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Cracking meeting f or a punt at Caulfield tomorrow, marred some - what by the likelihood of soft-6 or thereabouts. A subdued opening here with a moderate group girls and the top two look to have it between them. HELL OR HIGHWATER looks to get a soft lead from the good draw and I’m leaning her way at $4.60 without great deal of confidence. Hung on for a narrow victory over Dulverton at Flemington last start after racing up on the speed and with just a half kilo more here after the claim she is the one to beat again. She will have a kick on straightening and be awfully hard run down. DULVERTON scored back to back victories at this trip in July but fell a head short of her hat-trick at Flemington. She gave Hell Or Highwater too much of a start and couldn’t run her down. It’s likely to be the same story here, though she is definitely the main danger. NOT ONLY FLORINA is French import resuming after nearly a year off the scene for the Hayes/Dabernig camp. Listed winner over 2000m two runs back in France and while she might need a run or two here to find her best, she did win first-up last prep over this trip. Several other hopes in the race so tread warily.
It’s not often I spruik a horse resuming from a 71-week spell, but RISQUE is better than these mares in terms of class and at $8.00 I think is worth the punt that she is ready to put a big run fresh. Created a huge impression at her first Australian start in February last year when she stormed home over the top of them to take out the Group Three Kevin Hayes here over 1200m. Beaten a half length by boys in the G1 Australian Guineas at her next run before training off a little over Sydney carnival. Good tempo here from Sullivan Bay and Pe - tite’s reward, and Risque will sit back off the fence with cover. Good gamble at odds that she can produce another big finish. OREGON’S DAY coincidentally also has Kevin Hayes form, though hers was in this year’s edition where she flew home to beat all but the smart Fuhryk. Handled the wet at her last run before the break finishing less than two lengths from Foxplay in the Queen Of Turf, and she’s not far behind the top pick on class. At $3.80 I’d prefer to be Ris - que, but she is a threat. WRITTEN ERA takes big step up in grade here from her tidy first-up effort at Lake - side, but she did show this track at Group Three level when last in work, and drops down to the limit. No value whatsoever at $4.60, but she’s the mix.
I count at least seven genuine hopes here and with four of them vying for favouritism between $4 and $5, I’ve settled on SAINT VALOREM as the value pick at 12/1. P roduced a whirlwind finish over this course and dis - tance last start to nose out Tango Rock, and he did handle the going the run prior when a late closer behind Gun Case. He’s up to 59kg, but from the inside draw D Dunn will give him
run of the race and he should be very strong again late. DUSTY JACK is out to $18 thanks to the awful draw but knocked up winning races last prep and can put in a bold showing fresh. Runner-up when resuming off a two -year spell before winning three in row, the last in this grade. Damien Oliver sticks with him here and with a decent chunk of luck early on can be in the finish at big odds. TOY BOY is one of the favourites but will also need more luck than he got at Wednesday’s barrier draw. Strong debut win at Seymour last prep before getting pipped in a photo by the handy Ken’s Dream at this track . Unsure of him in the going but he has plenty upside.
The trio at the top of betting here have plenty of convictions and with a genuine soft track likely I’m going for smoky here in MAGNAPAL. He did nothing for so very long, but at his first run Daniel Bowman he pro - duced and outstanding run and has a bit going for him here. Sat off the speed at Flemington and made steady ground in the run home to place be - hind Rhythm To Spare should strip fitter for run. He has a far superior record on soft tracks and get conditions to suit tomorrow. Add to that a big weight advantage from the main hopes and the $23 is too good pass up. BIG DUKE went a long way in a short space of time last campaign culminating in a great run in the Sydney Cup, but his fresh form and record about this trip isn’t bad class will carry him a long way. RHYTHM TO SPARE scored super win last start at Flemington, hitting the line very impressively but he doesn’t put two together. Looks home with a repeat effort, but what are the chances? I’m tired of following AMOVATIO. He had every chance at his last two and couldn’t crack it for a win, and his wet track form is below par.
Outstanding race with several boom youngsters resuming. It’s a toss of the coin whether the top two -year- olds can come back at three and continue their good form, while it’s pos - sible I may regret it at about 2.45pm tomorrow, I’m jumping on Perth filly SEANNIE at the $13. Won her first two including a big Listed win over 1000m first-up last prep, then gave away impossible starts in the Gimcrack and Karrakatta as hot favourite ran out of ground to catch them. Very smart filly who drops back here off the fence with cover and will be very strong late. Unknown quantity in wet and the Perth runners often don’t handle it due to inexperience, but not many of those are by Sebring. I am a big fan CATCHY who I followed through her Blue Diamond win here up to shocking run in the Golden Slipper, though she pulled up with Cardiac Arrhythmia and we can probably pen the run. Not sure how she will go on a wet track tomorrow, but has drawn to get a nice run in behind them off the fence and with some clear air will be hitting the line strongly. Just a query at $2.65, but I acknowledge she could brain these. TULIP is not one of my horses she was only a length or two behind the benchmark in her juvenile season. Minor placegetter the Golden Slipper so she handles wet track okay and went well in a recent trial at Cranbourne. I’m expecting the formline out of this race to hold up well into the carnival.
I was quite bullish about King’s Authority here at the big odds until it scratched (don’t let him slip under your guard), so VERANILLO gets the call-up here in a weaker division than fillies. Didn’t do much wrong last campaign until he struck Group One level and the heavy tracks, he won a Listed race first-up before chasing home She Will Reign in the Silver Slipper. He’s had a couple of hitouts at the trials and it’s another great ride for Dwayne Dunn from the perfect draw. Great value at $8.50. POSEIDON’S IDOL is facing a massive rise in class tomorrow but his two victories have been slick . Hit the line strongly in maiden grade on debut, then was far too strong for a restricted field Adelaide under big weight. Nicely bred lad who gets through the ground and is an upset hope at $11. WAIT FOR NO ONE will go like clappers here but the soft 1100m will feel like 1200m. Led and got run down by Azazel first-up at Flemington but his form when last in work was against some very smart colts. Last run over this course and distance he finished within a length of Property in the BD Prelude will be in front here for a long way.
Tough race to dissect but i n the end I’ve gone with the class in HUMIDOR who can run a bold race fresh. Last season’s Australian Cup winner hit the ground running for Darren Weir, running home strongly at his first few in good company before G1 win over 2000m. He has a good re - cord the going and from the gate will get a soft run in transit. One of many who are bound to improve off the run but at $8.50 he’s worth a punt fresh. ABBEY MARIE doesn’t have as good a record as some of the boys up the top of the weights but she is a talent who runs a good race fresh and will get race run to suit. Outstanding first preparation where she picked up a G1 at only her third start over 2000m, and she started off last campaign in promising fashion before going wayward in Sydney. Last run over 1400m she took a lot of ground off Silent Sedition here and at $71 is worth throwing into multiples. HARTNELL is a class act himself and he handles the conditions, but typically needs at least one run to hit top gear. Runner-up to Winx first-up last prep and if he repeats that he can belt them, but his overall fresh form is well below best.
VEGA MAGIC faces a big drop in class here and at the $6.00 is hard to go past. Had just one start last campaign, resulting in a gutsy win at Group One level The Goodwood Morphettville. Excellent fresh record and he did win his only start in soft going, albeit in a fairly weak race at Belmont. Entitled to be giving away the weight and will go close. SOUCHEZ finally put it all together at his last run before the break rocketing home to win a Listed rac at Flemington. Goes well first-up and while he has drawn poorly he will drift back and be given one crack at them on straightening. BURNING PASSION has been dismissed $18 but has in great form of late. His two wins up Brisbane were very strong, and he does enjoy the sting out of the ground. Over odds and worth inclusion.
Finishing off here with an underwhelming Bm84 and TIAMO GRACE at the double figure odds looks the best bet of the day to me. Last run before break she scored a very strong win in Group Two Wakeful Stakes over 2000m but did show some toe the shorter trips earlier on in her prep. She’s a winner in the wet, and while drawn shocker Damian Lane will ride patiently and bring her to the outside on straightening. Watch for her late. REINCARNATE has been hitting the line well in recent starts and is another who will get back from the bad draw and be running on at end. Handles the conditions and his last couple around this grade have been sound. WAYANKA scored a well deserved win last start over this trip at Flemington but has come up awfully short at $4.20. He’s consistent and has certainly drawn better than my top two, but isn’t a good betting proposition at the quote.