The Melbourne Autumn Carnival is in full swing with Group 1 racing continuing this week at Flemington with the running of the $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m). A small but high quality field of seven will line up in the weight for age scamper down the Flemington straight with the three year olds taking on the older sprinters. Also on the nine race program is the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m) for the three year old colts and gelding and the Group 3 $150,000 The Vanity (1400m) for the fillies with several runners heading towards the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 5.
All times are local Melbourne times
Race 7 – 4.05pm Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m)
A small but talented group of seven sprinters will line up in the Group 1 $750,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m). The three year olds Exosphere, Japonisme and Kinglike are set to take on the older sprinters Chautauqua, Terravista, Delectation and Va Pensiero at weight for age and the result is going to be tight. Va Pensiero and Exosphere are the only two not to have won down the Flemington straight. Terravista was the winner of the 2014 Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) while the Chris Waller trained Delectation claimed that prize during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival. Waller’s other runner Japonisme also won the Group 1 $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) over the Spring with the odds on favourite Exosphere lamenting in fourth spot. The John O’Shea trained Exosphere has his chance to make amends and has opened the top pick for the Black Caviar Lightning at $2.50 at Ladbrokes just ahead of Chautauqua at $2.70. Chautauqua has won down the Flemington straight at Group 2 and Group 3 level, but the big grey sprinter has been runner up on three occasions at Group 1 level in the Darley Classic twice behind Terravista and Delectation and in the 2015 $1m Newmarket Handicap (1200m) behind Brazen Beau.
Race 1 – 12:25pm The Curragh Racecourse Trophy (1600m)
The Chris Waller trained All Cerise is racing in outstanding form with wins from her last three starts, including a last start win over this course and distance, and looks the one to beat again in the BenchMark 90 Handicap for the fillies and mares over 1600m. Vital Importance will be taking on All Cerise again after finishing second to her last start while Written returned to the winner’s circle last start with victory in a 1400m BenchMark 84 Handicap at Caulfield with Saturday’s rival Marli Magic filling third spot.
Race 2 – 1:00pm Listed $120,000 Talindert Stakes (1100m)
A capacity field of sixteen two year olds is set to line up in the Listed $120,000 Talindert Stakes (1100m). Trainer Paul Messara is desperately hoping his luck will change with Weatherly who was slow to leave the barriers at his only race start when sixth in the Listed $150,000 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Preview (C&G) (1000m) at Caulfield on January 26. The Beneteau colt then had to be withdrawn from the Group 3 $200,000 Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Prelude (C&G) (1100m) at Caulfield last week when he was found to have some mucus in his nostrils. Top weight Jackson won on debut in the Listed $120,000 Santa’s Magical Kingdom Stakes (1000m) at Sandown last November. Trainer Ciaron Maher has added the blinkers to Havildar following his first up second at Bendigo and first starter Happy Halloween will also wear the blinkers.
Race 3 – 1:37pm Auckland Racing Club Trophy (1000m)
Japhils competed in good company during the 2015 Melbourne Spring Carnival and looks suited here first up against the fillies and mares in the BenchMark 90 Handicap. The John Sadler trained mare was only beaten just over a length when fifth in the Group 3 $200,000 G.H. Mumm Stakes (1100m) at Flemington. Estaminet and Aunty Mo are both racing in good form and head to Flemington on the back of Moonee Valley wins.
Race 4 – 2:12pm Japan Racing Association Trophy (2000m)
Trainer Darren Weir trained four winners at Caulfield last Saturday including Falago who is a great chance to win again this week in the BenchMark 90 Handicap. The Fastnet Rock five year old goes up in weight as he drops in class but has apprentice Harry Coffey’s 1.5kg claim to help again. Golden Mane from the Lindsay Park Team was back in the winner’s circle last start in a 2000m BenchMark 84 Handicap at Caulfield a fortnight ago and looks suited here. Mr Journeyman brought his good country form to town last start when second to Golden Mane and trainer Simon Morrish has taken the blinkers off the seven year old for Saturday’s assignment. Pemberley from the Peter Moody stable has claims at the bottom of the weights.
Race 5 – 2:47pm Group 3 $150,000 The Vanity (1400m)
All eyes will be on the unbeaten filly from Western Australia, Perfect Reflection, who is having her first run for Melbourne Cup winning trainer Darren Weir in the Group 3 $150,000 The Vanity (1400m). Perfect Reflection is undefeated in all her five starts in the West and was transferred to Weir after winning the Group 1 $1m Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot in Perth on December 5. The Ciaron Maher trained Crown Oaks winner Jameka is also resuming and is certain to race well fresh while Sacred Eye showed she had plenty of ability in the Spring with a win in the Group 3 $500,000 Ladbrokes Caulfield Classic (2000m) at Caulfield.
Race 6 – 3:25pm Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m)
The Mick Price trained Ready For Victory has failed to deliver since winning on debut as a two year old but gets his chance on Saturday in the Group 3 $150,000 C S Hayes Stakes (1400m). Ready For Victory has drawn slightly worse than midfield in the twelve horse field but jockey Craig Newitt should still be able to give the colt a good run just behind the leading division. The More Than Ready colt will strip a whole lot fitter following his first up third to Puritan in the Group 3 $150,000 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago. Palentino will also strip fitter for his first up seventh in the same race and will definitely be better suited over the 1400m trip. Bon Aurum and Vostok are another two who are looking for more ground and get their chance to improve on their first up efforts in the Manfred Stakes. The Gai Waterhouse trained River Wild is a winner at his last two starts at Randwick and Rosehill in restricted class but is facing a lot tougher company in the C S Hayes Stakes.
Race 8 – 4:45pm Ascot Racecourse Trophy (1400m)
Charmed Harmony was racing in outstanding form last preparation and recorded five wins from his last seven starts, including two over the same course and distance as the Ascot Racecourse Trophy (1400m). The John Sadler trained six year old rounded off his Spring Carnival with a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Sandown Stakes (1500m) at Sandown. But his winning performances have earned him plenty of weight and even with apprentice Thomas Sadler’s 2kg claim, the front running Charmed Harmony still has to carry 59.5kg first up. Dan Zephyr will have a fitness edge on the top weight and is also racing in top form with wins at his last two starts and will only have to carry 52.5kg, courtesy of apprentice Michael Dee’s 1.5kg claim. Mighty Like and Underestimation are both race fit with recent wins and both have won over the same course and distance as Saturday’s assignment.
Race 9 – 5:22pm The Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy (1200m)
A tough race to end the day with multiple chances. Supido with Craig Williams in the saddle had won at his last two starts over 1100m down the Flemington straight in July and again first up on January 30. But the four year old is yet to win over 1200m, the distance of the The Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy. Onerous is also chasing a hat trick after wins at Sandown and over 1200m at Flemington in a Benchmark 90 Handicap. The Team Hawkes trained grey steps up in class to the BenchMark 96 Handicap on Saturday, but only has to carry 0.5kg more for the win. Lonrockstar finished second to Onerous last start and meets him 2.5kg better at the weights with the help of apprentice Thomas Sadler’s 2kg claim. We’ve Got This is also stepping up sharply in class but drops 3.5kg for his win in a 1200m BenchMark 78 Handicap at Caulfield.