This week marks a critical point of the season for the Spring Carnival contenders. With races like the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup, Everest and Golden Eagle fast approaching, many of the top runners are jumping into their final preps before the big day. With three Group One races up in Sydney, including the Flight Stakes, Epsom Handicap and the Metropolitan, it’s prepared to be a massive day at Royal Randwick.
Melbourne on the other hand hosts just one Group One on their card at Flemington, however it is one of the top matchups in the country. The super mare Verry Elleegant, a nine-time Group One winner for the Chris Waller stable, faces off with the up and coming buzz horse in Incentivise, a dominant winner up in Queensland who showed up in a big way in the GI Makybe Diva Stakes last time out. We are set up for two fantastic cards and another great way to spend your friday night!
Randwick (Australia A) – First Post: 9:50 PM ET
Race 1: 3-1-4
Race 2: 11-8-2 – (GIII Gimcrack Stakes)
Race 3: 4-2-12 – (GIII Arrowfield Breeders’ Plate)
Race 4: 6-7-2
Race 5: 2-1-8 – (GII Yulong Hill Stakes)
Race 6: 7-1-9 – (GII Premiere Stakes)
Race 7: 2-5-1 – (GI Flight Stakes)
Race 8: 9-12-1-8 – (GI TAB Epsom)
Race 9: 10-14-12 – (GI Heineken Metropolitan)
Race 10: 12-14-11
Race 3 – #4 – Kibou – A young speedster from the Waterhouse/Bott stable who impressed in his lone barrier trial over the Kensington course at Randwick. Last week we saw a slew of winners from this stable by getting the lead and kicked clear in the straight. This race is short but I think you will see a very similar style over the flying 5 furlongs today. Regan Bayliss rode this son of Japanese sire Maurice in that barrier trial and sticks aboard for the ride today.
Race 5 – #2 – Keiai Nautique – Was strong on debut at a big price, finishing a fast 4th behind smart gallopers in Mo’unga, Verry Elleegant & She’s Ideel. Outside of top contender Think It Over, this field will be class relief from what he has faced even though this year’s Hill Stakes is worth a million in Australian money. Should be a strong chance to defeat the heavy favorite here.
Race 6 – #7 – Lost And Running – Disappointing run on seasonal debut after a strong finish to the season back in May. Despite two strong barrier trials, that last run is not a true reflection of this galloper, especially since the GII Shorts Handicap came up so strong two weeks ago. It will be a step up from what he beat in listed company at Rosehill. Expect a much better effort in group stakes company this time around.
Race 7 – #2 – Mallory – Still needs to find the winner’s enclosure but has continued to put together strong performances against this group. Was defeated by Four Moves Ahead LTO after being held up a bit late trying to come through. The top three in this field were 1-2-3 in the GII Tea Rose LTO but with a better trip Mallory should be the best of the trio. Use with the Queensland shipper in #5 – Startantes.
Race 8 – #9 – Riodini – We watched the Waterhouse/Bott stable wire the field all weekend at Rosehill and the only reason Riodini didn’t do the same was the super filly, Verry Elleegant. Back to back group stakes placings with Rachel King aboard and with recent form this will be the opportunity to get the wire first this time around.
Race 9 – #10 – Le Don De Vie – Glen Boss gets aboard after a decent 5th LTO at The Valley. The former European is not a horse that would suit The Valley and will be much better over the track at Randwick. It will be a step up for a Group One level effort but will improve 2nd up this prep. 24-1 currently and is well worth every penny to pull off the upset.
Flemington (Melbourne Racing Club) – First Post: 10:10 PM ET
Race 1: 5-6-7 (Darley Maribyrnong Trial Stakes)
Race 2: 7-8-13 (Super Impose Stakes)
Race 3: 12-5-8 (GII Edward Manifold Stakes)
Race 4: 3-4-8 – (GII Gilgai Stakes)
Race 5: 1-12-2 – (GII Danehill Stakes)
Race 6: 8-9-3 – (GII Rose of Kingston Stakes)
Race 7: 7-12-4-3 – (GI Turnbull Stakes)
Race 8: 11-10-12 – (GIII The Bart Cummings)
Race 9: 1-4-2 – (Paris Lane Stakes)
Race 1 – #5 – Lascars – First time starter for the Blue Army of Godolphin, a son of speedster Sepoy out of a half-sister to 3YO Champion filly Alizee, as well as a name very familiar in the young stallion ranks in the states, Golden Rose winner Astern.
Race 2 – #7 – Hitotsu – One that I have been waiting to see back in action after a strong seasonal debut run at Donald. This galloper put together a couple of strong efforts as a two year old including in the VRC Sires’ Produce. Thought 2nd up this horse would be a great play and he impressed one start early for me, I think he will continue to do just that today.
Race 4 – #3 – Kemalpasa – Put together a strong first up effort at Morphettville for the Jolly camp. A horse that adores the straight six furlongs at Flemington will be getting back to that trip and should improve again 2nd up. Could be well backed but still worth a major look in this spot with Damian Lane in the saddle, who last rode him to a narrow 3rd in the GI Oakleigh Plate.
Race 5 – #1 – Ingratiating – Won the GIII Vain Stakes impressively on seasonal debut but was turned over LTO by the class dropping Coolmore runner Ranch Hand at Flemington. Performed well throughout the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper runs, the Melbourne and Sydney versions of the top two year old races in the country. Should be a perfect chance to turn the tables on Ranch Hand who may have had a troubled start in that race, but had a perfect run of it to get up on the line. Expect a reverse result and do not overlook Gimmie Par as well.
Race 6 – #8 – Ecumenical – The South Australian shipper cut back in distance first up this prep to a win at Morphettville and followed it up in Melbourne over this distance to run a strong 2nd. Lots of time for this daughter of Zebedee who is beginning to settle in during her time in Melbourne and is in a good spot for this race. Will be better if there more give in the ground but raced very well over good going at Caulfield LTO.
Race 7 – #7 – Persan – Lots of hype around how much this galloper has come on recently. This 5 year old Pierro gelding ran very well on seasonal debut and has developed quite an affinity for Flemington throughout his career. The market battle will be between Verry Elleegant & Incentivise as the two heavy favorites, but there is definitely some value around the other improving times around them.
Race 7 – #2 – Explosive Jack – The multiple Derby winner started off the prep over a mile at headquarters(aka: Flemington), now steps up a bit more in distance although it is not the ideal trip for him. With that being said, he should improve and we know how much ability this galloper has. Will be very tough later on in the spring and into the fall down under when reaching the staying ranks but is a live chance to run well at a big price today.