Race 1 - 12:20pm
I don’t generally like betting into this early two-year-old races as there are plenty of unknowns, but there is a fair bit to like about Qafila. The Lindsay Park team have dominated the two-year-old ranks in Melbourne over the last couple of seasons and Qafila ran serious tome when she won a barrier trial at Wodonga. In that trial she beat stablemate Nomothaj and she came out and won the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes at Flemington last weekend. Qafila can give Lindsay Park another two-year-old winner.
2 Units Qafila
Race 2 - 12:55pm
Jorda is the key to this race and she is a clear favourite in our Thoroughbred Club Stakes betting market. She returned to the races with a nice third in the San Domencio Stakes, but she was one of the first horses beaten in the Cap D’Antibes Stakes. She did have excuses in that race, but it is tough to back her off that run and barrier one is not ideal. In saying that, I don’t want to bet against her and this is a race that I will be staying out of from a betting perspective.
Race 3 - 1:30pm
Miss Gunpower returns to the races in the Cape Grim Beef Steaks and it does look like a lovely race for her. She has generally produced her best form over 1200 metres and she has three wins from five first-up starts. If she brings her best form to the races she will be very tough to beat.
Legless Veuve has opened as a clear favourite following her close second in the Ladbrokes How Now Stakes. She does have an excellent record at Caulfield and she is right in this race, but her racing style means that she always needs luck in running and because of that it is tough to get her as short as her current quote.
1.5 Units Miss Gunpowder
Race 4 - 2:05pm
This is a very open edition of the Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes and you can make a case for just about every horse in this field. Wall Of Fire and Kidmenever are both set to make their Australian racing debuts in the Herbert Power Stakes and I am keen to back them both.
Boom Time has raced well without winning in 2017 to date and he finished a close second in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last start. He is a very fit horse and if he is able to bring his best form to Australia he will be right in this contest.
Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby dominated the Melbourne Cup lead-up races last Spring and he has Kidmenever in the Ladbrokes Herbert Power Stakes. He doesn’t have the same European credentials of Wall Of Fire, but he has a similar profile to Qewy, Oceanographer, Polarisation and Francis Of Assisi who have all had a great deal of success in Australia.
1.5 Units Kidmenever
1.5 Units Wall Of Fire
Race 5 - 2:40pm
The presence of a couple of internationals make this a very interesting edition of the Weekend Hussler Stakes and it is a very open race. There are simply too many winning chances to bet into this race with any real confidence, but it is tough to go past Religify. Religify is one of the most likeable horses in the country and he finished his winter campaign with three wins from as many starts. He makes his own luck right on the speed and he has three wins from his six first-up starts.
1.5 Units Religify
Race 6 - 3:15pm
The Thousand Guineas looks to be a race in two between Shoals and Alizee and I am keen to back them both at their current prices. Alizee took a while to work into her 2017 Spring Racing Carnival campaign, but she has relished being stepped up in trip. She savaged the line to win the Tea Rose Stakes over 1400 metres and she was even more impressive in the Flight Stakes. If she can replicate that performance she will prove very tough to hold out. The one concern is the inside barrier draw, but the small field does help and she should get her chance.
Shoals is the obvious danger to the Flight Stakes winner. She started her racing career with four wins from five race starts and she finished a close second behind Booker in the Thousand Guineas Prelude. Shoals finished stronger than Catchy in that race and she gave the impression that 1600 metres wouldn’t be an issue. She can give the favourite a race and it wouldn’t surprise if she is well-backed over the next 24 hours.
4 Units Alizee
2 Units Shoals
Race 7 - 3:50pm
Bonneval could hardly have been more impressive during her racing career to date and she can record another Group 1 victory in the Ladbrokes Stakes. She has recorded three wins from as many starts in Australia and she has gone to another level during her 2017 Spring Racing Carnival campaign. She beat a fairly weak field to win the Dato’ Tan Chin Nam Stakes at The Valley before she proved far too good for Hartnell in the Underwood Stakes. She still has the scope to improve on that performance and it is tough to see any of her Underwood Stakes rivals being able to turn-the-tables.
Hartnell is the obvious danger, but he had his chance to beat Bonneval in the Underwood Stakes and he isn’t going as well as he was this time last year. Johannes Vermeer, Calderon, Riven Light and The Taj Mahal are all interesting runners and it will be interesting to see how they perform, but they would need to improve on their European form to have any chance in this race.
3 Units Bonneval
Race 8 - 4:30pm
This is one of the most open editions of the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas in recent memory and there are some question marks over all of the leading contenders.
Royal Symphony missed the placings in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas Prelude, but he will still go into the Group 1 event as favourite. There is no doubt that the Prelude wasn’t run to suit, but it would have been nice to see him hit the line a bit stronger than he did and it is tough to back him with confidence coming off that run. In saying that, he went to another level when he got out to 1600 metres last start and he is a genuine contender.
Catchy will take on the boys in the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas and she has a chance to become the first filly since Surround in 1976 to win the Group 1 event. She won the Danehill Stakes and looked well and truly on track for the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas, but her run in the Thousand Guineas was a touch plain. She loomed as the winner and wasn’t disgraced, but the concerning thing was that Shoals was able to finish over the top of her late. She is still a very talented filly and it would not surprise to see her win a very open race.
Perast and Kementari look to have found their right prices and the horse that does represent value at their current prices is Gold Standard and Summer Passage. Gold Standard comes out of a brutally run Golden Rose Stakes and he was one of the only horses that settled on the speed in that race that didn’t completely compound late. That sort of race could set him up for the Ladbrokes Caulfield Guineas and he makes his own luck right on the speed.
1 Unit Gold Standard
Race 9 - 5:10pm
Group 1 races don’t get any more open than this year’s edition of the Toorak Handicap. There are very few horses that you can put the pen through and luck in running is going to prove crucial. Tom Melbourne, Egg Tart, Mr Sneaky and The Answermyfriend are locked in a battle for favouritism and of that group it is Mr Sneaky that represents value. He was exposed a long way from home in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes and couldn’t hold off Santa Ana Lane, but there was still plenty of merit in that performance and if he can run out a strong mile he will be right in this race.
Comin’ Through was a touch disappointing in the Epsom Handicap, but he is a better horse than that performance suggests. Joao Moreira gave him a stinker of a ride in the Epsom Handicap and Michael Walker will have plenty of options from barrier four in the Toorak Handicap. He deserves another chance at double-figure odds.
It has been a while between wins for Kaspersky and he is not the most consistent horse in the world, but he has run very well in England in 2017 and on his best form would be right in this race. He was fifth behind Ribchester in the Queen Anne Stakes before he finished second in both the Summer Mile and The Superior Mile Stakes. You never know how these horses have travelled, but he is worth a gamble at $20.
1 Unit Mr Sneaky
1 Unit Comin’ Through
½ Unit Kaspersky
Race 10 - 5:45pm
The Moir Stakes looks like the key form reference for the Schillaci Stakes and there should not be such a price differential between Sheidel and Rock Magic. Rock Magic did a lot of the chasing work in the Moir Stakes and died on his run later, but at one stage he looked like the winner and it was still a terrific effort. The step-up in distance will suit and the $8 that is currently on offer is well and truly over the odds.
It has been a long time between wins for Ball Of Muscle, but he was not far away in both The Shorts and the Premiere Stakes. He makes his own luck right on the speed and he does have a genuine chance to return to winning form.
1 Unit Rock Magic
1 Unit Ball Of Muscle