The Mounting Yard heads back to fabulous Flemington this Saturday for a bumper nine-race card, headed by the Group Three Aurie’s Star Handicap where Great Again is a marginal favourite.
The support card is a good one, headlined by Victorian Oaks winner Miami Bound returning for Danny O’Brien. The track is currently a Soft 6 but with rain predicted, expect it to get down to a Soft 7 or a Heavy 8.
The rail is out ten metres which generally favours those on speed, but Flemington generally gives every horse their chance. Let’s find some winners.
Race 1: Handicap, 2530 metres
An intriguing race kicks off the program for the stayers and there looks to be no speed in the race. Expect Exemplar and Bertwhistle to be handy.
South Pacific looks hard to beat. I was keen on him second-up at this track over 2800m and it was a much-improved run, finishing 0.75 lengths off the winner in Exemplar after seemingly taking forever to wind up in the straight. That run should have brought him along well for this third-up run, he drops 1.5kg and Oliver sticks. As long as he is positive from the good gate (5), he should be winning.
Lord Belvedere doesn’t want it too heavy, but he loves Flemington and is the main danger. He has won his last two at this track over similar distances and more importantly heading into this race, has shown he can sprint quickly off a slow speed. He has been hit hard by the Handicapper carrying 60kg today and will get back in the run, but he has some class over the rest of this field.
Bertwhistle seems like the only other winning chance. It’s hard to see any improvement coming from her, but she has gone back-to-back in South Australia before coming out here and maps to get a lovely run up near the speed.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 South Pacific at $3.
Race 2: Three-year-olds, Benchmark 70, Handicap, 1410 metres
Most of these are race-fit three-year-olds, which means we can get a good guide on the form. They won’t go overly quick with Diesel ‘N’ Dust and Galactic Fury looking to control the tempo.
There’s a slight query surrounding Diesel ‘N’ Dust at the 1410m, but I think he brings in the best form. He was a dominant winner over 1100m at Wodonga two-back when winning by 3.5 lengths and recording the second fastest last 200m of the meeting, before going to the Valley when he ran on late to finish 0.5 lengths off the talented Hard Landing. He will use his quick gate speed to cross from the wide gate (7) and will prove hard to get past.
Yes Baby Yes shapes as the main danger. She looked a certain winner on debut last preparation before fading late, and was then disappointing at Group level in South Australia. She resumed with a big win at Seymour by 3.5 lengths and although this is harder, she should improve off that and be hard to hold out.
Galactic Fury is still a maiden after nine starts but has had no luck in his last two starts. He was nosed out by Navarez two-back before being held up at a vital stage and running 0.5 lengths off Flinders River last start at Caulfield. He maps to get a dream run from the inside gate (1) and is as honest as they come.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #1 Diesel ‘N’ Dust at $3.30.
Race 3: 3-Y-O, Benchmark 70, Handicap, 1800 metres
Interesting race here for the just turned three-year-olds with all of them facing the 1800m for the first time. The speed will be moderate with Flinders River and Reuber settling in the first couple.
I’m banking on Cafe Rizu being too strong late over the 1800m here. She has come back well, being relatively luckless in a high rating race on resumption at Geelong over 1300m, before being far too strong for her rivals last start on the Synthetic at Ballarat over 1500m. She can get a lovely spot in midfield from the ideal gate (4) and Oliver jumping back on gives plenty of confidence.
Frankie Two Angels and Reuber come out of the same race at Sandown and look like the main dangers. They ran good time in that race and both horses are bred to get out to this type of a trip so expect plenty of improvement to come yet. Storm’s Colours is the blowout chance getting out to this trip.
He finished three lengths behind Cafe Rizu two-back and was doing his best work late. He is a horse that will furnish into a nice stayer and it wouldn’t surprise to see him run into the placings here at a big quote.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #6 Cafe Rizu at $5.
Race 4: Benchmark 84, Handicap, 1720 metres
Another staying type trip awaits these gallopers and it will be interesting to see which way the punters lean late. The rank outsider in Peso is likely to take it up with Heavenly Emperor sitting handy.
The Ben Hayes-trained Five Kingdom finds a suitable race here third-up. Last preparation he was only three lengths off Age of Chivalry who was subsequently placed at Group One level. That reads well for this.
He got way too far back on resumption at Caulfield and was doing his best work late, before flashing home last start at the Valley when clocking the 11th fastest last 200m of the meeting. He rises to the 1720m here which he has been crying out for, and they won’t go too quick early so he won’t be too far back around the bend.
Tavidance is the main danger. He was superb two-back over 1400m at Caulfield when beating Tatunka by two lengths, before being trapped three-wide and without cover over a mile last start. He was far from disgraced considering the run he had and maps to get the perfect run from the rails draw (1). Naivasha is an interesting runner. Her first-up record doesn’t inspire confidence, but the fact that she is first-up today over 1720m points to the O’Brien camp having her ready to go for this.
Her best form probably wins this race and if there is any market support, she will go very close. Winning Partner is in a good vein of form and it wouldn’t surprise to see him be in the finish again with the claim from Will Price.
Recommended bet: #8 Five Kingdom E/W at $7.
Race 5: Handicap, 1410 metres
Victorian Oaks winner Miami Bound returns here and the eyes of the punting world will be on her. There is absolutely no speed in the race on paper and it seems like Reflectivity will take it up. It looks a two-horse race to my eye and I’m pretty keen on Coming Around.
The Western Australian raider was terrific last preparation back home, winning three in a row, with all three being very high rating races since. He went out for a spell and ventured down to Victoria where he resumed in the Swan Hill Cup, running on strongly to finish 1.25 lengths off More Than Exceed. He has a terrific second-up record (3:2-1-0) and he is incredibly well weighted with the claim from Liam Riordan. He looks very hard to beat.
Laburnum is the clear and only danger. She was luckless on resumption when four lengths behind Adelong, before going to Caulfield and running on late to finish a length off She’s a Thief, who is a subsequent winner since. She drops 6 kgs from that run and if she has any luck from the wide gate (11), she will be in the finish.
There’s been early support for Rivet Delight. The former Hong Kong galloper was only even overseas before coming to Australia and running on strongly behind Morrissy. If they overdo it early, which seems unlikely, he might be he one to blow them out.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #9 Coming Around at $3.
Race 6: Aurie’s Star Handicap, Group 3, 1200 metres
The feature of the program arrives here and I’m happy to be with a couple at odds. The speed will be quick with the likes of Home of The Brave, Yulong January, and Hightail all wanting to be handy. The veteran in So Si Bon won this race last year and I think he can repeat the dose here.
He finished off last preparation in brilliant form, winning back-to-back races at Caulfield to shake his ‘non-winner’ tag. This is a horse who was only two lengths off Regal Power in an All-Star Mile last preparation and is going around at $9 in an off-season race. Looks well overs.
Trope is worth a speculative bet. He is a lightly-raced five-year-old when you think about it, and his form from two preparations ago back in Sydney when running second to both Deprive and Arcadia Queen reads incredibly well for this. He didn’t come up at all last preparation but his jump-outs leading into this have been solid and his best probably wins this.
Great Again likes the Flemington straight and he will get very similar conditions than what he did first-up when beating Home of the Brave and Rich Charm. He should be rock hard fit and is proven on a rain-affected track. Home of The Brave was only 0.3 lengths off Great Again in that race and therefore has to be respected.
I think they are both too short in the market but are both winning chances.
Recommended bet: #1 So Si Bon E/W at $9 and #8 Trope E/W at $13.
Race 7: Benchmark 78, Handicap, 2000 metres
I’m happy to back a couple to beat this Darren Waller-trained favourite as I think there are some queries surrounding it, especially if we get into a Heavy track rating. The speed looks only moderate with Emperor Selassie looking to control the tempo.
Cadre Du Noir s a lightly raced import who is now in the care of the Maher and Eustace stable. He brought over good overseas form and was impressive on his Australian debut at the Valley. I thought he just got shuffled back at a vital time, and probably outsprinted over the 1500m, before flashing home late to run second and half a length off Silent Command. He has enough gate speed to cross them from the wide gate (9) and get a lovely spot on the speed.
Denero also seems over the odds. He was brilliant two-back when beating the in-form Moscow Red by 1.5 lengths at Sandown over 1600 m on a Heavy 9, before being incredibly luckless last start in the race that the favourite Skyman won. The more the rain comes the better for this Gelding (3:2-1-0) and the rise to 2000 m for the first time looks ideal.
Skyman was impressive on his Australian debut but he is a query on the Heavy ground and he could find himself in a tricky spot from the gate (5). Kentucky Tornado resumed well and only has to improve slightly to be right in this.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both #9 Cadre Du Noir at $7.50 and #10 Denero at $7.
Race 8: Benchmark 90, Handicap, 1000 metres
The speed looks solid enough here with the likes of Mister Mogul, Snitzkraft, and Chicago Cub sitting up on the speed. I have a huge opinion of Octane and I think he will make the step up in grade here. He has been terrific in South Australia this preparation, winning his last two races at starting prices of $2.45 and $1.55.
The one thing he didn’t want when stepping up in grade was a breakneck speed and he doesn’t get that here, so I think he will be close enough at the 300m mark to just pounce all over his rivals. He is a Group-quality galloper and he only needs to handle the Flemington straight for the first time to be winning comfortably.
Chicago Cub seems like the only danger. The Moroney trained Gelding loves the Flemington straight, evident by him winning his last two last preparation over this track and distance. In one of those races he beat the talented Big Night Out – a form reference that reads well for this. He goes well first-up (3:2-1-0) and is undefeated on Heavy ground so he ticks all the boxes, but he runs into a very smart type today.
Mister Mogul is as honest as they come and will give the two fancied runners a sight if they let him get away from them, but it seems unlikely that he has the class to beat them.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #6 Octane at $2.80.
Race 9: Benchmark 70, Handicap, 1400 metres
A really open affair finishes the program. The speed looks genuine enough with the likes of Satori, Jittery Jack, and Shush all wanting to be prominent. I think Antagoniser can run a big race here at a big quote.
He generally does his best racing early in his preparation which is ideal considering he is second-up here. The last time he was second-up he was only half a length off Rubisaki, who has subsequently won multiple Group races, so that form reads well. He was poor in his last two efforts last preparation and was then spelt and gelded.
He resumed at Sandown on resumption when running two lengths off Lord Markel. I expect him to take great benefit from that run and he can blow the punters out of the quaddie. Lord Markel won that race in terrific fashion and therefore has to be respected. He ran in very good races last preparation and was far from disgraced, so he might be ready to have a big preparation.
Savvy Lad brought over fantastic New Zealand form but did absolutely nothing in his first Australian preparation. He was much better on resumption behind the talented duo of Mystery Shot and Wicklow Town, and he maps to get a lovely run from the low draw (3).
Recommended bet: #16 Antagoniser E/W at $16.
Race 5 #9 Coming Around
Race 8 #6 Octane
Race 7 #9 Cadre Du Noir