Ballot-free entry into this year’s Melbourne Cup goes on the line in the feature race at Flemington this Saturday.
The rail will be set out 2 metres around the entire course on The Andrew Ramsden Day and at publish, we’re faced with a track rated in the Soft (6) range.
Race 1 - 11:45am
Celebrating 20 Years of the ARHOF (1000m)
There’s virtually no form to divulge ahead of the first on Andrew Ramsden Stakes Day and just four of the ten confirmed starters have race day experience.
I am happy to wait until Race 2 to open my account.
Race 2 - 12:20pm
Goodwood Trophy (1600m)
This is a rise in class for Surecan, but she is yet to run a bad race, and I am happy to have an each-way nibble this week.
The Not A Single Doubt filly is yet to miss placing in three career starts and broke her maiden in style at Ballarat two back, before finishing second in BM58 company last time out.
Fitter third-up and out to the mile, she looks to have claims.
2 Units Surecan
Race 3 - 12:55pm
Breeders’ Handicap (1000m)
Li’l Kontra was clearly out of her depth in the Group 1 Robert Sangster a fortnight ago, but this is a big drop in class, and she races well down the Flemington straight.
The Krupt mare has been a great horse for the Ryan Balfour stable throughout her career, and she famously finished fourth in a stacked edition of the Coolmore Stud Stakes here in 2019.
She was a smart winner at Caulfield two back and a repeat of that effort would see her into the finish of this race.
2 Units E/W Li’l Kontra
Race 4 - 1:30pm
Australian Racing Hall Of Fame Trophy (2000m)
Another Dollar is ready to win third-up on The Andrew Ramsden Day.
The former Chris Waller-trained mare returned from a lengthy break to finish seventh over a mile at Caulfield in her first start for Peter Moody in April, and enjoyed plenty of improvement into a credible second placing, albeit well beaten by Yonkers last time out.
She’ll relish racing on the big Flemington track and she might not be offered a better opportunity to win on a Saturday.
4 Units Another Dollar
Race 5 - 2:10pm
Curragh Leilani (1200m)
Plaquette only just missed at Caulfield last time out and looks ideally suited to the fifth at Flemington on Saturday.
The Lonhro mare needed the run when she finished midfield at Warwick Farm when resuming, but she was eye-catching when a nose second behind Intrepidacious last time out, and any improvement on that effort will see her into the finish of this.
She takes weight for a lot of her leading rivals and I am happy to stick with her.
4 Units Plaquette
Race 6 - 2:50pm
Listed The Andrew Ramsden (2800m)
With ballot-free entry into the Melbourne Cup on the line, a fittingly smart field of stayers will contest the feature race at HQ on Saturday, and I think that Persan will be tough to beat.
Persan was a revelation in 2020 and stamped himself as one of Australia’s best distance horses.
Having produced a strong and consistent preparation through late autumn and into the winter, the Pierro entire won passage into the Melbourne Cup by saluting in The Bart Cummings, and ended his run with an outstanding effort for fifth on the first Tuesday of November.
He has returned three competitive efforts back this time and is ready to find his best on Saturday.
4 Units Persan
Race 7 - 3:30pm
Royal Ascot Silver Bowl (1400m)
Altai Ranger beat home some quality gallopers at Ladbrokes Park last time out and a repeat of that effort would be good enough to see him into the finish of the Royal Ascot Silver Bowl.
The three-year-old son of Power won a couple of lesser races at Werribee and Pakenham at the beginning of his prep, and he has continued to improve with each start as he has stepped up in class, culminating in his last-start triumph the likes of Cordilla.
He’s rock-hard fit and this looks a nice campaign target for him.
3 Units Altai Ranger
Race 8 - 4:08pm
Congratulations ARHOF Inductees (1400m)
This looms as one of the better races on The Andrew Ramsden Day and I am going to have a small bet on the second-up Rox The Castle.
Rox The Castle has punched above his weight throughout his entire career, but he was forced onto the sidelines for a long time after sustaining a couple of ailments last time in.
He needed the run, but was just over two lengths from the winner at Caulfield last weekend and I’m confident he’ll take big improvement for the effort.
1 Unit E/W Rox The Castle
Race 9 - 4:45pm
York Trophy (1600m)
Significance only managed to beat one runner home at Ladbrokes Park when resuming, but he’ll take plenty of improvement for that hit-out and I am happy to give him another chance in the last at Flemington on Saturday.
The Frankel entire was a strong and consistent performer last time in and ended his prep with a lovely win in Listed company.
He harbours plenty of upside and we can have an each-way play at the price.
1 Unit E/W Significance