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C. F. Orr Stakes preview – champion mare Black Caviar to make it 18 straight

February 11, 2012

It’s hard to believe we are already at the first of the “autumn” Group 1 races!

The reason I’ve put autumn in inverted commas is because we aren’t yet through summer, but it is the beginning of the autumn carnival.

From now until April, there is a Group 1 every weekend! It is heaven for the lover of the thoroughbred.

Today is the Group 1 C. F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, in which champion mare Black Caviar steps up to 1400m for the first time.

Can the wonder mare be beaten?

I’ve run my eye over the field, and here is my runner-by-runner preview:

1. EFFICIENT (4)

2007 Melbourne Cup winner who is having an autumn preparation for the first time since his three year old days. Ran first up at 1800m last preparation, so first up 1400m here seems slightly odd. Hoping to see him run home strongly but hard to be confident of seeing much. At least, if he runs well, you know to expect a big preparation.

2. PLAYING GOD (7)

Two time Kingston Town Classic winner who was out of form before his victory in the Perth feature. Seemed to be around the mark last spring without winning, although his form tapered off. It will be interesting to see how much last preparation took out of him. Could sneak a place if he runs to best.

3. MIDAS TOUCH (9)

One of the classiest imports the Williams camp has produced to date. He took a couple of runs to find form during the spring, but once he did he ran blinders in the Makybe Diva Stakes and the Underwood Stakes. Personally, I think he’ll need the run and will be much improved going into the St George Stakes in two weeks. Back him then.

4. PRECEDENCE (2)

A galloper who has promised a lot but, in my opinion, is still yet to deliver. 1400m will be too short for him, but I like the fact the blinkers have come off him. He’s one of two Zabeels (the other being Efficient) that I hate seeing in blinkers. He overraces and they just don’t suit him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him running on when it is all over. Could be the place bolter.

5. DANZYLUM (6)

Probably the least classy horse in the race but he’s an old warrior, turning up year in, year out. Ran fourth behind Typhoon Tracy and Heart of Dreams the last two years – the only difference was the third placegetter (2011 was Ortensia, 2010 was Sirmione). He meets Southern Speed 7kg worse after she beat him by almost a length last start. In his favour though, there doesn’t look to be a great deal of speed here and he could battle on for a placing. Interestingly, in Black Caviar’s last nine starts, the horse that has led has run second. Perhaps that could be Danzylum this year? Place chance.

6. DOUBTFUL JACK (1)

Stablemate to the wonder mare Black Caviar. Seen plenty of her rump recently, including when he was second in the Schweppes Stakes and third in the Australia Stakes. Would need the race to be run at Flemington, and he’d need it seriously wet, to be any chance of causing a boilover here. I think he’s a risk for the place, not sure 1400m suits. Not for me.

7. ILLO (3)

Last seen leading a Melbourne Cup field by seven lengths – simply mad! Hasn’t raced below 2000m since his two year old days and despite the fact he’ll probably have acclimatised further here, it is hard to see him being competitive unless he’s improved quite a fair bit. Not for me.

8. BLACK CAVIAR (5)

The superlatives keep flowing, and every single one is deserved. She is simply outstanding, and I don’t hesitate in ranking her as one of the best I’ve seen – although my racing memory only extends back a mere 15 years! The 1400m is a slight query, but I’m of the belief she’ll be even better over the further distance. It helps that she’s meeting mainly stayers here. Can’t wait to see her stroll home.

9. SOUTHERN SPEED (8)

Caulfield Cup winner who returned in blistering style on Australia Day. Probably better suited over further now but she has shown promise over the shorter trip in the past. If there’s any hint of speed in the race, she is likely to fly down the outside and could pass horses one by one. Sadly for her, there’ll be one way out in front. Leading chance for second.

SUMMARY

It’s a no brainer who I have on top. I’m excited to see BLACK CAVIAR enter this new phase of her career over 1400m. Who knows? We might see her at a mile before her career is out. That’s provided she wins today, which she will. Yes, I’m cocky on her behalf. For second, interestingly, I’m going to go with DANZYLUM purely on the fact that he’ll be on pace and that could prove key here. SOUTHERN SPEED looks like the logical danger (what danger?) if there is any speed on, while I think PRECEDENCE could run a cheeky race with the blinkers off.

NUMBERS

8. BLACK CAVIAR
5. DANZYLUM
9. SOUTHERN SPEED
4. PRECEDENCE

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