Avil­ius the one to beat

The Sportsman Weekend - - Flemington Preview - WITH GREG SPLETTER


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.

2: 1,6,13.

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.


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