We head back to fabulous Flemington this week for Group 1 racing.
The program is headlined by the Makybe Diva Stakes at Group 1 level over the mile, while the supporting card is excellent with three Group 2 races on the program. The rail is in the true position which generally means it will be fair racing for everyone and the track should be in the Good range, with the potential of a downgrade with rain expected on Saturday.
Let’s try and find some winners.
Race 1: Handicap, 2500 metres
We kick off the day with a race for the stayers. They will go at a moderate tempo here with the likes of Exemplar, Young Rascal, Saunter Boy, and Roland Garros settling on speed.
Schabau looks hard to beat. You only have to look at his form from a couple of preparations ago when beating Surprise Baby and Looks Like Elvis over 2000m to see that his best form is clearly the best in this race. He resumed from a break a few months ago and was solid at this track, before being tipped out immediately.
He resumed from a 15-week break at Caulfield a fortnight ago and was very good, running third and a neck away from Al Galayel. He maps well and should only improve with the added fitness and rise in trip, which means he should be winning.
More Than Ever looks like the blowout chance. The McEvoy gelding generally takes a while to get going and this preparation looks no different with him being unlucky not to win last start when third-up. When fourth-up last preparation he beat Good Idea, who subsequently ran second in an Adelaide Cup which reads well for this.
Persan has won four of his last five and it’s hard to knock winning form. He is undefeated at Flemington (3:3-0-0) and even though this is a big rise in grade, he maps to get all the favours.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 Schabau at $2.30 with a saver on #9 More Than Ever at $14.
Race 2: Exford Plate, listed race, 3-Y-0, 1400 metres
Potentially the most intriguing race on the program here. There looks to be no speed on at all with Immortal Love, Bartley, and Crown Mint setting the speed.
I am happy to go with the Sydney form here in Bartley. The Snowden Colt put together two luckless runs in his first preparation when narrowly beaten by Nitrous and then boom horse at the time Barbaric. He then went to the Sires Produce and never handled the heavy ground. He resumed at Randwick after a five-month spell and never really got a look at them in a race that Zakat and Icebath ran the quinella, before absolutely destroying them at Warwick Farm in what was a high rating Benchmark 72.
From the good gate (4) he should get close to the run of the race and he has that little bit of fitness over these being third-up and seemingly targeted for this race.
Immortal Love is seemingly the main danger. The undefeated Price gelding was a big winner at Flemington, by 3.5 lengths in his second start, before spelling. He resumed with another big win from back in the field when beating boom horse Flying Award and Blue Diamond winner Tagaloa. The majority of these come through that race and it’s hard to see them turning the tables on him off that run.
So You Can Is another who brings in different form but is racing well. He found them a bit too quick on resumption over 1100m, before destroying them last start when rising to 1200m. The 1400m today really suits this Gelding and he probably is the one who is still the most untapped in the field, as well as National Choice who didn’t have a lot go right on resumption and is another who will relish the rise to 1400m.
Recommended bet: #8 Bartley E/W at $5.
Race 3: Let’s Elope Stakes, Group 2, mares, 1400 metres
The Group 2 races begin here and outside the top two in the market, it lacks depth. Expect the speed to be only moderate with Lady Loft, Southbank, and Savatiano settling on speed. Savatiano looks hard to beat here off a brilliant P.B Lawrence win over the likes of Kings Will Dream and Arcadia Queen, who she faces again here, by 2.5 lengths.
The Cummings mare generally does her best racing fresh and her second-up record reads well (7:2-5-0) considering for the majority, she has competed in better races than this. She draws well (4) to sit on the leaders back and as long as the rain doesn’t hit too hard, she should be winning.
Arcadia Queen is the main danger. She didn’t have a whole lot of luck last Spring and has had the one resuming run in the P.B Lawrence in what was only an even return. The wide gate is another concern (12), but her jump out at Bendigo in between runs was terrific and inspires some confidence. Class should see her beating most of these home. G
old Bracelet brought over good New Zealand form and was doing her best work through the line when beaten a neck by So You Swing. She is undefeated second-up (2:2-0-0) and might have been set for this.
Affair to Remember will be running on and will win a nice race this Spring, but it probably won’t be today. One for exotics at big odds.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #2 Savatiano at $2.60.
Race 4: Bobbie Lewis Quality, Group 2, quality, 1200 metres
This might be the best race on the program with a few of our star sprinters in Victoria resuming down the famous Flemington straight. They will go at a moderate tempo with Hellova Street and Dollar for Dollar leading.
Tofane could be the best sprinter in Australia at the end of the Spring and I have her on top here. She was fantastic in the TJ Smith in the Autumn off an impossible tempo, before winning the All Aged over a star sprinter in Pierata in a brilliant display.
She hasn’t got a great first-up record but noticeably, she has had three jump-outs leading into this whereas in previous preparations she has only had one. She is the best horse in the race and I think the Moroney team mean business here.
Zoutori is the main danger. A couple of preparations ago he matched motors with Santa Ana Lane and Sunlight when they were at their best and a repeat of that would have him hard to beat. His first-up record is fantastic (6:3-1-0) and he loves the Flemington straight.
Bold Star has seemingly come back in brilliant order. The Richards gelding flashed home behind the likes of Diamond Effort and Lyre on resumption and his second-up record inspires confidence (2:2-0-0).
The Inevitable has become a bit of an enigma but does have the talent to win this. He is probably at his right price, but I wouldn’t talk you out of backing him.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #1 Tofane at $4.40.
Race 5: Handicap, 1700 metres
Another open affair awaits punters here with the majority of the field being stayers who are better over further. They won’t go overly quick here with only Midterm and Shot of Irish liking to settle on speed.
Django Freeman is being aimed at a Cox Plate and if he is going to be competitive there, he would want to be winning this. He was doing his best work through the line in his first Australian start, running 0.3 lengths off Shot of Irish who he faces again here, before chasing steadily behind Harbour Views.
He was tipped out after that and resumes here. He goes well first-up (3:2-1-0) and draws to get the run of the race (3). He shouldn’t have any excuses.
I want to have something on O’tauto. The Eurell galloper has been luckless this preparation. On resumption at Caulfield, he never saw daylight when running four lengths off the talented Showmanship, before going to the Valley and being a certainty beaten when running fifth and a length off Shandy. He draws terribly here (16) but he should be able to come wide and if he is going to pinch a good race like this, it will be today.
Aktau is probably the best horse in the race but whether he wants to get a Caulfield Cup penalty by winning this is the big question. It was a big enough query to turn me off him, but he could prove too good. Toffee Tongue was super first-up after winning the South Australian Oaks last prep. The rise to 1700m suits and he is still untapped.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on #5 Django Freeman at $5.50 and #16 O’Tauto at $20.
Race 6: The Sofitel, listed race, handicap, 1400 metres
It looks a two-horse affair to my eye in this year’s Sofitel Handicap. They will only go at a moderate clip with Yulong January, Morvada, and Romancer settling on speed.
The Western Australian in Windstorm looks hard to beat. This gelding put together a fantastic record back home, winning five from six. Massimo, the horse he beat in his last run there, has since franked that form with a listed win. He then come to Victoria and resumed from a spell at Caulfield and just got too far back before motoring home to finish a couple of lengths off Express Pass, while recording the third fastest last 200m of the meeting.
He should have plenty of time to wind up at Flemington and he looks hard to beat.
Yulong January is the only danger. He generally takes a few runs to hit his straps and this preparation was no difference. He was poor on resumption at this track, before putting up what I thought was a good effort when travelling wide at Caulfield, finishing three lengths off I am Superman. He generally peaks third-up (3:2-1-0) and he can get an untested lead if he wants to which will make him hard to run down.
Bumper Blast was excellent on resumption, before putting in a woeful display last start. He might be able to bounce back here with a big run.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #14 Windstorm at $2.20 with a saver on #8 Yulong January at $9.
Race 7: Makybe Diva Stakes, Group 1, weight for age, 1600 metres
The feature of the program arrives here in the seventh. There doesn’t look to be a stack of speed in the race with Gatting, Gailo Chop, and Quick Thinker likely to settle on speed.
It’s hard to find a fault with Fierce Impact who is now a proper Group 1 horse. In the Spring last year, he won both the Toorak Handicap and the Kennedy Cantala at Group 1 level. He returned in the Autumn when running some brilliant placings behind Alabama Express in the C.F Orr and Te Akau Shark in the Chipping Norton.
He was then tipped out in readiness for the Spring and resumed in the Winx Stakes when finishing a neck away from Verry Elleegant. He should improve off that and from the good gate (5) he should position just off the speed. Looks hard to beat.
Miami Bound is worth a small play at big odds. The O’Brien filly done the Wakeful/Victorian Oaks double as a three-year-old last Spring. She never really come up last preparation but her resuming run this time in at the Valley showed she has come back well. Obviously, this is much harder, but I black booked her after that run, and from the good gate (7) I expect her to also position just off the speed and give a sight.
It’s a raffle outside of them. Russian Camelot is a superstar in waiting but a mile first-up when he is set on a Cups path isn’t ideal, while Kings Will Dream will have to overcome a terrible gate (15) but is going well enough to be competitive.
Recommended bet: Each way bets on #4 Fierce Impact at $5.50 and #16 Miami Bound at $27.
Race 8: Danehill Stakes, Group 2, three-year-olds, 1200 metres
These three-year-old races are always interesting to assess as every man and his dog have a difference of opinion. They’ll go along quickly here with Prague, Hard Landing, Wisdom of Water, and Tydeus all wanting to settle on speed.
I’m happy to play around the two most unknown horses here. Tydeus looks to have plenty of ability and I think he can measure up here. He was a dominant winner at Warrnambool on debut on a Heavy 10, before again winning with complete ease when winning by 1.75 lengths at Bendigo.
The outside gate (11) gives Michael Rodd plenty of options and he is a horse that will like the straight. Annavisto is the other I want to be with. The Price Filly settled a long way back on debut at Mornington, a track which generally favours those on-speed, and absolutely gapped them around the turn to win by three lengths, while recording the third fastest last 400m of the meeting. He is another we are getting a good price for and he will measure up here off a strong speed.
Prague was only half a length off Kings Legacy in the Sires Produce last Autumn and can measure up here. His last jump out at Rosehill leading into this was brilliant and it showed he is ready to go. Ranting flashed home behind a couple of very smart ones last start and reaches this race third-up. I expect the punters to support him late so if you do like him, get on now.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on #9 Tydeus at $11 and #11 Annavisto at $10.
Race 9: Cap D’Antibes Stakes, listed race, three-year-olds, fillies, 1100 metres
We end the day with another three-year-old event in what is a tough way to try and get out (or hopefully increase). They will go quickly throughout the race with Mildred, September Run, and Letzbeglam all wanting to lead.
I’m happy to be with the marginal favourite in Minhaaj. The Hayes galloper was excellent on debut last preparation by four lengths in a race where three other horses have broken their maidens, before going down the straight and winning by 4.5 lengths over the talented Muntaseera.
She wasn’t sighted in the Golden Slipper and was immediately spelled. Her jump out leading into this first-up assignment was superb and she should be on the best ground from the wide gate (13). I want to have something small on Jenni’s Rainbow after a poor run last start.
On debut, I thought I saw something special when winning by three lengths in effortless fashion on the Pakenham Synthetic. She went to the Valley on a Heavy track and just never fired a shot. If it isn’t in the Heavy range, I’ll be prepared to give her another chance back on a big track.
Letzbeglam was terrific in her first preparation and has jumped out well leading into this, while Mildred has a great record down the straight and is another who jumped out well.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #4 Minhaaj at $4.80 with something small on #15 Jenni’s Rainbow at $20.
Race 2 #8 Bartley
Race 4 #1 Tofane
Race 8 #11 Annavisto