Soft track makes Red vulnerable
THIS would truly send Spring into orbit for hoop of the moment Kerrin McEvoy.
Dual Everest-winning powerhouse Redzel steps back down the Flemington straight tomorrow in an attempt to nail 1200m Everest-VRC Sprint Classic double for the second straight year.
But for all his public adoration and fresh memory of that barrier to box romp in the mud at Randwick, this time the “Gelding in Red” is a sitting duck.
Redzel ($4.80) will be four weeks between runs, although admittedly, he looked right up to the mark in a dominant Rosehill Gardens trial win on Oct 30.
“He certainly hasn’t gone backwards since The Everest. He’s in the zone and he does enjoy racing down the Flemington straight,” McEvoy said.
And for those reasons punters will flock to him like bees to a honey pot in the lead-up.
Yet, as good as Redzel is, with stunning career strike rate and more than $15 million prizemoney, the guard is about to change.
The six-year-old has been near unbeatable on Heavy ground, super effective when it’s dry, but that mid Soft 5/6 range is where he’s vulnerable.
We get that tomorrow in a specular field of high class sprinting depth that will launch down the middle in a pack, with little separating first to last by time they hit the 400m.
Redzel is drawn the middle, and while I have no doubt he’ll run to the front, there should be no lack of “stalking pressure.”
From the inside gate, just how much on-speed pressure is served up by four-year-old longshot mare Invincible Star ($26.00) is the key.
Even wider out, five-yearold Coolmore raider Spirit Of Valor ($11.00) can prove an onpace fly in the ointment.
For that reason, I’m “mapping” winner to come from just off the pace, or even midfield – and two most likely are a pair of four-yearold brown stallions.
Kementari’s ($7.50) run in the Group 1 Manikato (1200m) at Moonee Valley off a sixweek break when he motored home from a mile back to be beaten under length was brilliant, and I love the fact switching to a completely different straight-course run, he stays at the same trip.
The big danger is Pierata ($5.00) who also hasn’t started since a dominant Heavy track win on Everest day in the Group 3 Sydney Stakes (1200m).
Just like Kementari, he stays at 1200m, despite having form up to the mile, and we know how good he is in Soft ground.
I just hope the next horse have any ownership in is a Pierro. They have a stride to live for.
And let’s not forget the intrigue surrounding dual Group 1 Newmarket winner, the eight-year-old Redkirk Warrior ($12.00) who resumes five months after flopping in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee and July Cup double
UK; three-prong assault from Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien, or the rebound factor from Everest runners like Santa Ana Lane ($10.00) and In Her Time ($13.00).
A truly great race. My SPRINT CLASSIC Tips:
1. KEMENTARI; 2. Pierata;
3. Redzel; 4. Santa Ana Lane As for the feature Group 1 $2 million Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), Melbourne Cupwinning stable looks super tough to stop again, with highclass weight-for-age six-yearold Blair House ($2.30).
The form measures up a treat heading to Flemington for the first time – beaten head one month back in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) by Benbatl – who has since chased home Winx in the Cox Plate – after a terrific run coming from well back to smash the line behind Homesman
in the Group 1 Underwood (1800m).
The race comes with extra spice.
Derby winner Extra Brut ($8.00) is on the seven-day back-up with just 51kgs; seven-year-old mare and Group 1 Empire Rose winner Shillelagh ($7.50) is also on that quick turnaround; while four-year-old stallion Latrobe ($5.50) – a striking son of top sire Camelot and trained by last year’s Melbourne Cup conqueror Joseph O’Brien – has his first run at Headquarters for team Williams. My MACKINNON Tips:
1. BLAIR HOUSE; Shillelagh; 3. Latrobe
My other standout selection for Flemington tomorrow is last-start winner Lucky For All ($2.80) rising to BM 90 grade in Race 2 (2000m), but a lightly-raced and very talented four-year-old who is headed for Group success.
At Rosehill Gardens, punters can fly out of the blocks in Race 2 aboard topweight Royal Celebration ($2.00) who despite giving his three-yearold rivals plenty of weight, can win again sitting on the speed in a race that suits.
Kementari, pictured winning the Randwick Guineas, is Neil’s top pick in the Sprint Classic.