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18/02/2012 – Preview of Flemington (Lightning), Warwick Farm (Royal Sovereign/Light Fingers)

February 18, 2012

Today is a bumper day of racing in both states as the autumn carnival begins to heat up.

In Melbourne, we are only a week away from the start of the big features, with next weekend featuring three Group 1 races.

In Sydney, we are still a fair way from the features but horses are beginning their preparations now.

The early three year old races in the autumn are always intriguing, while it is a time for the sprinters to shine!

Here are my thoughts on today’s cards from Flemington and Warwick Farm.

FLEMINGTON

Race 1 – Listed Talindert Stakes (1000m)

A typically tough Talindert Stakes from a betting perspective. The smartest thing is to stay out. However, as I’m tipping, I’ll have a go and see how we go. I was taken with the win of LIBERTY ROCK on debut at Kyneton. He meets many of the same gallopers as last start and given the proven experience on raceday, I’m putting him on top. It’s no surprise ALL TOO HARD is favourite. Not only did he show promise when winning a jumpout two weeks ago, but he’s the half brother to Black Caviar! By Casino Prince, I reckon he’ll be a better three year old but keep an eye on him today. STRIVE TO EXCEL is a Redoute’s Choice first starter from the Peter Moody stable, so he must go in, while FORGET was well supported in the Breeders Plate, is well bred (by Exceed and Excel out of Mnemosyne) and obviously has some talent.

2 – LIBERTY ROCK
6 – ALL TOO HARD
8 – STRIVE TO EXCEL
7 – FORGET

Race 2 – Gurner’s Lane Handicap (2000m)

Okay, I may have read this race entirely wrong. I have to give that disclaimer out first and foremost. I came up with my top 4, looked at the odds and was completely gobsmacked. With the TAB, for instance, every horse is shorter than $13. Every horse, that is, except for SADDLER’S STORY. And who did I have on top? Yep, you guessed it – Saddler’s Story. His two runs this prep have been ordinary on face value but they are what you would expect from the stayer. He trialled three days after his last run, and there was nothing special about the trial. What is special, though, is the fact that his trainer Robert Smerdon has a habit of trialling horses midway through a prep. I don’t know what it is, but his horses seem to improve after the trial. Two examples that come to mind are Stoneblack and Light Vision. So with that in mind, I’m going to be having something on for sure at the $61 on offer. For second, I’ve gone for SIDECAR who seems to have a bit of scope. Third, I’ll go with CONSTANT FORCE who has been very good in much weaker company his last two, while PERSIAN STAR is included on class. Go Saddler’s Story!!

1 – SADDLER’S STORY
5 – SIDECAR
7 – CONSTANT FORCE
2 – PERSIAN STAR

Race 3 – Festival of Racing Handicap (1720m)

The third is a tough race today, with many horses. It seems the perfect conditions for a boilover, but I’m not going that way. I had Fawkner on top, but his scratching this morning has thrown me. So by default I have CHASSE is on top. He is racing in good heart this campaign, and now he’s got another win on the board I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go on with it. I’m expecting a better run from LONDON STRIPE today, he should have acclimatised by now and I like his English form. TOKEN OF HONOUR always seems to find two or three better than him but if he runs up to his form from a couple of starts back he can figure, while the bolter could be TEARS I CRY. His recent runs haven’t been overly good but looks suited over the track and distance and doesn’t need to be his Emirates Stakes-winning self to figure in this race.

11 – CHASSE
17 – LONDON STRIPE
16 – TOKEN OF HONOUR
5 – TEARS I CRY

Race 4 – Group 3 The Vanity (1410m)

This looks like a MOSHEEN benefit, surely? I mean, on exposed form, how can she be beaten? She looks to just win. ANGEL OF MERCY has a nice turn of foot, although she was disappointing last start. For mine, she’s the quinella horse. CALINE and GREAT DAME look to have scope, but they are competing for second behind Mosheen. Short and sweet.

1 – MOSHEEN
4 – ANGEL OF MERCY
5 – CALINE
3 – GREAT DAME

Race 5 – Group 3 C S Hayes Stakes (1410m)

This one also looks like a benefit, this time for Caulfield Guineas winner HELMET. If he runs up to his spring form, he should just win this. If one could knock him off, it could be SABRAGE. Don’t forget he won on debut, while first up last time he had all sorts of excuses. He’s a very nice horse. THAT’S THE ONE was set to start favourite in a similar race in the spring but he was scratched at the barrier, so you’d think he could be competitive, while DECIRCLES is backing up after running fifth in the Rubiton. Still, it does look like another walk in the park for the odds on favourite.

1 – HELMET
3 – SABRAGE
6 – THAT’S THE ONE
5 – DECIRCLES

Race 6 – Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes (1000m)

See my Lightning Stakes preview here.

Race 7 – TAB Sportsbet (1410m)

Overall, this is the most fascinating race of the day for mine. The interest lies with all the resuming stayers, in particlar Fiumicino. His last run was in the 2009 Melbourne Cup!!! Incredible. I don’t think you’ll be seeing him in the finish today, but it will still be good to see him back. I do think a resuming stayer can win it though – I’d love to see TANBY come home the winner. I was very keen on his stablemate NIBLICK, but he is scratched so I’ll go with Tanby. He is building a good record and Flemington will suit. Hopefully he can start a big campaign with a first up victory. SPEEDINESS and PAGO ROCK are the two that look to be suited at the 1400m. I prefer Speediness as a horse, hence why I have him in front of Pago Rock. For fourth, I’m going with a horse I have a lot of time for, RIGHT OF REFUSAL. He’s going to be much better over further but I remember him running huge first up in the spring and so I reckon he could be one to watch out for at big odds today.

3 – TANBY
10 – SPEEDINESS
13 – PAGO ROCK
14 – RIGHT OF REFUSAL

Race 8 – Heron Bridge Handicap (1200m)

A tough sprint to end the day. SKYTRAIN flies first up and so I had to have him on top. Remember, he beat Winter King and Neeson first up last preparation. That should be good enough for this. I don’t think we saw the best of SPIRITED EAGLE in the spring, if the real Spirited Eagle turns up he’ll have a chance. ROCK CLASSIC is still dusting off the cobwebs after a prolonged absence but the Australian Guineas winner is a class act. Despite the big weight, he could easily come into the finish, while BIGELOW looks to be next best. Hopefully Darley can end the day positively!

3 – SKYTRAIN
9 – SPIRITED EAGLE
1 – ROCK CLASSIC
8 – BIGELOW

WARWICK FARM

Race 1 – Co-Wyn Building Group Handicap (2400m)

Not a great staying race, but at least we have a staying race on the card. The horse with the best form in the race is the Victorian visitor SEAN BAILE MOR. Remember some of her epic runs from the spring, where she rocketed home. This race is perfect for her. After that, the Chris Waller runners look hard to separate. MANGAROA FLYER was good last start, TELESMON goes well at 2400m while TROPICANA GIRL is the most talented of the three but she is a query at 2400m. But we’ll go with the Victorian here.

4 – SEAN BAILE MOR
5 – MANGAROA FLYER
6 – TELESMON
3 – TROPICANA GIRL

Race 2 – Listed Tom Cassar Widden Stakes (1100m)

Small field lines up here and it does look to be between the Magic Millions Classic winner Driefontein and the Gimcrack Stakes winner Hussousa. I’m going to go with DRIEFONTEIN purely because I think she’ll be fitter than HUSSOUSA, who is heading towards the Golden Slipper. It could go either way though. For third, go with AGUEDA who wasn’t bad behind Raceway two starts back, while the first starter INCRIMINATION provides interest.

1 – DRIEFONTEIN
2 – HUSSOUSA
3 – AGUEDA
7 – INCRIMINATION

Race 3 – Listed Sharp Canonbury Stakes (1100m)

A race which is full of intrigue with plenty of first starters. They’d have to be awfully good to win though, and I don’t think they will. The market has it right here. RACEWAY is probably the best two year old we’ve seen this season, based on his debut run, and if he runs up to this he should win convincingly. Apart from him, it looks like the unraced brigade will fill the remaining places. I’m interested in NEDIYM’S QUEST, a speedy General Nediym colt who has trialled well into this, while I believe SHELFORD (a well bred son of Redoute’s Choice) should demonstrate promise. For fourth, I’ve gone with NARCISSUS, who is out of the former top juvenile Hasna.

1 – RACEWAY
5 – NEDIYM’S QUEST
7 – SHELFORD
4 – NARCISSUS

Race 4 – Comfort Inn Hunts Liverpool Handicap (1600m)

Tough 1600m race here, and there are many ways of looking at it. My first instinct is to look outside the favourite, and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve ended up going with MARDEN, who’s at big odds. He was very much up and down last preparation, but I remember hearing that the Waller camp had a massive opinion of the horse. I reckon he’ll be more acclimatised this preparation. Good chance. Also in with a good chance is SHARP PRINCESS. She has a lot of weight but with the claim it becomes slightly less burdensome. She may even be looking for further now but don’t be surprised to see a big run today. The other two I don’t mind are SKATEBOARD and KINNERSLEY. Happy to steer clear of the favourite.

10 – MARDEN
1 – SHARP PRINCESS
4 – SKATEBOARD
8 – KINNERSLEY

Race 5 – Group 2 NSW Thoroughbred Breeders Classic (1200m)

A very nice race for the mares here. It is hard to look outside of BEADED. The Group 1 winner is well weighted when compared to the rest of the field, and first up last time in she ran third in the Newmarket to Black Caviar. Should be too good here. RED TRACER is another classy mare who, when compared with the rest of the field, looks thrown in. She beat Secret Admirer first up last preparation and will win if something is wrong with Beaded. I doubt we’re yet to see the best of STEPS IN TIME, while I’d be keeping FOXSTAR very safe at odds.

1 – BEADED
3 – RED TRACER
9 – STEPS IN TIME
11 – FOXSTAR

Race 6 – Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m)

Always a nice race, I think we may have a vintage edition here – incredible considering we don’t have the likes of Sepoy, Helmet, Smart Missile and Foxwedge lining up. No matter the promise of his opposition, I think that MANAWANUI has the class and can win. I spoke with Tommy Berry, Manawanui’s jockey, earlier this week and he was oozing confidence. Good enough for me! MOMENT OF CHANGE showed plenty at his first two starts in Melbourne, and he was then spelled with the autumn in mind. Has trialled well for this and the Moody camp is flying. REKINDLED ALLIANCE, the half to Rekindled Interest, had a massive first preparation. He’ll be better this campaign and I remember the wraps from Corey Brown after his first start. Don’t be surprised to see him in the finish. Next best is the Perth galloper KING SAUL.

1 – MANAWANUI
12 – MOMENT OF CHANGE
11 – REKINDLED ALLIANCE
3 – KING SAUL

Race 7 – Group 2 Patinack Farm Light Fingers Stakes (1200m)

If you thought the previous race was tough, this is insane. There are a number of fillies capable of winning this, and you could back eight or nine horses and still miss the winner. For me, I’m really looking forward to the return of ALTAR. She emerged with a win in the Magic Night Stakes before a fifth in the Golden Slipper. She hasn’t been seen since. Where I think she’ll be advantaged, as opposed to the likes of Streama and Pane in the Glass, is that she looks like she’ll be a sprinting filly. Of course, now I’ve said that she’ll probably come out and win the Oaks! But I reckon she is more than capable of winning here. I have no doubt STREAMA is the best filly in the race, and I think she’ll take great improvement from this. Don’t be surprised if she wins another Group 1 before the end of the autumn – perhaps even the Doncaster! KARUTA QUEEN had the debacle last week with Here De Angels and she has to back up quickly in another state! She’ll lead for home, it’s just a matter of how long she can hold them off. For fourth, go with PANE IN THE GLASS, who’s talented but has drawn horribly! Tough race.

6 – ALTAR
3 – STREAMA
1 – KARUTA QUEEN
2 – PANE IN THE GLASS

Race 8 – Fernwood Liverpool Handicap (1300m)

Another open race to end the day. I’ve changed these selections around numerous times before arriving at my final conclusion. The likelihood of a wet track come the last racewill suit HOOD, and he flies over sprint trips fresh. I remember once thinking he would be a stayer, but it is as a good fresh horse that he’s found his niche. He’ll go close. The country horse IZABABE was massive here first up last preparation running fourth in the Show County Quality. Definitely not as strong a field today and could surprise. STRATFORD deserves favouritism but I’m worried about the fact he seemed to taper off in form last preparation, while BRAYROAN will be competitive if he bounces back to his best.

8 – HOOD
2 – IZABABE
6 – STRATFORD
10 – BRAYROAN

Good luck with your investments today!

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