- NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA
NOTE: RACES are assessed for a heavy 8. All horses are considered starters unless notified by Thursday at 1pm. (N/R) denotes no rating.
FITNESS will be the key more than ever on what looks like being a very testing surface. We saw as much last week all of which of leads us to ponder about where 2. VANBRUGH (N/R) is at this early stage of his ‘spring’ campaign. Chris Waller has a plethora of Golden Rose candidates and no doubt Vanbrugh is one. Whether he’s forward enough to come and out win first-up is debatable, only Waller would know, but he is certainly the best horse in the race and his trials have been quite unbelievable. 3. LET’S MAKE IT RAIN (N.R) is by my own personal favourite ‘wet track sire’ (Not A Single Doubt) and he showed enough in his two runs at his first prep to warrant serious respect. He too has trialled keenly and barrier 3/Bowman would likely suggest that he’ll be on-pace throughout which is usually the place to be. The 1200m first-up is a niggle but he’ll be there for a long, long way. 4. LABDIEN (N/R) went out after winning on debut at WF on a heavy 8 so we know she handles the ground. Speaking of which, 1. SURFIN’ SUFARI (N/R) bolted in by 5-lens on a heavy 10 at the Farm and has the race fitness on his side but he’s drawn poorly.
WALLER stayer 8. SIR MAKO (82) was ridden a treat by Rory Hutchings to win his Australian debut at R’wick over the 2000m on Jun. 6. We all saw him late last week in a 1900m Bm84 here when 2.4-lens 5th of the 9 in a leader dominated race. He was somewhat hampered over the final furlong and while it didn’t cost him the ultimate result, the margin is unfair. He is a heavy track winner in NZ and has won 3 from 6 on soft so everything is in his favour this weekend to bounce back. 6. LUCKY LAGO (88) has threatened to win a race for a long time but sadly the mare has been unable to convert some real eye catchers into triumph, That said, she has raced in black type affairs at all of her past four runs and finished ‘5243’ all-up and no more than 2.5-lens from the winner each time. 7.GEORGEY AEROPLANE (82) is one of the 5 (out of 10) Waller runners in the race and his penchant for the slop combined with the fact that he is third-up to a suitable trip makes him a genuine contender. Ditto for stablemate 4. REIGNING (91) who is racing as well as he ever has.
MIKE Moroney is a master trainer of stayers and his horses travel. Enter 7. SPACE (69), who is 1 for 1 at the track and distance. He is 5s 0-0-0 on soft but 1s for a 2nd on heavy so he we’re going to cautiously give him a ‘tick’ in the conditions. Space was lapped in the two-mile Andrew Ramsden last start finishing last some 22-odd lens from the winner La Amistad. That was back on May 23 and he’s had time to regroup and I’d imagine the previous run (3rd to Sonntag over 2800m at Flemington) stands him in good stead in what is a typically tricky race. Waller only has one in the race which is somewhat unusual. 5. SOVIET COURAGE (71) is a lightly-raced chestnut bred in Europe that posted his second career win as recently as last start in a 2600m Bm75 at R’wick on a heavy 10. He raced handy and outstayed the others — none of whom we can really vouch for as Saturday class horses, but he did put them bed quite comfortably. 4. DER MEISTER (71) was $61 last weekend when a 1.1-lens 3rd to Maurus in a 1900m Bm84. Some good judges swear by horses backing up off a good wet track run but either way, one cannot ignore the fact that this fellow is a 2400m winner at Newmarket in England prior to leaving.
TO call this race a lottery is putting it mildly. Indeed it wouldn’t be out of order to suggest that everyone of the 14 horses has a winning chance. Surely so when you think the bottom one in the race is none other than Lucy’s Look who was some darned impressive beating Berry Delicious here not that long ago. Speaking of Berry Delicious, I like the horse that was 1-lens 2nd to her at R’wick on the heavy 10 last start namely 8. ELLE LOU (73) from Team Hawkes. This daughter of Snitzel is out of a Snippets mare which accounts for her wet track credentials. You may also recall that she won the rich Gold Coast Magic Millions Maiden back in the Summer like and absolute champion coming from 14/16 at the turn to win by 2.3-lens. Berry Delicious’ trainer Jaosn Coyle has all his team firing at present none more so than 4. FINAL DECISION (74) who has won two of his past three including his June 13 appearance here where he ran down a brave 11. LAND GRANT (67) from the Kris Lees camp who hasn’t fared too well in the barrier stakes but he was utterly dominant winning last start at home at Newcastle on the heavy 9.
BOY it doesn’t get any easier as the day progresses with another ultra-competitive race to work with here. I have always maintained that there is no better fresh/first-up sire in the land than Commands which points to a bold run from Ron Dufficy’s mare 2. COMMANDING WIT (84). I don’t know the actual stats but Bowman and the Snowdens are a formidable trio at their best. As for the mare herself, she is proven beyond any doubt on wet tracks being 1 for 1 on heavy and 4s 0-1-2 on slow. She is ‘good on good’ too but that won’t count for much this weekend in the deep winter. Her trial was quite acceptable, she looked like she might drop out but she showed some ticker and class late to hang on to 2nd behind Marseille Roulette in the 1050m heavy heat at R’wick on Jun. 23. She is 4s 1-1-1 first-up and with a bit of luck she could have won more than 5 races. 1. PRIVATE SECRETARY (87) is a battle harden mare that comes off a very impressive and popular win at HQ over the 1200m on Jun. 6. Bar that disappointing 6th at R’wick in the late autumn she has been outstanding for trainer Greg Hickman. Not surprisingly she is paying the penalty for his consistency but she’s a trier. 8. FIFTYSHADESOFGREY (79) has come of age this time in work with two 2nds and a win from all runs this campaign. She has a great finish so barrier 12/12 doesn’t really count her out. 9. HOLY DELUSIONS (79) came from just behind Fiftyshadesofgrey to be beaten 1.2-lens when they met here last time.
A CAPACITY field for the feature and again, a wonderful line-up of fairly evenly matched sprinter/1400m types. That said, I am very keen on the Gerald Ryan trained Snitzel 3. DANCES ON STARS (97) who has some big race wins to his credit and a number of placings hence his half million dollar plus in earnings. He is 4s 1-1-1 on heavy and returns to his home track after a profitable stint up in Queensland, Granted he never won in that time but he was racing some super handy horses notably Srikandi whom he finished 3rd behind in the G2 Victory Stakes at Doomben. Dances On Stars ran credibly in the G3 Healy albeit a fair way from the winner and one-time stablemate 1.DOTHRAKI (104). Apart from Kerrin McEvoy, is anyone riding better than Brenton Avdulla? Probably not. With the greatest respect to Dothraji who is a huuuuge chance, I have the Waller pairing of 7. DIAMETRIC (93) as the main danger followed by 12. SAID COM (88). Diametric is solid first-up with 5s 3w and has trialled well but I concede he has some track/wet questions to be addressed. As for Said Com, at his best — he’d be top 3 no problem and I’ve loved his trials. Said Com had a big weight and terrible alley last Saturday and was scratched. I find it intriguing that he resumes in a Listed race.
I HAVE monitored the career of the former Dubbo-based galloper 12. SHIRAZ (76) since I saw him shine like a beacon in the dark one uneventful afternoon back in Dec. 2013 in the bush long ago when trained by Peter Nestor. You could just tell by looking at him that he wasn’t your average country horse and that he would make it in better races. To be honest, I didn’t think he’d be as good as he is but good luck to him, I am happy to be wrong. It takes a handy horse to win more than half of their starts but Shiraz has been so well placed by Nestor and now Tony McEvoy that he finds a way to win. This is an ask to be sure, but his draw, his weight and those two trials are in his favour. As for the wet, you’d back a Zariz to handle it. 5. BROOK ROAD (93) was borderline moral first-up and got the job done here beating Wonderbolt et al. The God’s Own mare has the enviable record of 12s 5-2-2 and I recall her being a bit unlucky from time to time as well. She is of course deadly first-up and 4s 1-1-1 second-up which is acceptable. The worst she’s seen is a soft 6 (last start) but you can’t knock her on heavy until she’s proven it one way or another. 8. CASUAL CHOICE (86) is a magnificent beast like his dear old dad, Choisir, and a horse with lots more talent that one who is 3 from 18. He had a quiet trial earlier in the week at WF but looked pretty good to me. 1. ZARATONE(100) is always a chance and what a grand horse he’s been and for the life of me I can’t see how 3.DECISION TIME (98) trials like Phar Lap but races so far below that on race day. He won his heat at WF on Monday like the horse we saw finish 2nd in a Golden Slipper which seems so long ago now. You never know?
WHEN I did the form on Wednesday I had God’s In Him on top then Scottish Border as the value both ahead of 4. MARENOSTRO (77) but they both came out after I’d finished so in effect I have my third pick on top under sufferance. With that said, he is flying this prep but he’ll be well found and having not tipped him at either of those two wins, it’s against ones persuasion to come in on the grouter. 4. REFER (85) is an emergency in an earlier race and so it too could be scratched which leaves me only with Marenostro’s stablemate 8. HOLLYWOODBOUND (79) and to a lesser extent, and right out of the box, 2. PLUTORIUS (82) and even 3. PYTHAGOREAN (82). It’s a terribly hard race and one that I am not at all confident about. Not much of a review I know, but it could look very different by post time to what it does now, even 16. EISENHOWER (79) might start here instead of a prior race and if so, he’s be pressing for favouritism if not the top pick with punters. My own bet would be — forget about this and have it on Sir Mako in the second race, I think he’s the standout on the program.