Racing comes to us from HQ in Melbourne this weekend with a 10-race card at Flemington. The track is currently rated a Good 4 and while there is a bit of rain predicted, the track has great drainage so I wouldn't expect it to end up anything worse than a Soft 5.
We have betting tips and comments for every race on the card below.
Really tough race to start the day off but an exciting one at that, with some very promising three-year-olds all returning to the track here. AZAZEL had just the two starts last prep, finishing 2nd and 4th, both times between Property. That's a good form line. He tends to come from off the pace so I'm not sure drawing barrier 1 will really suit him here. WAIT FOR NO ONE is another that comes in first up from a spell. He jumped out really smartly at Flemington leading into this and the stable have said they're going to ride him quiet this prep instead of leading. CAO CAO was slightly disappointing last prep but was racing in top grade. Ran well at his only start down the Flemington straight and if he returns to his best form he'd probably win this. INDIAN THUNDER won in Listed grade in Adelaide the last time we saw him. Returns here with the blinkers on first time and Lane takes the ride for Weir. But there's also a couple of interesting debutantes. FRANKEL MY DEAR debuts for the Robbie Laing stable and is bred superbly. Carries just 51kg after the claim and it's hard to know how good he is given he hasn't had any public trials. The one I'll be having something on, however, is ARROWROOT at $7. He's already been backed from $21 into $7 on the back of a 10 length trial win leading into this. I think at that price and given the weight of money that's already come, we can have an each way bet here. It's really hard to judge how well a two-year-old progresses into their three-year-old season, so I'd prefer to watch the four big boys at the top that are all first up here. This is a race to just sit back and watch, but something small on Arrowroot each way for me.
TIP: Arrowroot EW
I was very much against DULVERTON last start and she proved me wrong with a blistering win from the back of the field against a fairly decent field. She goes up 2.5kg in weight here but I see no reason why she shouldn't win this again. She draws barrier 1 today so expect her to sit much closer and probably even box seat. And if the rain comes, her chances are only enhanced further. The main reason I was against her last start was due to the firm track as her form on wet ground is much better, so if the track ends up Soft, it only makes her harder to beat. HELL OR HIGHWATER should once again be able to dictate the race from the front. Her run was tremendous last start after leading into the headwind. If she gets an easy lead once again, she'll be tough to run down, and the jockey change is a positive one. Expect big improvement from DOMINO VITALE at double figure odds. She never does anything at her first couple of runs back from a spell, but she does improve third up, so keep her safe. WHYOUASK has a poor record at the track but finished close up in a strong race last start without much luck. She can go close. Dulverton on top for me but Hell Or Highwater tough to beat.
Another tricky race this one. MADEENATY looks the obvious class runner returning from a spell. We know she has the class and she's won well down the Flemington straight before, and Hayes said she's in this race specifically so he can give her a win before she tackles better races in the Spring. There are a couple of queries, namely the weight (which is offset by the 3kg claim for Stockdale, but that is a worry in itself) and barrier 1. If she returns at her best, she would be very hard to beat in this field. CHATEAU GRIFFO ran 3rd to Limestone and Tulip at her only start to date, and that is a very hot formline. She jumped out at Cranbourne leading into this (at least I think it was her) and won in good style. The concern is her coming into this off a fairly lengthy spell and the fact she's had no experience down the Flemington straight, which is always a worry for young and inexperienced horses. We definitely haven't seen what she's fully capable of yet and it would be no surprise to see her win this. CROWN WITNESS comes off a very good debut win in midweek grade. Importantly that was down the Sandown straight so that experience should hold her in good stead here. I'd be surprised if your winner was outside of those.
I would be really, really keen on KILLARNEY KID here and I still think he's a huge winning chance, but I just keep coming back to ALOFT here. My worry is that the stable's recent runners haven't set the world on fire, and they wouldn't be wanting them to at this time of year, but this horse's two fresh runs in Australia have both been outstanding. Last prep he led all the way over 1800m at this track with 60kg on his back, before going to Sydney and running 2nd to Big Duke in Group 2 company. The stable have notified stewards that he will lead tomorrow, and with 56.5kg on his back, he could well win again at $4.80. KILLARNEY KID is the big danger and I'll be having something on him as well. He put in a huge run last start to finish 3rd after being scratched a couple weeks prior due to being lame. He will be right at his peak for this and his record suggests he is incredibly hard to beat at this track and distance when he's at this stage of his prep. Big watch on BONDI BEACH who also has a very good first up record and is probably the class runner of the field. He carries 61kg because of that but this is his first start as a gelding so it'd be no surprise to see him go close. But I think he needs further. SECOND BULLET next best.
Really keen on one at odds here and that is LORD VON COSTA. Two starts back he ran 2nd to Santa Ana Lane, and last start he was beaten 2.4L by Ability who I expect to win the Bletchingly Stakes on Sunday. He was also held up from the 500m-200m in that race before getting a late split and running into 5th. He won his only previous start over this track and distance, has won a trial since then, and if the track does end up in the Soft range, it really helps his cause. Think he's way over the odds at $9 and happy to have a good each way bet here. I think the 1200m suits HAY BALE better than it does NIKITAS. I'd prefer Nikitas over 1400m, and although I'd prefer Hay Bale over 1100m, the 1200m probably still suits him better with just 51kg on his back. I'll be backing him and Lord Von Costa. I'd be keen to have something on RED ALTO first up but his record at Flemington is horrible so I'll pass.
TIP: Hay Bale / Lord Von Costa (Best Value)
Pretty keen on a couple here. CHEQUERED FLAG looks like a different horse in his past few starts. Two starts ago he trotted in to win a hurdle race by 10 lengths, and last start he was back on the flat when winning by over 4 lengths over 2400m at Sandown. He's never won on Good ground, but he has placed nine times from 10 starts on it, so I'm not overly concerned by that. If the track ends up Soft it will obviously suit him better. Damian Lane booked to ride for Darren Weir, and I'd have though he would have ridden Yogi if Weir thought it was the better chance of the two. Draws to get a great run on pace and happy with the $4.20 on offer. One at huge odds that I think is value here is XEBEC for the Waller stable. This horse turned his form around first up when running 3rd over 2000m here. His failed last start buthis third up record reads three starts for two wins. Oliver takes over today and the rise in trip probably helps. The key for him will be Good ground. If it's Soft then he might not go as well, but if it stays firm I think he's a much better chance than a $23 pop. YOGI and BENALL other hopes.
TIP: Chequered Flag (Best Bet) / Xebec EW
Big field here but plenty of dead wood. REBELLIOUS LORD looks to be the best horse in the field based on what we've seen of him. He was ultra impressive winning his debut and then returning from a spell to win again at Warrnambool over 1100m. He came straight to town last start with a luckless 3rd behind the talented Portman over 1400m. He now steps up to 1600m which is the slightest of queries, and if Thompson can give him a good enough run from barrier 11, I expect him to win this around $3.30. There's one at value that is definitely to be included and that's BUT IT'S TRUE who is on debut for the Darren Weir stable. Draws barrier 1 so can lead or box seat, has a good record at the distance, and history shows that horses magically improve a few lengths at their first start for Weir. At $17 he's over the odds and worth an each way ticket here. The pair of Waller runners WAYANKA and JAMINZAH have to be included, as do SPUNLAGO and DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR.
TIP: Rebellious Lord / But It's True EW
This is a race I don't want to go anywhere near for several reasons. There's some horses resuming, some are purely unreliable, Weir's three horses could improve out of sight, and there's a field of 14 going around. AMOVATIO's run last start was huge under 60kg when luckless over this track and distance behind Tshahitsi. He draws well here but the one thing I'm questioning is Oliver jumping off to ride the Williams horse Amralah. Thompson's claim will help but given they went so close with Olver and 60kg last start, it raises eyebrows that they choose the apprentice today. SHOW A STAR is always around the mark in these sorts of races. RULING DYNASTY is first up for Weir, while LEICA DAY and MOONOVERMANHATTAN are having just their second and third run of the campaign so could pop up and win (most likely Ruling Dynasty at $26). HIPPARCHUS should improve second up here but hasn't won under 1800m. COSMIC LIGHTS is another that's always thereabouts, while the blowout could be HARDERN at the bottom of the weights. He is second up here after a fair first up run behind Orient Line which is a decent formline to follow. Has won second up and at the distance. Big watch on betting with AMRALAH. Not keen to get too involved here.
TIP: Amovatio / Hardern EW
Nightmare of a race! I was really, really keen on a few at very good odds here but it's very hard to look past the leading couple in the market. PORTMAN goes on top after a solid win last start over track and distance. He did it pretty comfortably and there is probably even scope for him to improve again today. He just maps to get the charmed run once again from barrier 4 and he only goes up 1kg from last start due to Thompson's claim. He should get everything in his favour again and that makes him hard to beat. There are a few good horses in this field so you wouldn't want him much shorter than he currently is at $3.50. REVOLVING DOOR maps poorly here and that's why I have to take him on today. There looks to be a bit of speed inside him and he either risks getting caught wide again or risks spending a bit of fuel to find the front. He might still win, but at the price I have to take him on with the run he is expected to get. The clear standout value in the race is RICH LUCK at $12 and I'll be backing him pretty heavily here. He returned from a spell with a dominant win at Geelong in BM78 grade, which took his record to five wins from seven starts. He draws perfectly here in barrier 5 which should see him get a pretty similar run to Portman. He's undefeated second up from a spell and he's won four from five at the distance! The price looks enormous and I'm very keen. ORIENT LINE draws horribly but was less than a length off Portman last start and continues to race really well. He gets a little weight swing in his favour today and despite the barrier, he should be running home really well. $13 looks a big price given Portman is $3.50. The other at double figure odds I can make a really strong case for is OZI CHOICE. This horse had support last start and I expect the money to come for him today, because he has won two of his three races when third up from a spell. Expecting sharp improvement and with Lane taking the ride, he is a genuine winning chance at $16. Big watch on SIN TO WIN first up in Australia for the Hayes/Dabernig stable. Think he will need further than this but expecting a nice run regardless. Portman on top, taking on Revolving Door and Sin To Win, best value Rich Luck, and others to include at odds are Orient Line and Ozi Choice.
TIP: Portman / Rich Luck EW
There's been a stack of money for EUREKA STREET but I'm pretty keen on SPANISH REEF here who I think is a pretty good horse. She's won her past two starts; two starts back she defeated Lovani who has since come out and won twice, before beating Ruby Sea last start. Now steps up to 2000m after two runs over the mile, and that shouldn't be an issue. She did get all the favours in the run last start, so she's going to need a good ride here from Stockdale from barrier 9 to ensure he doesn't get caught wide. I think she's got the scope to be the best horse in the race here, and I think the price we are getting is very good. More than happy to have a large bet at $5/$2.10 each way. I'd be keen on WINDBERN at the price but the barrier really hurts today. They rode her quiet last start and she won well despite taking out half the field. I fear they won't be able to do that today so I'll take her on. POETIC RAY draws poorly too but his past two wins have been good. Both came at Warrnambool so this is a step up in grade, and both were on Heavy ground so we're yet to know just how good he is on firmer ground. SUMMER GLEN is always thereabouts. Gets a 3kg weight swing on Spanish Reef today which is worth considering, but my worry is whether she is as good over 2000m. I have my doubts. Expect to see sharp improvement from PRESSCOTT. Big bet on Spanish Reef each way here.
TIP: Spanish Reef
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