The Mounting Yard heads back to Caulfield this Saturday for an action-packed winter race day, with the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes headlining the program for which Virdine opens as the $3.40 favourite.
The supporting cast is quite good, featured by Our Campana and Propelle going head to head again after Propelle was luckless last start.
The rail is out five metres for the entire circuit, so it will probably favour on-speed runners, but watch the early races and watch out for any pattern developing.
Let’s find some winners!
Benchmark 78, handicap, 1600 metres
We kick off the program with a very intriguing race. I don’t want to be against Tavidance, but the current price of $2 isn’t appealing, and he would need to get up towards $3 to be a betting proposition. At the end of his first preparation he was 3.5 lengths off Vow and Declare, who subsequently went on to win the Melbourne Cup, so that form line stacks up. He had only the one run last preparation but absolutely bolted in when winning by two lengths over Sickening. He was flat on resumption after a long layoff at Sandown, before coming to this track and winning well by two lengths over Kaplumpich. He draws out in the car park (11) which is a concern and he rises 2.5 kilos, but he is the progressive galloper in the field and any improvement would see him be hard to beat.
If you disregard the run of No Say in It at Flemington two back when he was caught off the track, he is the clear danger. He flashed home at this track three back to finish 0.75 lengths off Sikorsky before coming here last start and seeing rump the whole way up the straight. He will need luck from the low draw (3) but is right in this.
Seductive Miss seems overs at $51. She reeled off fantastic late sectionals (essentially the same last 200 metres split as Tavidance) and should be ready to peak third up and getting out to the mile.
Heavenly Emperor was a tough winner last start over this track and distance and must be respected with the claim from Price.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 4 Tavidance if $2.80-plus, with something small on No. 6 Seductive Miss at $51.
Two-year-olds, set weights and penalties, 1200 metres
It was hard to put a speed map together for this two-year-olds affair, but I thought they would go quick enough in front with Fatigues, Galactic Fury and Burleigh Boy all pressing forward. Sensationalism looks the one to beat. The Price Filly jumped out just evenly leading into her debut, but she was terrific. She settled last in a bunched field, had to navigate a passage at the top of the straight and really motored home to finish 0.75 lengths off Zesty Belle. They are the same price in this race and rising to the 1400 metres suits, and she has more upside than the other equal favourite and should take plenty of benefit from that debut run.
Write The Score shapes as the clear danger. She did nothing on debut down the straight at Flemington but was immediately tipped out for a long spell. She returned at Moe a fortnight ago and arguably would have won that race with better luck in the straight, finishing a length back from a talented type in Deep Mirror. She will appreciate getting out to 1400 metres and will prove hard to hold out.
Galactic Fury draws all the favours today and you can draw a form line through Insaaf to compare her to the other runners, while Burleigh Boy has the talent to win this, but just isn’t putting It together at present.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 9 Sensationalism at $4.
Fillies and mares, Benchmark 90, handicap, 1100 metres
The speed will be genuine here with the likes of Raven’s Blaze, River Jewel, She’s a Thief and Our Campana all pressing forward. I think it’s a race in two here, and I’m going with the second elect in Propelle to turn the tables on our Campana. This mare was only even on resumption after a long break when her condition failed her in the last 200 metres when running just under three lengths off Alfa Oro and Sansom, which looks like a fantastic form reference. She then faced our Campana last start, and she would have been right in the finish if not for a pretty average steer from Williams, which saw her badly held up for the last 200 metres. She reaches this race third up and ready to peak, and the genuine tempo out in front should suit her pattern.
Our Campana is the clear danger and has already beaten Propelle twice in her career. She has won six from 13 starts, which proves she loves winning, and the last time she was second up she beat Bam’s on Fire at Flemington. The rails draw always concerns me (1), but if she gets the splits at the right time, she will be hard to run down.
Getemhel is the blowout chance at huge odds. She hasn’t had any luck in her last couple of starts, and even though she brings in an inferior form line, she is going as well as she ever has.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 6 Propelle at $3.90.
Three-year-olds, handicap, 2394 metres
I think this will be a proper staying test as there are a few who like sitting on speed. Lord Bouzeron should take up the running, with the likes of Persan, Sign Seal Deliver and High Emocean not far away. I thought Sign Seal Deliver was over the odds. The Cumani galloper was only a neck away from High Emocean two back, who is $6.50 here while he is $11, and he was far from disgraced when 2.5 lengths off Persan last start in what was an extremely slowly run 2500 metres race. He draws perfectly (3) to camp on the back of the leaders, and the penny still hasn’t dropped yet, so there is plenty of improvement to come from him.
If they do go slowly, Lord Bouzeron will be hard to run down. The Finnegan Gelding brought over good New Zealand form and absolutely dominated them at this track last start over 2000 metres when winning by four lengths. With the claim from Will Price, he gets in well at the weights and can win again.
Persan just keeps on winning but does find a tougher task today. He has had every favour possible in his last couple of wins, and if they do go quicker today, he could be found struggling to lug that 62 kilograms around. Queen of Tarts and Zoffmira are the blowout chances if the others take themselves out of the race.
Recommended bet: No. 6 Sign Seal Deliver each way at $11.
Three-year-olds, fillies, handicap, 1200 metres
I found the speed map hard to predict in this race. Roughies Gimme The Goss and Wynsome Maid should go forward, and I expect Shush and Beatrix to sit handy as well. I’m putting Beatrix on top but with no confidence. The Noonan Filly has plenty of talent. She was fantastic two-back at Sandown on a heavy track when fighting off Finesse Tess over 1000 metres before coming to this track over 1100 metres when finishing a length off Bless Her. She will probably face the firmest track of her career in this race and she maps to get all the favours from the ideal barrier (7). With the claim getting her down to 54 kilos, she will run a bold race.
Rich Hips is a talented galloper who was unbelievable first up when storming all over the likes of Norma Stars, winning by 2.75 lengths while clocking the fifth-fastest last 400 metres of the meeting. A repeat of that effort would see her go close here.
Modear was unlucky a fair bit last preparation and isn’t the worst first up. She was only a length off Xilong and Garner last preparation, and that form line reads well for a race like this.
Shush will sit on the speed from the ideal gate (3) and should improve off a disappointing first-up effort.
Recommended bet: No. 4 Beatrix each way at $7.50.
Handicap, 1400 metres
They are going to go slow here – at least it looks that way on paper – with no runner in the race looking certain to lead. Morrissy and Ballet Master look likely to press forward from their wide gates and take it up. It’s a two-horse affair here, and I think Great Duchess is over the odds. This Eurell Mare has been fantastic this preparation, winning two from three. She beat Jamaican Hurry by 0.75 lengths on resumption while putting 2.25 lengths on the third horse before going to Flemington and beating Music Bay by a neck. She got lugged with 61 kilos last start in the Leilani Final and had excuses considering it was a race dominated by those on speed. She drops down to 57 kilos here, draws perfectly (5) to be more forward in the run and should prove hard to hold out coming back to Caulfield where she has won two from three.
Morrissy is the only other winning chance. He just missed on resumption at the Valley over 1200 metres before coming to Caulfield over this distance and winning easily over Sonaree two back. He was ridden back in the field last start in what were horrible tactics considering it was very hard to make ground on the day. From the wide gate (11) he can push forward today and be hard to run down.
Ruban Bleu is the best of the rest. He was disappointing last start, but his form prior to that is good enough to be competitive in a race like this.
Recommended bet: No. 4 Great Duchess each way at $6.
Group 3, weight for age, 1200 metres
The feature of the program awaits the punters in the seventh. The old warhorse Jungle Edge will ensure they go at a relatively quick clip, with I Am Someone and Sansom not being far away. I think the three-year-old in Sansom can provide the boilover. The Stokes gelding was one of the horses I was excited to see in these early spring-type features, and he has built up to this run in good fashion. Two back he was beaten by a very smart type in Alfa Oro by 2.25 lengths at this track over 1100 metres before going down the straight at Flemington when carrying 60.5 kilos, where he ran half a length off Wilmot Pass. You can’t help but think he has been targeted for a race like this fourth up, and he draws perfectly (6) to get the sit on the leading bunch and should prove hard to beat today.
Virdine is the clear danger. He beat Handle the Truth with ease in the Winter Dash in Sydney two back before chasing home Jungle Edge in the John Monash last start. The track should be firmer today, which will allow him to show his brilliant turn of foot late.
Widgee Turf and Streets of Avalon are the seasoned campaigners resuming here today. They have bigger fish to fry getting closer towards the spring, but it wouldn’t shock to see them win today.
Recommended bet: No. 8 Sansom each way at $10.
Set weights and penalties, 2394 metres
This isn’t a race I’m particularly keen to invest in, with the class runners out of form and the rest relatively average. The speed map was hard to predict apart from Sasko leading. Mahamadeis was very good three back at this track over 2000 metres when beating Hang Man with ease before being disappointing in his last two runs. I’m not sold that he hasn’t had enough this time in, but his best is good enough.
Double You Tee was very good three-back when running second and 2.25 lengths off Harbour Views before being disappointing in his last two runs as well. He isn’t going as well as he was last preparation, but his best is good enough in a very poor race. If the rain hits earlier than expected and we get a downgrade, Sasko comes into calculations. He is a tough on-speed horse, and if the track is favouring the frontrunners to a large extent, he might be very hard to run down.
Recommended bet: Leaving this one alone. Shocking race for a Saturday!
Three-year-olds, handicap, 1400 metres
We round out the program with a short-priced favourite here in Mystery Shot, and he looks very hard to hold out. The Lindsey Smith gelding is undefeated from four starts, and his last effort was his most impressive yet, beating Wicklow Town by 2.5 lengths with jockey Michael Rodd being very kind to him in the last 300 metres. He meets Wicklow Town again here, he drops from 61.5 kilos to 58.5 kilos, draws perfectly (5) to preserve energy in the first 400 metres and only needs to hold his form to blow his rivals away yet again. He is very progressive.
Wicklow Town is the only danger based on the form. He won three in a row around the country circuits before coming to this track last start when running 2.5 lengths off Mystery Shot. It’s hard to see him making up that margin considering there isn’t any improvement coming this preparation, but if the favourite does fail, he looks to be the one to beat him.
Savvy Lad was disappointing last preparation but has jumped out well leading into this first-up assignment, while Zero Doubt has ability and can improve this time in.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 1 Mystery Shot at $2.20.
Best bet: Race 9, No. 1 Mystery Shot
Next-best bet: Race 3, No. 6 Propelle
Best value: Race 7, No. 8 Sansom