The final field for the Railway Stakes this Saturday (25 November) has been announced, and before barriers are drawn on Tuesday (21 November), there remains some juicy prices available in Final Field betting markets.
While barriers will be play an important role in tactics and tempo of the race, they aren’t the be all and end all. We’ve seen five of the last eight winners of this race start from double digit barriers, so the typical market overreaction to the barrier draw means some of the value may not be available after the draw.
Given the Railway Stakes is a handicap race, we can see some historical trends begin to arise when we take a deeper look at the winners in recent years. Moreover, a particular profile of horse seems to achieve success more often than not.
Five of the last six winners have carried 53-53.5kg, with the outlier being 2013 winner Luckygray (his second Railway Stakes victory) when he carried 58kg. In addition to that, the last 19 winners of this race have been aged between four and six.
Willoughby (1998), Bold Extreme (1996) and Zaparri (1994) were all seven-year-olds to have tasted success, but importantly, they all carried light weights.
That means history doesn’t read well for those at the top of the weights, particularly those over the age of six. Black Heart Bart (59kg), Tom Melbourne (55kg) and Observational (53kg) are the three seven-year-olds in this year’s race, while Scales Of Justice (57.5kg), Ulmann (54.5kg) and Supply And Demand (54.5kg) are the others carrying more than 53.5kg.
That leaves a decent chunk of horses aged between four and six that will carry 53-53.5kg: Great Shot, Silverstream, All Our Roads, Cosmic Storm, Disposition, Gatting, Material Man, Pounamu, Sovereign Nation and Variation. However, I’ll be making an exception to the rule and including both Supply And Demand and Ulmann.
This is where form analysis comes into play, because we obviously can’t back 10-12 horses, nor do we want to. For starters, I’ll be taking on Black Heart Bart, Tom Melbourne and Scales Of Justice. I’m not convinced 1600m first up is Bart’s go, and he’s going to be much better suited in two weeks when he gets back to Weight-For-Age conditions in the Kingston Town Classic. Tom Melbourne has to carry the third highest weight and is a perennial bridesmaid. I just can’t back him with any confidence, because he never wins. Scales Of Justice was a touch disappointing two weeks ago, in my opinion, and he’d need to be at his absolute best to carry 57.5kg to victory here. Given his interrupted preparation, I’ll be leaning towards others.
Observational is a seven-year-old and wouldn’t be good enough here, while Disposition, Gatting, Material Man, Cosmic Storm and Pounamu (could be the absolute blowout at $31) are others that I’ll risk.
That leaves us with Supply And Demand, Ulmann, Great Shot, Silverstream, All Our Roads, Sovereign Nation and Variation.
I think the Eastern States horses quite comfortably have the locals covered, and I’ve gone into a bit more depth below.
Supply And Demand is the sole representative of the red-hot Gai Waterhouse/Adrian Bott stable, who were the leading trainers of the Melbourne Cup Carnival with a winner on every feature race day. The horse itself has returned with two terrific runs this campaign, finishing 2nd on both occasions, and comes here third up from a spell. His third up record reads three starts for two wins and a minor placing. You simply can’t exclude any runner from this stable at present and I’d at least save on him at $7.50 (that price may drop if he draws a good barrier).
Ulmann is one of two runners from the all-conquering Darren Weir operation (the other being Black Heart Bart), and I think he’s better suited here than his stablemate. While his last run was flat, Weir is known for getting horses to peak for their Grand Finals, and this has been this horse’s Grand Final all preparation. Weir indicated his last start failure may have been to a big weight, and noted that this race in particular was suitable as the horse would only carry 54.5kg. Damian Lane is booked for the ride, and if he draws a good barrier, look out! He’s one of my top picks in the race and the $15 still available looks a great price.
Great Shot is one of the knockout local chances that perfectly fits the profile as a four-year-old with 53kg. This horse has matched it with Scales Of Justice in past preparations, and gets a big weight turnaround on horses that have just got the better of him in recent starts. He carried 59kg last start when finishing ahead of Scales Of Justice, and under these conditions, he gets a 4kg weight swing in his favour. He’s won his only start at the track and distance and is an on-pace type who will give himself every hope of winning. At the $34, he goes in as a saver bet.
Silverstream is the best chance for dominant owner-breeder Bob Peters, as evidenced by William Pike choosing to retain the ride on her. She’s returned in outstanding form this campaign, and has run down Great Shot in both of her last two wins. She does, however, get a negative weight swing here, but I expect a fair bit of pace to be on, which should give her a chance of running home from the back. I don’t have her top pick, but at $15 it’s worth having a small saver.
All Our Roads is a New Zealand Group 2 winner over this distance that’s now had three starts for Chris Waller, most recently finishing 4th in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes. His stablemates Shillelagh and Tom Melbourne both had his measure on that occasion, but he was ridden to lead with the light weight, which we haven’t seen previously. I think he’ll be ridden quieter here, and with this being just his fourth run of the campaign, he could still be yet to peak. Waller has had great success in this race in recent years, and this horse brings the right profile to win. There is no doubt he’d be better on Soft ground, but I’ve got him as a leading chance here and $15 looks a big price. If he draws a barrier, expect that to shorten.
Sovereign Nation is my third main bet in the race and is also at $15. He’s the sole runner for the Lindsay Park team (David Hayes, Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig), and brings some particularly strong form to the race. He’s a bit of a hard horse to catch and doesn’t win out of turn, but I think he’ll be well suited by a strong tempo here, and he’s another that fits the bill as a five-year-old with 53kg. His last start may appear a bit underwhelming, but he was slow away and settled a long way back in a race that was on-pace dominated. Look instead to his run two starts ago when he flashed home behind Tosen Stardom in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap. Form doesn’t get any stronger than that for this race, as Tosen Stardom then came out and won the Emirates Stakes last weekend.
Finally, we get to Variation, who I believe may be the best chance of the locals. He’s had three runs back this preparation, finishing in the money each time, and now steps up to 1600m – a distance he’s undefeated at from three attempts. He’s two from two over this track and distance, and provided he’s ridden better than he was in the RJ Peters Stakes last start, I think he’ll go close. Unfortunately, we are only getting half of the $34 that I recommended taking on last week’s podcast, but $17 is still worth having a nibble at. In many ways he fits a similar profile to last year’s winner Scales Of Justice, and 2011 winner Luckygray (his first Railway Stakes victory).
I think the Eastern States horses have the locals covered, and that’s the way I’ll be structuring my bets. If I had $100 to bet on the race, this is how I’d play it:
Ulmann $20 @ $15 to return $300
All Our Roads $20 @ $15 to return $300
Sovereign Nation $20 @ $15 to return $300
Supply And Demand $20 @ $7.50 to return $150
Variation $10 @ $17 to return $170
Great Shot $5 @ $34 to return $170
Silverstream* $5 @ $15 to return $75
*Silverstream would be the one I’d sacrifice if you wanted to bump up your outlay on one of the others.
We may end up with egg on our face given we are taking on three of the current top four in the market, but they’ll have to be at their very best to win and they’ll have to defy some clear trends of recent years. In my opinion, it’s worth taking a small risk in the hope that one of the other runners listed above wins at good odds.
Stay tuned to Before You Bet, as there may be some betting promotions for the race later this week.
Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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