Super VOBIS, three-year-old, handicap, 2000 metres
One of the better races on the program arrives here for the progressive young stayers. The speed looks like coming from a few of the long shots in Strobe Light, Gaucho and Johandough. I’m prepared to jump on the Coolth bandwagon after a few have jumped off. After two dominant displays at Balaklava and Murray Bridge, winning by 2.5 lengths and three lengths respectively, he came to Flemington where he was up in grade, got a mile back, and ran on strongly for third in a race where the leading bunch dominated the first few home. There should be a bit more speed on in this race, which will allow him to show a better turn of foot and be hard to hold out. Persan was excellent last start when beating Coolth by two lengths and it’s hard to take anything away from him. He maps to get a lovely run again and there’s no reason to suggest he can’t win. Right You Are draws a horrific barrier (13), which does make it hard to put him on top. He is a horse with plenty of upside and he showed that when holding off Librate last start after running around like a drunken sailor in the straight. Hypercane drops five kilos in weight from that last run when he finished alongside Coolth. He should sit handy from the ideal draw (3) and it wouldn’t surprise to see him improve.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #3 Coolth at $4.80.
Race 5: Benchmark 78, handicap, 1000 metres
The speed will be strong here, as you would expect, with Sir Kalahad, Mister Mogul, Pariano, Rolling Moss and Bless Her all pushing forward. He needs a couple to come out, but Pinyin looks hard to beat. His form from last preparation when finishing a head away from News Girl when he arguably should have won the race looks very strong for what is a weak Benchmark race. He was tipped out for a spell after a poor performance at Sandown and was fantastic on resumption when running home strongly for third. He was only half a length off the talented Alfa Oro on that occasion who would be very short in this field. He struggles to win but this is one of the easier races he has seen in some time. Koonunga has been running well recently and goes on top if Pinyin doesn’t gain a start. She had no luck a few starts back when never getting clear air in the straight behind Broken Arrows, before going up to Queensland and running into a smart one. The straight is the query but she can run well. Bless Her Is another emergency who has been in great form. She is a progressive filly gunning for three in a row after two dominant wins at Sale and can’t be underestimated.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #16 Pinyin at $5.
Race 6: Three-year-old and up, handicap, 2540 metres
There doesn’t look to be a stack of speed engaged here with Sasko and Arty Lucas the only two horses that like to sit on the speed. I’m pretty keen to play into this race and like two runners. One of them is the marginal favourite in Arty Lucas. The Preusker Gelding was dominant three back on a heavy track at Ballarat when winning by nearly five lengths, before coming to this track over 1800 metres and being beaten 0.3 lengths by Credence, while putting a big gap on fourth. He went back for an easy kill at Ballarat last start and won by 3.25 lengths. He draws well (6) and should either sit behind Sasko (or lead if it is scratched) and that will give him every chance to run out the 2540 metres. I want to save on Alfarris. The Lindsay Park galloper has come back in good order and his third-up record points towards a good showing. He moved into the race nicely on resumption at this track and just peaked late, before running the quickest last 400 metres of the race at Caulfield last start. He has won three from four third up and the last time he won was around this track and route, so he ticks plenty of boxes. Chapada finally got a win last start and it was a commanding one. He maps well again from the inside gate (1) and is the only danger to the two I have on top. Mahamedeis has been very good in his last two starts but goes up considerably in weight here, which is a concern.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both #8 Arty Lucas at $4 and #3 Alfarris at $8.
Race 7: Creswick Stakes, listed level, three-year-old, 1200 metres
The feature of the day arrives here in what is a great off-season race. The speed will be genuine with Merited, Kalkarni Royale, To Her Door and Front Page all wanting to sit on the speed. I think the favourite has been well found in the market, so I am going to take a set against him. Broadwayandfourth has bounced back to her best form in her last couple of starts and she should get some luck down the straight. Two back she was excellent when flashing home at Caulfield to beat Absolute Flirt by a length, before having no luck at the Valley last start when running three lengths off Be My Star. The strong tempo on up front will suit her and she should be powering home late. Alburq seems over the odds. He didn’t have any luck two back over 1100 metres, before running on strongly over 1400 metres behind Jolly Sailor last start at this track. He draws out (13), which is a positive and will be running home strongly. It’s hard not to be impressed by the last two runs of Front Page. He won by ten lengths in an Albury Benchmark 58 on resumption, before going to Wangaratta and winning arrogantly in a Benchmark 64. This is much harder, but he is very progressive. Run to Perfection had excuses in his first Australian start and the noise coming out of the O’Brien yard points to an improved performance here.
Recommended bet: Small plays on #5 Broadwayandfourth at $6 and #3 Alburq at $18.
Race 8: Handicap, 1420 metres
The penultimate event on the meeting arrives and it looks like a nightmare race for punters. There doesn’t look like there is any speed engaged, which should mean the likes of Rox the Castle, Travimyfriend and Haunted should get nice runs. Haunted does look the most likely. I am willing to forgive his run in Adelaide three back and he just never handled the heavy track here two back. Once getting back onto firmer ground (soft five) last start, he was much improved. He travelled three wide and without cover for the entirety and still only managed to miss by half a length. From the better barrier (2) he can be prominent in the run and be hard to chase down. Heptagon is in excellent form. He travelled wide and without cover to beat Kaplumpich at Caulfield, before winning the Swan Hill Cup with ease last start. I think Yendall must be positive from the rails draw (1), which is a positive. Vassilator is racing well lately and shouldn’t be underestimated, while Rox The Castle is the blowout chance if they crawl up front.
Recommended bet: Leaving this one alone.
Race 9: Handicap, 1000 metres
Hopefully, we don’t have to get out here in the last. The speed will come from the likes of The Centaurian and Lord Von Costa, but for an 1100-metre race, I don’t think they’ll go quick. I’m specking two at odds here and one of them is I Am Someone. This horse is a Wangoom winner (the same race that Order of Command won and is a $3.90 favourite), as well as finishing a close-up second in the Bel Esprit behind Miss Leonidas. He was tipped out after running down the field in a couple of Group races and I thought he was very good on resumption when running a length off Tavisan. He runs well second-up and has a good record down the straight so I’m happy to be with him. Lord Von Costa is the other I want to be on. This horse only had two runs last preparation and one of them was a win (over Viral and Clarice Cliffs) and the other was a second behind Chicago Cub, both down the straight. He resumed in the Straight Six on a heavy track, which didn’t suit him and still ran okay, finishing two lengths away. He gets back onto firmer ground here and runs well second-up. Order of Command comes off a Goodwood run here and must be respected after winning two before that, while Rich Charm was excellent last start and is undefeated third up so must be included in all the exotics.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on #8 I Am Someone at $9 and #12 Lord Von Costa at $21.
Best bet: Race 6, #8 Arty Lucas.
Next best bet: Race 5, #16 Pinyin.
Best value: Race 3, #12 So You Swing and Race 9, #12 Lord Von Costa.