Shepparton News

Will the Dragon fly?


- with Aydin Payne

Group One racing returns to Flemington tomorrow with the running of the Makybe Diva Stakes. Last year’s Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet is the headline act in the 1600m race.

Group One racing returns to headquarte­rs tomorrow with the running of the Makybe Diva Stakes. Another action-packed day of racing can only mean one thing — Payney’s Punt is back to help land you some big ones and whoppers.

We almost achieved that feat last week with Dr Drill running a narrow third at ridiculous odds.

At the 200m mark everyone at Payney’s Punt were cashing their cheques and planning how to spend retirement.

Alas, here we are again. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Luckily, we are yet to receive a tap on the shoulder from higher above to send us to the paddock for a spell. Just as well too, because like all the great stayers, we feel in tip-top shape after a few cracks already this prep.

Let us pray to the punting gods for good fortune.

Nine races greet us at Flemington on what should be a Good 4 track, with the rail in its true position.

The amount of star runners fronting up has the day shaping up to be a mouth-watering feast for us punters. As always, if you cracking open the piggy bank this weekend, please remember to do so responsibl­y. Race 1. 12.30pm — Hcp (2500m) What a way to kick off proceeding­s. The opener looks a tight battle between certified stayer Pondus (1), up-and-comer Tooradin (3) and last week’s unlucky runner Coolth (6). The latter had a horrible run at the Valley and will enjoy the vast open spaces at headquarte­rs. First crack at this trip, but we point back to his form last year when he finished on the heels twice of eventual Melbourne Cup surprise packet Persan. Tooradin saluted last start over 2400m and the extra 100m shouldn’t be a worry. He will take up the front running and expect another brave performanc­e. Pondus gives his challenger­s a serious weight advantage, but he’s the easily the most accomplish­ed runner. Resumes, but has placed twice from four attempts when fresh. Don’t rule out One More Try (2) and Killourney (7). Both just missed last start in first crack at 2500m and will be better for it.

Top tip: Coolth

Race 2. 1.05pm — Exford Plate (1400m)

Looks to be early speed from the wide gates with Lightsaber (2) pushing forward from Tutukaka (4) and 6. All eyes will be on how this year’s Blue Diamond winner

Artorius (1) bounces back from a tight second last start in the McNeil Stakes when fresh. Was forced wide before chasing home hard to just miss. We think the extra 200m benefits the classy colt. Has won secondup before. Lightsaber and Hilal (7) loom as the next biggest threat in terms of the market. The former finished fourth behind Artorius last start and has the speed to overcome the wide barrier. Expect a big showing from Hilal who has placed in two G1s. One of those came at this trip. He’s Xceptional (7) beat home Hilal last start and could surprise at juicy odds.

Top tip: Artorius

Race 3. 1.40pm — Poseidon Stakes (1100m) Down the straight for the first of two at 1100m. They should ping out with

Jigsaw (4) to take up the front running from Lloyd’s Crown (6) and

Dio (7). Punters have laid into Golden Slipper placegette­r

Ingratiati­ng (2). Won fresh at Caulfield in the Vain Stakes over this trip and won last prep at this track/distance when second-up. Loves the dry ground and looks the one to beat. Finance Tycoon (3) beat home the favourite in last year’s Maribyrnon­g Plate. Has form down the straight and has a 2:1-1-0 record when resuming. Shaquero (1) is also resuming and has won fresh before. Like Finance Tycoon, this colt has beaten the fav. Jigsaw will be the fittest runner here and will fight it out at the post.

Top tip: Ingratiati­ng W or trifecta (2,3,4)

Race 4. 2.15pm — Cap D’Antibes Stakes (1100m)

Another dash down the straight and expect there to be a fast tempo.

Dosh (1) will push forward from

Glistening (2), Crystal Bound (5) and Pretty Woman (11). Plenty of hopefuls here, but the favourite is Crystal Bound. Walked home on debut to beat He’s Xceptional by six lengths then missed out to Jamaea last start who has since won at G2 level. Dosh is undefeated from two attempts and resumes here. Both of those wins at 1000m. Has won down the straight. Seradess (4) is another that is unbeaten from two starts. Spanked her competitor­s last start in the Cinderalla Stakes.

Ashema (8) gets some good ground for once. Flying Evelyn (9) is way overs for us. Placed at G3 level down the straight earlier this year and gets dry ground and blinkers on for the first time.

Top tip: Dosh

Race 5. 2.55pm — The Sofitel (1400m)

Ayrton. That’s it, that’s all you need to know for race five. This promising star won fresh last start over 1400m and although it was only half a length, he absolutely flew home. The gelding’s final furlong was quicker than anything posted in the G1 Memsie Stakes on the same day.

Regardsmar­ee (7) will be in our quinella. Ran third behind Ayrton last start and drops in weight here. Settled second without cover in that race, needs cover. has won twice when third-up from three attempts. Expect Crosshaven (1) to take up the front running from barrier nine which should see Ayrton slip in behind off the pace. Crosshaven has won twice when second-up and has two wins at this trip and track.

Cherry Tortoni (5) returns to the races and performs strongly when fresh.

Top tip: Ayrton

Race 6. 3.35pm — Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m)

A big field meets us in the first leg of the quaddie. The early speed will be set from emerging talent Turaath (14), with Zou Dancer (8), Ripper Rita (11) and 7, 5 close behind.

Instant Celebrity (1) returned from the paddock with a great chase to finish third behind Probabeel last start. That was with 60kg. Is undefeated when second-up and at this trip from two attempts. Loves dry ground (6:3-0-2). Going to be hard to beat. Turaath claimed a hat-trick last start, with all three victories coming over this trip. Rises in class, but this four-year-old keeps impressing each time. Zou Dancer is third-up and has won at this stage before. Great form at this track and distance, looks overs at $12. Same can be said for $41 pop Bonvicini (13) who placed in this race last year when fresh. Is resuming here and is 3:2-0-1 when fresh. Butter Chicken (17) resumes here and trialled strongly. Will be following Instant Celebrity from the back.

Top tip: Instant Celebrity

Race 7. 4.15pm — Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m)

The speed is going to be spicy hot early. Expect Away Game (9), The Astrologis­t (5) and 15, 7, 12, 4 to push forward. Can Zoutori (1) make it a hat-trick of Bobbie Lewis wins? Our love for the gelding came after his win in 2019 and we are backing the consistent sprinter again. Has a first-up record of 8:4-1-1 and has six wins down the straight. Luke Currie steered Zoutori to the G1 Newmarket earlier this year and fingers crossed the star pounces on them late. The only knock is the 59.5kg.

Jonker (2) resumes here and can fire when fresh. Finished his latest prep in great form. The Astrologis­t has won three of his past four, with all those wins coming down the straight. Don’t count out Express Pass (11) who claimed the Chautauqua Stakes last weekend. Won that by two lengths and drops in weight again. Has form down the straight.

Top tip: Zoutori

Race 8. 4.50pm — Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m)

It is time for the feature race and it looks set to be a cracker. Not a lot of early speed here, with most looking to take up positions at the back. Reigning Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet (1) returns here, but don’t expect a big run first-up. We think it’s destined to be a battle between some of the key runners out of the Memsie Stakes. The likes of Tofane (12), Inspiratio­nal Girl (13) and Aegon (9). While Mo’unga (10) and

Incentivis­e (6) are the two big chances. Looking like Tofane will lurch forward. Ran third last start in the Memsie and this is first-crack at the mile. Inspiratio­nal Girl ran fifth in the Memsie, but her race was over after missing the jump. Will be better for that run. Is undefeated from three attempts when second-up and is unbeaten at this trip. We are backing her in again. Expect a big showing from Winx Stakes winner Mo’unga. Chased home and beat Verry Elleegant. Keiai Nautique (3) ran the best final 200m in that race and the rise in trip will suit. Incentivis­e is perhaps the next champion galloper Down Under. Won last start at G3 level by more than 12 lengths! Has won six straight. Trainer Peter Moody said during the week even he was unsure of what is hiding under the bonnet of the gun talent.

Top tip: Inspiratio­nal Girl

Race 9. 5.25pm — Hcp (1700m)

A tough race for punters to end on. There looks to be Ziegfeld (8) pushing forward from the widest barrier with 11, 12 and 13 also going forward. The early money has landed on Skyman (14) who is second-up after a close runner-up finish when fresh. Has two wins and a placing when at this stage of the prep. A track specialist and will be firing late. Persan (2) resumes and won first-up in his last prep. Loves racing at Flemington. King Of Leogrance (1) has a 6:2-2-1 record when fresh. Looking wider for Furrion (9) and

Zayydani (15) to be there about. The former won last start at this track over 2000m and has three wins over this trip. Two wins when fresh. Zayydani won last start at Eagle Farm by nearly three lengths and has won first-up before. Will be charging home late. Skyman should win this, but we are having a throw at the stumps with Furrion.

Top tip: Furrion EW

 ?? Picture: AAP ??
Picture: AAP
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 ?? Picture: George Salpigtidi­s/Racing Photos ?? Hello old friend: One of Payney’s Punt’s many favourites, Zoutori, returns to the races tomorrow in the Bobbie Lewis Quality.
Picture: George Salpigtidi­s/Racing Photos Hello old friend: One of Payney’s Punt’s many favourites, Zoutori, returns to the races tomorrow in the Bobbie Lewis Quality.
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