Avilius the one to beat
It’s that time of year again with entire fields unraced youngsters facing the starter and providing punters with an early lucky dip on what is otherwise a cracking card for a bet. FANAAR is one of several runners from the Hayes-HayesDabernig team who went well in a jumpout here at the end of September, racing well within himself and clocking a decent time for the 800m (46.35). Fair enough at $7.00, but it’s probably not a great idea to risk much of your bank on an unraced twoyear-old down the straight at Flemington. MERCURY wasn’t asked to do much on the same day, running along under his own steam behind The Astrologist who lines up here as well. Beaten a few lengths but he did everything right and had plenty left in the tank at the end. Worth an each way ticket $13. MEMPHIS ROCK beat Mercury that day but was ridden out and did run about a bit. Tread softly enjoy the spectacle.
WILD PLANET looked impressive winning first-up at Ballarat a fortnight ago, mustering speed early to lead on settling and cleared out to win by a couple of lengths beating couple of nice types including the third horse who is already stakes-placed. This bloke picked up black type himself at the end of last prep over this course and distance running on from midfield, but there isn’t much speed here and I can see him leading or handing up to the unbeaten colt getting some cushy splits. He’ll be strong late and is a good bet at $5.00. RANIER still maiden but he has been beaten by some reasonable types including a length second to Miss Fabulass first-up in a small field. Beaten a lip at this meeting last year in the Maribyrnong but he would prefer a bit more speed up front than he is likely to get. No doubt he’ll be hitting the line but is a bit skinny at $3.50. YULONG JANUARY has impressed with two sizeable victories at Swan Hill but faces a big rise in grade. He’ll have to come across from the awkward draw and will settle in first two with the top pick. Not sure how much upside he has, but he’ll be in right spot on straightening and will give them something to catch.
HOLBIEN pulled up out of sorts at Caulfield last Sunday after covering extra ground and it wasn’t a bad effort all
Avilius (Race 7) makes his Melbourne debut tomorrow and should cement his position near or at the top of betting for both Cups with a win in Bart Cummings.
He is a serious racehorse who has produced three incredible performances up in Sydney, the latest running straight past subsequent things considered, although a bit disappointing for favourite backers. I was happy to pot him at the short quote then but back down to the limit here from the better draw I expect a sharp improvement. Again there is no speed engaged here at all and it wouldn’t surprise to see Holbien lob along at his leisure out in front. If he leads them up rounding the bend you’ll be pretty happy you took the $12. ECKSTEIN is an underrated mare who improved markedly second-up in the Golden Pendant to finish just behind the placegetters. She was competitive at the top level last campaign, getting beaten just a half length in Coolmore Classic and various other mares’ events throughout the carnival. Shorter than I’d have liked at $5.50 but she will go well. CRACK ME UP was a late closer in the Bobbie Lewis here first-up and is getting out to something like his preferred distance tomorrow. Big ask ask to lump 60kg against a decent field such as this but he is well up it if they do run along in front.
SAVOIE has absolutely caned them at his last two including a demolition over this course and distance a fortnight ago and we’ll back him in to chalk up his hat-trick. Faced the breeze here last time and one might have thought he was vulnerable on the bend, but just foxing. He’s clocked 11.37s from the six to four and same again from the to the two and rest of field had nothing left in
tank. Surprised he has come up $3.20 even though this is a stronger field. SIKORSKY could
Metrop winner Patrick Erin et al in the Kingston Town over 2000m. He should relish the step up to 2500m and the $2.20 feels like value me.
Savatiano (Race 9) has looked okay in Provincial black type company this campaign but faces a quality line-up of mares in the Blazer Stakes. run a race at odds after breaking his maiden status last time at Sale. Took a while to hit top gear after drifting little around the turn but really knuckled down over the last hundred or so and looks to have some upside. EXTRA BRUT will have his admirers after accounting for Thunderdome at Caulfield last start but is going to be doing it tough tomorrow from barrier 19. He’ll go forward and will need luck to slot in, but if he gets it will give a sight.
I’d like to see them run this race twice, once with WINX in it so she can rack up another win in her amazing ride, and then again so we see how some of these Cup hopes shape up against each other under set weight conditions. I’ll save ink on Winx, other than to point out that she is out to around the $1.20 mark in places and that’s good enough to use as an easy leg of your multi’s. The secondary theme here, however, is fascinating with strong Caulfield Cup hopes KINGS WILL DREAM and YOUNGSTAR both finally getting out to a trip where they can flex their staying muscle. The Sydney mare in particular was moving at speed when she hit the line the end of 1500m two weeks ago and it will be interesting to see if she can reproduce her winter form this season.
FIRST AMONG EQUALS caught the eye here last time with a late burst in the Bobbie Lewis only to be nabbed a photo by Dothraki, and that followed another tidy effort at Caulfield running
She has to front a large contingent of mares with Group One formlines with her Princess Posh and Irithea form and while they’re no slouches, it’s a far cry from some of these.
At $3.90 we can skirt around Savatiano tomorrow.
Plenty of depth to most of the quaddie on behind Ball Of Muscle after drawing poorly. He is already a winner down the straight here at the 1200m and given his latest result I’m surprised he’s going round at $6.50. I AM EXCITED has put in two good runs this prep against the girls, running on at Caulfield over 1200m. Competitive strong company over the autumn and has to be included among the chances here, although perhaps a point or so under mark at $5.50. PERAST has had a couple of trials leading into his resumption tomorrow and did show up in Brisbane over the winter finishing just a couple of lengths from the winner in Stradbroke. Very even line-up with eight of
10 runners at single figure odds and it’s a load-up leg for the quaddie.
AVILIUS does look the best bet on the card following three superb victories in Sydney since coming here from France. He has been giving them big starts but his finishing speed is top shelf and he gets his chance to show us what can do over a genuine staying trip tomorrow. There’s a minor chance of some traffic given he’s drawn the inside but Glyn Schofield has been on him the whole way and will know when and if he needs to shift out look for clear air. He’s not over line, but is a great bet even at the $2.20. I’m going to include a couple of roughies in my quaddie against the possibility of some bad luck for favourite and RISING RED brings solid staying credentials to the table. Impressive G3 winner up in Brisbane in the winter, and
legs tomorrow so we’ll go wide in those, tightening up only in the Bart Cummings with Avilius and a couple of blowout hopes.
Looking to load up in the last with any number of chances at great odds. Leg 1: 1,3,7,8,11.
Leg 3: 3,4,5,13,15.
4: 3,4,5,6,10,13,14. did super to beat all but Night’s Watch in a very strong Foundation Cup last start. VENGEUR MASQUE was doing his best work late in that race and was only three lengths or so behind Rising Red on the line. He’s never won short of 2400m and this will give us a good guide as to how he’s going for the spring. If you’re looking to throw in a bolter then CHEQUERED FLAG is a reasonable candidate. He’s had couple of goes at the jumps but did show up in weaker staying company last prep, and while the front pair cleared out in the JRA Cup time, this bloke was competitive with the rest. An improver at massive odds.
There are only three in the market here but there are many more chances than that and at a bit of odds I’m having something on PIERRO BELLE each way at around 20/1. Easy winner out of town first-up before giving away a big start at Moonee Valley and running on late behind Meryl when she did plenty wrong. She overraced, ran up onto heels several times, dipped once or twice and had to wait for a gap on the bend but hit the line very strongly. TAHITIAN DANCER was also a late closer last time, running on behind Mystic Journey at big odds over 1400m. Suited by the extra furlong. VERRY ELLEEGANT won two in a row in restricted grade New Zealand before transferring to the Darren Weir camp. Impossible to line her up, but she is very short for a last-start Bm65 winner and I’d prefer to see her produce before getting excited.
Probably the most open race of the day and LEATHER’N’LACE is overdue for a win. Caught the eye second-up when blocked for a run by eventual winner Winter Bride at Caulfield and hit the line strongly. Placed in
Edward Manifold at this meeting last year and $17 can give us a great finish to the day. BRING ME ROSES won that Edward Manifold 12 months ago with a barnstorming run to beat Hiyaam, and she has shown up at the top level since with a good placing in the Australian Guineas behind Grunt. Goes well fresh and not entitled to be $19. TULIP scored a gutsy win last start at Bm90 level over this trip and gets little weight relief stepping up into stakes company. Drawn better here and is another with good each way hopes but there are a fistful of chances so cast your quaddie net wide.