The Mounting Yard heads back to fabulous Flemington this week for a nine-race winter program.
There is a couple of very good three-year-olds events taking place on the program, particularly Race 2 and Race 6, which look to be the highlights of the meeting.
The rail is out four metres for the entire circuit which might slightly favour those on speed, but Flemington generally plays fairly.
The forecast looks good for the rest of the week, so the worst the track rating will be should be a Soft 5 or a Soft 6. Let’s find some winners!
Benchmark 90, handicap, 1000 metres
Very tricky race to kick off the program here at headquarters. The speed will come from the likes of Irish Mint, Snitzkraft and Ashlor. I’m happy to be with Tasmanian Gee Gee Secondover. I can’t recall one of these gallopers coming over here, so I think the Wells camp must fancy his chances. He was terrific last preparation, beating Blaze Forth and I Remember You, who have both been very competitive here in Victoria. He was also only 1.25 lengths off Hellova Street, who subsequently crossed the border and won the Golden Mile at Listed level. He arrives here first up undefeated (3:3-0-0) and only needs to handle the straight to be winning.
Irish Mint is the main danger. The Jolly Gelding is gunning for three in a row here after two wins in South Australia, the most recent one being against Flostar over this distance. He drops 1.5 kilos from that run but is another one unproven down the straight.
Fight was good enough last preparation and was relatively dominant against lesser grade first-up, while Ashlor is forever consistent and always commands respect.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 3 Gee Gee Secondover at $3.80.
Three-year-olds, handicap, 1200 metres
Potentially the best race on the program here, and some of these will go on to better things. There looks to be a moderate tempo on paper with Reard, Sansom and Sea Dragon settling in the first few. Proper Rogue is a Gelding with plenty of ability and he goes on top here. He was undefeated last preparation after winning at Geelong when travelling wide and without cover, before coming to Flemington and winning well over Zoumanor. He was tipped out for a spell and resumed with a very good run when 1.25 lengths off Lucifer’s Reward. They meet again here, but Proper Rogue should be fitter for that run and undoubtedly should have finished closer and had more upside. Maps to get a lovely run.
Wilmot Pass was excellent on resumption and showed plenty of ability last preparation when beating Wedgetail by 1.25 lengths in an arrogant fashion. He got a long way back on resumption at Caulfield but really knuckled down late to finish two lengths away from Lucifer’s Reward. Rises to 1200 metres today, which suits, and he looks like a horse that will appreciate the Flemington straight.
Sea Dragon looks like the best roughie. He was only a length off Oasis Girl last preparation and has been gelded during his spell. He will run along here and should pinch some cheap sectionals, while Sansom has the ability to win, but is giving his rivals plenty of weight today.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 4 Proper Rogue at $3.50.
Two-year-olds, handicap, 1800 metres
Most of these juveniles are facing the 1800 metres for the first time, which makes for an interesting affair. The race looks devoid of any speed but the rank outsider, Shadow Prey, looks to lead them up. Alcyone looks like a very promising young stayer and shouldn’t have any issues with the 1800 metres considering the Godolphin team have planned a Derby preparation out for him. He flashed home on debut behind Albarado to finish just over a neck away before putting in an average effort at Flemington two back. He was much improved last start when looking dead and buried at the 300 metres mark before fighting back and actually making plenty of late ground to finish a head away from the boom horse in Cherry Tortoni. He is incredibly well weighted against his rivals and looks very hard to beat.
Mr Wolf looks like the only slight danger. The McEvoy camp debuted him at Murray Bridge over 1400 metres when he got going only late before extending away to win by 2.5 lengths. He only warmed up late last start at Balaklava but obviously, he needs further so they have opted to send him here.
Johnny Get Angry was good last start when 1.75 lengths off Alcyone, but he was comfortably held and would need to improve on that effort to beat the favourite here.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 1 Alcyone at $2.
Benchmark 90, fillies and mares, handicap, 1400 metres
Intriguing race here with every jockey being an apprentice. There doesn’t look to be a stack of speed engaged here, with no runner being a noted frontrunner. No Effort and Lady of Flanders should settle in the first few. Beauty Bolt looks the one to beat. The Begg trained Filly can mix her form but her best might just be too good for these, especially carrying 53 kilos and dropping 6.5 kilos from last start. She had excuses last start over this track and distance when pulling up lame, but her form before that was excellent. She never really got a look at them in the Group 1 South Australian Oaks three back before coming back to the 1400 metres at Flemington when a runner up to Queen La Diva after reeling off race-best splits for the last 800 metres. She will settle back and be able to wind up with a big run down the outside of the track.
Zabelarina looks like the main danger. She was a good winner on resumption at Ballarat over Te Ata before getting a long way back at Caulfield over 1200 metres when running on strongly to finish midfield. She should be ready to peak third up.
Laburnum was very good last start at Caulfield and is another who looks to have been targeted for this third up, while She’s on Time is the best blowout chance.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 8 Beauty Bolt at $5.
Three-year-olds and up, handicap, 2800 metres
It’s not often we find ourselves a proper staying race on a Saturday, but that isn’t the case here. There looks to be no speed on in the race and I think the two $100 pops will settle in the first few. I’m very happy to be with South Pacific here. The English import, now in the hands of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, brought over terrific English form. He beat Constantinople in his second last start in England, who was very unlucky when third in the Caulfield Cup last Spring. He then ran down the track in the Goodwood Cup behind superstar Stradivarius. He had his first Australian start at Caulfield over 2000 metres when nothing went right after he was checked nearing the bend and then having no chance after that. He goes well second-up (2:1-1-0) and the rise to the 2800 metres looks ideal.
Alfarris is the main danger. He had excuses two-back when pulling up lame, but his runs on either side of that have had plenty of merit. He was nailed on the line by Lord Belvedere last start and that form line reads well for a race like this.
Sweet Thomas seems way too short considering how much he mixes his form, but his best is good enough to be very competitive in this field, evident by his big win in the Stayers Cup last start.
Recommended bet: No. 5 South Pacific each-way at $7.
Three-year-olds, handicap, 1600 metres
One of the better races on the program awaits punters here in the sixth race. Yet again the race looks devoid of much speed. The roughie, Big Acheeva, might elect to set the pace, with Stretto not far behind it. I was on Alphaville when it was a good thing licked in the Silver Bowl final over this track and distance a fortnight ago and I’m going to butter up again here. I think he has plenty of ability, this colt. He was a strong winner three-back on the Synthetic at Pakenham before being unlucky in his last two starts – one against Smoke Bomb at the Valley and the other behind Walking Flying in what was a nightmare watch. He draws in again (3), so he will need luck in the run, but after Grinzinger Allee demolished them at Cranbourne on Wednesday the form stacks up and he looks over the odds.
I will be backing Charleise as well. The Maher and Eustace filly is another runner who hasn’t had much luck this preparation. She finished only a neck away from Librate three back in a race she arguably should have won, and the favourite in the race, Right You are, beat that horse by only 0.5 lengths, so the price differential seems overstated. Not a lot went right for her last start at Sandown, but from a better barrier (6) she can get the run of the race and prove hard to hold out.
Right You Are is the worry. He has stacks of talent and will go on to better things than this, but there are a few things going against him today. He carries a whopping 62 kilos and comes back to 1600 metres after finishing strongly at 2000 metres.
Smokin’ Romans is the unknown quantity in the race after two impressive wins on the Ballarat Synthetic.
Recommended bets: Backing both No. 3 Alphaville at $13 and No. 8 Charleise at $14.
Handicap, 1600 metres
This is one of the trickiest races on the program. There looks to be a strong speed set out in front from the likes of Sirrconi, Orderofthegarter and France’s Boy. I’m putting Orderofthegarter on top but with zero confidence. He brought over fantastic overseas form, running 0.5 lengths off Benbatl, who was only a couple of lengths away from the legend in Winx, and beating home Mirage Dancer, who was placed in the Caulfield Cup last spring. He went out for a huge break and had the one run last preparation over 1700 metres at this track when beating Danon Roman home, who he faces again today. He will sit on the speed and should take plenty of running down.
Danon Roman should appreciate the hot speed. He worked home nicely behind Kaplumpich on resumption at Caulfield before flashing home late to win around this distance and circuit last start. He should be ready to peak third up, and this race doesn’t seem any harder than the last.
Never Again worked home nicely in each of his three starts and gets in well at the weights carrying 53 kilos, while Sirrconi was excellent in the Winter Championship last start and must be respected after that effort.
Recommended bet: No. 3 Orderofthegarter each way at $6.
Three-year-olds and up, handicap, 2000 metres
Pretty happy to be betting into the penultimate race on the program. The tempo looks genuine enough on paper with the likes of Mirimar, Sully and Salsamor settling in the leading bunch. Credence looks hard to beat here and also seems well over the odds. He had absolutely no luck on resumption at this track when he never saw daylight in the straight before staying at this track over 1800 metres and winning well over Arty Lucas and Grinzinger Star. They went incredibly slow at Caulfield last start, which didn’t suit his get back and run on style, but he did make plenty of late ground when clocking the fourth fastest last 200 metres of the meeting. He stays at the 2000 metres today, gets back to Flemington and should take beating.
Double You Tee isn’t without a chance. The Patrick Payne Gelding was very good two back when running 2.25 lengths off Harbour Views, and he had excuses last start at Caulfield. He will get a nice run from the affordable draw (3) and prove hard to beat.
Batholemeu Dias looks progressive after a big win at Sandown against inferior quality. Drops four kilos off that run and looks the only other danger in the field.
Recommended bet: No. 10 Credence each way at $8.
Benchmark 78, handicap, 1200 metres
The typical 18-horse affair awaits us in the last on the program. A maximum field generally generates at least a moderate tempo, so I would expect them to run along rather quickly. Pinyin finds it hard to win due to her race pattern, but she finds another winnable race here and I can’t let her go around without me on. The Conlan mare was excellent on resumption after a long break when running on strongly to finish half a length behind the ultra-talented Alfa Oro. She then went to Sandown and was a mile back before storming home to finish fourth when running the fastest last 400 metres and 200 metres of the meeting. She reaches this race third up where she has a good record and she will be hard to hold out.
It’s a raffle outside of her. Indian Thunder seems over the odds. He was only a length off Street Sheik last preparation, which reads well for this, and he made good ground on resumption behind Mister Mogul.
I’m Telling Ya is a horse who is good enough to go close here and does love the Flemington straight, while Sakura was much improved last start and must command some respect.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 17 Pinyin at $3.60.
Best bet: Race 3, No. 1 Alcyone
Next-best bet: Race 5, No. 5 South Pacific
Best value: Race 6, No. 3 Alphaville, and Race 8, No. 10 Credence