Another great weekend of racing down under with the GI Spring Champion Stakes up in Sydney, as well as several strong Group races in Melbourne at Caulfield. Superstar Zaaki returns for what will be his final run ahead of a tilt at the GI WS Cox Plate. He returns in the GI Might And Power Stakes, renamed this year after the superstar stayer in Australia, winner of the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Stakes, Caulfield Cup, and Cox Plate to name a few. Might And Power is also a member of the Australian and New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame and continues his legacy with a race named in his honor.
Randwick (Australia A) – First Post: 9:35 PM ET
Race 1: 4-2-7
Race 2: 3-7-2
Race 3: 5-2-7
Race 4: 4-2-7 – (GII Stan Fox Stakes)
Race 5: 3-9-1 – (GII Roman Consul Stakes)
Race 6: 2-1-7 – (GIII Angst Stakes)
Race 7: 6-8-10 – (Silver Eagle Stakes)
Race 8: 4-6-2 – (GI Spring Champion Stakes)
Race 9: 7-10-12 – (GIII The Nivison)
Race 10: 5-4-1
Race 1 – #4 – Bahamut – Put together a strong first start for the prep after two comfortable barrier trials. Spent the winter season up in Queensland now heads to Sydney with the services of champion jockey James McDonald taking the reins. Will step up back to the mile which may increase more going forward, however it will be a nice spot even with a slight step up to see more improvement from this galloper.
Race 3 – #5 – Kingshier – Team Hawkes stepped this horse up in distance LTO over the Kensington course at Randwick, just missing in that start making up ground throughout the stretch. Will get back to the main course at Randwick, a track which he won last time out going shorter. Pedigree suggests shorter would be better but it is not out of the realm that he could handle this step up in distance. He jumped up last start to see if he could handle routing and he did very well, so there has to be some confidence going into him trying a mile and a quarter.
Race 4 – #4 – Brigantine – The main contenders in this field have been sliding in recent starts outside of the heavy favorite Coastwatch and Brigantine. Captivant and Hilal started the season with lots of promise but haven’t shown that potential as of late. Brigantine is the value as he comes out of what looks to be a strong rendition of the GIII Caulfield Guineas Prelude, albeit the runners from that race will be going for Group One glory in Melbourne a bit later in the night. He won his only start on the main track at Randwick two starts back and should have no problems with the slight rise in distance. His sire Astern was a winner of the GI Golden Rose over this distance.
Race 5 – #3 – O’President – May need a start with this being his first start since February, however he had a barrier trial a couple weeks ago at Randwick with James McDonald aboard. Has proven time and time again that coming off of a barrier trial he can be dangerous, including his last start in the GII Skyline Stakes defeating Hilal and Captivant, who we will see in the GII Stan Fox Stakes the race before this. That form has not continued on overly well, however this is a strong galloper that may have something in the tank coming up fresh against a slew of runners deeper into their preps.
Race 7 – #6 – Ellsberg – Makes a pretty big step up in class to the Silver Eagle out of a Benchmark 88 at Randwick, however he has performed in stakes company in the past and showed up well first start this prep. Has had two barrier trials at Rosehill and now gets back to Royal Randwick. Josh Parr gets aboard this galloper and as long as they don’t let another Waterhouse/Bott trainee go wire to wire in a big race, he should be a big chance.
Race 9 – #7 – Yamazaki – Coming off of two barrier trials to start this prep after a nice layoff following the winter in Queensland. Throw out the effort in the GI Tatt’s Tiara and there is a lot to like about how Yamazaki ran this past preparation. Could be a horse who will get better with a few starts but I think this is a nice spot for a first up run in the GIII Nivison Stakes. Hopeful for a good first up run but will definitely be a horse to watch after a few starts.
Caulfield (Melbourne Racing Club) – First Post: 9:15 PM ET
Race 1: 1-9-12 (Magic Millions Debutant Stakes)
Race 2: 2-5-9 (Weekend Hussler Stakes)
Race 3: 7-9-4 (Neds Village Stakes)
Race 4: 1-5-8 (GIII Thoroughbred Club Stakes)
Race 5: 7-8-4 (GII Lexus Schillaci Stakes)
Race 6: 5-2-1 (GI Might And Power Stakes)
Race 7: 1-3-6 (GIII Northwood Plume Stakes)
Race 8: 6-3-1 (GI Caulfield Guineas)
Race 9: 6-2-4 (GI Toorak Handicap)
Race 10: 7-6-5 (GII Herbert Power Stakes)
Race 2 – #2 – Buffalo River – Continuing to chase this galloper but now that he has dropped in class, races at a track he has put together some of his best efforts at and races at 7 furlongs, I am willing to go again. Buffalo River has shown talent throughout his career especially at listed/Group 3 level. Damien Oliver is aboard which will be a big plus. I would say this is my last attempt with him, but it probably isn’t. With that being said this is a really good spot for him to finally get a much needed victory.
Race 4 – #1 – Seradess – Looking for back to back stakes wins, this daughter of Astern was very impressive over the 6 furlongs at The Valley. Only race she did not win came over the straight track at Flemington over 5 1/4 furlongs first up and she ran okay. Impressed in the Adelaide Stakes at Mornington as a 2 year old. Not much to dispute about this horse’s ability and although she will carry the highest weight in this field, it will be a non-issue.
Race 5 – #7 – Jigsaw – Put together a really nice barrier trial recently and should have a good chance to use some of the speed he has. Savatoxl should be going to the front, a very talented speedster and one of(if not) my favorite horse in Australia, but he is going to potentially need the run after a long layoff. Lots of good closers in this field but I think the speed will hold up and it should be either Jigsaw, Dosh or Savatoxl who try to take it. Hopeful that if he can’t get right to the front that in form jockey Daniel Moor can sit a perfect trip off of a two speedsters who aren’t at their peak in their preps.
Race 6 – #5 – Probabeel – This will be the best possible chance for Probabeel to turn the tables on Zaaki, a super horse who continues to rule Australia’s staying ranks. She gets back to Caulfield, a track she loves and one that Zaaki has never encountered before. The distance is not ideal for Probabeel, she is better over the mile in my opinion but with a smaller field she won’t feel that pressure as much and should be able to get the trip. Not a horse I would want in the Cox Plate but definitely one I want in the Caulfield Stakes, now renamed after the 2-Time Australian Horse of the Year, Might And Power.
Race 8 – #6 – Lightsaber – Will need to make the slight step up in distance here in the GI Caulfield Guineas, however Lightsaber really impressed in the GIII Guineas Prelude in preparation for this start, edging out a smart galloper in Brigantine who I am very high on today up in Sydney. Has a win at Caulfield and the favorites in this field should be hindered a bit by the post position draw. Trainer Peter Moody knows how to win big races, taking out the GI Turnbull Stakes with Incentivise last weekend and winning this event back in 2010 with Anacheeva and jockey (You guessed it) Luke Nolen. Let’s see that combination do it again today.
Race 9 – #6 – Dice Roll – Was very high on the Nick Ryan trained galloper first up this prep over this course and he did not disappoint, albeit he did not win. However, it was the first start of the season and he ran an absolute blinder closing fast in the straight and getting the lead, being just nailed on the line by the flying Sierra Sue. Side note, did I mention he was first up in a Group One? I would expect even more improvement from Dice Roll and make him one of the best of the day at almost double digits. Jockey Fred Kersley was on a tough run of 2nd place finishes in big races but finally broke through in the GII Danehill Stakes this weekend.