Melbourne Cup 2018

 

 

Below are the last 18 winners of the big race although I do have the data for the past sixteen to seventeen winners. I had a lot of luck  finding four of the first five horses past the winning post in 2016 but that was followed up with a complete wipeout last year. A bit less analytical emphasis on the historical side of things this year, and just hope I have been able to find a few things that other analysts have either missed or not elaborated so much on.

 

 

Year Winner Age
Gender
Jockey Trainer Owner Time Field
2017 Rekindling[3] 4 h Corey Brown Joseph O’Brien Lloyd Williams et al. 3:21:29 23
2016 Almandin[4] 7 g Kerrin McEvoy Robert Hickmott Lloyd Williams et al. 3:20.58 24
2015 Prince of Penzance[5] 6 g Michelle Payne Darren Weir A McGregor et al. 3:23.15 24
2014 Protectionist[6] 5 h Ryan Moore Andreas Wöhler (de) Christoph Berglar, Australian Bloodstock 3:17.71 22
2013 Fiorente[7] 6 h Damien Oliver Gai Waterhouse Andrew Roberts et al. 3:20.30 24
2012 Green Moon[8] 6 h Brett Prebble Robert Hickmott Lloyd Williams 3:20.45 24
2011 Dunaden[9] 6 h Christophe Lemaire Mikel Delzangles Pearl Bloodstock Pty (Mgr. R Levitt) 3:20.84 23
2010 Americain[10] 6 h Gérald Mossé Alain de Royer-Dupre Gerry Ryan, K. C Bamford 3:26.87 23
2009 Shocking[11] 4 h Corey Brown Mark Kavanagh Eales Racing Pty Ltd 3:23.87 23
2008 Viewed[12] 5 h Blake Shinn Bart Cummings Tan Chin Nam, et al. 3:20.40 22
2007 Efficient[13] 4 g Michael Rodd Graeme Rogerson Lloyd Williams et al. 3:23.34 21
2006 Delta Blues[14] 6 h Yasunari Iwata Katsuhiko Sumii Sunday Racing Co Ltd 3:21.47 23
2005 Makybe Diva[15] 7 m Glen Boss Lee Freedman Emily Krstina Syndicate 3:19.17 24
2004 Makybe Diva[16] 6 m Glen Boss Lee Freedman Emily Krstina Syndicate 3:28.55 24
2003 Makybe Diva[17] 5 m Glen Boss David Hall Emily Krstina Syndicate 3:19.90 23
2002 Media Puzzle[18] 6 g Damien Oliver Dermot K. Weld Dr M. W. Smurfit, et al. 3:16.97 23
2001 Ethereal[19] 4 m Scott Seamer Sheila Laxon P. J. & P. M. Vela 3:21.08 22
2000 Brew[20] 6 g Kerrin McEvoy Mike Moroney Gurner’s Bloodstock Co. 3:18.68 22

 

 

 

 

Purely looking at recent historical trends can be a very powerful tool in selecting the next winner of the great race. There are some exceptionally pertinent factors to consider, and while I’m only going back to the new millennium (year 2000), they do give us an idea of what is required to win this race in the modern era. Below is a review of the statistics  consistent with winning this race over the past eighteen years.

Age and Sex
This is the most pertinent statistic in recent history. Eight of the last ten winners have been Stallions (a horse that hasn’t been gelded), as have Nine of the last Twelve. Prior to that we only had 5 Entire winners

From 2000 to 2005 no Stallion won the cup, and in fact you have to go back to 1994 to find the last Entire winner before that, which was the former import Jeune. So if the Entire factor isn’t a trend I don’t know what one is!

Added to that factor that five of the last six (Stallkion) winners have been either five or six years of age and Eight of the last Sixten winners have in fact been six year olds. Four five-year-olds (two Entires), two four-year-olds, and one seven-year-old (Makybe Diva’s third win), and one three year old complete the 17 year picture back to 2000. In the 20 years prior to that six-year-olds won five, so the trend of the older horse winning has held up well.

Weights
The most telling statistic is that 13 of the past 17 winners have dropped in weight before winning the Cup. Twelve of those have dropped 2.5kg or more in weight, which computes to an average (winning) drop in weight of approximately 3.5kg.

No horse has carried over 58kg to win in the 15-year period, and only one has carried more than 56.5kg. That was the champion mare Makybe Diva in 2005, but she had already won the race twice. You have to go back a long way to find the last one that did carry a bigger impost than her. It was Think Big in 1975 who shouldered 58.5kg.

Having said that, the minimum weight would almost certainly have been lower that year (49kg or lower), and we have to keep in mind that all weights have been raised the last couple of  years to give us a minimum weight of 51kg. Therefore the higher weighted horses shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed, and Makybe Diva carried 6.5kg and 9kg over the minimum in two of her wins, while Japanese horse Delta Blues carried 6kg over.

Form
14 of the past 17 winners finished in the first four placings at their prior start. 8 of the last 18 winners had won their prior start.

The three that hadn’t placed in that period had all finished well back in a major lead up race at 2000m (two in the Cox Plate and one from Mackinnon Stakes), dropping significantly in weight.

Imported Horses
Only two imported horse have managed to win the race without having a run here and that was Vintage Crop in 1993 and the three year old Rekindling last year. Five of the Internations runner that havewon the Cup in the past Sixteen years  have run here prior to the race, with three of those winning the Geelong Cup prior. All raced in a 2400m race at their previous start. Rekindling ran in a 2800m race in Ireland prior and his age rarely (if ever) run at longer distances than that it Europe

Added to that fact no imported horse until Rekindling (even going back to Vintage Crop) had won this 3200m race without having won or placed at 3000m and beyond, either in Europe or Japan.

Of the Seven International winners, 4 had won at their previous start, and all finished in the first 4 placings. .The two that didn’t win were beaten less than a length.

No English trained horse has ever won the Melbourne cup, although a few have placed, and Red Cadeaux went awfully close to winning when runner up to Dunaden.

The only Naturalised (for want of a better term) imports to win the Cup, had at least raced in the country in the Autumn of the same year (Jeune won the CF Orr Stakes and Queen Elizabeth in Autumn).

Australasian Horses
Conversely of the nine ‘local’ winners in the past 16 years, only Makybe Diva (two wins) had won beyond 2500m prior to their Melbourne Cup triumph.

Our horses don’t appear to require the same stamina in their pedigree as the Internationals, but it’s probably wise to note that four of those eight winners (Makybe Diva three times, Shocking once) had overseas breeding on both the Sire and Dam side. Makybe Diva was actually foaled in England and was shipped to Australia before having raced.

Flemington
Flemington is largely a ‘horses for courses’ track, and while all the International runners have won without a run here, only one Australasian hasn’t (Ethereal, though not 100 per cent sure) out of the eight winners (past 14 years). It’s best to see some Flemington form (win or a placing) if you fancy a local.

If you look at a finish of the 2014 race you will see that four of the first six placegetters had experience at the track. The first two placegetters were dominant, and both had run second in previous renditions of the race. 2015 longshot winner Prince Of Penzance had an affinity for Flemington.

Wet Tracks

The last genuine wet track we had in the Cup was back in 1995 and won by Jeune. He completed a trio of  wins on wet surfaces. Subzero in 1994 won on a very wet track and the Irish horse Vintage Crop won on a bog in 1993. Only four wet tracks since 1976 so we are well and truly due. Three of the aforementioned winners were sired by a British horse whilst Vintage Crop was out of  a US stallion but did most of his racing in Great Britain. Two were Entires and two were geldings.

Breeding
It would be one of the last places anybody would look in regard to finding a winner of the great race, but some decent research seems to indicate otherwise. Half of the winners since 2000 have been sired by a former Irish racehorse, and six have been by a US raced or born Dam (mother). Three of the past four winners have been sired by the German sire Monsun in combination with an Irish bred mare.

Aside from Prince Of Penzance in 2015, no Australian-based sire has fathered a winner since Rogan Josh in 1999 ,and all of the other winning Dams have either been New Zealand bred (4) or European bred (France 2, GB 1, Ireland 1). Ideally the best candidate would be a horse sired by an Irish father and out of a US or New Zealand bred MotherLead up race
The best in recent times is evenly divided between the Cox Plate (4), Caulfield Cup (4) and Geelong Cup (3) but from the Saturday prior the Lexus has also provided (2), as has the Mackinnon (1) and the Moonee Valley Cup (1). Recent trends have definitely seen the Cox Plate prominent (three of last eight) and the Geelong Cup (three of last 12).

The Caulfield Cup hasn’t produced a winner since 2006, but with an increase in prizemoney over the past three years there is an expectation that the major players in that race will start to exert more influence.

A 3000m race in France known as the Prix Kergorlay has produced three of the last seven winners, and all had one run here in preparation for this race.

Barrier
Is probably the least significant of the historical data assessed, but it’s worth noting that only one horse  in this 17-year period has won drawing inside barrier 3 (Prince of Penzance in 2015), and only two have won outside of barrier 14. Both those winners from outside barriers carried very low weights (Brew and Shocking).

Middle barriers are the winningest ones over a long period of time, which tends to suggest it is best to avoid early interference nearer the rail early, or conversely not have to cover too much extra ground out wide throughout the race.

Summing up these are the recent historical precedents that should help us to find the winner this year;

  1. Be aged three to six and preferably be an entire (Stallion)
  2. Dropping in weight, preferably 2.5kg or more.
  3. Carrying less than 58kg and preferably less than 57kg.
  4. Imports not trained in Australia preferable to have won or placed in a race at 3000m or beyond,
  5. Locals would preferably have overseas breeding on both sides of their immediate pedigree, and form at Flemington is advantageous.

Any horse by the sire Monsun would have to earn credit

  1. It’s best for an imported runner to have had one run in this country

7.Preferably  drawn between barriers three and fourteen-

  1. Had its last run in either the Cox Plate, Geelong Cup , Caulfield Cup or Lexus Stakes-
  2. Finished in the first 4 placings last start

 

Tempo:

 

Runaway, Ace High and Rostropovich look the on speed runners in the race and all three are drawn out a bit so will have to go a bit faster early than they would like. All three are a doubt at two miles so I’m not sure any of their jockeys will be that keen to go at a breakneck speed. It has also a thought that Vengeur Masque will race a lot more forward than he did in the Caulfield Cup but he too is a 3200m query. I’m not convinced we will get a truly run race unless Rostropovich goes very quickly and sets up a fast speed. That would all but finish his chances though in all likelihood  Not sure what to expect but it is Flemington which can be leaderish at times (and rails biased). Sometimes a truly run race is no guarantee, that backmarkers will get their chance. A very fast run race should though. So no help here. I’m having a bit each way on the likely tempo.

 

Analysis;

  1. BEST SOLUTION- Has to carry the top weight and he has no form beyond 2400m and no breeding to suggest he can. To counter point one he received no weight penalty for the Caulfield Cup win and he is a three time Group 1 winner this year which puts him in the extremely well weighted (against others in this race) category. He is also very fit and just never gives up, so point two could also be negated. He had to make 2 runs in the Caulfield Cup yet still won it when he was probably left a sitting shot. He has outstayed every horse he has come up against at 2400m at his past four starts He can sit on pace, or come from behind (see the win in Germany three starts back), and best of all can handle all track conditions. If the rain comes it won’t bother him and he is one of the few in form chances in this race that has drawn a decent barrier. He will get the run of the race and only needs to see the trip out to be very hard to beat. Definitely goes in my top four as he definitely should be carrying 1kg more and his Stallon status is a historical plus.
  2. CLIFFS OF MOHER- Has been very good in two runs here much the same as his stablemate Johannes Vermeer last year, who ran second in this race. He did seem to peak late in the Caulfield Cup after getting a lovely run through in the straight (was the 7 day backup an issue?). Similarly he had the Epsom Derby won as a three year old in 2016 but just couldn’t quite see it out. On the positive side his Dam is a half sister to Francis Of Assisi who was so impressive here in a couple of wins and had won a couple of races at two miles in the UK. He gets no weight relief from Best Solution from last start which is terribly unjust. He can handle the wet so looks a good hope of filling a place if he gets the 3200m.
  3. MAGIC CIRCLE- If the rain comes he might start favourite, and if he wins the celebrations are likely to at least match the performance. I’m not sure we’ve seen an English horse come into the race off the back of two straight six length wins at two miles and further. It is really solid form. He was a handy horse in 2017 but has certainly improved in 2018 bearing in mind he has only been with this stable for the two wins mentioned. We could see a spectacular win but I’m just not sure on four counts. Firstly the races he has won have hardly been a good guide to the cup in the past. Secondly he is poorly weighted for mine (the owner expected him to get 54-55kg) given his best performance was a last start Group 3 win. Compare that to the topweight Best Solution who has three Group 1 wins and only has to give him 1kg in weight. Fourthly he has drawn out a bit wider than what is ideal. He has the best wet form in the race but in saying that his best two wins have been on supposedly dry tracks recently. His time for 3250m last start was 3.41+ which equates to about 3.37 for 3200m. On a dry track here this race will be run in less than 3.20+, so he has to find about 100 lengths on that score. Admittedly it’s very hard to match times from the UK to here and he might adapt well to a faster run race. We don’t really know until he tries, No denying he comes here in great form but I’m just going to have to risk him at the odds.
  4. CHESTNUT COAT- He is well drawn and doesn’t look a doubt at the distance, but he was poor in the Caulfield Cup with the wet track largely to blame. He doesn’t need any rain to fall before now and Tuesday. Very hard to get warm off his last run when so well beaten and he meets the winner no better at the weights. We could see a major improvement on a dry surface though so if he gets it he is one at odds to put in a multi. He didn’t have the best of luck in a G1 3200m race in Japan this year when beaten less than two lengths in a time of 3.16.20. That would be a good enough run to be more than competitive here.
  5. MUNTAHAA- Is really the polar opposite to Magic Circle from an overseas time perspective given he won the Ebor at York last start in three seconds faster time than last year’s winner Nakeeta, who ran very well in this race last year. In fact the time he ran there was one of the fastest ever in that race. From what I can ascertain he is a bit of an enigmatic galloper and I did read somehere that he needs plenty of room to move. He got that last start in what was a sparkling display out really wide on the track. Given that I’d love to have seen him draw a lot wider than barrier 13 but at least the jockey knows the horse and can devise tactics to suit. My issue with him is that he has no form beyond 2800m and it will be a Melbourne Cup first for a six year old carrying the weight he has to win. If he handles the crowd and gets the right ride he should be right in the finish though. Historically speaking he has drawn a good barrier.
  6. SOUND CHECK- Has form around Best Solution and on that score he his right in this race at the weights. Unfortunately he did nothing in the Caulfield Cup after overracing and it’s hard to know if his new trainer has come to grips with him yet. A wider than ideal barrier has me risking him, but we might see a major improvement. At least he has won at two miles.
  7. WHO SHOT THEBARMAN- The old boy is back for another crack after missing the race last year and running a bottler in 2016 when just behind the placings. He is a duel winner at 3200m (9 starts) and just loves racing in the Melbourne direction. His last run was a nice trial for this so hope springs eternal. Barrier 18 is probably going to make it tough for him and it really would be something if a ten year old was to win. Just can’t see it but he could quite possibly run into a placing.
  8. ACE HIGH- You can put a pen through him if any rain comes but we might see a dramatic improvement if the track remains the way it is. He was awfully disappointing in the Caulfield Cup and that isn’t a great way to enter this race. Obviously the wet was more or less to blame, but I still think we were inclined to expect better from him. A total unknown at the distance but up until last start you’d probably have given him the benefit of the doubt as he has been strong at the end of two Derbies, one of which he won here. Can’t have him here because of the last run, but it will be interesting to see how he goes if the track remains dry. Tye Angland goes back aboard and that might be the key to the horse, given he knows him intimately, and has won four races (five career wins) aboard.
  9. MARMELO- He comes here fresh this year as opposed to 2017 where he ran well in a Caulfield Cup but failed in this race after a wide run. His stallion status is a bonus and he is quite well weighted against the likes of Magic Circle and Muntahaa. He has two wins and minor placings at Group two level so in reality should have more weight than both those horses. Bowman has decided to ride him above the likes of Finche and he has drawn a great barrier to be competitive. I can’t think of one horse that has won this race off an unplaced effort last year, so he has the job ahead on that score. I’m also wrestling with his form over the past two seasons which oddly has been in the right races. Recently he has beaten a horse called Weekender quite narrowly, but both Muntahaa and especially Magic Circle have beaten that horse a lot, lot easier. Just not sure about him, and he is yet to show he can run the 3200m even though he has won at 3000m. That’s nit picking admittedly. and he might come out and win this race and make history as the first English trained winner. His weight gives him every chance, but just not totally convinced about his form.
  10. AVILIUS- No doubt this horse has had a great preparation, and a failure at WFA in the Cox Plate isn’t such a bad precedent for this race. I expected a little better from him there given he looked perhaps a three to four length inferior horse to Benbatl on their formlines from the UK. He was nearly seven lengths astern of that horse though. His win in the Bart Cummings with a big weight prior to that was meritorious, but the form hasn’t worked out from that race, and he didn’t look a 3200m horse that day. His Dam (mother) has a Sibling who had 63 starts, and none of them were at less than 1800m, He won two races at 3200m+ and was placed twice at 4000m in albeit weak class The big positive for this horse is the hefty weight drop, and we know he has a great turn of foot. He has drawn well to make an impact, but the jury is out a little for me. Not sure he can run the trip, and weather or not has gone past his peak this preparation. Plenty of people disagree with me though and he might prove me very wrong.
  11. YUCATAN- He boasts similar formlines to last year’s winner Rekindling, is a Stallion, and was super impressive on debut here in the Herbert Power. That was the best win at Caulfield over 2400m since the great Might And Power won the Caulfield Cup, and possibly even more gobsmacking considering he was never closer than three wide and had to go around the majority of the field. It was breathtaking to see him open up a gap on the field just before the turn and have the audacity to continue that momentum to near the finish where Jockey James McDonald called a halt of what probably would have been an eight length demolition. We don’t know he can run 3200m, but off that performance it seemed very likely. His Dam won three Group 1 races and placed in five others from nine starts at that level. so he is bred to be a Champion. She wasn’t a stayer though (all wins 1400m-1600m) so it sheds some doubt on his two mile pedigree. He is going to have to be good to win from barrier 23, and now he might have to contend with a wet track which just doesn’t look suitable on his career form thus far. His mother did get through going up to what looks like a Soft 6, so I’d suggest he might be okay in conditions no worse than that. His win last start reminds me so much of what Might and Power and Media Puzzle did prior to winning this, and although he did get a 2.5kg weight penalty into this he still drops the same amount of weight that MP did. He carries 1.5kg less weight than M & P,and 2kg more than MP did in their victories. He is the one to beat if he gets some cover, and the right conditions. He should be favourite at about $6 in my view.
  12. AUVRAY- It’s hard to make a case for him on recent form and against this class. The biggest positive for him is his two wins at 3000m in France but both were a long time ago now. He does appreciate dry tracks too so perhaps we can draw a line through his last effort. He meets WSTBarman 0.5kg worse for their meeting in the 2017 Sydney Cup so can be judged on that form. Barrier 1 might be a big asset if there is a raging rails bias like last year.
  13. FINCHE- I really love this horse and had a small bet on him for his before the Geelong Cup which left me a little bit ‘flat’. His effort wasn’t that bad though considering the track bias on the day and the weight he had to carry. If he can find 3-4 lengths improvement off that he could be competitive here, and let’s face it that is a possibility. That race has been a decent guide to this one in recent years. Two former French horses did win that and went on to win this so he isn’t hopeless. His breeding suggests he probably won’t run two miles but everything I’ve seen suggests he will. He is 1-1 versus Avilius in France and looks the better stayer on those performances. He probably has more improvement to come than that horse too. The barrier does appear a negative though, as he probably doesn’t have the early speed to overcome it. He is a very interesting runner and I’m crossing fingers he lives up to my expectations.
  14. RED CARDINAL- He didn’t do a lot in this race last year and has been very disappointing for the Weir stable this Spring, so he is hard to have in this. He is a duel 3200m winner though and any give in the track might help with an added potential bonus of Blinkers going on first time. Oliver on and a good draw mean he probably isn’t the roughest chance in the race if some rain does come. The trainer is very good at timing the addition of gear changes. We already know that through Prince Of Penzance winning this, and this horse is likely to be a similar price.
  15. VENGEUR MASQUE- He ran okay in the Caulfield Cup where his trainer bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t a lot closer to the speed in an on pace dominated race. He is also now a ‘local’  who has decent form at Flemington and is by that great staying sire Monsun. We don’t know how he will go at two miles as none of his relatives have been tried beyond 2600m, and neither has he.  He will need to be a star at the trip to win because he just looks a little short of Group 1 class. His barrier affords him every chance though, and maybe a wet track would bring some others back to him.
  16. VENTURA STORM- Has always been a doubt at 3200m in my opinion but at least he has a lead up win in a race that has produced some winners of this race. He was also okay in the Caulfield Cup. He was beautifully weighted last start with the Winkers on first time so I’m not totally sure on the merit of that form. He had not won here from sixteen starts prior to that so perhaps the win will give him much needed confidence. He has also drawn well which might help him see out the trip. Not in my top chances but he probably isn’t the worst hope in this field either.
  17. A PRINCE OF ARRAN- He is definitely not the roughest now that he has won a race here and has form at the distance. He meets Yucatan 2.5kg better for defeat in the Herbert Power, although on what we witnessed there he would probably need 6kg at least. That doesn’t tell the full story though as this horse is proven at the trip and is weighted to have a say. He needs a dry track and the barrier draw has done him no favours. Jockey Michael Walker is a very good rider of rough priced winners, and you can bet he will have a plan to upset the applecart. He looks well short of the class of Yucatan and Magic Circle (beaten 9L by him in Chester Cup), but he is very seasoned, and has had the benefit of two runs here.
  18. NAKEETA- A very respectable run in this race last year but just hasn’t done anything of note in 2018. I thought he was a great chance going down in weight in the MV Cup last start but he failed to flatter. Again the light weight should suit. as does an inside draw in theory. He is a winner at York, and Flemington is similar, and that is the biggest positive I can find for him here.
  19. SIR CHARLES ROAD- Has had an unorthodox preparation for this but he needed that last run at Bendigo after missing some work before his prior start. That was a better effort, and he was placed in the Sydney Cup at this trip in the Autumn. He should peak here but he doesn’t quite look up to the class of this race. Some hope he can place at very long odds because he does seem to have been a gradual improver in regard to his racing manner especially.
  20. ZACADA- Nearly caused a massive boilover in the Sydney Cup this year but that effort came out of nowhere and he has done nothing since. Got gapped at Geelong last start and looks the outsider of the field to me.
  21. RUNAWAY- A surprise winner of the Geelong cup last this half brother to an ATC Oaks comes into this race in fine fettle. He should just about lead this field from barrier 12, and his best hope might be that he is left alone in front. His only run at the distance last Autumn was a miserable failure, but perhaps the timing wasn’t right at the end of his preparation, and coming off a run seven days prior. He might look the winner into the straight but this does look a much harder task for him. Even Finche meets him a lot better at the weights out of the Geelong Cup. Can’t quite see him being there at the end, but he might surprise with the quality of his effort. If he does run well it might augur well for Finche too.
  22. YOUNGSTAR- She has done a lot in a short period of time including a QTC Oaks win last Winter, where she staged an amazing performance to win, and then followed up with a hard finishing third in the Derby up there. She again proved her quality in the Turnbull where it took a great performance from the champion Winx to run her down. She pulled away from the rest of field in the concluding stages which was a great trial for both the Caulfield Cup and this. She was ridden quite positively that day so I was expecting to see similar in the Caulfield Cup and was disappointed to see her so far back. That was the end of her chances as it turned out, but she did finish the race off okay in a leader dominated race. The distance is a query, as is her inexperience, but at least on her breeding side her Mum does have two siblings that have won at 4000m and 5000m+. She looks a 3200m horse, and she is one of the few better chances to have drawn ideally, and she has some good Flemington form I think she proven she has the class, so it’s just a matter of how she is physically and mentally. If she is still in the zone, then I think she is a very realistic chance, but it’s just disturbing that Kerrin McEvoy has jumped off after being with her most of her career. I’m hoping the old adage that jockeys are the worst judges comes to the fore again. She is a daughter of High Chaparral who sired last years winner Rekindling.
  23. CROSS COUNTER- A 3yo International debutante just like last years winner Rekindling, perhaps the reason why McEvoy has jumped ship. I think he has the class having finished ahead of a horse called Kew Gardens last start. She went on to run a very good race in the Arc last start which is the strongest 2400m race in Europe, if not the world. He is going to have to set a historical precedent though and win this race without any form in Europe beyond 2400m, and I can’t see anything in his breeding on the Dam’s side to suggest that is going to happen. The barrier doesn’t help any either, so my thinking is he is under the odds.
  24. ROSTROPOVICH- The second of the three year olds who has at least had a run here. He has drawn similarly poorly, and he too is yet to be tested beyond 2400m, and his breeding is nearly as suspect on the Dam’s side. I don’t feel he should be double the odds of CC though, and the O’Brien’s wouldn’t be running him if they didn’t think he was a decent hope (They didn’t persevere with Idaho. another one of their runners). He wasn’t far behind Avilius in the Cox Plate, so can be considered as good a chance as he is, and perhaps open to more improvement.

 

 

Conclusion;

No standout from me and it’s very tough this year once again. There are better races to put your hard earnt on even if they don’t offer the same return! I can’t find a 100% ideal historical candidate amongst them, but I guess the closest might be MARMELO (failure last year) and YOUNGSTAR (beaten too far last start?) I don’t have Marmelo in my top four though which looks like this;

 

  1. YUCATAN
  2. Youngstar
  3. Best Solution
  4. Finche

A very wet track would see me promote second and third selections to first and second.

Like last year I could be a million miles off though. I’m obviously hoping not!

 

 

 

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Caulfield Cup 2018

Historically it’s quite a difficult race to assess but the last 16 winners have been aged four to six and ovearall four year old have a great record in the race.   Single figure barriers are an asset with roughly 70% of winners having drawn one since the new Millenium. If my memory serves correct seven of the winners in this period ran first four in the ATC Derby in the Autumn (Diatribe, Mummify, Elvstroem, Railings, Descarado, Mongolian Khan and Jameka)  and that race is still the best ‘long term’  guide to winning this race. Providing seven of the past eighteen winners (nearly 40%) is no mean feat for a race run six months prior, As is so often the case in races at Caulfield it is advantageous to be somewhere near the pace, especially on the turn. And if not, a rails run on straightening can be a winning move (Tawqeet 2006, Diatribe 2001, Boom Time 2017).

Having considered the above there is no better example than the chances of ACE HIGH this year. Historically not a negative in sight, and all he needs is a dry track to be the one they all have to beat. The one negative is he has lost his regular rider Tye Angland. He is one of my two beat thus far, with the other being the mare YOUNGSTAR who I have a real affinity with. Some talk she might not be seasoned (mature) enough, but any doubts about her toughness should be dispelled if  you have a look at her win in the Queensland Oaks. I still rate that as one of the most amazing ‘off the canvas’ wins that I have ever seen. No horse has ever run a better trial for this than the one she put in behind Winx last start, nd the fact she was ridden a little closer to the lead that day augurs well for a Caulfield Cup tilt. No reason why she can’t be ridden positively again here from a quite okay barrier.

I spoke about four year olds above and it does appear the current crop of imported four year olds are exceptional. We saw it in Yucatan last week, and The Taj Mahal has also won his preparatory race for this. Rekindling (now a 4 year old) won the Melbourne Cup as a three year old out of that crop, and the recent Arc winner Enable is also a four year old and won that race last year as a three year old.

Analysis- starting with the likely tempo of the race;

On paper it would appear that there will be no ‘loafing’ in the race with the likes of Homesman, Ace High, The Taj Mahal and Vengeur Masque likely to go forward. Just not sure any of those four would like to make it a real staying test though, Homesman looks the logical leader and he is some doubt at 2400m. Four leaders and fourteen horses that get back behind the speed is hardly cause to say that a backmarker can win this and it is a race that generally suits the on pacers historically.  Given this scenario a decent barrier is almost always a huge asset and that can enable a horse to sit closer to the pace than it normally would.

  1. BEST SOLUTION– He is a very good horse who should handle the pressure of this race if a look at his recent performances is any guide. Probably not badly weighted being a dual Group 1 winner. He has a 6/12 winning record at distances 2200m-2500m and it’s always a positive to see a European stayer running at it’s pet trip here The jockey has won six aboard of a total eight career wins. Being a midield positioning horse  the barrier looks a massive negative. He is very resilient though and could endure a less than ideal run in transit and still win.
  2. THE CLIFFSOFMOHER– Is one of the British four year olds that has the benefit of a very good run here last week in the Caulfield Stakes. Added to that his second up record reads 2-1/3. Not sure barrier 3 is any help to him given he is 0-0-0/5 from barriers 1-3 in his career, and he does seem to lack a bit of tactical speed, so is likely to need the luck at the right time. The faster the race the better his chances are likely to be. He does also have a superior record racing in this direction rather than the opposite. A few positives and he has pleased the stable this week, but his odds are maybe a little too short at present.
  3.  CHESTNUT COAT– No real statistical angle on him but at least he is by the same sire as his Japanese counterpart (and ill fated) Admire Rakti who won this race easily a few years ago. His best performance at 2400m doesn’t quite line up with that horse (4th in a Japan Cup) but he does carry 2.5kg less. His last run was actually quite good in a G1 3200m race, as he lost his position when between horses about 1000m from home when the pace had been ramped up to ‘frantic’. It was admirable for him to put himself in the picture in the straight, and there is no doubt he has the stamina and speed to win this. Just don’t know where he gets to from an awkward barrier as he too lacks the early speed to go forward in his races.
  4. JON SNOW– The most interesting thing about him is that he has never won from a barrier inside 9, and he might be the only horse in the race likely to be suited with a wide draw. Problem is his best form seems to be reserved for the wetter tracks. Ran very well first up. but disappointed a bit second up in the Turnbull. That is the best lead in race to this though, and the likes of Descarado performed far worse in that yet still won this. Will be up near the pace somewhere, and could be the surprise packet in the race. He is also an ATC Derby winner. albeit in 2017.
  5. SOUND CHECK– German horse who is by the same sire as the 2016 Melbourne Cup  runner up Heartbreak City. He meets Best Solution 2kg better off for a narrow defeat at his last start and he is 3/4 first up.  He has only had one start in this direction and it was a five length win. He is yet another horse though that has a very awkward barrier to overcome and it’s possible that new trainer Mike Moroney is still getting to know him. Interesting runner with a super strike rate but he might be better suited in the Melbourne Cup. Concussion Plates going on is a big concern.
  6. ACE HIGH- As stated above he is a great chance on the basis of history alone. Also like the fact his astute trainer does not work him in Blinkers and, he appears to be a bit lazy in his trackwork. His best is saved for race day when the shades are reapplied. He is a genuine stayer as his 4-1/6 record suggests at 1800m and beyond.
  7. THE TAJ MAHAL– He is one of the likely on pacers and one of the European (now been here a year) 4yo’s who has made his mark here. He hasn’t set the world on fire but has done enough to be considered a chance in this. He drew the outside barrier in a nine horse field last start, and will most likely start one from the outside here, which isn’t ideal. Not many win this race from out there whether they are an on pacer or not. Stable is having a bit each way in saying that he may be ridden back depending on what happens early. Ben Melham has been riding him but seems to have opted for stablemate Homesman instead.
  8. DURETTO– Another very interesting Import who  also has form around Best Solution (meets him 3kg better for less than a length defeat). He has great form at the distance and is 2/3 from barrier 1 which he has drawn here. Seems a get back type of horse though and not sure that is going to help him in the big field here. His best form has been in smaller fields with a couple of big margin failures with 13 runners or more. Another that is possibly better suited at Flemington.
  9. RED VERDON– He hasn’t ‘grabbed’ me at all in the replays I have seen and despite the fact he has beaten The Cliffsofmoher in recent times and meets him very well at the weights here, I’ve found it hard to get warm on his formlines and performances. However his last failure was at 2800m where he looked a distinct chance early in the straight before fading out of the race, so perhaps he is better suited at 2400m (has Choisir breeding on Dam’s side). Interestingly all his wins have been in this direction, and almost all of his racing has been on firmer tracks which probably indicates he doesn’t like it too wet. This is also probably his best trip and perhaps an astute jockey engagement with Zac Purton aboard. To be honest I’d probably risk him if he wasn’t in thisstabe, but I really respect how well this yard travels it horses (Red Cadeaux seemed to relish racing here one example).  Apparently the horse is doing exceptionally well  and is eating up. The report I read suggested he is the type of horse who puts on weight very easily and they are keeping well on top of that. He looks a realistic chance from what is probably an ideal barrier.
  10. VENGEUR MASQUE– Drawn well and races on pace which is a decided advantage in this race. He has no placings at all from six starts at this track though and whether he has the quality is debatable (then again did Boom Time sem to before winning last year). He did win fourth up in the Geelong Cup this time last year, but was also fourth up in 2016 when a failure in this race, albeit from a wide barrier. Probably not a 100-1 shot but you’d just like to see him bringing some better form into the race.
  11. VENTURA STORM– He was very good in the Turnbull, but he does have a tendency to run one big race and then put in a shocker. Yet to win on a left handed track, or to win in fifteen starts here. Also has not won a race with less than twenty days between runs, yet he comes in here with a fourteen day break Also has a great 3-2/6 record from barriers 1-3, which is worth keeping in the memory bank. That hasn’t transpired here though.
  12. MIGHTY BOSS– Hard to find a positive with the possible exception of a new jockey aboard (not having a go at M.Walker!). Shouldn’t be in the race in my opinion but I’ve said that before and they have ended up  winning. His best win was at this track in the Caufield Guineas at G1  level, and his last run here wasn’t too bad so . Two most recent runs at Flemington have left a lot to be desired so could improve (clutching at straws?). Apparently his work during the week was excellent when thrashing Ace High on the track.  Distance a query but Walker suggested he was looking for it two starts ago.
  13. HOMESMAN– On pacer who has a great record with Ben Melham aboard (2 wins and a close second from 3 rides), and he has drawn to advantage here. Backs up from last week where he was a little disappointing after setting a hot pace in the Caulfield Stakes. He did win backing up in Ireland at his third career start over 2270m. My question is can he run a strong 2400m? That seems a little dubious from what we’ve seen, and his breeding probably backs that opinion up.  But if he can find the stamina he is right in this race. And he has drawn a barrier to help his cause.
  14. KINGS WILL DREAM– The favourite for the race who has drawn perfectly. Has been very good at WFA all Spring and now he drops to a handicap race and he is unbeaten 3/3 carrying 55kg or less. He won over 2400m fifth up in his first preparation here in the Mornington cup, and revisits that scenario tomorrow. He has never missed a place from barriers 1-6, and he looks almost a ‘lock’ to run a placing in this race all things considered. Only negative is he hasn’t won in four starts this preparation and the mare Youngstar finished off better than he did in the Turnbull. He does have experience at this track over her though. Very hard to pick holes in, and the weight drop and jockey look massive assets.
  15. SOLE IMPACT–  Japanese horse who doesn’t win out of turn and his form just doesn’t look good enough coming in. Has a horror barrier draw too which almost certainly won’t help. Only real positivse I can see is that he has won in bigger sized fields and he will handle a firm track.
  16. GALLIC CHIEFTAIN– Going quite well this preparation and he almost knocked off The Taj Mahal late in the JRA cup at Moonee Valley two starts ago. He hasn’t won in four starts this track and not won a race in the Springtime from thirteen attempts. Backs up from last week but his best form is with more than two weeks between runs. He has a 3-5/9 record from barriers 1-3 which looks his biggest asset in this race.
  17. NIGHT’S WATCH– He has had a good preparation for Darren Weir but he has wide draw and you have to question his 2400m credentials a little bit. He backs up here form last week and went close doing so in the Dato Ta Chin Nam at M/Valley three starts ago. Very consistent only missing a place four times in eighteen starts so can’t leave him out entirely especially returning to a handicap here.
  18. YOUNGSTAR– She is well named and as mentioned she was brilliant last start. If she brings that form to Caulfield then I think she will win. No reason to think she can’t handle the tighter track here given she won a QTC Oaks at Doomben and that was fourth up as is the case in this. Might be a case of whatever beats her will win although she is the most inexperience runner in the race and has done a lot in a short space of time. If she wins I get the feeling it might be quite easily but she might have to keep in touch with the leaders most of the way in a race where you more often that not have to. A decent barrier should assist her in that quest and a little bit of rain certainly wouldn’t hurt her chances.
  19. PATRICK ERIN– A damn shame it looks as though he has missed out on a start because he is 3/3 fourth up and has a super 10-8/21 on left handed tracks. He might struggle in this class but he has the advantage of being the only Aussie trained horse that has won at 2400m this preparation. Barrier probably doesn’t look ideal, but in a field of this size it is probably an asset for him. He would have to get going at about the 800m to be competitive as he seems a little dour.

 

Conclusion;

Given the likely tempo of the race I’ve settled on this top four with a decent barrier foremost in my thoughts,

  1. ACE HIGH– Seems really good value given the things in his favour. Any significant rain and I don’t like his chances at all.
  2. YOUNGSTAR- Hope she wins and a positive ride will give her every chance.
  3. KINGS WILL DREAM– I’d love to knock him but it’s almost impossible to do so. Looks a good thing to put in a Place multi.
  4. RED VERDON- A bit from left field but he has a few things in his favour and I do respect this stable a lot. One to take Each Way at better than $20 odds.

Any rain and I’d be throwing JON SNOW into calculations though you could do worse than throw a few dollars on him each way whatever the conditions, given his statistical preference for a wider barrier.

Caulfield Guineas 2018

 

 

 

Saturday Race 9 at 5.15 pm (AEDT) sees the running of the 2018 Caulfield Guineas a Group 1 set weights race for three year olds. First run in 1881 it has an amazing honour roll of winners that includes the likes of Surround, Luskin Star, Manikato, Red Anchor, Mahogany, Redoute’s Choice, Lonhro and  Weekend Hussler. In this preview I am primarily looking at the last seventeen winners back to 2001 in the quest to help us find the winner of this years edition. Below are the those horses with their barrier draw, lead up run, jockey and starting price;

2017 MIGHTY BOSS (5) 4th Stutt Stakes M/Valley 1600m M.Walker $101.00

2016 DIVINE PROPHET (1) Second Stan Fox Stakes Rosehill 1500m D.Dunn $7.00

2015 PRESS STATEMENT (14) First Stan Fox Stakes Rosehill 1500m H.Bowman $2.50

2014 SHOOTING TO WIN (8) First Stan Fox Stakes Rosehill  1500m J.Mcdonald $7.50

2013 LONG JOHN (1) Third (0.9L)Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m K.McEvoy $3.75

2012 ALL TOO HARD (3) Fourth 3L George Main Stakes Randwick 1600m D.Dunn $12

2011 HELMET (5) First Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m K.McEvoy $2.10

2010 ANACHEEVA (1) First Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m L.Nolen $6

2009 STARSPANGLEDBANNER (1) Fourth (0.6L) Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m D.Nikolic $13

2008 WHOBEGOTYOU (11) First Bill Stutt Stakes M/Valley 1600m M.Rodd $3

2007 WEEKEND HUSSLER (4) First Sandown 3yo Open 1400m B.Rawiller $1.90

2006 WONDERFUL WORLD (8) First Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m L.Nolen $6.50

2005 GOD’S OWN (12) Second (0.1L) Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m G.Boss $7.50

2004 ECONSUL (4) Sixth (3L) Stan Fox StakesWarwick Farm 1400m C.Munce $41

2003 IN TOP SWING (4) Second (2L) Guineas Prelude Caulfield 1400m N.Callow $21

2002 HELENUS (7) First Bill Stutt Stakes M/Valley 1600m S.King $4.25

2001 LONHRO (10) First Stan Fox Stakes Randwick 1400m D.Gauci $7

Pertinent statistics;

A) 13/17 drew barriers 1-8 (76%). Looking back to 1995 those same barriers have provided 26 of the last 32 winners (81%) so it is advantageous to draw favourable in this race. 9 of the last 15 winners have drawn barriers 1-4 which is better than a 50% winning ratio. 4 of the last 8 winners have drawn barrier 1 which is quite a statistic.

B) 7/17 ran in Guineas Prelude prior and one other (Helenus) ran a close third in the Guineas Prelude before winning the Stutt Stakes prior to this race. It has been 5 years now since a winner has come out of that race though, 5/16 came out of the Stan Fox Stakes in Sydney including 3 of the past 4. The programming for that race was changed last year though to be 5 weeks prior to the Caulfield Guineas, hardy ideal from a historical perspective,

C) 16 of 17 winners had less than a sixteen day break between runs.

D) 9 of 17 won their last start, and a further 7 finished in the first 4 placings last start. 16/16 finished within three lengths of the winner.

E) 7 of 17 won their last start by more than 2 lengths

F) 11 of 17 were in the first four horses turning for home. Those that have come from well back in the field have generally had a class edge (Whobegotyou, Helenus) or produced a freakish effort to win (Lonhro, God’s Own). Divine Prophet was close enough to the leaders when he won last year and got a great rails run. Mighty Boss last year also got a dream rails run.

G) 10 of 17 started their Caulfield Guineas preparation in Sydney

H) 15 of last 16 winners had 3 starts or more in their current preparation prior to winning this race.

I) 4 of last 7 winners came via Sydney out of race at 1500m-1600m.

J) The last 4 winners (and 5 of last 6) have come out of a race at a distance of more than 1400m.

K) Average starting price $15.00 is more than you should expect from a set weights race. Admittedly the 100-1 win of MB last year has blown that figure out from $9 but even that figure was way too generous for a set weights event. It does tell you something about the unpredictability of three year old races at this time of the year, where all are open to huge improvement, and many trainers are yet to find out what is the best distance for their horse and maybe how best to ride it.

 

Analysis;

THE AUTUMN SUN is going to start a short priced favourite here which isn’t surprising given his strike rate and sensational win last start. He has a few things against him here (notably points C & H) but he probably has a class edge, and has drawn the inside barrier which has won 4 of the past 9 editions. He probably will get back a bit further than is ideal, and if that is the case the jockey might have to look for a run on the rails or between runners in the straight. Not too many horses win this race coming down the outside from well off the pace. He could be the exception, but at the odds on offer I wouldn’t want to see that transpire. The stable got the tactics spot on with Press Statement three years ago (similarly had a class edge) so we might see this horse sit closer to the lead on Saturday. Hard to knock, and does look the most likely winner on form.

History might have it’s say though and I guess you’d be looking at a horse like NATIVE SOLDIER as the most likely candidate. He only needs to run a strong mile out to be considered very hard to beat, and he will be right on the pace from a good barrier. He has won two consecutive races here, both from barrier 15, so has a lot less work to do early this time.

LEONARDO DA HINCHI should have won the Stutt Stakes easier than he did, and he is a horse I’ve had a lot of time for since he sat wide to win at Sandown in good time at his second start. His preparation for this looks to be perfect and I’d be very keen on him had he drawn a better barrier. It does appear that he can cross to sit third or fourth with his tactical speed, providing that both The Autumn Sun and The August don’t make really good use of their barriers. If he can get an economical run he is going to make his presence felt.

MUSWELLBROOK gets the blinkers on first time and could turn the tables on LDH from the Stutt Stakes if he finds a little bit of improvement with the better barrier. He has twice finished runner up at this trip and the inside barrier is a huge asset for him. Three year old filly OOHOOD is also going to have admirers and her price is generous from a good barrier. She just missed out winning the Golden Slipper and perhaps the win last start could be the making of her. Admittedly no fillies have won this race in the modern era but then again not many have tried and Catchy did run third as a filly last year and she just found the 1600m beyond her. We know this filly can run the trip. If you compare the times at Randwick last time and consider GEM SONG carried 3kg more than Oohood did then it would seem he is at least as good a quality horse. Form through a horse called Royal Celebration suggests he isn’t far inferior to The AUTUMN SUN either with both relegating that horse to second placing and Gem Song gave it more weight and had a checquered run in the straight. His odds appeal, but he too gets back in his races and he has drawn wide. Those two factors have been just too hard to overcome in this race in the vast majority of cases. He might run a very big race though.

One to keep an eye on at massive odds is MR EXCLUSIVE who ran on really well in the Prelude after drawing wide and having to switch course in the straight. He has had to go back in all but one of his race starts so far due to drawing poorly. The only time he did draw inside he led and wasn’t beaten far by the impressive Extra Brut at Sandown.  This time he has drawn barrier 3 and he should be able to sit just behind the leaders. Winkers went on him last start and a mile race looks right up his alley on that last run. $67 is way too big a pricegiven he can take up a position whereas some much shorter priced horses have to overcome bad barriers, and possibly midfield to rearward field positions.

Tempo;

There does look to be a bit of pressure in this race with NATIVE SOLDIER, TAVISAN and LEONARDO DA HINCHI up on the pace

 

Conclusion;

I’m going to gamble on LEONARDO DA HINCHI to win the race though and just pray that he can get some cover from that awkward barrier. I don’t think the race has electrifying pace, so he should get his chance if he jumps well, and and the jockey rides him with intent. He is almost certainly going to be in front of the favourite in the run, and should be the one to run down. I also like the fact he did have a cosy run last time and he might have the energy to overcome a wide run on the speed here.

NATIVE SOLDIER and the filly OOHOOD were very well performed 2yo’s and that type don’t generally win this race, but otherwise they do look the best historical candidates. Had GEM SONG drawn better I’d be keen to invest, but it’s so difficult to overcome the wide barriers in this race unless you can be right on the pace. Of course THE AUTUMN SUN is the one they all have to beat, and the fact he has drawn a good barrier is a massive asset given his racing style for this race. That sounds a bit odd given he gets back in the field, but for this race it generally doesn’t matter if you get back too far, as long as you don’t have to cover ground to win the race. He looks a good multi anchor for me for the day but I can’t back him straight out at the price. I’ll definitely have something on MR EXCLUSIVE each way at the price on offer, as he could be the big surprise packet.

 

  1. LEONARDO DA HINCHI
  2. THE AUTUMN SUN
  3. NATIVE SOLDIER
  4. MR EXCLUSIVE

 

The Everest 2018

I find it hard to separate the majority of these even after the barrier draw and the forecast track rating that’s likely to be a Slow 7 or even worse.

BRAVE SMASH- Ran a career best second in this race last year fourth up, and was also a runner up finish at his previous start (both same scenarios here). Blinkers went on for this last year and ironically probably led to his downfall. They came off after his next start which was a horrible performance first up at Moonee Valley when a short priced favourite. Oddly all his wins have come when drawn between 4 and 9 (4-7/12) and similarly in fields of 11-13 runners (4-5/11). Interestingly he does have 2 placings on wet tracks, one of them in Japan on a Heavy surface, the other when unlucky behind Vega Magic. His overall form does appear to be best between the months of September-March which was also the case in Japan, so it’s not a seasonal issue. A wet track might actually assist him, and he is just the type of horse that requires a clear run giving his midfield/back racing pattern. Given that a wideish barrier might be advantageous. He drew an inside barrier which probably isn’t ideal.

GRAFF- Only had a 5 start career thus far but he has 3 wins and 2 placings, and should probably be unbeaten up to 1300m. Never run at this track but he has won a trial here. Very hard to line up but the times out of the Run To The Rose two starts back didn’t really compare too well to the older horse at the same distance that day. However the time in his Golden Rose race last start did compare well, and may even have been the fastest edition ever run. Both his defeats have been with 2 weeks between runs so the extra break and freshen here looks good for him. A wet track would be no real issue and might actually be of benefit. Lighter weighted horses often do handle wet tracks better than higher weighted ones. The negative is his lack of experience against much more seasoned and battle hardened sprinters. He has also drawn wide and he probably needed everything in this favour to win this. Not sure that will work to his advantage.

 

IN HER TIME- She is 7-2/10  in the Spring/Summer months and only 1-4/11 in Autumn/Winter. She does seem a better mare when she is nearer the pace, rather than back further than midfield. 6-6/14 on dry tracks opposed to 2-0/7 on wet tracks probably indicates she is better on firm surfaces at this level of racing. Probably needs a dry track to win, and to be ridden positively so a soft draw is preferable. She managed to draw out a bit which diminishes her chances somewhat.

LE ROMAIN- A month freshen up looks ideal for him given his record with 14 days or less between runs read 2-10/19. Beyond that he is 5-3/11 which is far more impressive. His record at Randwick is excellent at 5-7/16 and he hasn’t actually won on a tighter track (other wins at Newcastle and Flemington) which is telling given the class of horse he is. A dry track would maybe be better for him but he is actually 2-3/6 on Heavy. Soft tracks seem to be a slight problem (0-5/6) He really needs to draw inside barrier 9 at least given he is 0-6 beyond those gates and seems to be the sort of midfield type horse that can get trapped wide. He has twice as many second and third placings as he does wins so maybe he isn’t a bad place bet here. Having said that his win odds are quite generous given he does have a few things going for him. Alas he drew wide but there is an opinion around that he will be more prominent in the race than I had envisaged. Still would have preferred him to draw in and have less work to do.

OSBORNE BULLS- This will be his first test at WFA which is a massive ask. Statistically it’s hard to pick holes in him though and notably he is 5-1/6 at the distance and 2/2 third up. Two of his defeats have been second up and going to 1400m second up last start off a 5 week break definitely wasn’t ideal. He has a win and a placing at the track from his two starts there and is 2/2 on Soft 5 rated tracks. His brother Badajoz is 3-4/8 on wet tracks which includes a win on a Heavy 9 surface. Wide barriers haven’t posed a problem to him so far either (4-2/7) so if he does draw out it isn’t too much of a negative on paper. Is he as good a chance as his replaced stablemate Home Of The Brave? I think he probably is. Jungle Cat who beat him home last start would be considered a live chance in this race had he come. He did get 2.5kg from that horse last start and the consensus seems to be he would be better suited in a handicap.  He has drawn perfectly in barrier 5 and should get the run of the race from there.

REDZEL- The Titleholder is 2-3/6 on soft tracks any surface isn’t going to bother him. A recent set back might have though, and he doesn’t quite come in to the race in as good shape as he was last year. He is still reasonably fresh though (races best that way) and his third up stats are as good as his first and second up stats. He makes his own luck, and the barrier draw is seemingly not of great consequence to him. Doubtful that any horse could lead him in the race if the jockey wants to take the front, but he was forced to sit just off the leader last year. On balance I’d say he has the best wet track credentials in the race. He has won and placed on Heavy ground and has a half brother named Danerich who only ever won on wet tracks. Dam sire was Rubiton who is a renowned producer of wet trackers. Drawn the outside which now gives him more options than a lot of runners. He can take a sit behind the leader if desired which he did before winning last year.

SANTA ANA LANE- Has won three G1 handicap (or non WFA) sprints in the space of 12 months which I can’t remember any horse doing in my lifetime. All those wins were quite decisive too, no tiny margins involved. He possibly should have won the Goodwood Handicap in 2017 when he wasn’t well weighted. Last start was his first win at WFA. He is 3-2/6 third up which is better than his stats first and second up. He is 6-6/16 barriers 4-6,opposed to 2-3/12 from outside barrier 7 and it’s possibly pertinent that none of his four wins in the past 12 months have involved coming right to the outside in the straight.  That is unusual for a backmarker type horse. Would prefer to see him draw inside for this race but he seems to handle all track conditions nowadays whereas in the past he did prefer it firm. Drew out in barrier 9 which I didn’t particularly want to see. He probably has to drop back further in the field now which makes the task harder.

SHOALS- She has encouraging stats- 4/4 in fields of more than 11 runners and 2/2 from barriers 10+, a positive if she were to draw out a bit. Her only poor run was at Caulfield which was put down to a reluctance to race in between horses when ridden off the speed. She is 3/3 on wet tracks. And is adaptable in regards to field position, so the stable have options to consider when the barriers are drawn and the track surface is known. If she draws inside you would expect her to be ridden closer to avoid any crowding. The reverse would be more likely if she draws out. She drew inside and I’d really have preferred to see her draw wider. Will the stable contemplate going forward? I can’t find that info anywhere and suspect that she will settle back given she has been racing so well that way and this race is 1200m. (She has led and won at a mile).

TRAPEZE ARTIST- Second up his stats read 0-0/4 and from barriers 1-3 he is 0-2/4. It does look as though he needs a track rated probably no worse than a Soft 7 given he is 0/3 on Heavy tracks. Third up he is 2-1/3, so if he draws out a little bit in the Everest it would add to my confidence in his chances. Definitely ready to peak and he is one horse that could cover ground up on the pace and still come up trumps. Drew out a bit which is absolutely ideal for him. 

U S NAVY FLAG- Imported Colt who has won his last three starts at 1200m and been beaten 5 other times in his last 9 starts beyond that trip. Not won first up, but only had the two attempts and one of them was on a Heavy track (the other on debut) which he doesn’t appear to like.  From barriers 1-6 he is 2/9, but outside that is 3/5, although we have to take into account some of these runs have been on straight tracks. He is an on pacer that doesn’t give in easily, and last start easily accounted for Redkirk Warrior (Lightning Stakes and Newmarket Handicap winner) in England. Will handle any surface bar a very heavy one. His dam was a very good racemare winning four G1 races. It appears he doesn’t have her stamina, but 1200m perfect for him as he runs it out very strongly. Have to respect the world’s leading stable who brought Adelaide here to win a Cox Plate here on his Aussie debut. Drew barrier 3 which is good if he begins well but on the other hand he does tend to be tardy away apparently, and he might lack galloping room if that is the case. An outer barrier might have been more to his liking but not conclusive about that.

VEGA MAGIC- he is 9-2/12 from barriers 4 through 12 and was unlucky not to win this race last year from barrier 10. Had he been ridden more positively early he might have won. Very similar preparation to last year,  but the fact he is 0/2 with this sort of break between runs doesn’t seem ideal. Would like to see him draw between barriers 4-8 and not have a repeat of last year’s horror run when caught wide. He probably doesn’t want too wet a surface to produce his very best either in this. Drew 7 which is absolutely perfect for him and the Blinkers go back on which makes it likely he will lead. Hard to seem him getting trapped wide this year.

VIDDORA- Appears to be at her absolute best when more than a month between runs (5-5/11) and seems to be a better mare when the jockey starts her run from 5-6 lengths off the pace, (with galloping room) in the middle stages (her 2 best wins). She has won her last three starts when travelling interstate (travelling might add to her being fresher?) and is yet to miss a place on right handed tracks (1-2/3). Her 2 defeats in the Autumn were both when she got way back in the field. Ideally want to see her drawn off the rail and be ridden slightly further forward than midfield. A mid to high barrier draw would make that more likely. She has won on a Soft 6 track twice in lower class, but was well beaten on the same track rating in the Goodwood which might have been a more ‘shifty’ wet track than others we normally see of the same rating. My gut feeling is though that her chances diminish on a surface rated worse than a Soft 5,  She drew the outside barrier which actually appears quite suitable. She needs to get to the outside in the straight and that makes the task easier for the jockey.

 

 

Tempo;

There looks to be genuine speed in the race with both Redzel and U S Navy Flag likely to vie for the lead.  Vega Magic won’t be far away if he draws inside and  In Her Time, Graff and Trapeze Artist and likely be ridden positively. Shoals can also take up a forward position if she draws a good barrier.  A leader won the race last year (Redzel), and if a wet track ensues it just might make it easier to win from the front again this year. Just not sure how easy it will be for the backmarkers to make ground down the outside especially if the track becomes quite Heavy. But that is all hypothetical, and it’s just safer to say at present that we are likely to get a truly run race that gives every horse it’s chance to win.

Conclusion;

As I write this I think there is light rain falling in Sydney so it’s hard to see a lot of improvement in the track condition tomorrow. If I had to stand out the best wet credentialled track horse in the race it would be REDZEL, although I do think is price is way unders atm. More a double figure chance for mine. Realistically I have very little idea of what will win this race, it is that hard! Forced to pick a first 4 I’ll go this way from a value perspective;

  1. VIDDORA– Upon closer analysis I think that  a wet track might actually be in her favour. She did win on Slow 6 at Morphettville as a 3yo in a decent quality race that contained a few decent wet trackers. She got to the outside in the straight there, as she did in Perth in the Winterbottom, and at the Gold Coast one day, and the Moir last start. That is the key to her, and the barrier allows Bowditch to work into the race well before the turn if she is going well enough. I couldn’t believe the price offered up about her at the start of the week and it is lengthening now. She looks great value.
  2. SANTA ANA LANE– He has won four really good races in the past 12 months at this sort of level. On every occasion I’ve had a doubt about him as have most punters. In the Sir Rupert Clarke 1400m looked an ask. In the Goodwood he looked poorly weighted, and looked to be a duffer on wet tracks beforehand. In the Stradbroke he had a heavy track to contend with which looked unsuitable even after the Goodwood success. And last start he looked a run short and he hadn’t won at WFA. Tomorrow he looks to have drawn in a less than ideal spot and is faced with having to obtain a run through the field (in all likelihood). He has been so strong at the end of all his wins in recent times though and has won by fairly dominant margins in all but one of them. Very hard to knock and Ben Melham seems to have the key to him.
  3. LE ROMAIN- Also looks way over the odds, probably double the price he should be. Loves Randwick and the wetter the better for him He probably needs to go forward and get the first crack at the leaders in the straight. Not sure they can ride him back and expect him to have enough zip at the end. A war of attrition would suit him and he is better off forcing the issue I feel. Looks a really good place or first 4 bet.
  4. REDZEL- The jockey has more options than most here and if the pace isn’t strong he is going to be very hard to beat. As I said he looks the best wet track horse in the race and he doesn’t have to be used up to much early. I don’t have a lot of luck following stable talk (Barrier draw commentary on Sky the other night) but it does seem the horse is absolutely thriving at the moment and he will be primed for this. Although Vega Magic probably should have beaten him last year it just might be that things have fallen into place for him this year again, with the weather and barrier draw, remembering too he did have a setback before the last run when he was a little disappointing. That may mean he can find quite a bit of improvement off a lighter preparation than last year ( 8 runs last year and 6 this year)

I’m just doubting the wet track credentials of a few others like Vega Magic, Trapeze Artist, In Her Time and Shoals.  Despite the consensus on the latter being a gun wet tracker I tend to query that on her race performances especially on Heavy. That one win on a Heavy track was a real struggle against Formality who got beaten a mile in the Golden Slipper on a bog the previous Autumn. Nevertheless the stable say different. U S Navy Flag may or may not get through it but realistically he was sent her in the expectation of a dry track ensuing. OSBORNE BULLS could be the surprise packet as I really suspect he will get through the going and he has drawn perfectly to get the right run. The state of the track night take the edge away from some of his rivals who have higher class ratings.

Moir Stakes 2018

I really haven’t had time to do a total history and statistical analysis of this race and am just going to attempt to put forward a few facts and opinions. I will start with some limited historical data;

A) 8 of the last 16 winners have been a filly or mare which is an outstanding strike rate for the fairer sex. Not too many other races on our calendar have that kind of winning ratio for the females. Interesting then that this year they actually outnumber the males so they have a great chance to add to their total in 2018.

B) The last 8 winners have been either first up or second up into their preparation coming in.

C) From what I can ascertain 14 of the past 18 winners had a definite ability to race on the pace and/or lead in their races. To add a bit of confusion the last two winners have come from well off the pace, but notably were three year okds who came direct from the Golden Slipper the previous Autumn. Very good 2yo’s carrying a light weight, but we don’t have a any of them engaged this year, which is a bit of a shame.

 

Tempo; 

There is a mountain of speed in the race this year so It’s probable a horse win from midfield or back, but a lot of that assumption might also rest on how the track plays. More likely to be favouring leaders, as is normally the case, particularly when there isn’t above average speed in a race.

Analysis;

  1. BRAVE SMASH– I can’t find too many positives for him in reality. He is yet to start below 1100m, but his get back style might actually be suited to a fast run race at 1000m. 3 of his 4 wins are with more than three weeks between runs so I would have loved to see him coming in a bit fresher. He is 0/6 outside barrier 9.
  2. VOODOO LAD He was beaten less than 2L in this race last year from the same barrier when he wasn’t quite as fit. His record at 1100m and below reads 6/9 which is quite impressive albeit 5 of those wins are at 1100m. Brad Rawiller is 5-1/6 aboard. What stats probably don’t tell you is he is almost certainly a better horse on drier surfaces. Anything worse than a Soft 5 is a struggle for him. Draw wide and he is 0-1/3 from barriers wider than 9. Will be suited by a fast pace but coming back in distance again does seem some concern.
  3. BALL OF MUSCLE– Glynn Schofield has an amazing record aboard 9-4/14 and at one stage had won 6 in a row on him. The other engaging stat is that he is 5-4/10 from barriers 4-6. Likely to lead or be one of the leaders which looks an ask in this, but he will most likely be shunned in the betting. Doubt he can win, but he is a mighty chance of running a place so well worth putting in Trifectas and First 4’s.
  4. JUNGLE EDGE– He is 0/21 on dry tracks which is hard to believe really. Just doesn’t look a suitable race for him though his record at the distance is actually better than it is at 1100m or 1200m. A lot of pace on is not good for his chances.
  5. FAATINAH– Not a lot to say about him. Second up is not his best statistic (first up is) and although he won at 1000m last start, that was his first win from 6 starts at the trip. Who knows though…..a trip overseas to Dubai earlier in the year might have matured him and he was less than 2L away in this race last year from an inside barrier. Another of the on pace brigade who will probably take a sit this time. Will probably start a bigger price than he should.
  6. NATURE STRIP– Not much to say because he is almost impossible to pick a hole in. Fantastic winning strike rate, and this race gives the stable the perfect opportunity to sit off the pace and see if he can explode. That may or may not work in his favour because it will be a new experience for him. Not coming in fresh which doesn’t seem to be a positive in this race historically.
  7. VIDDORA– The first of the mares this year, and she is the most classy of them being a Group 1 winner. Just beaten in this race last year fresh, so no problem being first up again here. Gets a pace to suit, and she has trialled well coming in. I question is Moonee Valley really her track, but 1000m is actually her most prolific winning distance. If back to her brilliant best she is going to go close, and her fairer sex status adds to the confidence.
  8. HOUTZEN- Very, very good first up just beaten by Nature Strip, and she proved she could come from a few lengths off the lead that day. Loves this track and a perfect 3/3 second up record is hugely encouraging. She is 3-3/6 at the short course trips of 1000-1100m but a little suspect at 1200m (3-0/8). She is as deserving second favourite, and you could also make an argument she should be favourite.
  9. MISSROCK– She has a great first up record and has already won fresh at this track and distance at listed level. You could really make a case for her here (as she has the class as proven by her Lightning Stakes placing in the Autumn) but the outside barrier is a massive turnoff as she is 0/7 beyond barrier 9. That win here was her last one, and that was 12 months and 15 starts ago. Hard to see her winning but she could definitely run a place.
  10. SPRIGHT– Another mare you could make a case for because she does excel on dry tracks, and can run a race fresh. The inside barrier is a major hindrance though (1-4/9 barriers 1-3) and her get back style means she is going to be awkwardly positioned here. Pace on assists but class looks a little beyond her perhaps?
  11. SAVANNA AMOUR– Underrated mare who seems to improve each preparation in re. Hasn’t done a great deal in her last two fresh runs though, and hasn’t won at 1000m from two attempts.
  12. SNITTY KITTY– Group 1 placed mare who is going to be right on the pace in this. Reason to believe she can cope given she nearly won an Oakleigh Plate from barrier 17. She has drawn 8 of 13 in this race. Interesting she is 2/2 first up in the Spring (as is the case here) although her only run here was an asbolute shocker early on in her career (must have been excuses). I can’t get totally warm about her, but in reality there aren’t too many negatives if she can lead, sit second or get some cover just off the speed.
  13. NIETA- She is a vastly superior mare on rain affected ground. She is 0/7 away from Sydney, 0/5 outside barrier 9, and 0/5 with Corey Brown aboard. The big positive is she is 4-3/8 at this trip, so if it happened to rain quite a lot you could do worse than back her at the odds.

Conclusion;

Based on what I’ve written and assessed I would go with the following top 4 which could well be in the complete wrong order and I suspect Snitty Kitty might run a good race too. Going with  two mares as the Quinella anyhow given the excellent history they have.

  1. HOUTZEN– Probably doesn’t want to contest the lead  but I love those second up stats.
  2. VIDDORA– I’ve backed her (price is value enough) and she looks okay historically but maybe not the best statisticall?
  3. BALL OF MUSCLE- Like the fact he goes well for Glynn Schofield and the barrier stat.
  4. NATURE STRIP– Looking forward to see what he can do if ridden off the pace. Could really put the to the sword if things fall into place.

 

Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes 2018- A Historical and Statistical Perspective

 

 

Race 8 at Caulfield on Saturday ( 4.50pm AEST ) sees the 2018 running of the Sir Rupert Clarke stakes, a 1400m Group one race that throws up some amazing historical precedents which no other race in Australia can match.

For that reason it is my favourite race of the spring. It has been quite easy to predict in recent years, and certainly challenges the Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane as the premier 1400 metre handicap race in the country.

 

YEAR HORSE JOCKEY BR SP WT Age/Sex Form, Weight Drop, Stage of Preparation

 

 

2017 SANTA ANA LANE D.YENDALL (6) $26 52kg- 5g- 4th (1L) M/Valley 1200m Open Listed (-3.5) Third up.

2016 BON AURUM K. McEVOY (5) $4.50 52kg- 4H- 1st  Flemington Sofitel 1400m (Open) (-2) Third up.

2015 STRATUM STAR C.WILLIAMS 15 $8.50 54.5kg 4H- 3rd Memsie Stakes Caulf WFA (-4) Third up.

2014 TRUST IN A GUST  D. LANE 9  52 $6  4H-  1st Le Pine Funeral Stakes Caul (-3.5) Fourth up.

2013 REBEL DANE   G.BOSS    14      $5.50 55.5 4H- 4th Bobbie Lewis (-2) Third up

2012  MOMENT OF CHANGE  L.NOLAN  15  $4.50 52.5 –  4G 3rd Tramway Handicap (-1.5) Third up.

2011 TOORAK TOFF C,WILLIAMS 5   $12  56.5   4H  5th Bobbie Lewis (-0.5) Second Up.
2010 RESPONSE C.WILLIAMS 5 $4.75 53.5 4M 2nd Cockram – 2nd Lets Elope (-2) Third up
2009 TURFFONTEIN G.BOSS 11 $15 55.5 5H 7th Premiere Stk-5th Bobbie Lewis ( +0.5) Third up.
2008 ORANGE COUNTY D.OLIVER 15 $9 54 6G 4th McEwen Stk-3rd Bobbie Lewis (-2) Third up.
2007 BON HOFFA V.DURIC 3 $3.80f 53 5H 1st Caul 1200m Hcp-1st Bobbie Lewis (0) Third up.
2006 REWAAYA C.WILLIAMS 1 $3.70 51 4M 14th Cockram Stk-1st Lets Elope Stk (-2) Third up.
2005 BARELY A MOMENT C.WILLIAMS 8 $8 52 4H 8th MV 1200m 1MW-LY-2nd Memsie Stk (-5.5) Third up.
2004 REGAL ROLLER M.FLAHERTY 11 $4.60 55.5 5G 4th Bletchingly Stk-1st Liston Stk-1st Memsie Stk (-2.5) Fourth up.
2003 EXCEED AND EXCEL C.BROWN 5 $7 52.5 3C 6th San Domenico-1st Up & Coming Stk-1st Roman Consul (-4) Fourth up.
2002 PERNOD K.MCEVOY 15 $12 53.5 5M 1st Cockram Stk
2001 MR. MURPHY D.OLIVER 13 $11 54.5 4H 9th Caul 1200m Hcp
2000 TESTA ROSSA B.PREBBLE 9 7-2f 58.5 4H 1st McEwen Trpy
1999 TESTA ROSSA D.OLIVER 12 5 54.5 3C 1st San Domenico-1st Up & Coming Stk-2nd Ascot Vale Stk
1998 LORD LUSKIN S.BASTER 8 33 51 6G 3rd VRC Winter Final-4th Sand 1000m Hcp-13th Bobbie Lewis
1997 CUT UP ROUGH S.KING 15 12 57 7G 3rd Manikato Stks-3rd Bobbie Lewis
1996 ENCOSTA DE LAGO S.KING 18 4 50 3C 5th MV McKenzie Stks-1st Ascot Vale Stk
1995 OUR MAIZCAY B.YORK 2 1-1f 52.5 3C 1st Up & Coming Stk-1st Roman Consul-1st Ascot Vale Stk
1994 POETIC KING D.OLIVER 2 2f 55.5 4G 1st Bletchingly Stks-3rd Bobbie Lewis
1993 BLACK ROUGE N.WILSON 8 16 52.5 5G 8th MV 1200m Hcp-4th Manikato Stk-4th Memsie Stk
1992 MANNERISM D.OLIVER 11 11-4f 56 5M 1st Let’s Elope Stk
1991 ST. JUDE B.YORK 4 9-2f 57 4H 4th Bobbie Lewis
1990 SUBMARINER D.OLIVER 4 8 49 4H 6th Caul 1200m Hcp

IN THE LAST 28 YEARS:

AGE / SEX

3C – 4 WINNERS
4G – 2 WINNER
4H – 10 WINNERS
4M – 2 WINNER
5G – 3 WINNERS
5H – 2 WINNERS
5M – 2 WINNERS
6G – 2 WINNERS
7G – 1 WINNER

BARRIER
(1-5) 10 WINS
(6-10) 6 WINS
(11-15) 11 WINS
(16+) 1 WIN

LAST START
11 last start winners have won
8 horses were placed at their last run
9 horses unplaced (inc 4 x 4th and a 5th)

I’m utilising 28 years of data ,and remarkably 16 winners in that period have been Entires (a horse or colt, not a gelding). That factor alone accounts for nearly 58 per cent of winners, and over 66% of those (10) have been four years of age. There have been four 3yo Colts, and two 5yo Entires also win in this period. In the 2014 years edtion of this race there were six entires engaged, who astonishingly  finished in the first eight placings.

The other factor that has played a major factor in the outcome of the race is the leadup. The most prolific has clearly been the Bobbie Lewis Quality run down the straight at Flemington, two weeks prior. It has provided nine of the past 28 winners, including five of the last nine but none of the last 4 winners came out of that race, and a change of programming appears to now make that race far less of an influence. It is now run a week before this race rather than two and three weeks prior, as was the case.

Interestingly only one of those actually won the Bobbie Lewis (Bon Hoffa in 2007), though all bar one horse that has come out of that race (to win this), has finished in the first five placings. Four of the last five Bobbie Lewis representatives that went on to win this have been Entires, and three of those have been four year olds.

Mares do have an average record in the race with only four winners in the past 28 years, and none have come out of the Bobbie Lewis. Three of the four female winners have came via the Let’s Elope Stakes.

Barriers have played little consequence in the outcome of this race so I think it is best not to be put off by wider draws. Stratum Star in 2015 (Barrier 15), Rebel Dane in 2013 (Barrier 14), and Moment Of Change in 2012 (barrier 15) are strong recent examples suggesting that if the horse is good enough it can still win from a poor draw. And barriers 11-15 have a better record than the inside barriers of 1-5. Barrier 15 has won four of the last fifteen editions and two of the last five.Only 7 of the past 22 winners have drawn inside barrier 5 and only 2 of the past 15 have done so.

.

The weight range 49kg-55.5kg has provided 23 of the past 28 winners which might once again help us whittle down the chances this year.

Jockey Craig Williams knows what it takes to win the race having been successful on five of the past Thirteen occasions (oddly all have been 4yo’s), and Damien Oliver has won the race six times since 1990.  Those two have now won it a combined 11 times in the past 28 years. That is a rarity in any horse race.

10 of the last 17 winners have been four year olds, and the 7 of the last 8 have been.

23 of the last 26 winners finished in the first 5 placings last start

15 of the last 16 winners have started at $15 or less

11 of the last 15 winners have been third up into their preparation. Four have been fourth up and one has been second up.

Former winners of this race have sired 2 of the past 6 winners. Bon Hoffa (Bon Aurum), and Barely A Moment (Moment Of Change),

 

Victorian trainer Darren Weir has trained two of the last four winners and was runner up in 2016 with Voodoo Lad.

The ideal candidate to win this race would have the following criteria;

  1. Aged 4 years or less
  2. Be a Colt or Horse (Entire)
  3. Have finished with a win or placing last start, or finished fourth or fifth less than 2L from the winner.
  4. Coming into the race third up
  5. Dropping in weight from last start.
  6. Be drawn outside barrier 4
  7. Be at starting odds of $15 or less.

 

Analysis;

  1. JUNGLE CAT- Historically speaking I don’t think this race has ever seen the likes of him. A 6yo entire coming off a Group 1 win at Meydan (Dubai) where he has done most of his racing at WFA level. He is first up though and the Aussie punter isn’t used to seeing our horses competing first up in a G1 handicap carrying top weight. The European trainers prepare their horses differently for first up assignments so perhaps there is no concern on that front, and he looks like the type of horse that will sit behind the speed and get every chance from an ideal barrier. My concern is he gives weight to some decent horses in a G1 handicap handicap at a distance that seems a little beyond his best (despite having won at this trip. But his class will take him a long way all the same.

 

  1. HOME OF THE BRAVE- An international (Godolphin) stablemate of the topweight, he has already proven himself here winning his last start in Sydney at G2 level in dominant fashion. Historically speaking I’m not quite so keen though with the weight and his age, His left handed track record looks a little suspect also at 1/7 compared to more positive stats on right handed ones. Notably he is yet to win with less than 22 days between runs He has a good record at the distance though, (far better than fellow import Jungle Cat) and is going to lead this field into the straight where he might look the winner.

 

  1. SHOWTIME- Another of the on pace brigade in this race he looks great coming in fourth up and being a 4yo entire. You have to be forgiving of his last start failure, though which followed a career peak win at G2 WFA. Having said that he could be best described as an enigma. It did rain on the day last start and the the excuse given by the jockey was that he wouldn’t stretch out. He does have to carry more weight to win this than most of his age have done in the past. His fourth up record reads 1-2/3 though and if he gets a dry track (very likely) then we might see a complete form reversal, and is one horse that will probably drift in the market from his current quote of $14. He looks quite poorly weighted, but on the other hand he is probably going to make his own luck, whereas some better weighted horses are going to get back from wider barriers.

 

  1. OSBORNE BULLS- I really do love this horse, and he could actually be unbeaten from his 11 starts with a little more luck. As it is he has won 8 of them, and is yet to miss a place. Alas history doesn’t really support his chances, and the month between runs is a concern at the 1400m. He has drawn well though, is 3/3 with more than 3 weeks between runs, and he has a terrific will to win as shown by his last effort when he wasn’t really entitled to beat a small field off a less than ideal pace. Not overly well weighted seeing he hasn’t won a Group race yet, but it’s hard to see him missing a top four spot given his record thus far. Only once has he carried a weight less than 56kg and that was a win. Hard to beat with Craig Williams riding an asset. Reportedly he had a searching gallop this morning (Thursday) which adds to the confidence. I can’t have him on top historically but I might let my heart rule my head when it comes to having a bet on the race.

 

  1. LITE’N IN MY VEINS- This former WA horse doesn’t line up well historically and has drawn very wide which might not help his chances. He should enjoy a significant weight drop though, and has a very good second up record which should be respected. He gae 7kg to the winner Night’s Watch last start and that horse went very well in a WFA race subsequently.This distance might be a little short of his best now though so I’m inclined to risk his chances given the lack of historical and statistical positives,

 

  1. WIDGEE TURF- SCRATCHED One of the most improved horses in training and he is extremely consistent, lthough he has drawn very wide he has a good record at this track and has missed a place only once at this distance. He meets Showtime 2.5kg for a narrow defeat two starts back and he is going to appreciate a big weight drop coming into this. Age and Gender don’t look great historically, but it’s interesting that he is a son of former winner Turffontein. Hard fit too which might enable him to overcome a tough run in transit, and he is probably going to be a bigger price than his opening quote at start time. Interesting he was given a soft barrier trial six days before this race. Notably he has no wins with 14 days or less between runs, but is 6-1/7 with 15 to 21 days between. Great recognition of that fact by trainer Patrick Payne, win, lose or draw.

 

  1. HELLOVA STREET- Amazingly consistent Tassie horse who boasts a very good first up and 1400m record. He should be right on the pace from a good barrier draw and will probably look one of the more likely winners on straightening, Not quite sure he is a G1 horse though, and an eight year old winning this first up would stand history on it’s head. Will have his supporters though, and rightly so given his career record.

 

  1. LAND OF PLENTY- A horse totally reborn under trainer Darren Weir, 7 starts for 4 wins and 3 placings since joining the stable. The barrier at first looks a negative, but he actually starts from barrier 11 in this and his record from barriers 10-12 is better than when he has drawn better than that. He is a 5yo Entire which looks a historical plus and his form coming in is first rate. He meets Osborne Bulls on the same weight terms for their meeting two starts back and he has the advantage of having run since over that horse. There wasn’t much between them either that day and he was first up that day which isn’t his best stat. He also might have done better had he not had to come inside the winner in the straight. Just seems to be a different physiological specimen in the hands of Weir, and he looks very hard to beat here with the wide barrier likely to eventuate in a better price. He is a son of Stratum who was also the sire of Weir’s 2015 winner Stratum Star. The only thing I don’t like is the addition of a Tongue Tie for the horse. Why fix a problem that isn’t broken? He has had one added before which didn’t help for a total of three starts. Not to say it’s going to be a negative, just appears not be a necessity.

 

  1. SOVEREIGN NATION- A bit of an enigmatic horse but he can run a race fresh, and he does meet LOP 5kg better for a 1.3L defeat last preparation (LOP probably a far better horse now though). From a history viewpoint it’s a resounding no though, and not sure the inside barrier is any good to him given his get back style. His 0-3/7 at Caulfield isn’t overly encouraging either. Could surprise if he is in a good mood, but I’m inclined to risk him.

 

  1. DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR- He is a consistent on pace type of horse who will head for the lead here from an outside barrier. He is hard fit and likely to give a bit of cheek. He backs up off an okay placing at Flemington last week and the only time he has run off a 7 day break he failed, albeit at a unsuitable 2000m. Historically I have to risk him with few other stats to support his case.

 

  1. FASTNET TEMPEST- Certainly not hopeless in this race dropping in weight at probably his best distance, but he isn’t a horse that has screamed Group 1 winner since he has been here. Worth keeping in mind he is 3/3 third up, but comes into this race second up (next time?)

The three week break does look ideal though and jockey Michael Walker might have learnt something from his first ride on the horse, when he hung in badly in the straight which cost victory at Sale behind Moss ‘N’ Dale .Historically speaking his chances don’t look great, and others look to have brighter claims.

 

  1. MR SNEAKY- Ran second in this race last year but he has a very wide barrier to contend with. He ran super first up and characteristically flat second up so he might improve into this. I can’t quite see enough positives to suggest he can win but he is capable enough with 54kg given he is WFA placed.

 

  1. OREGON’S DAY- WFA class mare who gets her chance to shine in this with only 53kg. Her best win was with 3 weeks between runs which is the case here and she will come in to a better barrier draw after scratchings. It will be interesting to see how they ride her from that slightly awkward draw as they have tended to be a bit negative in the past when she has drawn out. She might be better served going forward in this. Hard to knock but mares don’t have a great record in the race and the last of her age and sex to win was back in 2002. If one is to set that record straight it could be her, as at least she comes into this third up and with WFA form. Good chance.

 

  1. MISS GUNPOWDER- She looks a little outclassed in this lineup, but has drawn to advantage and is fit. First time on the backup for her, and no idea how she will cope with that. Her $31 opening quote seems about right given the task she has ahead, with little historically to recommend her either especially being a 6yo mare.

 

  1. PEACEFUL STATE- This 4 year old Entire looks a live chance as he is an arguably better horse than his fellow 4yo Showtime who has 4.5kg more. He is Group 1 placed behind Grunt at a mile and that looks very good form now given the win of that horse at WFA in the Makybe Diva last week. Dean Yendall rides and he did win the race last year on Santa Ana Lane. I just wish he was coming in third up here rather than second up, although fellow 4yo Toorak Toff did win this second up. Darren Weir, his trainer has also stated the distance is probably too short for him which didn’t please me at all. His run was great first up behind LOP, and he does meet that horse 1kg better for the meeting so he gets his chance here. I don’t see the wider barrier as an issue as he is 2-2/4 from barriers 10-12. He might need a very solid pace up front to allow him to swoop home late. Also keep in mind he is a half brother to champion gallioper Weekend Hussler so a Group 1 win here might be the tonic he needs to start emulating the feats of that galloper. His racing pattern is different though and hopefully he doesn’t have to overcome that to win this.

16 .HOLY SNOW- If he gets a run he has a hope in this especially being 4yo Entire, Not ideally he too comes into this second up though. A great run at WFA by him first up, but on his 3yo form he is perhaps a slightly inferior horse to his fellow 4yo Peaceful State (well behind him in the Australian Guineas). Certainly a top four hope for him, but he too needs a strong tempo up front to bring him into the race.

He does get a run now and definitely has a solid winning chance given his good run at WFA first up only beaten just over a length. He has trialled this week which could be a big asset, coming into this second up. Looking back on his Australian Guineas run it was not that far inferior to the winner and runner up (Peaceful State). He had to go well back from a wide barrier and gave both of those horses a start which was far greater than the margin he was defeated by. He raced too close first up with the Blinkers on and they have come off today and he will resume his normal get back pattern of racing. That might count against him but he did w in devastating fashion at this track and distance as a three year old when the pace was hectic up front. Maybe he can get an inside run on straightening off a cosy run in transit from a decent barrier?

 

Tempo;

There does appear to be solid pace in the race but I’m not totally convinced that those that get well back in the field are going to be suited.Those that can keep in touch with the 4 likely on pacers and start their un before the turn might be the best suited, though I could be wrong. My top three in this race are LAND OF PLENTY, PEACEFUL STATE and HOLY SNOW, but I feel that LOP will probably be the most prominent of the three in running,  and has shown the ability in recent starts to go around a field and sustain a run from midfield That might give him an edge over the other two although I do think Peaceful State is potentially the best horse in the race (excepting Osborne Bulls).  HOLY SNOW looks to be well and truly over the odds given he has drawn a better barrier than the more favoured 4yo Entire Peaceful State

1.LAND OF PLENTY (Great form coming in and probably the stable elect)

  1. PEACEFUL STATE (Looks the best weighted horse on potential)
  2. OSBORNE BULLS (The barrier trial this week might be the tonic for a win here)
  3. HOLY SNOW (Probably the best value bet in the race)

 

 

Darwin Cup meeting 6/08

Thought I’d have a go at this, but not expecting fantastic results given some of the amazing form turnarounds I’ve seen whilst doing the form. Just trying to be logical and hope it works out;

R1 EVIL LIL seems to be the sensible way to to go with good form at the track and distance and importantly appears to thrive fresh which she is today.

R2 KILIM looks the value from a good draw given he got within 4.5L of Captain Punch who won big sprint on Saturday by 10L. He has won since then and looks the best credentialled at this track and distance.

R3 RIVERINA ROMANCE looks the most suited in this race being in form and staying at the same distance whilst a few here are changing distance and have mixed form.

R4 MELANION– Looks an okay each way chance in an ordinary race. 2 of his 4 career wins are second up which is the scenario today. Did win by a big margin this T & D back in November at a big price. Cominng back in distance might suit. JAYEFFKAY clearly the one to beat but he is less a price the win than this horse is to win

R5 UNBREAKABLE looks okay here given his first up record of 4/7. He resumes here and did win this T & D first up last year.

R6 GERONIMO’S SON might go okay in an uninspiring race given he has run 2 good races here in recent times from wide barriers. All the better for an ordinary first up run and he does meet the winner NEEDY ROCKET (a query at this trip) 2kg better for it. His last three runs here at this trip have been decent placings. Each Way/

R7 CANNOT BE SERIOS looks quite well in on his Victorian form and wasn’t too far away here in his debut effort. Since then he has had two trials for a placing and a win so he looks primed for a good effort today from an ideal barrier.

R8 WICKED RHYTHM appeals at the price here given he is in decent form and his Adelaide form suggests he is quite well in. Only he and the top weight ADATTO really have runs on the board at this sort of trip and I can’t see why there is a weight difference here. I’m hoping one of the two will win.

R9 (Cup). TURF MAN needs to overcome a 20+ year hoodoo for 4yo NT Derby runners going on to win this race, I think he can though given his winning margin and the time he ran last start, which easily betters anything going back to 2009. That year Hawks Bay (subsequent 2 times winner) ran nearly a second slower than TM did in the Derby (still quite a bit faster than any other horse since) and was runner up to Activation only receiving 3.5kg off that horse. This year TM gets 6.5kg from the top weight and favourite so he gets his chance. Would like to have seen him draw better but he hasn’t had favourable barriers of late anyway. He gets back so I expect a duplication of his last run where he circled most of the field with less than 800m to go. I’d have LIEDER as second pick and ZAHSPEED as third choice so no real surprises in my thoughts here. Hard to see anything outside of the 3 winning, but there has been rough results in this race in the past. ROYAL REQUEST last years winner is having his fifth run in the race and his first at 2000m this time in. That might bring out the best in him and he does drop a kilo in weight. Just isn’t in the same form though.