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Hawk’s 2014 Victoria Derby Day Selections

November 1, 2014

It’s the favourite raceday of every Australian racing purist. Derby Day, the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington, is here!

Of course, it also means we’re just three days out from the race that stops the nation, the Emirates Melbourne Cup.

Our energy is focused on our mammoth Melbourne Cup preview, which will be coming your way this evening. Make sure you read it for all the information you need to make this year’s Melbourne Cup a winning one.

In the meantime, there are winners to be found on Derby Day. The Coolmore Stud Stakes is one of the best races I’ve seen in Australia all year, the Mackinnon Stakes has many angles, the Victoria Derby is a lottery and the Myer Classic looks very deep. And that’s not including the Lexus Stakes, the last-ditch effort to get into the Melbourne Cup, or the step up into Group company for the unbeaten Deep Field in the last.

So much to look forward to on one of the premier days of the Australian turf.

Here are today’s selections:

Race 1 – GROUP 3 CARBINE CLUB STAKES (1600m)

1 – OUR VESPA
15 – AZKADELLIA
2 – STRATUM STAR
7 – KERMADEC

Race 2 – GROUP 2 WAKEFUL STAKES (2000m)

9 – FENWAY
1 – FONTEIN RUBY
5 – MUSCOVADO
10 – YESTERJOY

Race 3 – GROUP 3 YELLOWGLEN STAKES (1400m)

10 – WOODBINE
4 – HUCKLEBUCK
3 – GENERALIFE
8 – VELROSSO

Race 4 – GROUP 1 COOLMORE STUD STAKES (1200m)

2 – BRAZEN BEAU
10 – GALAXY PEGASUS
1 – RICH ENUFF
8 – KURO

Race 5 – GROUP 3 LEXUS STAKES (2500m)

9 – SIGNOFF
5 – LET’S MAKE ADEAL
1 – BIG MEMORY
6 – LA AMISTAD

Race 6 – GROUP 1 MACKINNON STAKES (2000m)

9 – FARRAAJ
8 – HE’S YOUR MAN
15 – RISING ROMANCE
12 – AMRALAH

Race 7 – GROUP 1 VICTORIA DERBY (2500m)

11 – ATMOSPHERE
13 – PREFERMENT
1 – HAMPTON COURT
5 – MAGICOOL

Race 8 – GROUP 1 MYER CLASSIC (1600m)

13 – STAR FASHION
4 – MAY’S DREAM
1 – SWEET IDEA
3 – DIAMOND DRILLE

Race 9 – GROUP 2 TAB.COM.AU STAKES (1200m)

6 – DEEP FIELD
8 – CHARLIE BOY
4 – BIG MONEY
11 – NEAREST TO PIN

Hawk’s 2014 Cox Plate Day Selections – Who Will Win?

October 25, 2014

Cox Plate day is here for another year, and the business end of the spring carnival is upon us.

It still does feel somewhat watered down now with the two-day carnival, but there’s some fascinating racing today as the Melbourne Cup Carnival creeps closer for another year.

So who will win Australia’s weight-for-age championship and join an honour roll that includes Phar Lap, Chatham, Young Idea, Ajax, Beau Vite, Tranquil Star, Flight, Hydrogen, Rising Fast, Redcraze, Tulloch, Tobin Bronze, Gunsynd, Dulcify, Kingston Town, Strawberry Road, Bonecrusher, Better Loosen Up, Super Impose, Octagonal, Might and Power, Sunline, Northerly, Fields of Omagh, Makybe Diva, So You Think…and the maiden Shamus Award?

I’ve given my analysis for the Cox Plate, as well as selections for the other races.

Good luck!

Race 1 – INGLIS BANNER (1000m)

13 – REALISE THE DREAM
14 – STYLEMAKER
7 – HOT SNIPPETY
4 – SAN SIERRA

Race 2 – CITY JEEP HANDICAP (1000m)

5 – STRAIGHT GOLD
11 – MINAJ
2 – VATICAN
1 – ROCKY KING

Race 3 – GROUP 2 FILLIES CLASSIC (1600m)

8 – KANSAS SUNFLOWER
1 – LUMOSTY
3 – TAHNI DANCER
4 – TENDER

Race 4 – GROUP 3 TELSTRA PHONEWORDS STAKES (1200m)

2 – LAW
10 – GALAXY PEGASUS
1 – PRESSING
11 – GLENROWAN PRINCE

Race 5 – GROUP 2 MOONEE VALLEY CUP (2500m)

4 – AU REVOIR
1 – PRECEDENCE
7 – OPINION
5 – LE ROI

Race 6 – GROUP 2 CRYSTAL MILE (1600m)

3 – AKAVOROUN
2 – HAVANA REY
4 – DESERT JEUNEY
6 – HOOKED

Race 7 – GROUP 2 MOONEE VALLEY VASE (2040m)

10 – ATMOSPHERE
2 – CHIVALRY
5 – BONDEIGER
13 – GO INDY GO

Race 8 – GROUP 1 COX PLATE (2040m)

No matter which way you look at it, it’s far from the strongest Cox Plate field ever assembled. But it is a competitive race and probably one of the more intriguing Cox Plates in recent years.

To explain how I see the Cox Plate, and how I reached the conclusions I did, takes a fair bit of time. And it relies on certain assumptions being made about how the race will be run. For example, I’ve put a line through SACRED FALLS, but if the race is run differently, he would be near the top.

I see THE CLEANER crossing over from the outside gate to lead them up, possibly with SIDE GLANCE kicking through along the inside. That said, Side Glance tends to lead at a fairly sedate tempo and I’m sure they’d be happy to sit behind the speed so I expect The Cleaner to get to the lead up the side without too many hassles.

From there, he will employ his traditional style – step up the pressure, break the hearts of his rivals and hope it’s enough to hold out.

The thing about The Cleaner is that he does what old Vo Rogue used to do – he sucks the turn of foot out of horses. Check out Vo Rogue’s videos and see what he did to horses with a brilliant sprint, like Super Impose.

The way the race is likely to be run, with The Cleaner putting his foot down and making it a pressure race from the 800m or so, I don’t want to be on horses that are going to be too far out of their ground, horses that are going to struggle at the trip and horses that have a sharp turn of foot.

So for me, that already rules out the likes of Sacred Falls, HAPPY TRAILS, FORETELLER, GUEST OF HONOUR and the three-year-olds.

That leaves seven horses – FAWKNER, Side Glance, The Cleaner, CRITERION, SILENT ACHIEVER, ROYAL DESCENT and ADELAIDE.

Of those, I have to take on Adelaide – I think he was terrific last start, but there’s a big question mark over the form from that race. And his form before that is nothing special – the American turf three-year-olds aren’t crash hot, and he was good without being great in his European races before that. If he does what he did in Chicago, where he drifted to the outside fence, then Moonee Valley seems to be a real concern.

Criterion is a bit hit and miss for mine, he should get a nice run but I think the way the Caulfield Stakes was run really suited him and I’m not sure it will suit him so much here.

Royal Descent is a consistent mare, but she hasn’t been in the winner’s circle since her ATC Oaks victory last year. She should run another honest race but the main reason I haven’t included her is that I can see her being shuffled back throughout – I’d actually have preferred her drawn out wider. I think she might be left with too much to do so will leave her out, albeit begrudgingly.

And then there were four – The Cleaner, Fawkner, Silent Achiever and Side Glance.

Fawkner is the logical selection – he’s flying, he’s adaptable, he’ll get the trip no concerns, he’ll get a nice run. Everything points to him as this year’s Cox Plate winner, trying to become the first horse since Might and Power to win the Cox Plate the year after the Caulfield Cup.

However, my instincts are telling me The Cleaner – the Lion of Longford – can complete the fairytale. The story is ready-made for hopeless romantics – the widower and his best mate, the battler, the underdog. The pride and joy of Longford. But forget the story for a moment, because stories don’t win races.

He makes his own luck, he sets up races to suit him. They all have to get past him, and while they are classier horses than what he has met before, it’s going to be a different race for most of them than what they’ve experienced before.

For that reason, I’m putting The Cleaner on top of Fawkner.

I do think Silent Achiever will improve, as long as they stick to their original plan to settle closer to the speed. If she can be fifth or sixth, one off the speed, I think she’ll surprise a few people. I also think Moonee Valley might suit her.

And I think Side Glance is the sort of honest type that will be able to withstand the pressure here.

Hopefully, the race is run the way we’ve predicted, otherwise there could be a lot of egg to clean off after the race!

6 – THE CLEANER
2 – FAWKNER
9 – SILENT ACHIEVER
3 – SIDE GLANCE

Race 9 – GROUP 3 ELIZA PARK INTERNATIONAL STAKES (1600m)

2 – TANGO’S DAUGHTER
7 – JESSY BELLE
4 – SUAVITO
1 – GYPSY DIAMOND

Hawk’s 2014 Caulfield Cup Day Selections – Who Will Win?

October 18, 2014

The first of the spring’s big three races is here – the Caulfield Cup, the world’s richest mile and a half handicap, although I’m not sure it’s much of a handicap anymore with the compressed weight scale…

This week has seen a Caulfield Cup lead-up unlike any other, with drama after drama after drama. The only other thing that could go wrong is that there is a repeat of the 2007 Maldivian/Eskimo Queen incident at the barriers.

I had planned to do a horse-by-horse write-up but a number of factors ensured that didn’t happen. Instead, I will save the monster preview for the Melbourne Cup, as always.

Outside the Caulfield Cup, the David Jones Cup – the old Coongy Handicap – is a fascinating race with a couple of new imports joining a number of locals on the Melbourne Cup trail.

The first running of the Norman Robinson Stakes as the Caulfield Classic is quite underwhelming. Outside that, though, the card looks fairly strong.

So who will win today, and in particular, who will etch their name into the Caulfield Cup honour roll? Read on for my thoughts.

Good luck!

Race 1 – YELLOWGLEN PLATE (1400m)

2 – AZKADELLIA
6 – SHACARDE
11 – KANSAS SUNFLOWER
7 – I’M A FLYING STAR

Race 2 – LISTED GOTHIC STAKES (1400m)

11 – ARMADA
1 – TUDOR
9 – STAVIVA
2 – STRATUM’S STAR

Race 3 – LISTED ETHEREAL STAKES (2000m)

10 – HIPSTER GIRL
3 – MAASTRICHT
7 – LITTLE HOTTIE
6 – SAVAGE COUP

Race 4 – GROUP 3 CAULFIELD CLASSIC (2000m)

4 – MAGICOOL
13 – CRAFTY
5 – FIREHOUSE ROCK
2 – MERION

Race 5 – GROUP 3 MOONGA STAKES (1400m)

6 – LEEBAZ
10 – ADMIRE INAZUMA
4 – FLAMBERGE
3 – MANAWANUI

Race 6 – GROUP 2 TRISTARC STAKES (1400m)

6 – GIRL GUIDE
3 – SWEET IDEA
4 – CATKINS
2 – MAY’S DREAM

Race 7 – GROUP 3 DAVID JONES CUP (2000m)

12 – NOBLE PROTECTOR
5 – KINGDOMS
2 – CONTRIBUTER
9 – SIGNOFF

Race 8 – GROUP 2 CAULFIELD SPRINT (1100m)

1 – BEL SPRINTER
8 – I’M ALL THE TALK
5 – BIG MONEY
4 – MIRACLES OF LIFE

Race 9 – GROUP 1 CAULFIELD CUP (2400m)

What a week of drama it has been! Scratchings left, right and centre have seen last year’s placegetters Dandino and Dear Demi, the second favourite Bande and Naturalism Stakes winner Gris Caro all withdrawn on veterinary advice. That means all four emergencies have gained a start.

It’s definitely not the strongest Caulfield Cup I’ve seen, far from it, and there looks to be a fair tail to it now. That’s a real shame too, as it means we are taking rock bottom odds about our selection – the favourite LUCIA VALENTINA.

A backmarker with a stellar turn of foot, she won the Vinery Stud Stakes in the autumn before producing a massive run when third to RISING ROMANCE in the ATC Australian Oaks. This spring, she began with a barnstorming win in the Tramway Handicap, a passable sixth in the George Main Stakes before a terrific win in the Turnbull Stakes.

She does look about the right price, but in the last few years, I’ve never been keen to take $4 or so about a runner in the Caulfield Cup. In fact, I’ve been loathe to take a favourite at all.

My record in the Caulfield Cup is shocking, but the last five years I’ve been on Silent Achiever ($8, 8th), Jakkalberry ($21, 13th), Manighar ($13, 4th), Mr Medici ($17, 6th) and Allez Wonder ($10, 8th). Only one at single figures, and no real success whatsoever.

So history would tell you to stay away from my Caulfield Cup selection.

But try as I might to build a case around every other horse, I find it simply impossible and I have to rush into Lucia Valentina.

Yes, there are recent stats against four-year-old mares, but I doubt many have entered with the form Lucia Valentina possesses. Ditto with Turnbull Stakes winners.

Yes, her running style lends itself to hard luck stories, but she’s still found ways to win in impossible scenarios this preparation so far.

I think with even luck in running, she will win. She’s well weighted, she’s in terrific form and she’s on an upward spiral. This has been the race in which I’ve wanted to back her all spring, and I’m sticking to my guns.

For second, and for the value, I am looking at STIPULATE.

This David Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained import started the spring with a bang when winning the Heatherlie Handicap, before an even effort when stepping up to weight for age in the Underwood Stakes and an acceptable run in the Turnbull Stakes.

The big query for him is the distance, not having won beyond nine furlongs and not having been tested beyond 2000m. But I didn’t mind his Turnbull Stakes run at all, he’s drawn to get a soft run, and don’t forget – Fawkner had not won beyond 1800m and had not raced beyond 2040m before winning the Caulfield Cup last year, either.

Also coming from the Turnbull is LIDARI, who was game in defeat and has had the perfect preparation for this race. He is yet to win this spring but has not disgraced himself, improving with each run as he has stepped up in trip – fifth in the Lawrence Stakes to Star Rolling, fourth in the Dato Tan Chin Nam to The Cleaner, fourth in the Underwood Stakes to Foreteller before a game second last time out. He has not raced beyond 2000m in Australia, but he was a winner over 2400m in fairly weak French races. A big plus for him is that he maps well and should have every favour in the run.

Of the internationals, ADMIRE RAKTI is the one to watch. A Group Three winner carrying topweight sounds bizarre, but his performances in Japan have been solid (although he’s a bit of a non-winner). He did finish fourth in the Japan Cup behind Gentildonna last year, but it was a bunched finish so I’m not sure how much can be taken from that. That said, he looks an ideal Melbourne Cup type and he looks like he’ll be suited by the likely pace scenario so he’s somewhat of a chance.

The European representative SEISMOS is a very quirky animal, a very Jekyll and Hyde character, and it depends which Seismos turns up. He plugged away in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes last start, showing no turn of foot at all and yet somehow finding himself in front at the line. He needs to begin smartly to be a chance here, as I think his only hope from the inside is to roll forward. I’d prefer to see him first, and have him well down the list, but if he gets up on speed then he could run alright.

After Admire Rakti, would have second favourite BRAMBLES in next on the back of his Turnbull Stakes third. Also give THE OFFER a small hope, although I do think he’d be better with give in the ground, while RISING ROMANCE and WHO SHOT THEBARMAN go into all exotics.

15 – LUCIA VALENTINA
13 – STIPULATE
14 – LIDARI
1 – ADMIRE RAKTI

Race 10 – LISTED ALINGHI STAKES (1100m)

3 – ANATINA
6 – SINO EAGLE
14 – I LOVE IT
4 – CRADLE ME

Hawk’s 2014 Caulfield Guineas Day Analysis and Selections

October 11, 2014

The first big day of the spring is here, with Caulfield Guineas day featuring five Group 1 races – four from Caulfield and one from Randwick.

It’s a defining day for the Cox Plate, while next week’s Caulfield Cup field will be much clearer after today.

So who will win? Hopefully we can find more winners after a nice few weeks.

Good luck today!

CAULFIELD

Race 1 – LISTED DEBUTANT STAKES (1000m)

3 – SCHOPENHAUER
2 – OF THE BRAVE
5 – STYLISH ASSASSIN
8 – HELFORD RIVER

Race 2 – GROUP 3 THOROUGHBRED CLUB STAKES (1200m)

1 – EARTHQUAKE
8 – MORE RADIANT
2 – AIMEE
6 – YGRITTE

Race 3 – LISTED WEEKEND HUSSLER STAKES (1400m)

5 – TANGO’S DAUGHTER
3 – SISTINE DEMON
2 – ALMA’S FURY
4 – EXIMIUS

Race 4 – GROUP 2 SCHILLACI STAKES (1000m)

3 – NOT LISTENIN’TOME
7 – RUBICK
4 – OVERREACH
5 – PLATELET

Race 5 – GROUP 2 HERBERT POWER STAKES (2400m)

1 – PROTECTIONIST
2 – SANGSTER
4 – LORD VAN PERCY
5 – LET’S MAKE ADEAL

Race 6 – GROUP 1 CAULFIELD STAKES (2000m)

A top renewal of the Caulfield Stakes which looks like it will serve as an important Cox Plate guide.

I’m very keen on FAWKNER here to add another Caulfield feature to his tally. He was terrific first-up in the Makybe Diva Stakes, just failing to run down DISSIDENT, and comes here second-up. He’ll obviously take more improvement for the run, but he should get a very good run here and may prove hard to toss.

At odds, SERTORIUS can run a race as he prepares for next week’s Caulfield Cup. He was scratched from the Turnbull last week due to an irregular blood test, but bounced back quickly so it’s hardly affected his preparation. He has been good without being great so far, the step up in trip should suit and I’d hope to see him finding some form here ahead of next week’s race.

Another one scratched from the Turnbull, but for a different reason, was CRACKERJACK KING. His Underwood Stakes third was outstanding, albeit with a pace scenario to suit. It doesn’t look too different here, though, which should give him an opportunity to produce a similar run.

Also suited by the likely pace scenario is SIDE GLANCE, who led them up in the Arlington Million last time out and battled on gamely but couldn’t match Hardest Core and Magician. He seems to always run a consistent race but rarely wins, save for last year’s Mackinnon Stakes, and his ability to make his own luck sees him as a potential place candidate here.

Next best HAPPY TRAILS and DEAR DEMI.

3 – FAWKNER
6 – SERTORIUS
7 – CRACKERJACK KING
2 – SIDE GLANCE

Race 7 – GROUP 1 TOORAK HANDICAP (1600m)

A very open Toorak and tough to decipher.

Despite being lumped with 58kg, I think GUEST OF HONOUR can race his way into Cox Plate contention here. He has found form at his last two starts for two nice wins, and the form through Mull of Killough and Long John last start can stand up here. Big chance.

I like AKAVOROUN as a horse and I think he is getting up to a trip where we should see his best. He’s been far from disgraced in two runs to date this spring and should be peaking here. Can get a nice run and be right in the finish.

COMMANDING JEWEL was disappointing last start, but should be ridden colder today and if she runs up to her form prior, she should be in the mix.

Next best ARABIAN GOLD, who was stellar first up in Sydney but faces a new test here, TRUST IN A GUST and ATLANTE.

1 – GUEST OF HONOUR
10 – AKAVOROUN
3 – COMMANDING JEWEL
7 – ARABIAN GOLD

Race 8 – GROUP 1 THOUSAND GUINEAS (1600m)

It seems odd having the Thousand Guineas on the Saturday, and it doesn’t really make sense with the Flight Stakes the week before. Still, there has to be a winner.

The three favourites – LUMOSTY, GO INDY GO, AFLEET ESPRIT – deserve their place at the head of the market and all are strong chances.

At odds, though, I’m looking at SABATINI to run a bold race. Sabatini won the Quezette Stakes before finishing third to Afleet Esprit and Lumosty down the straight in the Cap D’Antibes Stakes. Last start, in the Prelude, she finished fifth to Afleet Esprit after missing the start and boxing on okay. I think, if she can begin a little bit better, she might herself a little more forward today and the mile shouldn’t be a query at all. I’m expecting a bold run.

Putting Lumosty in for second on the basis that the mile should be right up her alley, while Go Indy Go is another that will relish the mile. Not so sure about Afleet Esprit at the trip so she goes in for fourth.

4 – SABATINI
6 – LUMOSTY
2 – GO INDY GO
3 – AFLEET ESPRIT

Race 9 – GROUP 1 CAULFIELD GUINEAS (1600m)

An interesting Guineas, not sure these are absolute topliners but there are some nice horses amongst them nevertheless.

The hype centres around RICH ENUFF, who has been most impressive in three starts this spring. The big query for me, though, is the mile and the fact he’s unlikely to get an easy time up near the speed.

Therefore, I’m looking at LOOKS LIKE THE CAT, who looks like he’ll relish every inch of the mile. He does meet Rich Enuff 2.5kg worse for a last start defeat, but up to a mile with an extra run under his belt and a more favourable pace scenario, I think he can win. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him emerge as a Cox Plate contender after this.

Rich Enuff has to be right up there, while SHOOTING TO WIN – coming off a dominant Stan Fox Stakes victory – and CHIVALRY, who just needs to find some luck in his races, are other top chances.

7 – LOOKS LIKE THE CAT
3 – RICH ENUFF
4 – SHOOTING TO WIN
6 – CHIVALRY

Race 10 – GROUP 3 SPORTINGBET SPRINT SERIES FINAL (1200m)

1 – GIRL GUIDE
2 – SHAMAL WIND
3 – BRILLIANT BISC
11 – SOOSA RAMA

RANDWICK

Race 6 – GROUP 1 SPRING CHAMPION STAKES (2000m)

A small field but an interesting affair nonetheless.

Am I the only one shocked at the price about FIRST SEAL? Big unders for mine, no matter how good she was last week, and would be happy to stick with the two star colts instead.

Happy to stick with SWEYNESSE instead. Terrific win in the Gloaming Stakes last time out and he looks a real nice middle-distance horse in the making. I think he can make the step to Group 1 company here.

PANZER DIVISION comes out of the George Main Stakes, which has already proved a strong form reference with Lucia Valentina winning the Turnbull Stakes and Royal Descent just being edged out in the Epsom Handicap. Not sure the 2000m will be his right trip but has the right form and will be the main danger.

FIRST SEAL obviously must be included, and those three look head and shoulders above the next best, POUNAMU.

1 – SWEYNESSE
3 – PANZER DIVISION
8 – FIRST SEAL
5 – POUNAMU

Hawk’s 2014 Epsom Handicap/Turnbull Stakes Day Analysis and Selections

October 4, 2014

Ah, the first Saturday in October. The point of the year when racing becomes Australia’s national sport, just for one month.

Ok, so we still have the NRL Grand Final to come, but apart from that it is all racing from now until the end of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

And what a month awaits!

The horses may not be as strong as they usually are, but it is competitive racing and there are plenty of winners to be found.

There are four Group 1 races today across the two meetings, and every race holds black type status.

It’s just the start of a big weekend of racing, with big Group 1 racing in New Zealand and America, the Arc meeting in France and the return of some of Hong Kong’s best horses tomorrow.

It doesn’t get much better!

Good luck with your wagers today.

RANDWICK

Race 1 – LISTED GIMCRACK STAKES (1000m)

8 – SPEAK FONDLY
9 – THEMIS
3 – FLAUNTING
6 – PREVAIL

Race 2 – LISTED BREEDERS’ PLATE (1000m)

12 – SOOBOOG
9 – MORE THAN FABULOUS
14 – VANCOUVER
13 – STIMAC

Race 3 – LISTED DULCIFY QUALITY (1600m)

4 – DUCCIO
2 – SCRATCH ME LUCKY
1 – BACHMAN
3 – HAMPTON COURT

Race 4 – GROUP 2 ROMAN CONSUL STAKES (1200m)

1 – HALLOWED CROWN
3 – BRAZEN BEAU
2 – TIME FOR WAR
4 – NOSTRADAMUS

Race 5 – GROUP 3 CRAVEN PLATE (2000m)

7 – RISING ROMANCE
5 – DANCHAI
4 – MORIARTY
3 – SLOW PACE

Race 6 – GROUP 2 PREMIERE STAKES (1200m)

5 – CHARLIE BOY
1 – SINCERO
8 – I’VE GOT THE LOOKS
2 – FAMOUS SEAMUS

Race 7 – GROUP 1 EPSOM HANDICAP (1600m)

A pretty pathetic Epsom Handicap, in all honesty. Looks more like a BM85 with a few class horses thrown in. Still, there has to be a winner, and Chris Waller looks to hold all the aces.

I’m hoping Joao Moreira is the man on HE’S YOUR MAN. I love the step back in distance here with him, and he looks to have the turn of foot required to win the race. He’s going really well, and Moreira can get his first Australian Group 1 winner here.

ROYAL DESCENT has not won since her Oaks victory but she’s been a model of consistency. Can she finally get her head in front at the wire? I think she’s pretty well weighted in a race of this nature, so a win wouldn’t surprise at all.

STAR ROLLING was impressive first up but has been disappointing at his next two. There were excuses in the Dato when he was simply gassed by The Cleaner, but he probably should have done more last start. Still, if he is to get out and rolling, I think he can be in the mix.

At odds, LUCKY CHAPPY is not the worst bet. He’s also stepping back in trip, and while he’s a bit of an unreliable type, he is in fairly good form at the moment. Worth an each-way wager.

6 – HE’S YOUR MAN
2 – ROYAL DESCENT
5 – STAR ROLLING
10 – LUCKY CHAPPY

Race 8 – GROUP 1 FLIGHT STAKES (1600m)

Again, not the strongest Flight Stakes ever seen. There do appear three main chances, although if Twirl and Muscovado hadn’t been scratched, I could definitely have entertained LADY SHARAPOVA as the bolter to get over the top.

I’ve been really impressed with THINKING OF YOU in her two starts to date. She can make the phenomenal rise from Wodonga maiden to Group 1 winner in three starts today, as she has the turn of foot and tactical speed to capitalise in the small field. Plus, I think on ability, she’s as good as any horse in the race.

WINX and FIRST SEAL represent the Sydney fillies, coming from the Tea Rose Stakes. I prefer Winx as a horse, although I do think First Seal beat her fair and square last start. Both are definitely chances, although I think Winx may be more suited by this race.

We’ll keep Lady Sharapova as a chance, but not as keen as we were earlier in the week.

6 – THINKING OF YOU
1 – WINX
2 – FIRST SEAL
7 – LADY SHARAPOVA

Race 9 – GROUP 1 THE METROPOLITAN (2400m)

A very even field of stayers here.

More hoping than confident with OUR VOODOO PRINCE. He entered the spring as the Caulfield Cup favourite, and while he hasn’t lived up to that billing, he’s been far from disgraced. The trip should suit now and hopefully he can get one big crack at them late.

KINGDOMS comes from the Kingston Town Stakes, and I rate that form for the Epsom. He’s been a quirky horse. He was my sole Caulfield Cup prepost bet last year, and of course he won a 2400m race on Caulfield Cup day – just not the Caulfield Cup! There seems to be shades of Hume with him, in that Brian Smith seems to rejuvenated him. There’s a good race in him, and perhaps that might be today.

JUNOOB was terrific in winning a very tactical Hill Stakes. It’s a completely different race here, but he does look the one to beat off that run – and the compressed weight scale works in his favour too.

Next best BRIGANTIN, who was good in the Newcastle Cup and seems to be twice the price he should be, and SPILLWAY.

8 – OUR VOODOO PRINCE
10 – KINGDOMS
1 – JUNOOB
6 – BRIGANTIN

FLEMINGTON

Race 1 – LISTED MARIBYRNONG TRIAL STAKES (1000m)

3 – ICEFLOW
4 – LAKE JACKSON
9 – DAGNY
12 – RESULTS

Race 2 – LISTED UCI STAKES (1800m)

4 – WAR POINT
11 – ATMOSPHERE
1 – FIREHOUSE ROCK
14 – KAIZAEN

Race 3 – GROUP 3 THE BART CUMMINGS (2500m)

3 – WHO SHOT THEBARMAN
1 – SEA MOON
6 – MARKSMANSHIP
5 – ETHIOPIA

Race 4 – LISTED YELLOWGLEN VINTAGE STAKES (1400m)

10 – DECONSTRUCTED
6 – STAVIVA
3 – FORGIVE AND FORGET
2 – WANDJINA

Race 5 – GROUP 2 GILGAI STAKES (1200m)

11 – BOUNDING
4 – CHAUTAUQUA
5 – TEMPLE OF BOOM
3 – FLAMBERGE

Race 6 – GROUP 2 EDWARD MANIFOLD STAKES (1600m)

9 – MAASTRICHT
13 – LITTLE HOTTIE
15 – HIPSTER GIRL
7 – PITTSBURGH FLYER

Race 7 – GROUP 1 TURNBULL STAKES (2000m)

A fascinating race, if not a stellar renewal of the Turnbull Stakes.

There are quite a few horses I like here for the next month, but that I can’t have today. For instance, I really like LUCIA VALENTINA in the Caulfield Cup, but given her hoof issues and the likely pace scenario I’m happy to let her go without me. Similarly, SILENT ACHIEVER – I want to see her produce her autumn form first before steaming into her.

Instead, I’ll be sticking with a horse who is yet to win this prep but is finally heading the right way – PUISSANCE DE LUNE.

I haven’t been able to find Puissance de Lune at all since his Queen Elizabeth Stakes win. He’s been too short most of the time or he’s been in unsuitable races. However, I think this race should set up perfectly for him, whether Brad Rawiller decides to push towards the lead or sit behind them.

I’ve much preferred the progression of his preparation this year, and he can gain that elusive “Group 1 winner” tag here.

Outside of him, I’m looking at the horses who are needing to win this race to have any chance of gaining a start in some of the bigger affairs in the coming weeks.

2012 Queensland Derby winner BRAMBLES had almost two years on the sidelines but he’s very good at his last two starts. He should be able to sit handy and now getting up to a suitable distance, he can run a big race here as he looks to get into the Caulfield Cup.

ENTIRELY PLATINUM looks like he could get across to the lead fairly easily if that’s the intention, he strikes me as one of these emerging types who have used this race as a stepping stone to bigger things in the past. Probably should have won the Naturalism Stakes and is going well enough to win, especially under these conditions.

The horse that beat him last time, GRIS CARO, has to find something here but maps brilliantly and it’s hard to tell how much further he can progress. He looks over the odds.

Next best SUPER COOL, who looked like he was on the brink of returning to form with a nice run in the Underwood Stakes, and HAPPY TRAILS.

8 – PUISSANCE DE LUNE
15 – BRAMBLES
12 – ENTIRELY PLATINUM
13 – GRIS CARO

Race 8 – GROUP 2 BLAZER STAKES (1400m)

1 – MAY’S DREAM
2 – BONARIA
15 – DIG A PONY
5 – ENQUARE

Race 9 – LISTED HEADQUARTERS TAVERN STAKES (1400m)

8 – SPIRITS DANCE
2 – LUCKY HUSSLER
11 – RYKER
5 – SAINT OR SINNER

Hawk’s 2014 Underwood Stakes/George Main Stakes Day Analysis and Selections

September 20, 2014

It’s not long now until footy finals are over, October is here and spring racing is the topic of choice in Australia.

I’ve provided my selections for all races, as well as my analysis of the two Group 1 races – the Underwood Stakes and the George Main Stakes – and arguably the most important race of the day, the Naturalism Stakes.

Good luck!

CAULFIELD

Race 1 – PANCARE FOUNDATION PLATE (1000m)

3 – ZELETTO
1 – BULLPIT
2 – PETROLOGY
9 – DECONSTRUCTED

Race 2 – THE INGLIS READY2RACE SALE BONUS (1700m)

11 – FIREHOUSE ROCK
3 – KAIZAEN
9 – MANHATTAN AVENUE
5 – WAR POINT

Race 3 – ALANNAH HILL PLATE (1100m)

6 – ANATINA
7 – RIFLEMAN
1 – ADAMANTIUM
2 – KENCELLA

Race 4 – TMB PRINTING HANDICAP (1400m)

13 – THINKING OF YOU
3 – FONTEIN RUBY
9 – PICKIN’ TIME
1 – VEUVELICIOUS

Race 5 – DALZIEL RACING TILE IMPORTER HANDICAP (1400m)

7 – MEMBERS JOY
4 – KEEP DE ROSE
5 – SUAVITO
13 – DIG A PONY

Race 6 – GROUP 3 NATURALISM STAKES (2000m)

One of the most interesting races of the day as all runners search for a ballot-exempt Caulfield Cup spot.

I was initially keen on ZANBAGH and ARALDO, but Zanbagh has been scratched and I’m not sure Araldo will be in the right position. That said, I think Araldo is one to follow going forward.

Last year’s race turned into a farce with Glen Boss controlling the speed and pretty much ensuring he was the only horse who could win. This year could turn out to be something similar with limited speed.

I think the horse they are all going to have to run down is ENTIRELY PLATINUM. He was terrible last start in the Chelmsford, but given the bottomless conditions I think he can be forgiven. Before that, he’d been game in winning a Rosehill handicap, and this is the distance he wants. He will sit up on speed with BONFIRE and can prove too tough in the final stages.

The x-factor is OUR VOODOO PRINCE, finally getting to a suitable distance. He was the early Caulfield Cup favourite off his top-notch win over this course and distance in the Easter Cup and a repeat would see him go very close in this. Pace is likely to play against him, but on his autumn performances it may not be a killer.

SPILLWAY will be charging late after two good weight-for-age runs, but whether he can get over the top of two leaders who’ve had a soft run remains a query. I still think he can make the Caulfield Cup field even without winning here, so all is not lost for those that have backed him in futures markets if he does miss out today.

Bonfire can hang around for a placing, while LET’S MAKE ADEAL is the interesting runner. If she settles more forward, she could be in the mix.

3 – ENTIRELY PLATINUM
4 – OUR VOODOO PRINCE
1 – SPILLWAY
5 – BONFIRE

Race 7 – GROUP 1 UNDERWOOD STAKES (1800m)

Not the greatest Underwood Stakes, but that may not be a bad thing as there looks to be money to be made.

Should say from the outset that if betting was about finding the best horse in the race, I’d have everything I owned on SILENT ACHIEVER. She’s the class of the field and

But I’m not convinced the way the race will be run will suit her, and so I’m left with two horses I think will be suited today.

STAR ROLLING was good first-up in the Lawrence Stakes, with those behind including Spillway, Puissance De Lune and today’s rivals FORETELLER and LIDARI, before a somewhat disappointing performance in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. However, he was left chasing The Cleaner as the Tasmanian upped the pace, which dulled his own sprint and left him a sitting shot. That’s a must forgive performance, and with a softer pace, he can turn it around with victory today.

The same caveat about the Dato can be made about the import CRACKERJACK KING. He was right with Star Rolling when the tempo increased, and second up off a two-year break, his fitness just gave out. He’s 100-1 with some outlets, and is far from the worst 100-1 shot you’ll ever see. He’ll run better than his odds suggest – whether that’s good enough to win, I’m not sure, but I’ll be having something on.

Silent Achiever has to be included because she is the class runner, while STIPULATE was impressive in the Heatherlie Handicap and though he won’t get the same scenario here, he could still be in the mix. Next best HAPPY TRAILS.

7 – STAR ROLLING
5 – CRACKERJACK KING
10 – SILENT ACHIEVER
9 – STIPULATE

Race 8 – GROUP 3 SPORTINGBET SPRINT SERIES HEAT 2 STAKES (1200m)

1 – SAMAREADY
13 – GIRL GUIDE
3 – SPIRITS DANCE
5 – ENQUARE

Race 9 – LE PINE FUNERALS HANDICAP (1400m)

5 – TRUST IN A GUST
16 – CAUTHEN
10 – PIN YOUR HOPES
3 – LUCKY HUSSLER

RANDWICK

Race 1 – BACARDI UNTAMEABLE HANDICAP (1600m)

3 – DEVONSHIRE DUKE
1 – SUPREME WARRIOR
7 – BLACK REVOLVER
2 – PAEDEROS

Race 2 – GROUP 3 BILL RITCHIE HANDICAP (1400m)

2 – MANAWANUI
1 – MONTON
5 – ROCK STURDY
3 – RIVA DE LAGO

Race 3 – LISTED HERITAGE STAKES (1100m)

6 – THIS IS AUSTRALIA
2 – BUGATTY
7 – SHAUMARI
1 – DELECTATION

Race 4 – GROUP 2 TEA ROSE STAKES (1400m)

1 – EARTHQUAKE
6 – LADY SHARAPOVA
4 – WINX
5 – SULTRY FEELING

Race 5 – GROUP 2 HILL STAKES (2000m)

1 – MORIARTY
7 – CRITERION
8 – LA AMISTAD
2 – BAGMAN

Race 6 – GROUP 1 GEORGE MAIN STAKES (1600m)

Interesting race, and quite like many of the Sydney Group races so far this spring, not quite the strongest renewal.

Surely this is ROYAL DESCENT’s day to finally win an open age Group 1. It’s hard to believe she hasn’t won since her Oaks romp but the three times she’s tackled this track and distance she’s finished second, by a half neck in last year’s George Main, by a half length in this year’s Doncaster Mile and by a nose in the Chelmsford. Surely, SURELY, this is her time to shine.

I think PANZER DIVISION is a definite danger, as he’ll be up on speed in a race that lacks pace with the light weight of 50.5kg. Expect him to be in front as they top the rise, it just depends whether this is all too soon for him – he did only win his first start, a Kembla maiden, two months ago yesterday.

I love LUCIA VALENTINA, and she was very good to me first up with her explosive finish at decent odds. Second-up in a paceless race as she embarks on a Cups campaign, I wouldn’t expect the same sort of performance. In fact, I probably wouldn’t back her again now until the Caulfield Cup.

Next best SACRED FALLS, who should be ready to fire from here on in, and RISING ROMANCE.

6 – ROYAL DESCENT
10 – PANZER DIVISION
7 – LUCIA VALENTINA
1 – SACRED FALLS

Race 7 – WILLIAM SHAW KNITWEAR HANDICAP (1200m)

6 – ATMOSPHERICAL
8 – MAYSOON
2 – EQUATOR
11 – RED DYNAMITE

Race 8 – GROUP 2 THE SHORTS (1100m)

3 – TERRAVISTA
7 – VILLA VERDE
9 – DIDNTCOSTALOT
6 – I’M ALL THE TALK

Hawk’s 2014 Makybe Diva Stakes/Golden Rose Day Analysis and Selections

September 13, 2014

A top day of racing in Australia today sees Group 1 racing in both Sydney and Melbourne. And while the strength of the Sydney card is questionable, Melbourne’s card looks top notch.

Who will win today? Well, hopefully us! But it’s hard to take anything for granted on what looks a tough wicket.

FLEMINGTON

Race 1 – LISTED CAP D’ANTIBES STAKES (1100m)

7 – LUMOSTY
9 – MORE RADIANT
6 – TRAVESTON GIRL
1 – SABATINI

Race 2 – SOFITEL GIRLS’ DAY OUT 2000 (2000m)

1 – MASKED MARVEL
5 – MARKSMANSHIP
2 – WHO SHOT THEBARMAN
6 – TRADE COMMISSIONER

Race 3 – SPRING IS THE SEASON HANDICAP (1700m)

3 – PRINCE OF PENZANCE
11 – SHIKARPOUR
1 – BRAMBLES
7 – SIGNOFF

Race 4 – LISTED LIVING LEGENDS STAKES (1400m)

3 – MERION
5 – ZEBULON
2 – CHIVALRY
11 – DIVAN

Race 5 – GROUP 2 LET’S ELOPE STAKES (1400m)

Many have this down as a race between GREGERS, who has won two-from-two this prep and steps up to 1400m again, and COMMANDING JEWEL, who flew home in the Cockram Stakes.

They are definitely chances, but I’d prefer to stick with the fresh SOLICIT, who maps well and should prove hard to beat. I think she’s probably best as a sprinter-miler, really, and this race sets up beautifully for her.

Next best GIG, who is flying, from DEAR DEMI.

6 – SOLICIT
1 – COMMANDING JEWEL
3 – GREGERS
7 – GIG

Race 6 – GROUP 2 DANEHILL STAKES (1200m)

The toughest race of the day for mine.

The top three are all proven to some extent, and I cannot believe the price about GHIBELLINES. He always looked raw as a two-year-old and I think he’s furnished into a nice three-year-old. I look forward to seeing the progression he can make here.

GET THE NOD aims to remain unbeaten, while BRAZEN BEAU brings good form from the Brisbane winter.

However, the two down the bottom also catch the eye – especially ONEROUS – and while it’s a big step up, I think he should be in the right position to capitalise. Therefore, I’m putting him on top.

Other chances are obviously GALAXY PEGASUS, as well as LOOKS LIKE THE CAT and NORDIC EMPIRE.

16 – ONEROUS
1 – GHIBELLINES
3 – GET THE NOD
2 – BRAZEN BEAU

Race 7 – GROUP 1 MAKYBE DIVA STAKES (1600m)

An intriguing line-up here. Not really sure the race deserves Group 1 billing, but then again, there are a number of races in Australia these days that don’t deserve it. It may have achieved the ratings to be considered a Group 1, but really, it is a lead-up race, not a final. The idea that ratings should determine Group 1 status is narrow-minded and wrong.

Now that my rant is over, I’m extremely keen on reigning Caulfield Cup winner FAWKNER here.

His first up stats are mixed, but he did win the 1400m handicap by four lengths on this day two years ago, while he also boasts a third to Black Caviar in the William Reid Stakes among his other fresh runs. He’s a bit more dour these days, so the 1600m first up suits. He maps well and can finish on strongly late.

BOBAN has become somewhat of an enigma since his terrific spring last year. He was very good first up, but just didn’t have the same dash second up. He’s probably better suited here up to a mile, and maps better today than he did in the Memsie. He’s the one to beat for mine.

PUISSANCE DE LUNE was beaten a nose by Foreteller in this race last year. This has been his aim all along, as they try to get a Group 1 win out of him, and his Memsie Stakes run was very good. Should be in the right spot, it just depends if he has the same dash he had last year.

DISSIDENT deserves favouritism after his Memsie Stakes romp but given we were able to get 16/1 about him last start, $3 seems way too short here and I’d prefer to play others.

That’s not the end to the chances, either. I’m not sure SPILLWAY will be able to get enough of a cart into the race, but if he does, he’s some chance, while SERTORIUS also wouldn’t surprise.

2 – FAWKNER
3 – BOBAN
6 – PUISSANCE DE LUNE
9 – DISSIDENT

Race 8 – GROUP 3 BOBBIE LEWIS QUALITY (1200m)

It’s a shame El Roca came out of this race this morning, as he looked the day’s lock for mine.

Instead, I’m sticking with last year’s Danehill winner CHARLIE BOY, who showed a clear liking for the straight and who should be in the right spot.

AKAVOROUN will probably want further but there’s no doubt he still has points in hand – I’d be expecting him to win a nice race this spring – while FLAMBERGE was good last start and will be a tough nut to crack here.

Next best are last year’s quinella, SPEEDINESS and TEMPLE OF BOOM, with a slight leaning towards the latter.

11 – CHARLIE BOY
8 – AKAVOROUN
3 – FLAMBERGE
2 – TEMPLE OF BOOM

Race 9 – LISTED THE SOFITEL HANDICAP (1400m)

5 – SCAPOLO
18 – LATE CHARGE
3 – RHYTHM TO SPARE
10 – THUNDERBIRD ONE

ROSEHILL

Race 1 – THE PASLODE HANDICAP (1500m)

10 – SHERBET BOMB
2 – COPY
6 – SENSUALISM
9 – DIVA DEE

Race 2 – MCGRATH ESTATE AGENTS HANDICAP (1800m)

10 – CLEANSING ALE
8 – RAGTIME COWBOY JOE
12 – MARTIAN
5 – COCKTAIL TIME

Race 3 – SPORTSYEAR SPRINT (1200m)

4 – WOODBINE
7 – OH SO ADORABLE
12 – FARE WELL
9 – MURDER OF CROWS

Race 4 – GROUP 2 THEO MARKS STAKES (1400m)

In all fairness, a pretty weak Theo Marks field.

For mine, KIRRAMOSA stood out despite her interrupted preparation. She was great first up in what I consider to be a stronger race than what her main dangers, CLUSTER and BULL POINT, have been contesting. This looks perfect for her as she progresses to the longer races.

LASER HAWK looks like he might be returning to something near his best, while TOUGHER THAN EVER could get a soft lead.

4 – KIRRAMOSA
8 – CLUSTER
5 – BULL POINT
1 – LASER HAWK

Race 5 – GROUP 3 KINGSTON TOWN STAKES (2000m)

11 – GALLATIN
6 – LA AMISTAD
5 – GREATWOOD
9 – CELTIC PRINCE

Race 6 – GROUP 3 SHERACO STAKES (1200m)

1 – CATKINS
6 – SHAMALIA
7 – BELLE DE COEUR
3 – ESTONIAN PRINCESS

Race 7 – GROUP 1 GOLDEN ROSE (1400m)

A very open Golden Rose, with a plethora of chances.

What makes it more confusing is that all bar one of these raced on heavy ground last start, and if the track holds up as dead, there could be some notable form reversals.

One horse I have a big opinion of is SARAJEVO, who has finished fourth at both starts this preparation.

BETTER LAND looked like he wouldn’t gain a start, but he has snuck in and looks a terrific prospect. He looked like he was about to launch to win the Up and Coming Stakes when the wayward Liberation unbalanced him. The dead track should suit better too, so I would be surprised if he’s not in the mix.

San Domenico Stakes winner NOSTRADAMUS and Run To The Rose winner HALLOWED CROWN look top chances, too, as does Golden Slipper third BRING ME THE MAID.

If there’s one at odds to run a huge race, it could be BACHMAN.

11 – SARAJEVO
12 – BETTER LAND
6 – NOSTRADAMUS
3 – HALLOWED CROWN

Race 8 – PJ’S IRISH PUB PARRAMATTA HANDICAP (1400m)

14 – IDANCE
6 – ALIAS
10 – ENGAGEMENT
8 – BLACK REVOLVER

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