29 October 2016 (Derby Day Group 1 racing at Flemington)






Racing at FLEMINGTON with the penetrometer reading 4.87, so currently looking at a GOOD (4) surface. For the straight races, inside currently 4.85, outside 4.90 which is very interesting given they have been going to the outside on most occasions. 

RAIL: TRUE (ENTIRE CIRCUIT). We return to headquarters (Flemington) for one of the biggest days of racing anywhere in the world, Derby Day, to open the Melbourne Cup Carnival and the rail starts in the TRUE position. Let’s just cross our fingers that the disaster that greeted us on this day last year (massive leaders/rail bias) doesn’t repeat. The weather and rail position should mean a level playing field with all horses getting their chance, pace dependant. As usual, important to keep a close eye on the track and how it’s playing in the early races for best guide.


Race 1 (updated at 8:20am AEDT - HIGH MIST upgraded to BEST LONGSHOT): We start the day with the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes for the three year olds over the lime (1600m). At don’t see any reason why arguably the best trainer in the land (v Darren Weir) can’t get the first winner of the day and despite having three runners, odds good enough to back each of them. Firstly NIKITAS @ $21+ (LUXBET, UBET) who was a total forgive run last time, after finding trouble again which seems to be becoming a habit. There doesn’t look to be a lot of pace on paper, which should suit as you’d expect McEvoy to be close to the pace from the better draw (5). The negatives/queries are running a strong mile and the fact that Bowman has jumped off, but has elected to ride *HIGH MIST* @ $34+ (SPORTSBET) who was heading towards the Derby but they have obviously pivoted for the easier Carbine Club Stakes instead. The query is the drop in distance, however Waller know what he’s doing and very interesting Bowman is aboard. Given the odds will make a BEST LONGSHOT bet of the day, following the scratching of Anaheim in Derby. Finally, COMIN’ THROUGH @ $6+ (BET365) who was super last time against the pattern of the day, behind one Dungeon followers were on in Niccolance. Sectionals 400m -> 200m and 200m -> WP (Winning Post) were both sub 11 which is top class. Is actually a brother to Criterion. Main dangers ACATOUR, HEY DOC and VIOLATE who is also at juicy odds at $19+.

SUGGEST: NIKITAS (EACH WAY) @ $21+, *HIGH MIST* (EACH WAY) @ $34+, COMIN’ THROUGH (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $6+, FIRST FOUR (1, 7, 9 / 2, 6, 10 / F / 2, 6, 10) (CONFIDENCE 30%)


Race 2: Next is the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes a key lead-up to the Oaks, for the three year olds fillies over 2000m. Pace/tactics set to be key here with very little pace on paper, meaning an unexpected on pace showing could pay dividends for a brave jockey looking to take the initiative. For this reason, top pick is ALLITERATE @ $11+ with most operators, ahead of somewhat speculative plays to ALMALITA @ $41+ (LUXBET, PALMERBET) and *TOFFEE NOSE* @ $101+ with most/all operators. Given the odds, will make a BEST LONGSHOT bet of the day. Main dangers in a very even race TIAMO GRACE and PRETTY PUNK, while throw longshots FLORIDA KEYS and MY GIRL CHILLY, both 50/1+. One of those races the first four could be massive so worth dropping them in.

SUGGEST: ALLITERATE (EACH WAY) @ $11+, ALMALITA (EACH WAY) @ $41+, *TOFFEE NOSE* (EACH WAY) @ $101+, FIRST FOUR (2, 6, 11, 13 / 3, 11, 13, 15, 17 / F / 3, 15, 17) (CONFIDENCE 30%)


Race 3: Next is the Group 3 Sensis Stakes for the mares down the straight over 1100m and this is one of the hardest races you’ll find anywhere. Plenty of chances, many different formlines to try and line up, many different fitness levels, and mixed bag of experience down the straight, very deep race. In saying that, have come out with two primary suggestions in the form of CHLOE IN PARIS @ $16+ with most operators, and VIDDORA @ $8+ (BET365, UNIBET), back against the girls for the first time in a while. Main dangers SUPER CASH, WILD RAIN, VEZALAY, TEMPT ME NOT ($21+) and PALAZZO PUBBLICO ($21+), but doesn’t end there.    

SUGGEST: CHLOE IN PARIS (EACH WAY) @ $16+, VIDDORA (EACH WAY) @ $8+, FIRST FOUR (1, 5, 8, 11 / 1, 5, 8, 12, 13 / F / 12, 13) (CONFIDENCE 30%)


Race 4: Next is the Group 3 Lexus Stakes over 2500m and the last chance for many to try and sneak into the Melbourne Cup at the eleventh hour. There actually looks to be decent pace in the race, so all should get their chance and actually think this is probably the easiest race of the day (or so it seems) and I expect OCEANOGRAPHER to be extremely hard to beat at $3.50+ with BET365. Great run in the Geelong Cup, should get pace to suit and will be hitting the line best. Best value JUNOOB @ $14+ with LUXBET, who won for Dungeon followers last time, the main query obviously the big weight but as honest as they come. Main danger DE LITTLE ENGINE who will also appreciate the tempo on up front and TOM MELBOURNE.

SUGGEST: OCEANOGRAPHER (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $3.50+, JUNOOB (EACH WAY) @ $14+, FIRST FOUR (5, 7 / 8 / F / 1), (5, 7 / F / 8 / 1) (CONFIDENCE 55%)


Race 5: Now for what I personally think is the best race of the day, the stallion-making Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes for the three year olds over 1200m. In a season where the three year olds have dominated everything, the absolute cream of the crop come together here which may give us a fair indication as to who is our next star of the turf…as long as we don’t lose them to the breeding barn too quickly, as a colts worth is going to sky rocket once they cross the line. This is actually one of the most mouth-watering/best races I have seen on paper in a long time. And I think that next star is going to be **STAR TURN** who I think can stamp his authority on the Australian racing world by winning here at $4.50+ with LADBROKES, BOOKMAKERS.COM.AU and BETSTAR. Despite the quality assembled, happy to run with this boy as a BEST VALUE bet of the day. Main dangers the obvious in ASTERN and EXTREME CHOICE. Despite the class in the field, am confident the winner comes from those three, hence will restrict early quaddie and big 6 legs to the three only.

SUGGEST: **STAR TURN** (EACH WAY) @ $4.50+, FIRST FOUR (2, 3 / 5 / F / F), (roving 2, 3, 5 / F) (CONFIDENCE 40%)


Race 6: And the Group 1s continue, this time in the form of the Myer Classic for the fillies and mares over the mile (1600m). Been waiting for HEAVENS ABOVE to get to a big Group 1 at a price, but am a little devastated she has gone and drawn the car park, on this occasion 15 out of 15. Will make it tough. FIRST SEAL @ $4.60+ (WILLIAM HILL) gets in very nicely at the weights and finally looks to be back at full fitness, as a result happy to have the class galloper on top. Happy to play a few here, hence leave FIRST SEAL as a WIN only proposition. Best value most definitely at the very bottom of the weights in the form of I AM A STAR @ $21+ with UBET. Raced last week when pattern of the day was totally against and didn’t disappoint. There doesn’t look to be a stack of pace on paper, and with a featherweight of 49kg will give them all something serious to catch. Any advantage to on pacers/those close to the rail obviously only enhances chances, so be sure to monitor prior. Also want a saver on RISING ROMANCE @ $26+ who we know is more than capable on her day and gets a gear change here, goes extremely close on first up run. Main dangers HEAVENS ABOVE (just needs luck from the gate, must go into all multiples), DANISH TWIST, PEARLS, EURO ANGEL and WHISPERING BROOK. Super race as usual and chances don’t end there. 

SUGGEST: FIRST SEAL (WIN) @ $4.60+, I AM A STAR (EACH WAY) @ $21+, RISING ROMANCE (EACH WAY) @ $26+, FIRST FOUR (4, 5, 9, 12, 14 / 2 / F / 1, 5, 15), (4, 5, 9, 12, 14 / F / 2 / 1, 5, 15) (CONFIDENCE 35%)


Race 7 (updated at 8:20am AEDT due to scratching of ANAHEIM): A third consecutive Group 1, this time for the event that the day is named after, the time-honoured Victoria Derby for the three year olds over 2500m. Cracking race with a big field of 20 runners assembled, and the usual element of the unknown with most/all running 2500m for the first time. At first glance, I was all SACRED ELIXIR, who is definitely the one to beat, however upon closer inspection and taking into consideration market prices and most importantly value, looking at plays at a few others instead who simply represent ‘better value’ (been smashed into $2.90!) and allow us to not have all our eggs in the one basket. As a result, have come out with two primary suggestions in the form of SWEAR @ $9+ (most operators) and a proven Derby winning combination (Laing/Bowman) with SO SI BON @ $10+ (PALMERBET). SWEAR just missed behind Yankee Rose last time, who was super in the Cox Plate. The trip is the query, but gives the indication it shouldn’t be a major problem and let’s be honest most/all runners here have the same query, although some more significant than others. SO SI BON has been unlucky of late and will be better back on top of the ground and on the bigger Flemington track. Interestingly, Bowman ridding SO SI BON instead of WINE BUSH who has been tracking nicely for this race also, however has drawn very wide. Most importantly, my speed map has the two getting nice midfield runs from their middle gates, (not stuck on the fence but with cover) allowing both to hopefully peel out at the top of the straight and hopefully have the stamina to reel them all in. Main dangers SACRED ELIXIR, HIGHLAD and KENT, and throw the Waller pair of WINE BUSH and TUMULTUOUS into more exotic multiples. Race doesn’t end there and plenty of legitimate winning chances.

SUGGEST: SWEAR (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $9+, SO SI BON (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $10+, FIRST FOUR (1, 11, 12 / 3, 10 / F / 3, 10), (9, 14 / 1, 3, 10, 11, 12 / F / 3, 10) (CONFIDENCE 30%) 


Race 8: The final group 1 event on the card is the Cantala Stakes (previously the Emirates Stakes on Stakes day) run over the mile (1600m) and another cracking race, with plenty of chances. Once again, value is the primary consideration and consequently have come out with two suggested plays at nice odds in the form of LE ROMAIN @ $14+ (BET365) and THUNDER FANTASY @ $26+ with SPORTSBET. LE ROMAIN has been racing very well in very good grade and drawn to get a lovely run (without riding for luck) from the gate (8). Bowman will have the gelding in the perfect spot and anticipating no excuses here. Given the price, will make a BEST VALUE bet of the day. THUNDER FANTASY was sensational last time returning to the track after a very long layoff and braining them with a massive 63kg on his back. Stable don’t necessarily win out of turn, but juicy odds and we saw this guy work at Breakfast with the Best and looked well. Again, importantly drawn to get a good run which is key in these busy group 1s when you need everything on your side. Main dangers PALENTINO, THE UNITED STATES, HE’S OUR ROKKII and MACKINTOSH. But another deep race which doesn’t end there with plenty of legitimate winning hopes. Also a race known to throw up a surprise or two, our most pleasant memories being on SKY CUDDLE @ $61 and ALL AMERICAN at $41 when he knocked off the champ So You Think.

SUGGEST: **LE ROMAIN** (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $14+, THUNDER FANTASY (EACH WAY) @ $26+, FIRST FOUR (1, 2, 4, 11 / 5, 6 / F / 5, 6) (CONFIDENCE 35%) 


Race 9: And we finish with the Group 2 TAB.COM.AU Stakes over 1200m. Tricky finish, with good quality all the way down, however again ‘best value’ is what we’re about and in this instance we land on DOTHRAKI @ $14+ (most operators) and ILLUSTRIOUS LAD @ $12+ with SPORTSBET, PALMERBET and BET365. Going to forgive DOTHRAKI for plain run last time, put a line through it and form stacks up very well here. While, ILLUSTRIOUS LAD’s form reads much better than I expected. When you delve deeper, the galloper has been in sensational form for some time now and running very quick time, regardless of where he is running across the nation. Looks a great hope. Main dangers COUNTERATTACK, SOUTHERN LEGEND and DURENDAL at a juicy $21+ price.

SUGGEST: DOTHRAKI (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $14+, ILLUSTRIOUS LAD (WIN / EACH WAY) @ $12+, FIRST FOUR (6, 7, 11 / 3, 6, 7, 10, 11 / F / 3, 10) (CONFIDENCE 30%) 



Average odds $21.89+ per suggested runner!

** BEST VALUE **: STAR TURN @ $4.50+, LE ROMAIN @ $14+