Dominic Thiem battled back from the verge of defeat to down world No.1 Novak Djokovic in a three-hour, three-set semi-final classic at the ATP Finals.
The whips keep cracking this week. Group 1 racing is in Sydney and Melbourne. A trip for three-year-olds is the feature at Randwick and the Toorak Handicap and Caulfield Guineas are shining down south.
As you’d expect at this time of year, it’s a tricky little day with guns taking on up-and-comers. A lot of races rated pretty tightly so it might be a good day for some handsomely priced exotics. I mean quinellas. It is carnival time so I will use 16 units.
Best up here: Randwick Race 3, 9 Criaderis
Best down there: Caulfield Race 10, 6 Mahamedeis
Weekly speculator: Randwick Race 7, 11 Socrates
Dixie’s daily double (two units): Sydney Race 3, 9; Melbourne Race 2, 3 – I am hoping for about $4.50
Dixie’s 2020 tally
Units bet: 377
Units won: 428.70
Stats are based on one unit being equal to a $1 win bet New South Wales dividends. See the comments for any changes based on scratchings or track condition.
Race 3 – 9 Criaderis (units in double, see above)
The writing is on the wall here. I am very keen on Criaderis. This horse is likely to settle back but should be closer due to the small field. This horse is flying. I have a soft spot for Zakat. Oakfield Missile is nice odds and good fresh. There’s an unseen French horse, but the favourite is going places and I’m jumping on board.
Race 4 – 12 Quintessa (two units)
Quintessa is getting out towards her best distance range. This horse was good behind Badoosh, will be fitter now and meets him 4.5 kilos better here. She’s Ideel is in well too when compared with that last clash. She’s a perennial favourite (fifth, fifth and sixth this prep as fave). Maybe going back to Randwick is the key?
Race 5 – 5 Jet Propulsion (one unit)
I love these Coolmore colts around this time of year. Jet Propulsion is beautifully bred and should control things from in front. Peltzer is next best.
Race 6 – no bet
Alligator Blood is too short, so no bet (although I will wear his socks to the track – look out Twitter).
Race 7 – 11 Socrates (one unit)
The market is probably right with Love Tap and Montefilia. At the price I’ll speculate with Socrates. He went to Kembla for a kill as prep for this, sat three-wide the trip and lapped them, so consider me impressed! Their race time was faster than the open handicap that followed, and the winds that day saw the meeting subsequently abandoned, so more credit to him. I’m in.
Race 8 – 10 Scarlet Dream (one unit)
Gun contest for the ladies. I’ve landed on Scarlet Dream, who had a great fresh run in a strong race against the boys. This is still not her best trip but she has won at the mile and second-up, so tick tick. This horse has quality and is suited by the dry track. Others? Savacool drops back in distance but has class. All Saints’ Eve has drawn a barrier in the Coach and Horses Hotel. Positive Peace and Asiago are right around the mark as well.
Race 9 – 3 Iconic Star (one unit)
I feel blessed! The carnival is hotting up and they still find room for a 1000-metre sprint that allows for Louise Day’s claim. My ears are pricked. The mandatory Day/double-figure price is there too. Iconic Star has won six from 13, will lead with Day’s weight drop, and should be fine with the hard surface. Miss Invincible could go okay at odds as well. Human Nature and Plaquette are in the quaddie for sure.
Race 2 – 3 Swats That (units in double, see above)
I am taking Swats That into Criaderis for what I’m hoping is an early money spinner. She looks very, very good and is the one going places.
Race 4 – 7 Lyre (one unit)
One unit and one last chance for Lyre. At her best she puts these away but can find an excuse (can’t we all). Felicia was very impressive last time and is up in weight but will take catching.
Race 5 – 10 Diamond Effort (one unit)
Speaking of Lyre, Diamond Effort beat her fair and square fresh. This horse takes on the boys here but with great Caulfield and 1100-metres records, she should go close. Les Curtis sprayed Dirty Work when interviewed about Classique Legend, and needs to show a bit more to make me a believer.
Race 6 – no bet
Yes, Russian Camelot wins. I may have it in my super yankee, but at $1.60, I’ll save my units.
Race 7 – 4 Personal (one unit)
Ditto race five in Sydney. This time we have a Coolmore filly who shapes perfectly for the mile trip, has very good early two-year form and is a great price. Instant Celebrity goes to top-notch status with a win here. Hungry Heart is a bridesmaid this prep. If she blows them away get on Montefilia.
Race 8 – 6 Crosshaven (one unit)
I am sticking solid with team Hayes for the boys at the mile. Crosshaven has been great, winning four from five in his short career. This horse will go forward but has finished off well recently so the mile should bring the best out of him. There are stars around him with Ole Kirk likely to be chasing hard and Tagaloa coming back from an all-aged Group 1 race.
Race 9 – 11 Sircconi (two units)
I am not dropping Sircconi just yet. I’ve tipped him a couple of times this prep for near misses. Just when I’m ready to jump off they let him in three kilos better than weight-for-age. I’m planning on getting it all back with enough for dessert. It is a great race. Junipal and Buffalo River are both very scary.
Race 10 – 6 Mahamedeis (two units)
I’m leaving my run (very) late with Mahamedeis. His wins in July and August stand up here. He was given a bit of a freshen-up. It’s go time now. I have the kiwi Platinum Invader as a chance if he can find his best, otherwise The Chosen One and obviously Orderofthegarter.
Good luck everyone. There is some great racing across the day. Please hit me up in the comments with what you’re thinking, what you’ve seen or with any questions or advice about the races I’ve left.