Australian Guineas 2019

 

 

First run in 1986, this is still a relatively new race on the Australian Calendar. It has been won by some high class gallopers including the likes of  Zabeel, Mahogany, Mouawad, Triscay, Flying Spur , Reset, Apache Cat, Miss Finland & Shamus Award. The vast majority of those winners didn’t race on much after their three year old days.  Below are the last 16 winners of the race with relevant information- Gender, Barrier, Jockey, Last 3 starts (x denotes a spell), Position at start/800m/400m, Price (in that sequence).

  • 2018 GRUNT 3C D.Oliver (16) 1×1 (6-6-3) $5.50
  • 2017 HEY DOC 3G L,Currie (1) x31 (6-6-4) $3.50
  • 2016 PALENTINO 3C (5) M.Zahra x72 (9-9-8) $9
  • 2015 WANDJINA 3c (9) B. Prebble 0x1 (1-1-1) $8
  • 2014 SHAMUS AWARD 3c (9) C. Williams 1×3 (2-2-2) $4.50
  • 2013 FERLAX 3c (2) S. Baster x11 (3-3-3) $17
  • 2012 MOSHEEN 3f (16) D. Nikolic x12 (12-11-7) $5
  • 2011 SHAMROCKER 3f (7) G.Boss 2×4 (10-8-6) $31
  • 2010 ROCK CLASSIC 3g (4) M. Rodd 121 (5-5-3) $17
  • 2009 HEART OF DREAMS 3g (2) C. Newitt x43 (4-4-3) $3.75
  • 2008 LIGHT FANTASTIC 3g (7) C. Newitt 111 (3-3-3) $2.70
  • 2007 *MISS FINLAND 3f (6) C.Williams x41 (5-5-5) $2.50 (*race run at Caulfield)
  • 2006 APACHE CAT 3g (8) N. Callow x31 (1-1-1) $8
  • 2005 AL MAHER 3c (2) N. Callow 3×2 (3-3-3) $8
  • 2004 RESET 3c (7) D. Nikolic 111 (4-4-2) $1.75
  • 2003 DELAGO BROM 3c (3) P. Payne 0x2 (7-8-7) $3.50

 

Pertinent Statistics;

  1. 15/16 won or placed last start and 16/16 finished in first four. 8 were last start winners
  2. 14/16 won at least one of their last 3 starts. 6 had won two of their last three starts.
  3. 14/16 started from barrier 1-9 with only Mosheen in 2012 backing that trend. It was a very wet track that day though and from memory the only genuine wet track in this period.
  4. 11/16 were in the first 5 runners in the early part of the race. Only two winners (Apache Cat, Wandjina) have managed to lead all the way, and no other horse has sat 1-2 in the run. Being placed 3rd to 6th early has provided 11 of the last 16 winners. Interesting that the only 2 winners to come from 10th or worse early were both Mares that won or placed in the VRC Oaks the prior Spring.
  5. 16/16 had their last start between 1400-1500m. 14/16 at 1400m and the two that didn’t came out of a 1500m race at Rosehill in Sydney.
  6. 6/13 had finished in the first 4 placings in a Group 1 race sometime prior to starting in this race.
  7. The only 3 Fillies to win during this period had won or placed in the VRC Oaks the previous Spring.
  8. 9/16 started $5.50 or less, average Price $8.00-$8.50
  9. 14/16 had their prior run in Victoria, 13 of those at either Caulfield or Flemington.
  10. Oddly 3 of the last 5 winners had finished in third place in the Caulfield Guineas during the Spring.
  11. 8 Colts and 5 Geldings make up the contingent of males that have won this race, but 5 of the last six have been Colts.

 

 

In essence we are looking for preferably an in form male horse (finished top 4 last start), drawn barriers 1-9, that can take up a position just behind the pace early. Preferably have raced at 1400 last start at Flemington or Caulfield.

I don’t want to go too much in depth with this race, but from a historical point of view I think it would be hard to argue the point that the best credentialled runner is the Tasmanian Galloper THE INEVITABLE and he is at a suprisingly good price. Those who like the filly Mystic Journey in the race might have noticed that he has similar formlines her around a horse called Gee Gee Secondover. He has won all three starts meetings against that horse, whilst she is 4/5 against him. I think he was just about entitled to win at Flemington last start in a leisurely run race but he was off a months break and was back in distance 200m. If you watch the finish there wasn’t anything really taking ground off him so the win might have more merit than at first glance.

On paper we don’t seem to have a great deal of pace in the race and that is going to suit him and most of the favoured runners, who may not have all raced up on the pace in recent times, but all have shown the ability in the past to be able to.

AMPHITRITE probably looks the second best credentialled runner historically, and you could make a case to put her on top given her Group 1 form in the Spring. Although she failed to place in the Oaks she was a raging favourite for the race and probably failed to back up. Like all the other mares to win this race she has won at this track (or the track this race is to be run on, in the case of Miss Finland). That, and the 1400m win at this track last start, may give her the edge over the Tassie filly Mystic Journey (who I love!), but their formlines were very similar particularly against a filly called Fundamentalist.

MYSTIC JOURNEY is the only runner here to have beaten older horses, and she did that last start in Tasmania against the very capable Hellova Street at WFA. She looked no hope half way through that race an a possibly unsuitable surface.  He has since won and she comes into this race unbeaten in three starts. She is also unbeaten in three runs at 1400m and above, with her most conclusive win at this trip.

HAWKSHOT looks the other major player off a very impressive last start win where he pretty much massacred the time of Manuel in the WFA race on the same day. He was a second faster overall with a slightly faster last 600m, so there was no fluke to that time. To frank that opinion even more he defeated Ringerdingding that day by 4.75L who then got within 2.20L of the winner in the WFA Futurity Stakes last week. Any young horse that can be running faster time than older WFA gallopers at this time of year has to be seriously respected. The negative for him is the very wide barrier but the lack of pace in the race is more than likely going to negate that factor, and he will almost certainly lead this field.

 

Of the rest of the field I think you probably have to give some respect to the Chris Waller trainers DEALMAKER who ran on well against Hawkshot last start and has drawn well enough. He is a half brother to The Inevitable through the very in form sire Dundeel (High Chaparral), whose other three year old son Global Exchange won very impressively at Caulfield last week. He also has the unbeaten two year old Castelvecchio running in Sydney tomorrow on his way to the Golden Slipper.

EXTRA BRUT and STARS OF CARRUM seemed to be the most unlucky runners behind The Invevitable last start, not gaining runs in the straight.  Beaten out of a first four spot last start is hardly a recommendation to win that race though, and both have drawn wide barriers and need a very fast run race to ensue, to increase their chances. That doesn’t look like happening but we can never be certain.  CHAPADA can also improve massively second up and should probably have won the VRC Derby last Spring.  Again though his chances look to have been cruelled by a wide gate (no option but to go back again?). O’TAUTO was unlucky too against The Inevitable, never seeing the rail at any stage and he was also a month between runs. He can acquit himself very well from a good barrier particularly if he takes a more prominent position in the run. We haven’t really seen that from him yet. RAINIER has a win here and was game in the same race last start, but is another who has to overcome a wide draw. LONG LEAF was very gutsy in his NZ win last start and that might give him a much needed confidence boost. He is an on pacer who is drawn well so has to be conceded a decent chance, but on his form in the Spring behind Ringerdingding he might be a length or two off these. The break between runs (5 weeks) is also a concern.

In conclusion I’m going to tip the value horse on top because of his historical precedents and very similar formlines to the Tassie filly, but I have backed both of them to win this race;

  1. THE INEVITABLE
  2. Mystic Journey
  3. Amphitrite
  4. Hawkshot

Not too many surprises there with the placgetters who are nearly impossible to separate, and I wouldn’t be at all shocked if Hawkshot leads all the way. The value in his price might have gone now though.

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OAKLEIGH PLATE 2019

 

 

This is one of the best handicap Sprint races in the country, probably my favourite to be quite honest, at 1200m or less . But then again I’m not a great fan of the big sprints down the Flemington straight, so probably biased in that respect. I have also had some great results personally in the past 10 years or so, with the likes of Swiss Ace, Woorim and Mrs Onassis winning at massive odds.  I think the most unique thing about this race  is that barriers play very little part in the result. In fact you are probably better off drawing wide than closer to the inside, which is quite unusual for a race at this distance. One year an on pacer will salute, and the next year a backmarker. It’s always a race with enormous depth and it’s share of quality performers. That often makes it very difficult to pinpoint a winner. Below are the last 16 winners and relative statistics (Age, weight carried, barrier and starting price). I’d like to say it helps a lo,t but in reality Form analysis of runners looks to be a more useful method of finding the winner.

  • 2018 RUSSIAN REVOLUTION 4G 56.5kg (10) $4.50
  • 2017 SHEIDEL 5M 53kg (3) $8
  • 2016 FLAMBERGE 6G 58kg (15) $31
  • 2015 SHAMAL WIND 5M 54kg (14) $10

 

 

  • 2014 LANKAN RUPEE 4G 56kg (7) $4
  • 2013 MRS ONASSIS 5m 52.5kg (11) $16
  • 2012 WOORIM 6g 55.5kg (8) $21
  • 2011 EAGLE FALLS 5g 57kg (9) $21
  • 2010 STARSPANGLEDBANNER 3c 52kg (6)
  • 2009 SWISS ACE 4g 54kg (18) $31 (I got $66!)
  • 2008 WEEKEND HUSSLER 3g 53kg (10) $2.10
  • 2007 UNDUE 5g 57kg (14) $15
  • 2006 SNITZEL 3c 51.5kg (4) $11
  • 2005 FASTNET ROCK 3c 57kg (6)$2
  • 2004 REACTIVE 5m 52kg (1) $16
  • 2003 RIVER DOVE 4m 51.5kg (10) $17

 

Pertinent facts;

  1. 15 of last 16 winners have first or second up when winning this and 14 of past 15 winners have been first up. Not that significant given most of the runners attempt the race fresh from the Spring . The vast majority of this years runners are in that category again.
  2. 14/16 aged between 3 & 5 years
  3. Only one horse has carried more than 57kg to win in this period, but 6 have carried 55.5kg-57kg
  4. Only 2 winners has drawn inside barrier 4 and one outside 15. Wide draws no real disadvantage overall (9/16 barrier 9 or wider)
  5. 8/16 sired by a Son or Grandson of Danehill
  6. Average winning price is very high @ $14, especially given there has been 2 winners around a $2 quote.
  7. Five of the fairer sex have won in this period which is encouraging given they would be outnumbered each year. None have started at less than $8.

 

Tempo;

There is more pressure up front than originally anticipated but I’m still not convinced this is a backmarkers race. Having said that it always seems to have been a hard race to predict whether an on pacer or backmarker is going to win, but it just seems to me that a lot of the better credentialed horses are the type that do go back midfield or further. We may well see the winner come from the first five or six runners early, or at least that is my best guess.

Track Conditons;

We are likely to get a firm track which will play into the hands of a few here, in particular the mares Ellicazoom, Spright and Fuhryk. It shouldn’t disadvantage any horse though.

 

 

VIDDORA- Very good mare fresh (3-4-1/9). Only 2 runs this track have been quite poor by her standards. Last three runs at 1200m she has been well beaten so the 1100m for this race is probably a bonus. Giving weight to some decent opposition this time rather than racing at WFA so that is some query, and perhaps she would be better served drawn it a little bit more than she is looking at her overall record. I’ll Have A Bit and Ashlor meet her considerably better at the weights for beating her home last start in WA. 4.5kg and 6.5kg respectively.

NATURE STRIP- Barrier draw looks a massive plus for him given most of the other speed horses in the race have drawn out wide. There is a little query about him second up given his 0/2 record whilst he is 4/4 inclusive third and fourth up. He has a good 3-2/4 record at this distance though. He is clearly the one they all have to beat but his odds are a bit skinny with his record in big fields not overly encouraging so far- 2/5 in fields numbering 11-13 runners compared to 7/8 with 10 or less runners.

FELL SWOOP- One of the other runners that can race near the pace and he was a slightly unlucky second in this race back in 2016 behind Flamberge when he carried 2.5kg less and was drawn more favourably. He is probably back to something like his best form this preparation, and he is 5-3/9  in the Summer season. His barrier draw looks to be a stumbling block with a career record thus far of only one win from thirteen attempts when drawn wider than barrier 6. You are getting good odds to take that statistic on though.

 

BONS AWAY- Back in winning form which is important given a long string of Eleven defeats prior to last start. His second up form is not overly encouraging (0/4), but the positive is he is 3/5 with this sort of break between runs (1-4/8 with less). He was beaten less than a length in this race last year, with nearly the same weight, from only a slightly better barrier when first up, and Linda Meech does know him well, with four wins from nine races aboard. She will need to pull out a great ride from the barrier for him to salute, but he is another horse who will be shunned in the market because of that fact. Overs most likely.

 

SPRIGHT- This mare is a proven dry tracker and proved she is up to WFA standard in two Moonee Valley runs back in the Spring. She also races very well fresh, and the distance looks perfect for her first up (2-3/6 at 1100m).  Ideally you would like to have seen her drawn better than she is, but she does drift back in the field anyway ,and is probably better served with some galloping room in the straight. This is her first run at Calufield also which is a slight query.

KEMONO- Ex Japanese horse who is a bit hard to gauge here but drawing the car park is probably not going to be of assistance. Yet to win in three starts here and from four starts first up although he did run very respectably at this track in his debut Australian start. Very hard to get keen from an outside barrier but his low weight might be a positive (2-1/4 with 54.5kg or less). Blinkers on first time could also be significant.

BOOKER- Quality mare who wasn’t beaten far in this race last year off a similarly wide barrier. That was second up and she does look better served when coming in fresh if you can forgive her first up run in the Spring, when she led .That won’t be happening here but the query is she hasn’t won in seven starts now and she does need to lift against this class of field. The stable are more than capable of turning things around though.

 

EDUARDO- He is an exciting prospect with three wins and two placings from his five starts to date, and he is yet to be beaten by more than half a length. He finished alongside Bons Away two starts back and meets that horse 2kg better here so has a winning weight. He comes off a scorching 8L barrier trial win at Cranbourne which was run in a time of 45.54 (low flying) against quality opposition when basically untouched.  which looks a great ‘pipe opener’  for this. I can remember Mrs Onassis doing something very similar before winning this in 2014. His biggest problem is going to be overcoming his horror barrier draw but you can compare his barrier trial win to that of Nature Strip winning first up here, and the odds on offer are far better. Like that horse we might not have seen the best of him yet.

ELLICAZOOM- Former Perth Mare who prefers a dry track and is gun horse fresh, as evidenced in her first up win here for her new stable in the Spring. She drew horribly that day but her biggest asset here might be drawing inside given a lot of the quality chances are going to have to overcome wide barriers. She is probably best suited in races of 1200m or less when the speed is on and she can unleash her big finish late. She has only ever won first or second up, and her mother did win a Group 1 mares race (Sangster Stakes) in Adelaide. No reason why she can’t make her presence felt here if she gets the breaks at the right time. Certainly overs at a current price of $26 taking into account her barrier.

FROM WITHIN- Speedy Qld mare who won here at this distance in the Spring and she comes in off a decent placing in a high speed race up North first up. The pace might not be any slicker here and she drops in weight a lot so is likely to test the leaders early here. In fact she has never carried less than 54kg in a race before. The biggest question mark surrounding her is the class factor of this race, with several horses having superior form to her and carrying similar imposts. Could be a rough chance to fill a placing.

 

FUHRYK- Difficult mare to follow but there was a return to form from her first up recently and at her best she could trouble these from a decent barrier. Going back to the Winterbottom in Perth in 2017 she ran second to Viddora at WFA and beat home Santa Ana Lane. She meets the former 5kg better for that meeting. Her very best would make her competitive but she clearly needs to at least maintain the form she showed first up. Her consistency has been an issue in the past.

I’LL HAVE A BIT- Looks to be the best weighted horse in the race given she has 1.5kg less than when she was Group 1 placed in the Goodwood last Autumn. She was unlucky that day too and should have run a clear second if not tested the winner Santa Ana Lane. That horse is probably the benchmark now for every sprinter in the country so it’s a good formline. Prior to that run she had scored a shock win (Winkers on first time) against the likes of Nature Strip. She meets that horse 2.5kg better here. Only two wins from seventeen starts is the negative for her along with a wide barrier, but her $20 odds are very generous when you consider the favourite is $2.20.

SENSEI- On face value it’s hard to consider an NZ sprinter of this era against his Australian counterparts. but he is very honest and I doubt you will see a more courageous effort than this horse put in last start. He was never on the track and was by far the widest horse, yet was taking ground off the leaders in the final part. You rarely see that happen and there is no doubt he would have won the race from a better barrier ( with ordinary luck). He is also  exceptional fresh, evidenced by the fact that all his wins are with more than two weeks between runs. Interesting too that he is a half brother to a horse called Rothesay who is now a successful sire and had a huge boom on him before a premature retirement (career 4-3/9). He has drawn wide here but was wider drawn last start in a Group 1 race.  He couldn’t possibly get a worse run in transit here.  He won from an outside barrier two starts back so clearly doesn’t mind a bit of room to move.  He has only missed a place once in nine starts on dry tracks and can race right on the pace or midfield. I don’t think he is here making up the numbers and if you can get $50 or so why not have a little wager Each Way? Obviosusly the class is an unknown but the price compensates.

STEEL FROST- Useful Adelaide galloper who has drawn advantageously and has a good record at this track. Probably not best served first up and his best record is at 1400m but he is the type of horse that could run above expectations here as many horses often do in this race. Yet to race below 1200m which is also some query but a fast pace might suit if he can keep in touch with the leaders and not get too far back. The type of horse who does enjoy some over in his races and he should get that here.

ENCRYPTION- Three year old who was found wanting a little bit first up against the older horses and he doesn’t meet the winner Bons Away any better at the weights here. I thought his age group were just a little disappointing in the WFA Lightning last week which doesn’t really augur well for this horse in this. A bit hard to see him figuring with his ordinary second up record but he does have the services of a gun jockey and comes from a stable that is really firing at present.

CHARGE- Another three year old who is certainly not the best of his generation (similar to the aforementioned) and is hard to like here. He too has a good barrier though and can utilise his pace to put himself into the race early. Might get dizzy chasing the likes of Nature Strip, and he needs to find quite a few lengths here to trouble the older horses.

CROWN WITNESS- Capable mare who races on the pace but she doesn’t quite look up to this class and she has drawn a horror barrier, which makes her look a certainty to be posted wide. Nothing stands out statistically to suggest she can be competitive but she is another who probably can add some speed to the race.

BEL SONIC- With the scratching of Ashlor he now gets a run and isn’t the roughest chance in the race. He is 2/2 at this distance and has an excellent fresh record (3-2/5). A 42 day break is almost first up for him and he always gives his best. He might not be up to the class of some of these, but even saying that is inconclusive as he was only 4L off Nature Strip in a straight race at Flemington over 1200m. Ideally you’d prefer to see him with a couple of kilos less but he does meet NS 3.5kg better for that meeting, so he is in with a chance. His absolute best form has been on wet tracks which is some query, but on the positive side he does appear to be a better horse below 1200m (1/9 beyond). He is a horse I’ve had a bit of luck with in the past so perhaps I’m biased, but I do think he is some hope of winning the race. Maybe not in my top five or six but he is close, and he could easily run a place at very big odds.

 

Summing up;

I want to take on the favourite at the skinny odds, but it will be no surprise to me if he wins. I can’t get overly keen on anything that is drawn as well as him which doesn’t look overly promising but I’ll mention a few that are drawn out wide that seem decent overs to me. Given my thinking that an on pace horse will probably win I’m putting one of those on top;

  1. EDUARDO– His trial was sensational and few horses rise through the classes as rapidly as he did in his first preparation. It seems he might have taken improvement from it and if that is the case he is weighted to win.

 

  1. Ellicazoom- Exceptional win first up here last preparation and has drawn better than most and prefers dry tracks.

 

  1. I’ll Have A Bit- Looks the weighted horse in the race though she will need luck from a wide barrier. The odds are good enough to compensate for that.

 

  1. Sensei- The NZER could be the real surprise packet of the race and I’m keen to speculate on him at the massive odds on offer. Do yourself a favour and watch his last run.

 

  1. Spright- Another that excels on dry tracks, who has the class with her fresh form being an asset.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERTH CUP 2019

 

 

Another time honoured race on the Australian racing calendar the Group 2 Perth Cup is race 8 at Ascot in Perth today.

It lost its 3200m status back in 2008 which unfortunately hasn’t done anything much to raise the standard of the race, or our prospects of nurturing genuine two mile horses.

Below are the last Ten winners of the Perth Cup, with relevant stats, since the race became a 2400m event. The last figure in brackets is the weight drop/rise the winner had off its previous start.

2018 Material Man 6G L.Warwick (3) 56.5kg 2nd Cox Stakes (Ted Van Heemst Stakes) (-2.5kg) $3.50

2017 Star Exhibit 5G J.Noske (9) 54kg 1st ATA Stakes (-2.5kg) $5

2016- Delicacy- 4M P.Hall (1) 59kg 1st Cox Stakes (+3kg) $2.40

2015 – Real Love 4M W.Pike (4) 54kg 1st WA St. Leger (-2kg) $2.40
2014 – Black Tycoon 8G D.Oliver (5) 55.5kg 2.5L 4th Cox Stakes (-3.5kg) $5
2013 – Talent Show 6M J. Noske (1) 53.5kg 3L 4th Cox Stakes (-3.5kg) $31
2012 – Western Jewel 5M K.Yuill (1) 52kg 1st (2L) ATA Stakes (-5kg) $7
2011 – Guest Wing 4G B.Parnham (8) 52kg 0.3L 2nd ATA Stakes (-2kg) $21
2010 – Lords Ransom 6G A.Kennedy (2) 55.5kg 1st (1.8L) Cox Stakes (-3.5kg) $3
2009 – Guyno 5G J.Whiting (12) 54kg 6L 7th Cox Stakes (-5kg) $9

 

Pertinent facts;

  1. Nine of Ten dropped 2kg or more from prior start and five dropped more than 3.5kg.
    2. Only 2 horses have carried more than 55.5kg to win.
    3. Eight of Ten drew barriers 1-5.
    4. Five of Ten won at their previous startOnly one horse beaten more than three lengths at its prior start, and two horses beaten three lengths or more, both ran in WFA Cox Stakes at prior start.
    6. Six winners have come out of WFA Cox Stakes at WFA ( now Ted Van Heemst Stakes @ 2100m), three from ATA Handicap (2200m) and one from Western Australia St. Leger (not run last two years).
    7. Seven of Ten have been five years of age or older.Owner Bob Peters has had 3 of the last 4 winners, and 5 of the last 10.
    9. Mares have won 4 of last 10. Interestingly three drew barrier 1, and the other barrier 4.
  2. 10. Six of Ten winners sired by a British or Irish born Sire. Remarkably Melbourne Cup winner Jeune has sired three winners in this period.
  3. 11. Average winning price $9.50

 

It might be pertinent to note that all five of Bob Peters (owner) winners won at their previous start but that is only the case with one of his runners this year, the second favourite MISSISSIPI DELTA, The influence of Jeune was also felt again in 2017 year as the dam sire of Star Encounter, the mother of Star Exhibit. Could it happen again this year with Royal Star, Perfect Jewel or Star Exhibit (again)?

 

Tempo;

There are quite a few runners in this race that like to race near the pace but not actually lead. That probably leaves the piloting job to Cappo D’Oro who needs to negate a slightly awkward barrier. He did actually lead and win two starts ago before sitting second at his last start and not really going on with it. His best hope here would be to make this a true staying test as he doesn’t have the capacity to outsprint some of the classier types in this. Whether this happens on not is debatable though. The likes of Prize Catch, Mississipi Delta and particularly Khartoum will want to be somewhere near the lead. What Damian Lane and Pat Carberry do on Gatting and Perfect Jewel will go a long way to deciding the amount of pressure is applied up front. Both are drawn awkwardly but did race on in the lead in a WFA race devoid of early pace last start. The rider on Like A Butterfly faces a similar dilemma after a good run last start when ridden on the pace. Mr Alby can be prominent from a good barrier and Brother’s Keeper can also race near the pace but has drawn very wide. In summing up if Cappo D’Oro doesn’t roll along at a decent pace here it probably means that backmarkers and those drawn wide are going to have the job ahead making their presence felt. If he does make it a truly run race though then it opens the race up a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

Runner Comments;

 

The Bob Peter’s owned ACTION is clearly the one to beat here given his win in the Derby last Autumn (same barrier draw) and the fact that this is the race he has been set for all along. William Pike has chosen him from the four stable runners and the drop in weight and good barrier are big pluses for him also. I can’t back him at the current price though thinking he was probably a $3.25 to $3.50 chance. The negatives are he might not get a truly run race which he probably requires and he has been racing in inferior class at his past two starts (and not won). I can’t help thinking how he would have gone in the WFA Ted Van Heemst Stakes last start had he run there and taken up his normal rearward position? I doubt he would have got within 4L of the winner there given how the race was run, so I’m more inclined to look for some value at least to fill the Trifecta and first four spots.

 

PRIZE CATCH was five lengths away in said race and has been mentioned in the Stewards report as having his Cheekers fitted incorrectly, which almost certainly led to him ‘hanging in’ for most of that race. He was ridden against his normal pattern there yet was quite good at the end outstaying Star Exhibit. This is the first time he has raced at 2400m but it’s encouraging to note that his half bother Hurdy Gurdy Man won a Hobart Cup at this trip, and was placed beyond this distance also. Drawing out a bit doesn’t look great historically but the fact he is 0/9 from barriers 1-3 suggests he will be suited getting away from the rail in this race. He can race up on the pace and he does meet Miss. Delta 3kg better for a half length defeat two start ago. And he meets the winner Cappo D’Oro 4.5kg better for a length defeat. Aside from the well weighted Action he probably looks to be the other ‘weighted’ horse in the race, and I’m looking forward to seeing a good run from him.

 

GATTING has probably earnt his weight here but I just can’t see him conceding the Kilos to his opposition here with the draw making things even more difficult for him. He is a Derby winner though and has been in sparkling form this preparation so comes into first four contention. He has been racing in all the right lead up races and been to the fore in almost all of them.

 

MISSISSIPI DELTA looks great from a historical perspective and her winning strike rate of 8 wins from 14 starts looks imposing. She has drawn well enough and I have no doubt she will be in the thick of things in the straight. Looking at her breeding I do have a little doubt on her at a tough 2400m so a moderately run race will probably be advantageous. She has to go in all Multi here.

 

PERFECT JEWEL is a half sister to former winner and competing stablemate Star Exhibit which suggests she can win at 2400m. I must confess to having my doubts though, and I don’t see the barrier as being any help to her. She has the right formline for sure and you’d have to be giving her a realistic hope from an inside barrier. She is in contention with the right run, but I’m risking her a little.

 

CAPPO D’ORO as mentioned above he probably needs to make this a true staying test and the opportunity certainly exists here. He is very honest and could actually steal the race if he is left alone to call his own tune. I have been a fan for a while after watching him be a certainty beaten in a couple of provincial cups earlier last year, but would say I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t do a little better last start after looking the winner on the turn. He probably lacks the class to win and I’d prefer to see him getting some weight off quite a few of his rivals today. But he has had an ideal preparation and anything can happen when you make your own luck in the lead.

 

PRYING TOM was a real eyecatcher at 200-1 in the Kingston Town when totally unsuited at WFA. On that run he would go very close to winning this given he meets Gatting 6kg better for a 0.3L defeat, but he ran below expectations in the Ted Van Heemst. A vet inspection revealed nothing so it’s hard to offer an excuse. This race looks much more suitable though and he has drawn to advantage. Not totally sure about the 2400m but he has won at 2200m when dogged in victory. You could do worse than back him at a nice Each Way quote.

 

ELEGANT BLAST is a professional placegetter and should be considered in all Exotics here. She was a bit unlucky not to beat Miss. Delta two starts back, though she does meet that Mare 2kg worse. She has drawn well though and seems the type that will run the distance. Four weeks between runs is interesting for her given she has 3 wins and 5 placings with more than 15-28 days between runs. She comes in fresher than quite a few others here which could be an asset.

 

KHARTOUM just not sure what to make of him but he looks the horse to get the ideal sort of run in the race from a good barrier, close enough to the pace to perhaps strike at the right time. He has hit form at the right time but we have already seen how miserable the Victorian form has been in Perth this Summer, and just how difficult is is for the Eastern staters to come here and win at their first attempt over so many year,  The fact this is a handicap race probably helps and he is the hands of an astute trainer. I can’t quite have him in my top four but he is probably over the odds in a race which doesn’t contain any superstars at this distance (with possible excpetion of Action).

 

QUEEN BEY appeals to me at a massive price after being unlucky last start in an unsuitable race when switched back from 2200m to 1800m. The ride was very negative and I think she could have won the race had she been put into the race at the right time. She is another who comes into the race fresh which also appears to suit her profile. The draw makes it very difficult for her and she almost certainly needs a truly run race to have any chance. The positive is she is a true stayer and there is no point in letting her go around @ $81 given she did outstay Miss. Delta two starts back and the price disparity is massive here.

 

Conclusion;

In the interests of value I’m going for a bit of value with the winner and throwing another couple of roughies into the mix, though to stress the the favourite does look the one they all have to beat;

 

  1. PRIZE CATCH
  2. Action
  3. Queen Bey
  4. Prying Tom

 

All of the others mentioned do look definite place chances (at least) though so I’m merely hoping here beyond my top two picks. For the record thus far I have backed Prize Catcah @ $16 and Queen Bey Each Way @ $81 and $15.

 

Best of luck with your bets today!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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.