A couple of solid meetings were run on Wednesday, namely Gosford and Sandown, so here is a review of the two meetings and a horse or two to follow.
The Mounting Yard heads back to fabulous Flemington this week as the Spring Carnival really starts to ramp up.
The Turnbull Stakes is the feature of the program, a Group One over 2000m where Verry Elleegant has opened a marginal favourite. Every race on the program is at Listed Level and there are four Group races outside of the feature – a sign of the Spring if there ever was one.
Flemington generally plays fair for all runners and we should get a Good 4 which is perfect for the punters. Let’s find some winners.
Race 1: Maribyrnong Plate, listed race, two-year-olds, set weights, 1000 metres
A race for the babies kicks off Turnbull Stakes Day. Expect the speed to be strong over the 1000m with Vinlago, Finance Tycoon, and General Beau setting the tempo.
Vinlago looks a very good price here. The Griffiths Colt has only had the one jump out over 600m at Cranbourne, but he looked very impressive there, never really being pushed out yet winning by three lengths. That trial was run 1.4 seconds quicker than the other two-year-old trial on the day which is also a good reference going into his debut.
Draws out (9) which is usually the place to be and he might just burn them with speed.
General Beau is the main danger, but I think has been well found. He debuted down the straight over 900m and was very impressive when winning by 2.25 lengths when never really asked for an effort. The race experience is a big advantage for him here and his pattern takes luck out of the equation.
A couple that could run a race at big odds are Cloudy who jumped out well without being pushed out much, and I Am War who was making ground on my top selection here in a fast trial out at Cranbourne.
Recommended bet: #8 Vinlago E/W at $7.
Race 2: Poseidon Stakes, listed race, three-year-olds, 1100 metres
They will go quick here in the Poseidon with Forever Free and Mildred ensuring a solid tempo. I tried looking outside of the first couple in the market, but I kept coming back to September Run.
Her first-up effort had plenty of merit about it when finishing three lengths off Dame Giselle ($2.80 in a Group One in Sydney), before she came down here and smashed the clock when beating Swats That (subsequent Group Three winner) and Minhaaj who she faces again here. She draws perfectly this time (10) and she should only further improve third-up which should make it hard for them to turn the tables on her.
Minhaaj is the main danger. She was terrific last preparation when beating two very smart types in Muntaseera and Succeed Indeed by 4.5 lengths down the straight before going for a spell. Her resuming run was solid without being great behind my on top selection in September Run. She was on the best ground and had the perfect run but expect further improvement second-up which might see her in the finish.
Portland Sky and Valaquenta got into a bumping duel which probably cost both of them a chance at winning at Caulfield. Both should improve as they go further into their preparations and up in trip.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #8 September Run at $3.50.
Race 3: Paris Lane Stakes, listed race, handicap, 1400 metres
The most open race on the program according to bookmakers and I tend to agree. The speed will be only moderate. Expect Hellova Street and Begood Toya Mother to settle on the speed.
The race sets up well for Legionnaire. This gelding was very good first-up when second to Express Pass in what was a highly rated race with last week winner Windstorm running fourth, before reeling off fantastic late sectionals at Caulfield last start (race best) to finish 1.5 lengths off Ancestry. From the ideal gate (5), Luke Nolen should give him the run of the race, and the rise to 1400m third-up looks ideal, as well as getting in 4kgs lighter than most of his rivals.
Fascino is one of many dangers. The Maher and Eustace mare wants further than this but her first-up run was without any luck. She got trapped on the rail and just never saw daylight, finishing three lengths off Fabric. She was only 1.75 lengths off Rubisaki last preparation, and a repeat of that run would see her measure up here.
Munitions brings over very good overseas form (winner at Group 3 level) and are undefeated first-up (2:2-0-0). I wasn’t in love with his jump-outs but on his best form, he must be in the finish. Romancer maps well and is the blowout chance.
Recommended bet: #12 Legionnaire E/W at $8.
Race 4: Gilgai Stakes, Group 2, three-year-olds and up, 1200 metres
This is potentially the best race on the program bar the Group 1. They might go somewhat slow considering it’s over 1200m with only Dollar for Dollar being a renowned on-speed horse.
I think Zoutori can win again here and is at big odds compared to Tofane ($3.10) who he beat on resumption. The Zahra Gelding generally does his best racing fresh, evident by that win last start when very strong to the line late in a close finish. A couple of preparations back he was only 0.5 lengths off Santa Ana Lane second-up and was probably unlucky not to have beaten him. On his best form, he is right in the frame here, and judging by his first-up win it suggests he is.
Tofane is becoming one of the better sprinters in the country and is the main danger. Her win in the All Aged last preparation over a top-quality Group 1 performer in Pierata was simply outstanding. Her first-up run was solid when running third to Zoutori and she is a horse that improves rapidly second-up (3:2-0-0) which points to her being hard to beat here.
The old champion Santa Ana Lane usually takes a run to get going but must be respected. He was second in the TJ Smith last preparation on his least preferred ground so those saying his best is behind him might have gone too early. On his best form, he wins this, but I’d prefer to see him first-up.
Recommended bet: #2 Zoutori E/W at $6.
Race 5: Edward Manifold Stakes, Group 2, three-year-olds, fillies, 1600 metres
Another wide-open race here and I’m sure we will see some of these in the Oaks in a months’ time. A couple that have drawn wide like Blazing Lace and Divine Diosa might push forward to set a moderate tempo. It’s hard to have much confidence here.
I thought Chica Fuerte was the one at big odds who was worth specking. The Freedman filly has been good this time in. She was very green in the straight on resumption and still managed to see off the second horse in a diving finish. She then went to a very strong Class 1 at Bendigo when running second to the airborne Cambourne, finishing 1.25 lengths away.
She put 2.5 lengths on the third horse which is always a good indication when doing the form. She draws perfectly (5) to get a lovely suck run just behind the speed and she shouldn’t have any excuses.
Succeed Indeed is my Oaks tip so, therefore, has to be respected here. She worked home nicely behind Divine Diosa on resumption over 1400m, before going Sandown Hillside when winning in very soft fashion over 1600m. She will need luck getting back and, on the rails, but on ability alone she is the one to beat.
Thermosphere brings down the superior Sydney form, running five lengths off Dame Giselle in the Tea Rose last start. Needs luck from the gate (11) but can be in the finish, whilst Queen of Rocks was luckless last start and with some luck can run a big race.
Recommended bet: #8 Chica Fuerte E/W at $15.
Race 6: Bart Cummings Stakes, Group 3, handicap, 2510 metres
Another very open race here where nothing would really surprise. I don’t expect them to go overly quick with In Good Health and Dabiyr taking it up.
I’m prepared to speck a couple at odds and one of them is Credence. The Cumani Gelding is absolutely flying, having won three of his past four. Two-back he travelled three wide and without cover at this track over 2000m in what was a fantastic win, before going to the Valley (a track he doesn’t like) and beating Sound who he faces again here.
From the good gate (7), Michael Poy can slot him in midfield and his second to Shared Ambition last Spring (who is $5 here) indicates he is the wrong price considering he is in career-best form. Admire Robson is the other I want to have something small on. I think it’s fair to say that the Japanese staying ranks are much better than ours and this bloke was only 1.25 lengths away at Listed level over there over 2400m. His first-up run was tremendous when a mile back and flashing home late to finish 2.65 lengths off Credence.
Flemington should suit, he drops six kgs off that run, and the rise to 2400m is ideal. Kinane finally gets out to a trip like I think he has wanted and therefore must be considered a good chance at big odds, whilst Shared Ambition likes this track and has superior form lines over every other runner in the race.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on #8 Credence at $17 and #11 Admire Robson at $26.
Race 7: Turnbull Stakes, Group 1, set weights and penalties, 2000 metres
What a cracking edition of the Turnbull. The speed will be only moderate with the likes of Harlem and Finche coming across from wide gates respectively and trying to pinch some cheap sectionals.
Verry Elleegant looks incredibly hard to beat here. The Waller mare won the Tancred by four lengths last preparation and she hasn’t missed a beat this time in. Her win on resumption when coming from near last when three wide and without cover was brilliant and the form coming out of that race is fantastic with Fierce Impact winning the Makybe Diva subsequently.
She was a bit flat last start but was doing her best through the line in what was a real sit and sprint affair. Her third-up record is outstanding (4:3-1-0) and as long as she can get some cover in the run she should be winning.
Kings Will Dream is over the odds. He was terrific on resumption in the P.B Lawrence and had legitimate excuses last start. He can get a nice run just off the speed and go back to back.
Surprise Baby will improve with the added fitness and rise to 2000m. I have queries on whether some of these are a bit too brilliant for her over the 2000m though. Django Freeman maps to get the run of the race and might be the blowout chance. I know the Hickmott team have a huge opinion of him.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #9 Verry Elleegant at $4.80.
Race 8: Blazer Stakes, Group 2, mares, set weights and penalties, 1400 metres
A race where the bookmakers don’t really know what to do. I think the speed will be very strong here with Lady Loft, Southbank, Sierra Sue, and I am Eloquent all wanting to come across from wide barriers. I am happy to be with Madam Rouge.
Her third-up record is the only query for mine (4:0-0-0) but she is in career-best form. Her resuming run at Caulfield was tremendous when settling last and flashing home late whilst recording the fastest last 200m of the meeting. She then went to the Rupert Clarke and was again super after getting a long way back.
Her late splits were the second-best in the race outside of the winner in Behemoth. If she can get some cover in midfield, she will be very hard to hold out. Sierra Sue is the blowout chance if she can get a run. I have a huge opinion of this horse. She has won four of a six possible starts and has won them all in very good fashion.
She was underdone on resumption at Sale according to the Busuttin and Young camp yet still put a smart one in Special Snap away with ease. She is worth saving on at a massive quote. She Shao Fly is another who can run a race at big odds. The $34 quote was way overs considering she has mapped to get the run of the race.
She was only a length off Perfect Jewel on resumption ($4.60 here) and then a length off Pretty Brazen last start ($7 here). Rubisaki is the best horse in the race but after her first-up effort, it’s hard to suggest backing her. Hopefully, she finds some form today.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #5 Madam Rouge at $6.50 with a saver on #17 Sierra Sue at $21.
Race 9: UCI Stakes listed race, three-year-olds, set weights and penalties, 1800 metres
A classic lead up to the Victorian Derby ends the day at headquarters. Expect the speed to be slightly above a moderate tempo with Oceanography taking it up and looking to dictate terms. I want to speck a couple here.
Alcyone looks over the odds. The Godolphin colt was excellent last preparation, running a neck away from Cherry Tortoni (current Derby favourite) and then winning at this track by 0.75 lengths to guarantee himself a spot. He went out for just over two months and was poor at the Valley but I’m prepared to forgive that run.
It was a soft track which he doesn’t like, and the tight turning track might not have suited. Rises to 1800m here so can settle a bit closer and prove hard to hold out. Oceanography is the other I want to be with. He was a certainty beaten on a Heavy 10 at Warrnambool two-back, before going to Sandown and winning with ease over a mile.
He draws perfectly today (2) to dictate the race out in front and he just looks like a very promising staying type. Johnny Get Angry will have to get a long way back but is over the odds considering he was only a length away from Alcyone a couple of runs back, and Bak Da Man is my early tip for the Derby and will be running on strongly late.
Recommended bet: Each way bets on #3 Alcyone at $10 and #12 Oceanography at $13.
Race 7 #9 Verry Elleegant
Race 2 #8 September Run
Race 1 #8 Vinlago and Race 5 #8 Chica Fuerte