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The Group 3 Standish Handicap for the sprinters is the feature race on the New Years Day card at Flemington and it looks a nice little race with a few progressive types involved.
The Flemington track is currently rated a Good 4 and with a fine day predicted we should see the track remain in that range for the entire card. There really only looks to be two horses that could lead in the race so the pace should be fairly moderate despite it being a sprint.
I expect to see Decircles lead the field, which we've seen him do in the past, while Villopoto will be looking to cross over from barrier 12 up on the speed. Barbed, Office Bearer and Durendal should settle just behind those two, and Tried And Tired is another that likes to settle handy. Lonrockstar typically settles worse than midfield which could mean barrier 1 might prove problematic if the runners migrate to the rail, while Churchill Dancer, It Is Written, Sarajevo, Noela's Choice and Zupacharged will have to come from back in the field.
Despite the moderate tempo expected, the 1200m Flemington straight will allow all runners to have their chance. It will be interesting to see if they stay in the middle of the track or cross over to the rail.
CHURCHILL DANCER: Holds a very good record at this track with 4 wins over 1200m straight course. Apprentice off for a senior rider today which means he has all the weight to carry. Place chance.
IT IS WRITTEN: First up from a little spell today and generally takes a few runs to come good. Never placed at the track. Looks like he will need the run here so happy to leave him out.
TRIED AND TIRED: Has tended to mix his form and has been inconsistent in his races at Flemington but he drops in weight here and comes in ready to peak after a good showing first up at Sandown. Has to be included.
BARBED: He's another one that is very hard to catch but comes into this as a good chance. Ran reasonably well fresh from the wide draw and should get all the favours today from a good draw. Blinkers are reapplied and he should strip fitter 2nd up. Each-way.
DURENDAL: Definitely the most progressive horse in the race and he's won 3 of his last 4 races, the latest of which was over this course and distance. Only up 1kg in the weights today and drawn to get a good run in midfield. Outstanding record over this distance, stable and jockey flying; he's tough to beat.
OFFICE BEARER: First two runs this prep were decent but was entitled to do more last start. Has the ability but he's gone a long time without winning. Gets every chance. Place hope.
DECIRCLES: Should return to the role of leader today from the good draw with a low weight. Has three wins over the 1200m at Flemington but also has a case of second up syndrome with only one placing from six attempts. Happy to risk him.
LONROCKSTAR: Good first up run when he was held up as he was closing off. Does seem to do his best racing fresh and his 2nd up record isn't bad. He tends to settle well back so barrier 1 could pose a problem if they come over to the rail. $12 is a decent price if you like him.
SARAJEVO: Ready to peak after a good 2nd to Durendal over this track and distance last start where he was beaten a length. Stays at 54kg so gets a 1.5kg weight swing on the favourite which should see him go close here.
NOELA'S CHOICE: Decent first up record and great stats over the distance but all of her best racing has come on rain affected tracks which she won't get here. Happy to play against her.
VILLOPOTO: Been poor at its last couple of starts and comes into this after 6 weeks off the track. This looks a bit tough for her.
ZUPACHARGED: Comes into this as a decent roughie after running home strongly to finish 3rd behind Durendal and Sarajevo last start over course and distance. Goes up a kilo in the weights without the claim but does draw well and he's never finished out of the top two when 3rd up from a spell. Big chance at big odds.
At first I thought this was a race with very limited winning hopes but I wouldn't be surprised if any one of about 6 runners won here. Those include DURENDAL, SARAJEVO, BARBED, TRIED AND TIRED, ZUPACHARGED and LONROCKSTAR.
DURENDAL is easily the most progressive horse in the race and he's in terrific form. Beat a few of these last start and despite the rise in weight he can do so again. SARAJEVO gets 1.5kg off Durendal and only has a length to make up so he stands as a good chance and at a good price too, but ZUPACHARGED is the one I am really intrigued by. This horse stormed home to finish 3rd behind Durendal and Sarajevo last start and comes into this 3rd up where he's never finished outside the top two. Goes up a kilo but it might not be enough to sstop him running well here. Rates a good chance at double figure odds.
As aforementioned, I could make a case for BARBED, TRIED AND TIRED and LONROCKSTAR too.
1st ZUPACHARGED E/W
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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