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Opinion

The Mounting Yard: Rupert Clarke Stakes Day preview

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Roar Guru
18th September, 2020
1

The Mounting Yard goes to Caulfield this week for a fantastic program of Group 1 racing.

There are nine races on the program, headlined by the Rupert Clarke where Memsie Stakes winner Behemoth opens as a favourite. There are two other Group races on the card, with the Naturalism Stakes, a Caulfield Cup ballot exemption race, headlining the supporting cast.

Caulfield has played fairly in recent times and that shouldn’t be any different this week. There is some rain predicted from now until race time so expect the track to be rated on the better side of Soft.

Let’s find some winners.

Race 1: Three-year-olds, handicap, 1600 metres
It’s an open affair to kick off the program. On paper, it looks as though they will go very slow. Divine Diosa will look to take it up with Albarado and Celestial Sol settling handy.

Albarado goes on top here. The Busuttin camp has a good opinion of this Colt and his first preparation was fantastic. On debut, he beat Alcyone, while putting 2.8 lengths on third before going to Flemington and running 1.5 lengths off the very talented Cherry Tortoni. Cherry

Tortoni is the current favourite for the Derby, with Alcyone being on the third line of betting, so the form reads particularly well. He was flat first-up at Mornington behind a smart one, but the blinkers go on here and he should get a lovely trail into the race with some added fitness.

The rest of the field comes out of lowly-rated races, but I think Cumberbatch can improve. The price Gelding won two-back at Sandown when doing his best work late, before being a good thing beaten at the Valley last start when caught on the rails and never seeing daylight. He looks a horse that will get out to 2000m in time.

Divine Diosa is a must for multiples. She maps to get an easy time of it out in front and had to do plenty of work in the same race Cumberbatch was unlucky in the last start. If there is any on-speed bias, she will be hard to run down.

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Recommended bet: #4 Albarado E/W at $6.

Race 2: Benchmark 78, handicap, 1200 metres
I was very keen Proper Rogue here but with that horse out, it looks like a raffle. The speed will be very quick throughout with more than half of the field being on-speed horses.

Ancestry goes on top but represents no value at the $3.70. The Gelding went from strength to strength last preparation, winning two city races (one at this track over Knowles and Defiant Dancer by 2.75 lengths who have both ran well since). He draws brilliantly (3) and should get the run of the race just behind the speed.

Legionnaire shapes as the main danger. He won the Exford Plate over Tenley at big odds last preparation and resumed well at this track, running 0.75 lengths over the talented Express Pass. He needs to jump well and find cover and if he does that, he is a big threat.

Groundswell has been terrible in his last couple of preparations but jumped out brilliantly leading into this, while Testifier draws terribly (13) but has obvious talent. He is one of the many chances in what is the hardest race on the program to analyse.

Recommended bet: Shouldering arms here. I’ll leave this one to the thrill-seekers.

Brian Park riding horse Jamaican Rain

(Photo: Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

Race 3: Three-year-olds, plate, 1000 metres
Another intriguing race where it’s hard to have too much confidence. As expected with a 1000m race the speed will be breakneck early with Forever Free and Federick The Dane crossing from wide gates.

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Muntaseera resumes after two poor displays in Group races in Sydney. Her runs previous to that (in Melbourne) were very good. He was two lengths off Tagaloa and Hanseatic in the Blue Diamond, before running a distant second to Minhaaj at Flemington. She has jumped out terrific leading into this and maps to get the last crack at them off a hot speed.

Forever Free is undefeated and has plenty of talent. She kept kicking to win over Ranting last preparation (which looks like a great form line for this race now) before going to South Australia when winning at Listed level with ease. She might be able to run a few of these off their feet.

Peggy Selene and Unanimous come through the both Sandown race. The former is looking for three wins in a row here, while the latter worked home brilliantly but may need further second-up.

Recommended bet: Playing exotics around #5, #9, #10 and #11.

Race 4: Handicap, 1100 metres
Spent a fair while analysing this race and I have decided to play around the favourites (even though I concede they both have talent). The speed should be strong throughout with Front Page and From Within setting the speed.

Excess Funds maps to get a lovely run behind the speed. This Gelding was very good last preparation, beating Express Pass at Flemington, before winning the Inglis Dash at this track. He goes well first-up (3:2-1-0) and his jump-outs have been good leading into this. Looks overs.

William Thomas is another horse that always fires fresh and I expect the money to come for him. He needs it dry and the Soft 5 which is expected shouldn’t be an issue. His last two wins at this track have been over Humma Humma (who is $7 in the Group Three later in the program) and Lyre (who is the $2.70 favourite in that Group Three). If they overdo it out in front which could easily happen, he will be rattling home late.

Octane faces arguably his biggest test to date, and I can’t have him at the current quote. He was good enough when beating Rock Prophet at Flemington last start, but these horses are much better than that. Front Page faces maps to get the run of the race, but again, faces a big rise in grade and is under the odds at $3.

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Recommended bet: #8 Excess Funds E/W at $7 and #3 William Thomas E/W at $9.

Smart As You Think

(Sarah Ebbett/Racing Photos)

Race 5: Benchmark 90, MARES, handicap, 1400 metres
I’m happy to get involved here in the fifth in what is a tricky day of punting. The speed looks only moderate on paper. Expect marginal favourite Sierra Sue and Fabric potentially to both cross from wide gates.

Sierra Sue should be at a shorter quote than she currently is. The punters might be turned off regarding the gate (13) but as I said, she shouldn’t have any trouble crossing. She was fantastic last preparation, getting nailed on the line by Affair to Remember (third in the South Australian Oaks), while putting four lengths on Walking Flying (won three city races since).

She resumed off a four-month break at Sale and won with ease in the end. If she jumps cleanly and crosses them without trouble, she looks incredibly hard to beat.

Zousonic could be worth saving on. The Zahra mare was unlucky in the Bendigo Guineas when a neck away from Riddle Me that and Score, before struggling on a wet track at Caulfield. She was very good resuming off an incredibly strong tempo at Bendigo. She recorded the third fastest last 400m and 200m of the meeting and won eased down in the end which was a big positive. She is over the odds.

Red Heeler is the blowout chance. She resumes off a 35-week break and finished alongside the likes of Thousand Wishes last campaign. She maps to get the run of the race from the inside draw (3) and her jump-outs have been good.

Recommended bet: Win bet on #12 Sierra Sue at $5 with a saver on #14 Zousonic at $12.

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Race 6: Jim Moloney Stakes, listed race, three-year-olds, fillies, 1400 metres
It looks like a real three-horse affair here in the sixth. Expect the speed to be only moderate.

Melba Storm will lead and Hindaam and Malicorne will cross from their gates and sit handy. I am happy to be with Agreeable here. The Freedman Filly hasn’t been a punters pal this preparation but both runs have had merit. First-up she finished strongly behind Bella Nipotina and I thought she just got outsprinted and didn’t really handle the sharp turn at the Valley last start.

Based off that run, I’m confident she can turn the tables on Aidensfield rising to 1400m third-up and the favourite is unknown at this level. Looks hard to beat.

The unknown favourite is Mozzie Monster who looks to have plenty of talent, winning both starts by 3.5 lengths at Cranbourne and Bendigo respectively. The John Sadler camp have a huge opinion of the Filly and we saw a good type come from the provincials to the city last week and win.

Aidensfield gets winkers on for the first time after a good return at the Valley. She didn’t have the greatest of runs there and finished off in race fastest last 200m and 400m splits.

Melba Storm will get a soft lead and finally broke through last start. She must go into all exotics after that win and with an easy lead expected.

Recommended bet: #6 Agreeable E/W at $5.

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Race 7: Naturalism Stakes, Group 3, 2000 metres
The winner gets a run in the Caulfield Cup and there aren’t many bigger incentives than that. Expect the speed in this one to be only moderate with Dr Drill and Think We’re Due taking it up. Orderofthegarter looks hard to beat here. His overseas form when running 0.5 lengths off Benbatl over this trip still sticks out to me and his two runs this preparation have been fantastic.

On resumption, he peaked over the last 100m when running two lengths off Romancer, and last start he savaged the line late to finish a neck away from Al Galayel. He should settle closer from the ideal gate (4) and I think this is the target race before heading to the Caulfield Cup. Oliver on and he looks very hard to beat.

Dr Drill looks like the main threat. He won the Scone Cup over a smart one in Phaistos last preparation and his resuming run at this track over 1700m was terrific. He got a mile back and had a chequered passage in the straight before flashing home to run a length off them. From the perfect barrier he is another who can either lead or sit on speed in what could be a sit and sprint affair.

Game Keeper has been set for this and reaches the race third-up. He finished off nicely in the Heatherlie, narrowly beating home Dr Drill and I’m respecting that form line.

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Recommended bet: Win bet on #9 Orderofthegarter at $4.

Race 8: Rupert Clarke Stakes, Group 1, handicap, 1400 metres
Not the greatest edition of the Rupert Clarke and It’s hard to have too much confidence. A capacity field will always ensure a genuine tempo. Expect Dollar for Dollar and Age of Chivalry will take it up.

I am happy to have something on Tagaloa. The Blue Diamond winner has the potential to be a star Colt and I think he can prove it with another Group 1 win. He was terrific as a two-year-old, travelling three-wide when winning the Blue Diamond over Hanseatic, before flashing home to finish a length off Farnan in Sydney.

He resumed off the back of some brilliant jump-outs in the McNeil and the run was huge, travelling on-speed off a hectic tempo and only going down by a neck. He should be fitter for the run and if he gets some cover, he will be hard to hold out.

Behemoth is the one to beat. The Star South Australian is coming off the back of a brilliant Group 1 win in the Memsie, winning by 1.5 lengths. He had all the favours there and gets those favours again here. Faces a similar field and only needs to hold that form to be in the finish.

Banquo was good last start behind star sprinter Zoutori. He beat Tofane home that day and he seems like a horse whose ideal distance is 1400 metres. Superstorm ran on well on resumption and is some chance if they overdo it out in front.

Recommended bet: #15 Tagaloa E/W at $9.

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Race 9: How Now Stakes, Group 3, mares, 1200 metres
We finish the day with another Group race. The speed should be genuine with She’s a Thief taking it up and Felicia trying to cross from the wide gate (12) to be on-speed. I can’t have the favourite as short as $2.60 considering it is seemingly becoming somewhat of a non-winner.

Missile Mantra looks over the odds. The Snowden Mare, who was unlucky in the Thousand Guineas last Spring, was without any luck last preparation when a length off the likes of Probabeel and Funstar. She resumed in the Cockram at this track and was eased up after being trotted on. She should be fitter for that run regardless, can stalk a genuine tempo, and has a powerful finish. Looks over the odds at $13.

I also want to have something on Fiesta. She has a terrific first-up record (7:3-1-1) and had a very good Queensland carnival without winning. On her best form she can win a race like this and at $18, I am happy to have something very small on her.

Lyre is the main danger to them. She was only a length off the likes of Behemoth, Bella Vella, and Trekking which reads well for a race like this. She was fantastic first-up and with clear air from a near certainly tricky position, she looks the one to beat.

Felicia was good last start and if there is any on-speed bias, can prove hard to run down.

Recommended bet: #8 Missile Mantra E/W at $13 and #7 Fiesta E/W at $18.

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Best bet
Race 1 #4 Albarado

Next-best bet
Race 5 #12 Sierra Sue

Best value
Race 8 #15 Tagaloa and Race 9 #8 Missile Mantra