The first Group 1 of the calendar year is taking place at Caulfield this Saturday afternoon with the running of the C.F. Orr Stakes.
Half a million dollars is on offer for the 1400m race which is perennially used as a stepping stone for some of the best weight-for-age horses in the country and their autumn campaigns.
The race has thrown up some rough results recently with Alabama Express in 2020 ($12), Manuel in 2019 ($21) and Suavito in 2016 ($15) all paying double figures.
Only one C.F. Orr Stakes winner in the past five years has gone on to win a Group race throughout that same autumn campaign. Black Heart Bart won the Futurity at his next start in 2017.
After a less than successful spring campaign in 2019, Humidor was sent west under the care of Lindsey Smith.
Three failed runs later and his career seemed to be at a cross roads.
However the now eight year old gelding was then sent to the stable of Chris Waller and, seemingly rejuvenated, he produced an excellent spring campaign in 2020.
He won the Group 2 Feehan Stakes first up and followed that up with placing in back to back Group Ones and concluded his campaign finishing down the track in his third Ladbrokes Cox Plate.
Despite having won just once in 16 attempts at Caulfield, and the fact he usually produces his best with a run or two under the belt, the old boy still has some fight in him yet and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran well.
The Maher & Eustace team have unearthed a new star of the turf in the form of the lightly raced five year old Sir Dragonet.
He proved to the Australian public his class when partnering with big race jockey Glen Boss by winning the 2020 Ladbrokes Cox Plate at his first start in the country.
The son of Camelot has never started a race at a distance less than 2000m in his 11 start career to date but his talent is obvious and that will take him a long way in a race of this quality.
He couldn’t have been anymore impressive when winning a trial at Geelong over 1200m leading into this first up assignment and Glen Boss must have jumped off the horse with a huge grin on his face.
It’s quite clear that he is the horse to beat in the 2021 C.F. Orr Stakes and regardless of his position in this race, he has the autumn racing carnival at his mercy.
This is the third time that Fifty Stars has started in the Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes having finished 11th in 2019 (beaten 2.75L) and 4th last year (beaten 1.65L).
Subsequent to that first up fourth in this race last autumn came a win in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes and Group 1 Australian Cup.
His overall winning record is excellent with 10 wins from 27 career starts and John Allen can land him close enough to the speed from barrier six that he can pounce late.
With a very strong record in the wet, any rain is a bonus.
Angel Of Truth
The 2019 Australian Derby winner Angel Of Truth resumes at Group 1 level over an unsuitable distance in this event.
The now five year old gelding has failed to win a race since his success in the Derby but he was placed in the Group 1 Metropolitan at his last start back in October.
He was beaten only half a length over 1400m first up last campaign and while I’m confident there is another race win in the horse, it will not be in this weekend.
Streets Of Avalon
Streets Of Avalon brings winning form into the 2021 C.F. Orr Stakes having lead all the way when resuming in the Group 2 Australia Stakes.
The last horse to win the Australia Stakes/C.F Orr double was the great Black Caviar.
Streets Of Avalon is already a Group 1 winner at this track and distance having won the Futurity Stakes this time last year and he brings in a fitness advantage on a few of these runners.
Can not be overlooked.
Imaging has been a somewhat frustrating horse for the punters since arriving in Australia.
He won the Group 2 Ajax Stakes at just his second start in the country but has since placed a further three times.
There is obvious talent there and his fresh form has been very good over his career but I’m not sure he is up to winning a race of this quality. at level weights.
He is far too short in the market.
Blazejowski is a last start stakes winner, taking out the Listed John Dillon Stakes at this track and distance two weeks ago.
This is the horses’s first attempt at the highest grade of racing and nothing has suggested to me that he is capable of winning a race such as this.
I understand there was no suitable option for him on this card but he is under the odds at $15.00.
Arcadia Queen would have made a very interesting inclusion into this Group 1 event but instead we have Arcadia Prince.
The now Amy McDonald trained gelding worked his way through the grades well when stabled in the west peaking with a win in the Group 3 Scahill Stakes at Ascot in December 2018.
He has not shown that form since and he would need to improve significantly on his first up fifth in the Australia Stakes at The Valley to be any chance in this event.
The Danny O’Brien trained Sovereign Award gets her crack at Group 1 level after finishing her spring campaign with three impressive wins in a row.
She has now managed eight wins from 16 career race starts and it is hard to write mares off when they are racing in form.
This is her toughest test to date but Jamie Kah and barrier five a both positives.
Crosshaven is a talented young racehorse from the Hayes and Dabernig stable who has put together an impressive resume so far in his career.
The three year old gelding has five wins from seven career starts including three at stakes level.
The son of Smart Missile was no match for Ole Kirk and Aysar in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas but he did win the Prelude at this track and distance.
While I do think he has a promising future and he does get some weight relief in the race, he is taking on some very good, seasoned Group 1 horses here.
The $4.50 is ridiculously short in my opinion.