After Caulfield Guineas day on Saturday, the rail moves out from the true position to the 10m rail. This is identical to what we had last year on Blue Sapphire Stakes Day, which was ran on a Good(4). I feel as if there’s a common misconception about the rail – the wider it gets the more ‘leaderish’ it becomes. At this meet last year, three winners did settle outside lead and win (WOLFE, SPANISH REEF and USAIN BOWLER). However, three others came from well back, looping the field and winning well (SHARED AMBITION, SERIOUS LIASON and DOUBLE YOU TEE). The other two winners on the day box-seated (HAUNTED and ANAHEED). What was apparent though, in all races run there was serious intent shown, by jockeys on leaders, to get off the fence.
The weather predicted on the day is minimal, in terms of rain and wind. There’s a chance we could get 1-5mm, but I’m confident that it won’t impact the track much at all and we should be on a Good4 the entire meet. The wind is predicted to be below 5km/h gusts for the first time I can remember here in Melbourne so the wind definitely doesn’t become any sort of a factor.
The way the races have played out this spring so far, I expect runners to search for better ground wider on the track. This definitely is not advantageous to leaders having to leave the fence and run on without having the fence as a guide. In smaller fields (6-7 runners or less) I would give a good chance to all horses, barring the leader. In the bigger fields, then runners who are forward of midfield, but not leading, will be at an advantaged. In the bigger fields, if you are in the last few with the rail out, you cover absurd amounts of ground, trying to loop the field – it is not a winning recipe. Not keen on leaders, or horses who get too far out of their ground (worse than midfield).
RACE 1 - BIANCA NORTH HANDICAP (1600m)
I can see one of two situations occurring in the lead here. TANKER presses to cross MISS INBETWEEN and they run at an above even tempo or TANKER sits outside MISS INBETWEEN and they go at a below even tempo. That would mean, CONFRONTATIONAL is either outside of MISS INBETWEEN or in the one-one position behind her. EMBOLISM will be on the fence behind the pace, likely with RATHLIN on the outside. I think ZALMATION will come next, however with Craig Williams on this suggests perhaps the horse may be put more into the race. JAFFASTOCK sat behind the leaders on debut but they crawled in that so I’d say from the wide gate with Hugh Bowman on, he goes back. Tricky to map, but settled on this.
The two map horses in my opinion look to be CONFRONTATIONAL and EMBOLISM. They’ll get first crack at the two leaders (which I saw as disadvantaged) and can choose the runs they take. Also like the spot TANKER gets to if John Allen sits outside of potential leader MISS INBETWEEN.
Think it’s likely that MISS INBETWEEN leads on the inside, in which case I’m not a big fan from a map perspective, just because she will want to hug the fence. ZALMATION and JAFFASTOCK definitely get too far back and I don’t think they can win from the back. RATHLIN looks to be a neutral runner in the field.
The two horses I would consider playing are the two that were identified as the map horses; CONFRONTATIONAL and EMBOLISM. We didn’t see the best of EMBOLISM last time out at Flemington where he wasn’t suited by the v-slow tempo. His L200m split was his personal fastest of the race, which subsequently was when Oliver actually pulled the whip on him to get his mind onto the job. To me that suggests he will relish the step up to 1600m and with TANKER in the race I suspect this may be ran a little faster which will suit this colt. I personally think the market has missed CONFRONTATIONAL, although only coming out of a 1600m Echuca Maiden last start. He settled in the last four in a very slowly run race, against older horses, and rattled down the outside with some really good late splits. His form around NARVAEZ and EFFLORESCENCE as a 2yo, where nowhere near a furnished horse, read very well and likely settles ahead of EMBOLISM in the run. Think he can run a big race. Respecting the company RATHLIN has been racing in, he’s not without a chance. Not sure I can kick up for much else.
Think a two-bet strategy on the map horses, main bet EMBOLISM and saver on CONFRONTATIONAL, is the play.
RACE 2 - NEDS COONGY CUP (2000m)
No real leaders in this. On recent performances though, confident HARLEM takes it up. Think DJANGO FREEMAN to his outside – needs to push forward or NONCONFORMIST will post him 3-wide. CAPTAIN COOK sits inside of NONCONFORMIST. PRINCESS JENNI and CAPE OF GOOD HOPE pair off midfield with KIWIA and MONGOLIAN MARSHAL behind them. Think AL GALAYEL probably ends up last from the widest gate.
Don’t see them going quick at all here with HARLEM leading. Only way I see there being a quicker than even tempo is if DJANGO FREEMAN wants to make it a test – unlikely.
Given the likely slow tempo DJANGO FREEMAN and NONCONFORMIST are definitely the map horses, DJANGO FREEMAN slightly more advantaged. CAPTAIN COOK also gets a great spot too in my opinion.
At this stage, HARLEM I think is probably best horse in race, however leading I don’t think will be the go. AL GALAYEL being last I think will be in a big spot of bother and so being on him is a massively low percentage play. KIWIA and MONGOLIAN MARSHAL are in the same boat whilst I’d say PRINCESS JENNI and CAPE OF GOOD HOPE are neutral runners (map wise).
I’ve personally landed on NONCONFORMIST. His platform to the 2000m off a fast run 1700m is ideal for this. He loves a slow tempo which he can kick and use the damaging turn of foot he has, which I believe is better than the turn of foot his rivals have. Can definitely understand the disappointment over his last run, however he was out of a slow run 1400m (up to the 1700m) and was 4 weeks in between runs. That is not the right platform at all. Furthermore, although listed as a Soft6, there were mentions the track may have been wetter than that - he seems to be a better horse on top of the ground. DJANGO FREEMAN was disappointing in the Turnbull and was entitled to run better than he did. He had cover from the wind the whole way, which was a huge advantage on the day, and barely made any in roads into HARLEM there - can't have him off that performance. Harlem had to face the breeze and did well not to end up further back in the field. AL GALAYEL probably deserved favourite and is absolutely flying – main danger. However, he looks to map well behind NONCONFORMIST and I’d rather take the better price on the horse who will be closer to the pace in what looks to be a slowly ran affair.
RACE 3 - BECK PROBUILD HANDICAP (2000m)
SILENT COMMAND is the likely leader. IRISH FLAME and VEGAS KNIGHT should hold a forward position. ZOUY’S COMET finds the fence and I’d say that GRAND PROMENADE should slot in the outside. There’s a good chance that LOOK SHARPISH, with Craig Williams on, kicks up to hold out GRAND PROMENADE so I concede that he could be shuffled back a pair on the outside of HUNBOSHI. On the contrary, John Allen could take GRAND PROMENADE to the front, which puts this map in the absolute bin. YULONG RISING should be the behind them on the inside. ROYAL CROWN, SILENCE THE STARS and GAMAY likely settle as the last three.
I think this will be a truly run race, even-fast tempo. IRISH FLAME and VEGAS KNIGHT won’t let SILENT COMMAND cross with ease and so that will ensure enough tempo in the race. Any horse should have their chance if good enough, as long as they don't get too far back.
The spot to be will be the position that will be battled between GRAND PROMENADE and LOOK SHARPISH. Whoever finds that, is the map horse, and whoever is one pair back is a more neutral runner. IRISH FLAME and VEGAS KNIGHT get nice spots behind the leader, they’re map horses. ZOUY’S COMET is neutral.
Not a big fan of leaders today, so SILENT COMMAND I don’t think has the best run. The last 3 will need a heap of luck from where they’ll get to, I do feel. HUNBOSHI and YULONG RISING in a world of hurt too.
If GRAND PROMENADE settles in the first 2 - 4, he’s a genuine moral. But with that slight query over the map I can’t be with him at a tick over $3. Last start GAMAY beat him home convincingly, admittedly she had a massive map advantage over him (he was 3-wide) and it’s likely that he was running a distance short of his best. The platform to run the 2000m just isn’t ideal, even though he is Maher/Eustace trained. Still enough to have me a little tentative about backing him. Clear best horse though. Similarly to GRAND PROMENADE, LOOK SHARPISH and GAMAY don’t platform great off their 1600m runs, which is enough to query them. Both are proven stayers though. IRISH FLAME is coming off an absolute gut buster of a 2000m too where riding a hot tempo. Would’ve liked to see a rise in distance for him - query staying at 2000m. ROYAL CROWN in my opinion will just be too far back also. This brings me to the two I think pose a little bit of value; VEGAS KNIGHT and ZOUY’S COMET. Both have had runs at the 2000m before this so will be hard fit. Both map really well, forward half of the field.
I couldn’t go away from the favourite though, in terms of who I think will win. Is he a betting prospect? I’m not totally convinced and would likely want closer to $4 before I pull the trigger. Although VEGAS KNIGHT and ZOUY’S COMET map well and have fitness on their side I doubt they have the class of a few of the other more fancied runners. With GRAND PROMENADE, but not a bet.
RACE 7 - CATANACH’S LADIES’ DAY VASE (1600m)
OCEAN’S THIRTEEN, from the barrier definitely settles in the first four, with PARADEE and FABRIC pushing forward from the outside I’d say. SPANISH REEF settles right behind them. RED HEELER will be right up there from gate one, won’t want to be buried too far back, SOVEREIGN AWARD her outside. I don’t expect to see CHAILLOT missing the start again – should be midfield inside of MISSILE MANTRA. MISSILE MANTRA has been jumping really well. With slower starters behind her, I can see her finding a spot midfield. Then come those who rarely jump well; BENETOITE, AFFAIR TO REMEMBER, ONE MORE TRY, FIDELIA and NERVER NOT VERVE, who should all settle at the rear.
With no real leader in this I can see one of OCEAN’S THIRTEEN, PARADEE or FABRIC going at an even early and the slowing them up after settling. Expecting a slow to moderate tempo.
On the map that I settled on, PARADEE / FABRIC / SPANISH REEF look to be the map horses. SOVEREIGN AWARD maps very well also, with RED HEELER. MISSILE MANTRA and CHAILLOT the neutral runners.
Keeping up my leaders theme, with OCEAN’S THIRTEEN, not sure she gets the map in her favour. Then the last 5 will need to be seriously good to win from back in the field.
I have settled on MISSILE MANTRA in this. Last start at Flemington she ran a huge race against the pattern of the day, wide copping the wind, and flew down the outside to secure third. Have to bonus anything doing that on the day. Out to 1600m now is her absolute pet distance and she only gets fitter. She looks to have decent map, and is faster home than anything in front of her and likely too far ahead for anything behind to catch her. FABRIC, from the same race, was slightly disappointing last start to me. Had cover from the torrid wind at Flemington and once afforded room did not let down very well like other runners, SHE SHAO FLY and SIERRA SUE, who both placed in the race. Last years’ winner of this race, SPANISH REEF, looks to defend her title and seemingly gets every chance. She sat outside leader that day and likely box seats here. Got to query how she’s going at the moment, as ONE MORE TRY ran straight by her last start, I can’t be with her. PARADEE is a very interesting runner. Her first up run was really promising and suggested she was in for a good prep, however is now 46 days in between runs. Isn’t generally an issue for Danny O’Brien runners, but could be a little vulnerable late – Definite query. The main dangers to MISSILE MANTRA bring alternate form lines. CHAILLOT is one of those who looks to be a star. She missed the start first-up and came from last to run over the top of TITAN BLINDERS. The TITAN BLINDERS form can be linked to SOVEREIGN AWARD who did similar going past him at Moonee Valley – CHAILLOT definitely with more improvement given she was firs-up off a year break and also missed the start. One I will mention who, on her day is a freak, is AFFAIR TO REMEMBER. Never jumps well and will have to go back from the wide draw, but easily has the turn of foot from the back to be right in this.
Extremely tough race but at the price, have to be with MISSILE MANTRA.
OTHER RACE COMMENTS
RACE 4 - CANTACHS JEWELLERS BLUE SAPPHIRE STAKES I echo the thoughts of many in this race, “what on earth is going on?”. It will still be an intriguing race though. Interested to see what impact ANDERS’ setback had on him. The logical play here is laying ANDERS, purely based on him coming back from a niggle. In saying that, I don’t recommend it as even at 80% fitness he’s got a fair bit on HANSEATIC and RANTING. Just sit back and watch is my suggestion.
RACE 5 - HYLAND RACE COLOURS HANDICAP This race boasts two potentially progressive staying stars – CADRE DU NOIR and SARACEN KNIGHT. Both are short in the market and have every possible. As such I’m happy to leave this alone. We just aren’t getting a good enough price on them to bet both - I can’t split them. If I had to lean one way it would be with SARACEN KNIGHT after he got up @14’s for me in his latest start.
RACE 6 - NEDS VILLAGE STAKES This is the most intriguing race of the day to me with plenty of chances. Happy to leave this race alone, however, if there’s any sort of push for ex-Perth horse, THE VELVET KING, I’ll plant 2-3 units on him. Brings A-grade form around PERFECT JEWEL, REGAL POWER and VEGA MAGIC and has beaten ACHERNAR STAR second up over 1400m, who ran a respectable 5th in the Toorak Handicap on Saturday. Now trained by Peter Moody, who combines with Luke Nolen here - great combination. Given what Perth horses have already done this spring, I’m inclined to have a tickle on him first-up (so long as the market is with him).
RACE 8 - NICK JOHNSTONE REAL ESTATE HANDICAP Tough race, hence why I left the map, but I thought LEGIONNAIRE was just the obvious play. He drops from an Open Handicap to BM84 level where his run behind ANCESTRY reads super for a race like this. From Barrier 2 can settle just in behind the pace and present at the right time to go on by. Thought his run last start had a heap of merit, as in that one-one position horses copped a hiding from the wind, similarly to MISSILE MANTRA. Three of the four horses who beat him home had cover from that wind and came through on his inside. He beat home all the horses in-front of him which further supports the theory that having cover was imperative. At his $4-$5 quote, has to be a bet.
BETTING STRATEGY & TOP PICKS
RACE 1: EMBOLISM (5 units W @ $2.70) - 1st by 3.0L at a $2.63 / $1.34 Betfair SP.
RACE 1: CONFRONTATIONAL (1 unit W @ $9.00) *BEST PLAY*
RACE 2: NONCONFORMIST (3 units W @ $4.00) - 1st by 0.4L at a $3.52 / $1.55 Betfair SP.
RACE 3: GRAND PROMENADE (no bet)
RACE 4: n/a
RACE 5: SARACEN KNIGHT and CADRE DU NOIR (no bets)
RACE 6: THE VELVET KING (no bet)
RACE 7: MISSILE MANTRA (2 units W @ $7.00) - 4th by 0.7L at a $7.42 / $2.38 Betfair SP.
RACE 8: LEGIONNAIRE (3 units W @ $4.40) - 14th by 4.6L at a $4.95 / $1.93 Betfair SP.
Total Unit Outlay = 14.00 units
Total Units Returned = 23.71 units
Unit Profit at Betfair SP = 9.71 units
Betting Strategy has a max bet of 5 units. 'W' = Win bet, 'P' = Place bet, 'E/W' = Each-Way bet.
Analysis by @Max_Wills_.