The Mounting Yard gets back to headquarters in Melbourne this week, which is of course Flemington.
We’ve had a couple of good weeks, so let’s keep the good times rolling.
The track condition is a tricky one to try and predict. At the time of writing the track is a Soft 5, but there are showers and some thunderstorms predicted on Friday and Saturday, which could see the track get near the heavy range. The rail is back in the true position, which might favour those on speed slightly, but the track should play fairly.
Let’s get into it!
Two-year-olds, quality, 1200 metres
We kick off the program with a race for the juveniles down the Flemington straight. There doesn’t look to be an abundance of speed engaged here. Ilovethegame and The Felon will probably set the pace and Sense of Honour and Jabali Ridge can be more handy today. The favourite, Sense of Honour, looks hard to beat here. The Price-trained Filly was excellent on debut last preparation when winning by three lengths at Sandown when clocking the second fastest last 200 metres for the meeting but was immediately tipped out for a spell. She returned at Moonee Valley three weeks ago, got a mile back and then flashed home for fourth which was against a strong on-speed/rails bias on the day. She clocked the fastest last 400 metres of the meeting on return and getting to Flemington second up looks like the perfect set up.
I’m saving on Jabali Ridge, who comes out of that same race. He is a winner down the straight previously, which I always hold in high regard, and he has been excellent this campaign. He finished off strongly on resumption at Caulfield when clocking race best last 600 metre splits before going to the Valley when he ran the fastest 400-metre/200-metre split of the meeting before being held up in the last 200 metres. He likes Flemington and should be ready to peak third up.
Standoff was excellent down the straight on resumption before going to Sandown and finishing off strongly after seemingly taking forever to fully wind up. He should appreciate getting out to the 1200 metres and is the only other winning hope.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both No. 6 Sense of Honour at $2.90 and No. 1 Jabali Ridge at $5.50.
Three-year-olds and up, quality, 2600 metres
Probably the weakest race on the program here in what is only an eight-horse field. There looks to be no speed on in the race at all and Sasko is likely to take it up from Mr Monaco and Dal Harraild. Chapada doesn’t win out of turn but looks to be a solid bet here. The Moroney gelding has been up for a while, but his last two runs have been very good. He was a strong winner over the talented Waller import in Masaff two back over 2520 metres at this track before running a length off Lord Belvedere last start, who he meets again here. That race was an anomaly for that horse, and I’m prepared to back Chapada based on consistency and the fact that he maps to get the sit on the leaders in a race devoid of speed.
Alfarris looked prime for a win last start after two ‘back me next start’ efforts but pulled up lame after the race. The Lindsay Park team must think he is right to go here, and his best is good enough.
Lord Belvedere is way under the odds. He was very poor in his first two runs of the preparation and I would need to see him replicate that before considering backing him at $3.30. Looks a good opportunity for the lay punters.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 3 Chapada at $2.70.
Two-year-olds, quality, listed level, 1600 metres
An intriguing race awaits the punters here, with most of these juveniles getting out to the mile for the first time. The pace looks to be genuine, with the likes of Insaaf, Narvaez, Confrontational and Burleigh Boy all pushing forward. I think the favourite, Cherry Tortoni, is going to be a very good horse, but I would need $4-plus to be backing him.
Super Yulong looks well over the odds in this race. He was poor on debut when racing very greenly, but his last two runs have been very impressive. He was taken back to the synthetic two back when he won with arrogance to break his maiden before coming to this track last start and being completely luckless when running four lengths off the favourite. If he got a run when he needed too, I think he only would have finished a length or so off the favourite and been a clear second elect in this race. He maps to get a nice run in midfield and getting out to the mile suits. He is well over the odds.
Burleigh Boy is the other I want to be on. The O’Brien gelding debuted as a $2.40 favourite at Pakenham in what turned out to be a fantastic maiden when running three lengths off Lunar Fox and was immediately spelled. He returned at Flemington a few weeks back and was tightened for room the whole way down the straight and I thought he did a good job to finish only three lengths away. He gets a four-kilo weight swing on the favourite today and should be fitter for that first-up run.
Cherry Tortoni has been faultless so far in his career and is the deserving favourite, just not at those odds. If you want to back him, I would wait until race day, as I think he will drift out.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on both No. 3 Super Yulong at $23 and No. 7 Burleigh Boy at $11.
Three-year-olds, quality, 2500 metres
Another race where the favourite is too short for my liking, especially considering there is a big question mark about him out to 2500 metres. There looks to be no speed in this race, but I think Johandough and Nama Dude might take it up early from Sign Seal Deliver.
I want to have something small on Zoffmira. The Pruesker camp has always thought a lot of him, but he has only started to deliver on that promise in his last couple of starts. I was taken aback by his win two races ago at Geelong over 2460 metres when travelling three-wide the trip and still fighting off his challengers late. He then went to Bendigo and ran on strongly to run third behind Julika and Monmouth, who have both been in very good form. He is proven at the distance, which is a huge positive considering most of these aren’t. From the rails draw he should get a nice run in the first half of the field and be hard to hold out.
Persan is absolutely flying after consecutive commanding victories over 2000 metres at this track. He is a deserving favourite and will be hard to beat but is very skinny odds at $2.20.
Sign Seal Deliver has been running well in lower grade and is proven at the trip, while Translator was shocking last start but his form before that run is good enough to be competitive.
Recommended bet: No. 9 Zoffmira each way at $21.
Listed level, quality, 1200 metres
One of the feature races on a very good winter program arrives here. The speed looks very genuine, with the likes of Tavisan and Snitzkraft setting a good speed on upfront. I am going to stick with I Am Someone after we were on him at $8 when he saluted over 1100 metres last start when beating two top-class horses in Prezado and Order of Command. That followed a very good first-up run at Caulfield when he hit the line strongly behind Tavisan. The Pruesker and Bates combination are on fire currently and I think this gelding, with an undefeated third up record, can keep that intact here with another big win. This isn’t any harder than last start and he should be at peak fitness now getting out to 1200 metres.
Rich Charm has been without any luck in two of three runs this campaign and was enormous two back when he got a run at them. I don’t think he would have been far away from my on topper last start with any luck, and he should be another who reaches peak fitness fourth up after a long break.
Great Again was excellent on resumption when beating Rich Charm before going to Moonee Valley when running on steadily against the bias. He pulled up lame, which adds more merit to that run, and this looks like a target race.
Lord Von Costa is the best of the rest and wasn’t far away from the on topper last start.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 4 I Am Someone at $5.
Four-year-olds and up, mares, quality, 1400 metres
I am keen to bet into this race as I think two runners are well over the odds. The speed looks to be genuine enough, with Honey Esprit, River Jewel and Soaring Eagle looking to settle in the first few. La Tigeresa should be a shorter favourite. The Jason Warren trained Mare was very good in Melbourne last preparation, winning brilliantly at Moe on a heavy track, before running third at Group 3 level over this track and distance. She has had the two runs in this time and hasn’t got much of a look at them each time when looking like she was going to be fighting out the placings. She reaches this race third up and will appreciate the give in the ground, and the 1400 metres looks ideal. She will be hard to hold out with even luck.
I won’t be losing on So You Swing. Last preparation he finished alongside Affair to Remember and was narrowly beaten by Nudge, which looks like a fantastic form line. She went out for a long break and resumed at Caulfield over 1200 metres when clocking the fastest last 200 metres of the meeting. She then was scratched a couple of times and ran on steadily at Flemington after a six-week break when I think her fitness tolled late. That run will do her the world of good and her best wins this.
El Questro was very good on resumption when running a length off Alfa Oro and Pinyin before battling on well last start behind Great Duchess. She should be ready to peak third-up and will get a nice run up on the speed.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both No. 5 La Tigeresa at $5 and No. 11 So You Swing at $13.
Three-year-olds, quality, 1600 metres
Probably the most open race on the program awaits the punters here in the seventh. The likes of Smoke Bomb, Dance Ready and Barossa Kiss should make sure the race is run at a genuine tempo. I want to have a crack at two at double-figure odds here. Alphaville draws terribly (14), but if he can find some cover in the run, he is right in this. His last two runs have been excellent leading into this. He flashed home for what turned out to be a soft win on the synthetic at Pakenham before being unlucky not to have beaten Smoke Bomb at the Valley last start when he was held up for an eternity around the bend. He had the fifth fastest last 200 metres of the meeting that day and he is flying under the radar here.
Cabhino was only a neck away from the talented Arctic Wolf two back before going to Seymour when breaking his maiden to win by two lengths. Damien Oliver sticks here, and he has plenty of upside.
Smoke Bomb has been excellent this time in and was very good when leading all the way at the Valley last start. He draws perfectly (3) to get the run of the race and is right in it.
Grinzinger Allee ran on strongly last start and should be included in multiples.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on both No. 5 Alphaville at $14 and No. 13 Cabhino at $10.
Listed level, quality, 1600 metres
This is a wide-open edition of the Winter Championship. The speed will be hot from the get-go, with the likes of Shot of Irish, Holbein, Romancer and Victoria Star all wanting to hold a spot. A Shin Rook will need some luck from the inside draw (2), but he is the forgotten horse in this race. He was a terrific winner on resumption at Morphettville over Dexter You Devil before chasing well in his past couple of starts over 1400 metres at this track. In his last run he recorded eighth fastest last 200 metres of the meeting, which suggests he should be ready to peak fourth up and getting out to the mile. This is a clear target race and I think he is the one at odds who can run a big race.
Heptagon just keeps on winning and the form can’t be knocked. I loved the way he dug deep to win last start over Haunted and he maps to get a lovely run again. Plein Ciel has been excellent this time in. He finished off strongly on resumption at this track over 1400 metres before driving late last start to dead heat with Shot of Irish. He reaches this race third up and ready to peak.
Victoria Star is the best of the rest. He draws horribly (16), which is going to make it hard for him, but he was doing his best work late over 1400 metres against the favourite last start.
Recommended bet: No. 6 A Shin Rook each way at $16.
Three-year-olds, quality, 1400 metres
We round out the program with another wide-open affair and again I’m keen to be with two at odds. I like the form out of a Bendigo Benchmark 64 and that’s what I’m betting around. Diaquin looks over the odds. She worked home well three back over this track and distance before going to Geelong when having absolutely no luck when seeing only daylight in the last 100 metres behind Cordilla, who is $5 here, while she is $12. She went to Bendigo last start and sustained a very wide and long run to get up when beating Brazen Song and Win Fall. She drops three kilos on that run and Williams sticks.
I loved Win Fall’s win three back at Geelong to break her maiden. She went to Bendigo last start and matched motors with Diaquin, who I am also backing here. She draws the rails (1) and can settle closer today and be hard to hold out.
Splendoronthegrass is flying at the moment and was enormous coming from well back last start at Caulfield. Don’t underestimate her, even though the handicapper has hit her hard again.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on both No. 5 Diaquin at $12 and No. 15 Win Fall at $19.
Best bet: Race 1 No. 6 Sense of Honour
Next-best bet: Race 8 No. 6 A Shin Rook
Bet value: Race 3, No. 3 Super Yulong, and Race 7, No. 5 Alphaville