Welcome to our horse racing preview and betting tips for the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes at Flemington on Saturday, September 12th.
The 2020 Makybe Diva Stakes headlines racing in Australia on Saturday, September 12th, with 12 individual Group 1 winners among the 16-strong field to line up over the Flemington mile.
Trent Crebbin has assessed the chances of every runner in the race in his comprehensive feature race preview below!
In one word- messy. There are a lot of chances drawn wide that generally go back from outside barriers. Despite being 1st up at 1600m, I think Gailo Chop will find the front as he often does from barrier 3. The other OTI horse Quick Thinker generally likes to roll forward too albeit over further, so from a wide barrier with precious little speed he probably sits outside or tucks in just behind if that’s what they want to do. I’ve got Harlem and Gatting settling just behind them from good barriers as they have shown the tactical speed necessary in the past. If Zahra shows intent on Fierce Impact, he’s a big chance to be just better than midfield from barrier 5, and I think Dalasan will look to follow him in the run provided he jumps cleanly. The sole Grand & Alana Williams runner Perfect Jewel should just lob midfield on the fence from barrier 2. Behind that is where it becomes problematic. I think there’s a big opportunity for So Si Bon to go forward from the carpark, but he might get cast wide outside a tightly bunched group. The camp has said Master Of Wine is going back, Russian Camelot will go back from 14, Kings Will Dream is one that could try and settle in front of a few but won’t want to risk being caught wide. The other stayers in the field just settle where they feel comfortable in the back half of the field, but there doesn’t look much speed on paper.
1. Vow And Declare: The 2019 Melbourne Cup winner returns on a path to the first Tuesday of November in which he has been penalised 4kg. His first up run in the Australian Cup during the Autumn was outstanding, finishing 3rd behind Fifty Stars and Regal Power, but his two runs since have been poor. He faded quite badly in a red hot Queen Elizabeth before running 5th in a pretty average race here as the odds on favourite. He’s got zero 1600m form, draws wide and will just be looking to go through the line okay and get back on track. Easy one to pen first up.
2. Gailo Chop: We saw last week with the old boy Humidor that anything can happen on a racetrack. This guy is now 10 and finished last in both runs last prep in Sydney. It’s hard to see him getting back to form, and 1600m is definitely short of his best. He’s much better when fit and rolling along out in front at 2000m and whilst he should get it all his own way here, he’d need to wind back the clock to be a chance. Not completely hopeless but not a realistic winning chance in my eyes.
3. Harlem: He ran really well first up in the Memsie, settling near last but running on strongly in the 3rd fastest last 600m and 200m of the race. He ran very well 2nd up last prep in the Peter Young behind Miss Siska and should’ve finished right alongside Regal Power and Kings Will Dream. The 1600m is likely still too short for him here, with just 2 minor placings from 6 attempts at the distance, the best of those coming in a group 3, funnily enough behind Gailo Chop back in 2018. The camp is looking to peak him 3rd up, as he generally does, at Flemington over 2000m in the Turnbull, which is the T/D of his two group 1 wins. It depends on how much intent they show here, because the horse can certainly settle in the first half of the field, even over 1600m, but if they let it drift back as they did first up, he’s got none. Not the worst hope, especially to place at $8 but do look for him at a big price next start.
4. Fierce Impact: He does look the one for this race. I know Tim was keen on him first up in the Winx Stakes, and whilst no match for Verry Elleegant he ran very well for 3rd back along the inside. I always had him pegged as a length or two off proper WFA group 1 standard but looking back through his form it certainly stacks up. His one go at this T/D was a group 1 Kennedy Cantala win, beating Fifty Stars and Cascadian, who has been finishing very strongly in the traditional lead ups this Spring. His last two 2nd up runs have been a very good Toorak Handicap win, and a 3rd, beaten 1.8L in a Chipping Norton behind Te Akau Shark and Verry Elleegant. Whilst he doesn’t have a whole lot of tactical speed, he’s not an out and out backmarker. If Zahra is aggressive out of the gates, he can absolutely be midfield or just better, and from there he’s going to be very hard to beat. Outside of the favourite, he looks the most likely winner and the one I’m far more interested in from a betting perspective. Top pick.
5. Gatting: The $101 winner of this race last year returns here 2nd up after an average run in the Memsie, finishing last. He wasn’t given much hope there after settling back and wide, but he still showed very little. His runs before the break in WA were a bit average too and he’s certainly not going as well as he was this time last year. Whilst this might be a weaker edition of the Makybe Diva, he’s half the price of what he was last year and that looks about right. He does map nicely from barrier 4 and should settle just off the pace, but he’d need to improve about 6L off recent form to be winning this and I can’t have him.
6. Levendi: Genuinely didn’t even know this horse was still around. He won the ATC Derby back in 2018 and has had 3 starts since then, finishing 8/8, 5/10 and 8/9. He maps to do no work from the inside but could just be a roadblock late as he drifts back through the field. Unless you were privy to some serious inside info there’s no way you could back him until he shows something, most likely over further and in a listed race at best.
7. Kings Will Dream: Huge run first up in the PB Lawrence, running the fastest last 200m of the race for 3rd after ducking and weaving in the straight. They bypassed the Memsie for this, preferring to space his runs and get to 1600m at Flemington. He’s a huge chance but the map is the main issue. I’m not sure what they’ll do from an outside barrier. Generally Waller horses that draw wide go back, but he has settled just behind the speed in races, albeit from inside draws. Back when he was with Weir, he won a race at this T/D jumping from barrier 8 of 9 and settled in the 1-1. If they do go forward and have a couple of lengths head start on a few backmarkers he’s a huge chance. Definitely couldn’t talk you out of him and I’d probably mark him just in the single figures, so the $11 or so available is a fair price, but I do have a couple of others just ahead based off those map queries.
8. So Si Bon: He ran well in the Memsie behind Behemoth but did have every chance and I maintain that he can run well and win, just not in group 1 company. He’s probably the biggest query on the map too drawn barrier 16. Put simply it’d be crazy of them not to go right forward and find a good spot. If they really wanted to, he could sit outside lead as he has done in the past. I do think he’s better in a strongly run race, as was the case in the Memsie, and that run he put in was probably about his peak. I don’t he’ll encounter the setup he needs here, so I’m happy enough to be against.
9. Master Of Wine: What to do with him? He was touted as one of the Spring stars and was going to be hard to beat in anything he contested going towards a likely Caulfield Cup berth. He started $6 in the Winx Stakes and didn’t exactly live up to the hype, finishing 12th beaten 6.7L. I spoke about him on a review article and said there were two ways you could look at the run. On face value it was disappointing given his SP and ability, but if you took the view that he perhaps wasn’t fit and set to peak much later in the campaign and the fast race just took the sprint out of him first up, he can be forgiven. I am willing to be forgiving to an extent because we saw how good this horse was in the Autumn. I also think he’s much better on a dry track, and I doubt we’ll be on anything too wet even by race 7. The other positive for him is a slowly run race. If he can settle into a better rhythm and is allowed to show that dynamic turn of foot, he’s more effective. The stable have said they’ll ride him cold here and just let him finish off- I’ve got him mapped a pair in front of Russian Camelot. Obviously, we haven’t seen that horse this prep, but can he bounce back off that poor showing first up and only have a 1L head start on him? Very tough runner to assess and the intent is another issue. I doubt they’ll want to get too many penalties for a Caulfield Cup so whilst I think he’ll improve greatly on Saturday I’m inclined to just watch again.
10. Warning: Can’t really see the Vic Derby winner featuring here, he’ll obviously be better over further and will be set to peak for a Melbourne Cup by the grand final Freedman camp. He’s never placed from 2 attempts at the mile, even over further in the SA Derby Russian Camelot and Dalasan had his measure and they are more versatile over this distance. I’d be very shocked to see him run top 5 here and isn’t a winning chance.
11. Dalasan: Tricky one. I wish they’d run him on the quick backup in the Feehan because I thought that would’ve been a great race for him to get a Cox Plate ticket. I loved his first up run behind Behemoth, settling behind that horse and running on very strongly. He then started $1.40 in Adelaide, was slow away from barrier 1, and could only manage 3rd. He did run on okay in an on pace dominated race- the first two in run were the first two home, but gee you’d expect him to be good enough to put away a couple of bm84 horses basically no matter the race shape. He’s clearly looking for further in my opinion and goes get to 1600m, but it seems that slow tempos are his undoing. He still does things wrong in his races, and a slow tempo only exaggerates those issues. He does have some pace so should be able to get a nice spot in running, provided he steps cleanly, but I’m not sure he gets the race shape to suit here. I think he might be left a touch flat footed when they sprint, and whilst he should go through the line strongly, I’m not sure it’ll be enough to win. If it were me riding him, I’d really ramp up the pressure from about the 600m and move up to the leaders so as to avoid that flat spot. A winning chance if things pan out, but perhaps just a touch short.
12. Quick Thinker: Onto the ATC Derby winner. He’s another one that was tricky to map because he obviously does like to settle on pace and did lead a listed race here over 1800m, in which Russian Camelot ran 2nd. I don’t know how much intent they’ll show but he’s got more natural speed than ¾ of this field so might just end up close to the speed unless they absolutely snick the horse. He’s much better on wet ground and whilst he has won a listed race in NZ over the 1600m, he’s obviously better at 2400m. I can’t imagine they’ll have him fit for this assignment and will be looking for a pipe opener for a Cups berth.
13. Russian Camelot: Here we go! If Master Of Wine had a hype on him coming into this prep, this guy is going to win the Cox Plate, the Melbourne Cup, and a couple other group 1s along the way. His SA Derby win was obviously very good. He had no right to win that race, coming off no platform, sitting basically 3 wide no cover in last but putting them away with ease. He’s jumped out exceptionally well- horses that are at their best over 2400+ shouldn’t be able to put away fields of fit sprinters in a jumpout with ease. If he wins the Makybe Diva on Saturday, I doubt he loses for the rest of the prep, but if there was ever going to be a race where he’s vulnerable it’s here. He’s drawn barrier 14 so you’d assume they go right back every day of the week, and while the way to ride him is in clear air on the outside of horses, he’s going to be giving away a huge head start. He could still be too good, but I can’t really envision a scenario where he gets out too much in the market. If for some reason you see $5- take it. At the current $3.6 he’s fairly priced in my opinion. You couldn’t put the sword to him, or steam into him at that quote, which is what makes this such a tough race. I’ll be staying out and praying he drifts.
14. Perfect Jewel: The sole Grant & Alana Williams runner in the race, after Regal Power has gone home with a throat infection and they’ve opted for the softer option with Arcadia Queen. I didn’t give her much of a hope first up in Melbourne over 1200m because she’s much better over a mile, but her win was very good. She’s much better suited here, and should get a lovely run from barrier 2, allowing her to be much closer to the speed. In her latest WA campaign she finished a close up 10th first up at 1200m before winning two group 3s on the bounce over 1400m and 1600m. Whilst she did it impressively, she wasn’t exactly beating stars. She only beat Gatting by under 2L, and I he’s hopelessly out of form. Humidor did come out and win the Feehan which adds a bit of credit to the form, but other than that she was beating mainly WA stayers such as Mississippi Delta. Even here in Melbourne she only beat Bless Her and She Shao Fly, who would be 1000-1 here. She can only improve off that and does map nicely, but she looks short enough at $6. They’ve thrown her in the deep end to have a stable representative and because Arcadia Queen needs an easier run to get back on track. Wouldn’t totally shock but might just be outclassed.
15. Princess Jenni: Really good first up run in the Memsie, settling at the back of the field and running home in the 3rd fastest last 400m of the race. It was an excellent return considering she’s never won 1st up and generally flies 2nd up. She’s won 3 from 4 when 2nd up, the only failure actually coming last prep when a well backed favourite at The Valley and for whatever reason she took the corner terribly and could only manage 5th. If you go back a bit further through her form, she beat Angelic Ruler when 2nd up in the Autumn last year, who ran 3rd to Perfect Jewel not long ago. If this was definitely going to be a good track and she’d drawn a gate, I’d be quite keen on her from an each way perspective. Another run from her past that interests me is the Toorak Handicap that Fierce Impact won. She started $7.50 that day to his $18, settled basically last on the fence and was running on okay along the rails but got checked at the 100m and wasn’t ridden out with the race over. That was at equal weights, so she gets the 2kg mare’s allowance here, is coming off probably her best ever 1st up run, and more importantly is 10x his price- you can get over double the price of Fierce Impact to win that you can get for Princess Jenni to place. Obviously, there are far better credentialed horses in the race, but you don’t have to have much on for a huge result, and if she does get out on the exchange you could be looking at closer to $70-80 on the day. Stranger things have happened!
16. Miami Bound: The Oaks winner actually ran fairly well 1st up on that awful Valley track and will improve off that, but she showed nothing in the Autumn and whilst she was solid late 1st up it was against Alsvin and Coming Around, the latter of which was beaten out of sight in the Feehan last week. Hopefully she starts to get back on track, but this isn’t her race. She can settle midfield and maybe beat a few home but isn’t a winning chance in my opinion.
Found it incredibly tough, and I’ve narrowed it down to about 7 chances. Russian Camelot is a deserved favourite but if he’s going to be beaten this prep it could be here. He’ll be giving some decent horses a head start and there isn’t much wiggle room under $4. If he gets out, I’ll be saving on him so do watch the market. Fierce Impact does look the profile horse and is always around the mark at group 1 level, especially at 1600m. He comes out of the better lead up race and should be further improved. Gets Zahra aboard and with a bit of intent should find a nice spot. He’s probably the right price but I won’t be losing on him. Kings Will Dream scares me but I don’t know what they’ll do map wise. I think he’s better over 2000m and if they find a nice spot, he can win but is another who is about the right price. Dalasan might not appreciate the expected muddling tempo but has a fitness edge on a few despite looking for further in my opinion. Princess Jenni put in her best 1st up run of her life and generally improves lengths 2nd up. I know she’s only really won mare’s races, and this is a WFA group 1, but she’s a big price based off that run and her SP against Fierce Impact in the Toorak. She’ll need an outstanding ride from barrier 12 but could start a monstrous price and is worthy of something each way.
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