Race 1 - 12:15pm
Resimax Group Plate (1400m)
Phillip Stokes has an excellent record when he sends horses to Melbourne and Counterplay has found a nice race. She was no match for Invincible Star in the Thoroughbred Club Stakes last weekend, but she had no luck in running and was still tough to the line. It would not surprise to see Noel Callow ride her aggressively from the wide barrier draw and that will give her the chance to win what is a fairly open race.
2 Units Counterplay
Race 2 - 12:50pm
Listed Gothic Stakes (1400m)
Beau Geste has been sent to Melbourne after he finished third in the Roman Consul Stakes. He did not have a great deal of luck in the run and that form does look to be a nice reference for the Gothic Stakes. Beau Geste has still only had the four race starts and he still has some plenty of improvement in front of him. If he can bring his Sydney form to Melbourne he will prove to be very tough to beat.
2 Units Beau Geste
Race 3 - 1:25pm
Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m)
Teodora is a horse that has been ultra-impressive in her two race starts to date and there is no reason she can’t win what is not the strongest edition of the Ethereal Stakes. She was clearly looking for further, but she was classy enough to win at Ararat on debut and she made up ground against the pattern of the day to salute at Bendigo last start. The in-form Mark Zahra will give her a lovely trail into this race from barrier five and she should relish the step-up to 2000 metres. She looks like a genuine Crown Oaks contender.
1.5 Units Teodora
Race 4 - 2:00pm
Group 3 Ladbrokes Classic (2000m)
The Ladbrokes Classic has only drawn a small field, but it is still a very interesting. Main Stage looks like he will be very tough to beat in the Victoria Derby, but I do have some question marks over him in the Ladbrokes Classic. He got a long way back last start at Flemington and was able to sustain a run from a long way out. Whether he is able to do that from barrier one at Caulfield is a genuine concern and because of that it is tough to get him as short as his current quote.
One horse that will make his own luck right on the speed is Cliff’s Edge and he should have no trouble taking up the running from the wide barrier draw. He could not have been braver in the UCI Stakes and he should take plenty of benefit from that performance.
The other leading contender is Tangled. He was desperately unlucky not to beat Ace High in the Spring Champion Stakes and he does have the benefit of a 2000 metres run under his belt. This will be a key form reference for the Victoria Derby and a fascinating race, but the three main contenders look to have found their right price and I will be staying out from a betting standpoint.
Race 5 - 2:35pm
Group 3 Coongy Cup (2000m)
Assign failed to fire first-up in the Heatherlie Stakes, but he produced a much improved effort when fourth behind Winx in the Turnbull Stakes and he is a horse that is clearly heading in the right direction. It would not surprise if Hugh Bowman elected to take up the running in the early stages of the Coongy Cup and that would make him tough to get past late.
It is tough to know what to make of Samovare. It will be interesting to see what Damien Oliver does tactically as they led on her in the Underwood Stakes and she knocked late up. It is a tricky barrier draw and I am happy to oppose her at the current price.
1.5 Units Assign
Race 6 - 3:10pm
Group 3 Ladbrokes Moonga Stakes (1400m)
The Ladbrokes Moonga Stakes is a tricky one for punters as there are some question marks over a number of the leading chances. All Our Roads is an interesting runner and he looks to have more upside than the rest of the Moonga Stakes field. He made his Australian racing debut with an unlucky third at Royal Randwick and with clear running likely would have run. The Kiwi import should take plenty of improvement from that run and if he does that he will go to a level that will make him very tough to beat.
1.5 Units All Our Roads
Race 7 - 3:45pm
Group 2 Caulfield Sprint (1000m)
The Caulfield Sprint has grown a strong field and there is plenty of speed engaged. Snitty Kitty has opened as a clear favourite following her first-up win at Caulfield and she is a mare that does have an excellent record over 1000 metres. This is a big step-up in class however and it is tough to get her as short as her current price.
The two horses that do appeal at juicy odds are Sweet Sherry and Crystal Dreamer. Sweet Sherry was not disgraced in the Moir Stakes and this is a much more appropriate race for her. She is capable of a high-rating performance on her day and she does have a fair amount of tactical versatility.
Crystal Dreamer is a genuine 1000 metres specialist and he simply goes to another level when he races over this distance. He maps to get a lovely trail just behind the leaders in the early stages of this race and he is a much better chance than his current price suggests.
1 Unit Sweet Sherry
½ Unit Crystal Dreamer
Race 8 - 4:30pm
Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m)
As per usual the Caulfield Cup is a fascinating betting race and there are a host of winning chances. There has been plenty of money for Johannes Vermeer following his second place finish in the Ladbrokes Stakes last weekend and he is now a clear favourite. There is absolutely no knock on the horse, but it is tough to get any horse that short in a race of this quality.
It is tricky to know what to do with Humidor and Bonneval. On the form that they showed to win the Makybe Diva Stakes and the Underwood Stakes respectively they would be incredibly tough to beat in the Caulfield Cup, but they both go into this race on the back of flat runs. They both also have question marks in other areas. Humidor’s best form has come at Flemington, while Racing Victoria stewards believe that Bonneval is a touch lame. They are both great horses and right in this race, but I can’t have either at their current price.
My strategy in the 2017 Caulfield Cup is to find the horses deeper in the market that are longer than they should and those three horses are Marmelo, Ventura Storm and Wicklow Brave. Marmelo will likely be better suited in the Melbourne Cup, but he is a very gifted stayer that can’t be ruled out in the Caulfield Cup. His form in France has been excellent and in his last start before heading to Australia he took out the Prix Kergorlay – the race that was won by both Americain and Protectionist before they came to Australia and won the Melbourne Cup. He has the benefit of Hugh Bowman in the saddle and should not be $19.
Ventura Storm chased home Winx to finish second in the Turnbull Stakes and he has had an excellent platform for the Caulfield Cup. He has improved each time that he has been seen at the races this preparation and all his best form in Europe was over 2400 metres. He maps to get a dream run into this race with Damien Oliver in the saddle and there is no rider with a better record in the Caulfield Cup.
Wicklow Brave is not getting any younger, but his Caulfield Cup lead-up form has been much better than his current price suggests. He won the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown earlier this year and he wasn’t disgraced in the Curragh Cup, Goodwood Cup or the Irish St Leger. Willie Mullins has sent horses to Australia with plenty of success in the past and they generally improve on their European form. $41 is well and truly over the odds.
1 Unit Marmelo
1 Unit Ventura Storm
¼ Unit Wicklow Brave
Race 9 - 5:10pm
Group 2 Tristarc Stakes (1400m)
Foxplay is a narrow favourite in what is a competitive edition of the Tristarc Stakes and she does look like the horse to beat. She almost beat Winx in the Warwick Stakes, she was not disgraced in the George Main Stakes and Hugh Bowman slaughtered her in the Epsom Handicap. She doesn’t have to get anywhere near that far back in the Tristarc Stakes and she will be primed to finish over the top of her rivals late.
Global Glamour has been somewhat of a forgotten horse and she will make her return to the races in the Tristarc Stakes. She completed the Flight Stakes/Thousand Guineas double in the Spring last year and ran a host of big races in the Autumn including a second place finish in the Arrowfield Sprint. Her two recent barrier trials suggest that she is fairly forward for her return to the races and she has the early speed required to cross this field and take up the running from the wide barrier draw. She is one of the my favourite horses and at $8.50 she really appeals from a betting standpoint.
2 Units Foxplay
1 Unit Global Glamour
Race 10 - 5:45pm
Listed Alinghi Stakes (1100m)
Nieta has opened as a clear favourite in Alinghi Stakes betting markets and I can’t get her anywhere near as short as her current quote. She does have form around some very nice horses – including The Everest winner Redzel – but she is a horse that usually goes backwards the further she gets into her campaign and her last start effort in the Premiere Stakes was very poor.
There are question marks over a number of the leading contenders in the Alinghi Stakes, but one horse that does appeal at a nice price is Concealer. She has had issues during her racing career and consistency hasn’t been a strongpoint, but she does have a fair bit of ability and her first-up record is excellent.
1 Unit Concealer