Race 1 - 12:30pm
This is a tough way to start the day for punters as there is not a great deal of winning form in this field. Gallic Chieftain is the class horse and he should have plenty of residual fitness following a lengthy Spring campaign that concluded in the Sandown Cup. He will likely take plenty of improvement from the run and will be better over further. That makes him tough to back in this race at his current price, but I don’t want to be against him.
Race 2 - 1:05pm
An open edition of the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Fillies Prelude. The Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Fillies Preview does look to be the right form reference and it is Oohood that will start this race as a clear favourite. She is obviously a leading contender, but she will get back and I’m not sure that there should be as big a gap between her and Pure Elation as there currently is.
Pure Elation did plenty of work early and looked like the winner before they caught her inside the final 50 metres. She will be fitter for that run and she does look to have the early speed required to press across and take up a forward position.
1 Unit Pure Elation
Race 3 - 1:40pm
The 1000 metres proved a little too slick for Ollivander in the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Preview and his final 200 metres was the best part of his race. There is no Long Leaf in this field and he looks as though he will relish the step-up in trip to 1100 metres. He maps to get a lovely run into this race with Chris Symons in the saddle and as long as the run comes at the right time, he will be in the finish.
2 Units Ollivander
Race 4 - 2:15pm
Gailo Chop is the class horse in this field and he is capable of running well first-up. He won the Penny Edition Stakes over 1400 metres first-up in the Spring and he went on to finished a credible fourth behind Humidor, Hartnell and Black Heart Bart in the Makybe Diva Stakes. There are no horses of that quality in the Ladbrokes Carlyon Cup and he really should be able to make a winning return to the races.
5 Units Gailo Chop
Race 5 - 2:50pm
The Kevin Hayes Stakes has drawn a number of quality fillies and is set to be a fascinating betting race. The market has zeroed in on the trio of Shoals, Tulip and Booker and it would surprise if the winner did not come out of that trip.
Booker jumped out in very impressive fashion at Flemington on January 25 and it would not surprise if she was further forward than her rivals. She was only narrowly beaten by Merchant Navy first-up last preparation and she will likely have a head-start over her rivals.
I don’t want to lose on the race if Shoals wins. She has been beaten only twice during her racing career and she won the Atlantic Jewel Stakes first-up in comfortable fashion in the Spring. There will be bigger goals for her down the track, but class will take her a long way.
2 Units Shoals
2 Units Booker
Race 6 - 3:25pm
The Rubiton Stakes is another intriguing betting race. Merchant Navy has recorded five wins from as many starts in Melbourne and the way that he savaged the line in the Coolmore Stud Stakes was nothing short of incredible. The question is whether the 1100 metres is too slick for him first-up and he does have a habit of getting a long way back in his races. The Newmarket Handicap is his major target and that does look a more suitable race for him.
Super Cash beat I Am A Star and Chautauqua to win the Rubiton Stakes last year and there is no reason that she can’t go back-to-back. She has recorded four wins from as many starts fresh and her record over the 1100 metres at Caulfield is excellent.
Another horse that appeals at their current price is Hellbent. He is not the most consistent horse in the world, but he is capable of a high-rating performance on his day. If there is betting support for him, he will prove very tough to beat.
1.5 Units Super Cash
1.5 Units Hellbent
Race 7 - 4:05pm
You can make a case for just about every horse in the Autumn Stakes. This is not a race that I want to get too heavily involved in from a betting perspective, but Island Missile does appeal at his current price. Island Missile doesn’t have a great winning record, he does have plenty of upside and he has a clear fitness edge over his rivals. He showed an excellent turn-of-foot to finish second behind Bella Martini in the Gosford Guineas and the step-up to 1400 metres will suit.
1 Unit Island Missile
Race 8 - 4:45pm
The Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes is always a key form reference for the Melbourne Festival Of Racing and that will be the case again in 2018. All the early money has been for Tosen Stardom, but at this stage I am keen to take him on at the current price. There is little doubt that he will get a long way back from the wide barrier draw and Darren Weir will have bigger goals for him down the track. He will be flying home late and it wouldn’t surprise if he won.
Hartnell beat a similar field to this to win the P.B. Lawrence Stakes in the Spring and if he brings that form to the races he is the horse to beat. He obviously tailed off at the end of last preparation, but his past three first-up runs have been outstanding and I am willing to take the gamble that he will bring his best form to the races.
No horse in the country has a better record over 1400 metres at Caulfield than Black Heart Bart and you can’t discount him in this race. He didn’t win a race in the Spring, but he was excellent in the Memsie Stakes and the Railway Stakes. Brad Rawiller should be able to settle him just behind the speed and he has a genuine chance of claiming a sixth Group 1 win.
Update: Black Heart Bart has been scratched from the Ladbrokes C.F. Orr Stakes and Hartnell is now our only tip in the Group 1 event.
1.5 Units Hartnell
Race 9 - 5:25pm
Silent Sedition didn’t really come up last preparation and she is a tough horse to analyse heading into the Bellmaine Stakes. On her best form she would have the rest of this field covered, but she does generally take a run before she finds her best and her barrier trial at Geelong was only fair.
Fragonard has had issues during her racing career, but her winning record is excellent and she does have form around some nice horses. She maps to get a dream run into this contest with Damian Lane in the saddle and it would not surprise to see her take the next step this campaign.
1.5 Units Fragonard