This is one of the best handicap Sprint races in the country, probably my favourite to be quite honest, at 1200m or less . But then again I’m not a great fan of the big sprints down the Flemington straight, so am probably biased in that respect. I have also had some great results personally in the past 10 years or so, with the likes of Swiss Ace, Woorim and Mrs Onassis winning at very good odds. I think the most unique thing about this race is that barriers play very little part in the result. In fact you are probably better off drawing wide than closer to the inside, which is quite unusual for a race at this distance. One year an on pacer will salute, and the next year a backmarker. It’s always a race with enormous depth and it’s share of quality performers. That often makes it very difficult to pinpoint a winner. Below are the last 17 winners and relative statistics (Age, weight carried, barrier and starting price). I’d like to say it helps a lot but in reality form analysis of runners might be a more useful method to find the winner.
- 2019 BOOKER 4m 52.0kg (14) $17.00
- 2018 RUSSIAN REVOLUTION 4G 56.5kg (10) $4.50
- 2017 SHEIDEL 5M 53kg (3) $8
- 2016 FLAMBERGE 6G 58kg (15) $31
- 2015 SHAMAL WIND 5M 54kg (14) $10
- 2014 LANKAN RUPEE 4G 56kg (7) $4
- 2013 MRS ONASSIS 5m 52.5kg (11) $16
- 2012 WOORIM 6g 55.5kg (8) $21
- 2011 EAGLE FALLS 5g 57kg (9) $21
- 2010 STARSPANGLEDBANNER 3c 52kg (6)
- 2009 SWISS ACE 4g 54kg (18) $31 (I got $66!)
- 2008 WEEKEND HUSSLER 3g 53kg (10) $2.10
- 2007 UNDUE 5g 57kg (14) $15
- 2006 SNITZEL 3c 51.5kg (4) $11
- 2005 FASTNET ROCK 3c 57kg (6)$2
- 2004 REACTIVE 5m 52kg (1) $16
- 2003 RIVER DOVE 4m 51.5kg (10) $17
- 16 of last 17 winners have been first or second up when winning this, and 15 of the past 16 winners have been first up. Not that significant given most of the runners attempt the race fresh from the Spring . Less than half the field are in that category this time around so we might see a second up, or even fitter performer win this years edition?
- 15/17 aged between 3 & 5 years. 4/17 winners has been a 3yo and all have been Males.
- Only one horse has carried more than 57kg to win in this period, but 6 have carried 55.5kg-57kg.
- Only 2 winners have drawn inside barrier 4 and one outside 15. Wide draws no real disadvantage overall (10/17 barrier 9 or wider)
- 8/17 sired by a Son or Grandson of Danehill. Not too many contenders this year but they do include two of the favourites Bivouac and Anaheed along with the rougher priced Crystal Dreamer and Fine Dane.
- Average winning price is very high @ $14, especially given there has been 2 winners around a $2 quote.
- Six of the fairer sex have won in this period which is encouraging given they would be outnumbered each year. None have started at less than $8, and all have been mares aged 4 and 5.
BALL OF MUSCLE- Glynn Schofield is 10-6/20 aboard which is an incredible record. The horse is 0/8 in G1 races, and he has a lot of weight to concede to very good horses. Could give a lot of cheek on the pace though.
ZOUTORI- 4/9 since being gelded. One of the losses was a less than one length defeat at WFA behind Sunlight and Santa Ana Lane. Two of the others were his only starts on right handed tracks. Has won his last three starts first up all at 1200m, and hasn’t won below that distance. 0/3 from barriers 1-3. Stable has won this race four times in the past twenty years. Looks like a genuine fresh horse given none of his wins have been with less than 16 days between runs, and even his best run in defeat was off a break of 21 days.
BIVOUAC- Hard to fault in reality and from a vintage 3yo crop. Drawn to win and flew here to win first up last preparation. Conceding weight to older horses, and his odds are the negatives. Too cool a ride might also bring his undoing and he did get blocked badly in the Manikato which he probably should have won.
FAATINAH- Phenomenal first up performer (6/8) and ran second in this race 2017 beating a very good 3yo home (Extreme Choice). Notably he failed first up prior to that race with jockey reporting he needed more give in the track. He should get that here. Otherwise that was his only placing at G1 level from nine starts and at age 7 historically not a great statistic. His barrier looks an asset though which ensures he gets a good spot on the pace.
BONS AWAY- Was close up in this race last year from barrier 16 when also second up. Slightly better drawn this year with a similar weight. Seven starts now since he carried ess than 57.5kg so will appreciate weight drop, though only 1/9 with less 565kg or less and 0/7 when drawn out wider than barrier 10.
CRYSTAL DREAMER- Stable has four wins in the past Twenty years. Age against him historically. Never raced at G1 level. 4/9 with less than 57kg and Summer/Autumn stats are better than Winter/Spring. Beat Gytrash here first up last preparation, and that is G1 form now. Hard horse to catch but generally wins when least expected.
TROPE- Last first up run was very good although it was a very bunched finish. He was disappointing at WFA in his only start left handed last preparation, but he may have been at the end of his preparation and does meet Bivouac 8.5kg better for it. Only win on debut which was at this trip, which again indicates that he does go well fresh. Blinkers went on last start which might also explain his failure. Winkers go back on for this and in astute stable.
ALL TOO ROYAL- Well weighted off last start and has a very good strike rate. 2/2 with this break between runs, and never carried less than 54.5kg. Class the question mark but meets Anaheed 3kg better for last start off a wide run, which indicates that he might be up to G1 level. Has fitness advantage although not too relevant from a historical point of view. His price looks overs.
ANJANA- Very wide draw a possible concern. 5/9 below 1400m and 0/5 in Spring indicate she might be better at this time of year getting close to Autumn. All wins (5/7) from barriers 1-6. Stable change and a very in from trainer. Way over the odds being a 4yo mare with a decent strike rate. Just needs a super ride from a very side barrier.
BOLD STAR- Very fit, ideally drawn and never runs a bad race. Class query and less notable jockey aboard this time. Trainer doing a superb job with stablemate Gytrash shocking many with his G1 Lightning win last week.
FINE DANE- Really does look outclassed here, although a return to dry footing and a low weight might bring out the best in him. The stable has produced a long shot placing in this race before though I’m struggling to remember the name of the horse.
HALVORSEN- Freshened up and has won here at this trip. A drying track really does look in his favour having won his last 4 starts on good tracks. And he has Gytrash form beaten 0.1L by that horse last preparation. He is also 4/5 at this distance with the only defeat on debut when he lead. His first two starts were both poor leading both times. Meets Bold Star on same weight terms for beating him comfortably last start so he looks well in at the weights. Maybe a better straight track horse but not conclusive. Dean Yendall is 1/1 aboard.
HUMMA HUMMA- Very good mare who wasn’t suited first up on a wet track. She is 5-1/6 on dry left handed tracks which are her only wins so a drying track suits. All her wins are with more than three weeks between runs (21 here) and class might test her a bit. She also has better stats drawn out a bit, so not sure the inside barrier is advantageous. Still a good chance though and William Pike aboard is a positive.
MYSTYCO- Looks a bit outclassed but never missed a place here from 4 attempts and has a good first up record, though moreso earlier in his career. Meets Halvorsen 1.5kg better for a two length defeat the last time they met. Has some good stat,s and is very consistent so could run a place at ridiculous odds.
PIPPIE- She is a very fast mare who has two big margin wins in her only first up runs. Last preparation she ran almost identical time to Bivouac on the same day here at this distance. From that day she is 2kg better off in comparison. She beat home Embrace Me that day who was so good at WFA recently behind Scales Of Justice so I think she is up to this class. The barrier isn’t ideal (13/18) but I still think she can lead and just might be impossible to catch. That was a super trial win recently bounding straight to the lead and untouched. Soul Patch was under harder riding behind her and he was very good first up last week behind Alligator Blood and Catalyst, beating home Dalasan. She is going to fly here with only 52kg, the lightest weight she has carried.
ANAHEED- Very good win first up and she is weighted to beat Bivouac off their two recent meetings with 2.5kg less. She should be the same price in the market as him although that price should probably be closer to $4.50. The wider than ideal draw looks a problem but she is very tough and 1100m rather than 1200m is going to suit. She could slot in just behind the leaders anyway. The last 3yo filly to win this ( I think) was Miss Kournikova in 2001 and I’m pretty sure she drew very wide that day. She looks hard to beat with 51kg though you could make an argument she isn’t weighted that well against older horses.
FREE OF DEBT- A 3yo colt who has drawn very wide off a good first up run, although he was suited that day with no other speed in the race. Nonetheless he was off a very long spell and he should be fitter for this and has 7kg less. Will be ridden for speed but can’t really see him matching motors with Ball Of Muscle and Pippie drawn inside him so might get caught wide. He was third in a Blue Diamond as a 2yo though when he was just in behind the leaders. Could shock but probably around right price at present.
VAINSTREAM- He looks a bit outclassed and there aren’t any stats that stick out for him. Has barrier 1 so his best chance looks to be coming up the inside rail if the field fans on the turn.
I’m going to have to go with the 4yo mare PIPPIE. She is very quick and I expect her to lead even from a wide barrier. That recent trial of hers was indicative of her being back to her best and primed to win this. Her wins here last Spring were indicative of an Oakleigh Plate winner. She should be more around the $6 mark so the current price appears to be value enough.
HALVORSEN does look great value though with his current form and Gytrash formline. The drying track looks ideal for him as does a very fast pace. He might be better suited in the Newmarket over 1200m down the straight ,but you can probably secure $20+ here and that’s great odds given he won his last start at this track and distance.
HUMMA HUMMA also looks to be suited with drying conditions and she might race closer to the pace than she has been of late from an inside barrier. Maybe a better place chance but she is capable of a big surprise
I have to put in ANAHEED for fourth given I think she should be equal favourite at worst, but I wouldn’t have the likes of TROPE and ZOUSTAR and ALL TOO ROYAL too far behind, just to name a few. And that’s not mentioning the outstanding 3yo Colt BIVOUAC. It’s another outstanding edition of this race!