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25/02/2012 – Preview of Caulfield (Blue Diamond/Futurity/Oakleigh), Rosehill (Apollo)

February 25, 2012

The autumn carnival springs into full gear with Caulfield’s biggest race meeting in the autumn.

With three Group 1s to be decided at Caulfield today, it is a vital guide to the rest of the autumn.

In Sydney, the Apollo Stakes is a traditional stepping stone to other features while we see other top horses beginning their campaigns.

Here’s hoping we can do better than last week!

Here are my thoughts on the cards from Caulfield and Rosehill.

CAULFIELD

Race 1 – Premier Signs Handicap (2000m)

I’m not a fan of these mares races. They pretty much take turns at winning, so it can be no more than a futile dartboard exercise. In the end, I’ve decided to go with PLACEMENT, who is as ungenuine as they come but who looks like she deserves a victory. I have her on top of ROCK OF AGES and OUR SERENA, while I have the short priced favourite SPIRIT SONG ranked fourth. Not a race I’m approaching with confidence though.

3 – PLACEMENT
4 – ROCK OF AGES
2 – OUR SERENA
1 – SPIRIT SONG

Race 2 – The Champagne Pommery Plate

Small field, 1200m, it looks the right race for HOT SPIN. He’ll be a good indicator as to the chances of African Pulse in the Oakleigh Plate later in the day. I had him on top of THE NEW BOY, who showed promise as a two year old but failed during his last preparation. He intrigues me. Keep an eye on him. ZABEELIONAIRE may be the best horse in the race but 1200m will be too short and I expect to see an improvement from GRASKOP.

1 – HOT SPIN
3 – THE NEW BOY
2 – ZABEELIONAIRE
8 – GRASKOP

Race 3 – Group 2 BMW Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m)

What a woeful Group 2. Seriously. How is it a Group 2? I expect it to come under scrutiny from the Australian Pattern Committee next time they meet. Anyway, there has to be a winner, so I’m going for HOYLONNY. I simply think he’s better than them, and I have high hopes that at least one good horse will come out of this race! I think it will be the Chris Waller trained galloper. SPECTER has gone off the boil a bit since the early spring, but this is a suitable race. NOW YOU KNOW (So You Think’s half brother!) and DANY THE FOX are my next best. But yeah, it is a shocking race.

3 – HOYLONNY
1 – SPECTER
5 – NOW YOU KNOW
8 – DANY THE FOX

Race 4 – Group 2 Angus Armanasco Stakes (1400m)

Now we are getting into the good stuff!!! I was on SOFT SAND last time out and I have to be on her again, her turn of foot is electric and the step up to 1400m is perfect at this stage of her preparation. I think ANABANDANA can fill the quinella again, and so I have her in for second. SHOPAHOLIC was good last week and gets the chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke in this race, while the Perth filly BLISS STREET goes alright. But I hope to see Soft Sand storming home.

5 – SOFT SAND
1 – ANABANDANA
3 – SHOPAHOLIC
2 – BLISS STREET

Race 5 – Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m)

Click here to read my Futurity Stakes preview.

Race 6 – Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m)

Click here to read my Oakleigh Plate preview.

Race 7 – Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m)

I always find the Blue Diamond Stakes a tough race, as the formlines aren’t quite as exposed as the Golden Slipper and it is hard to judge the merits of each horse. I’ve seen horses that I think will be superstars flop here, and vice versa. Anyway, I’ve watched quite a few replays, and while Samaready deserves favouritism, I’m really keen on MAMA’S CHOICE. It was a big win on debut, and she gets Blue Diamond maestro Dwayne Dunn on board. Hope she remains around double figures. Obviously SAMAREADY must be in the mix on her runs so far, but I do think she’s under the odds for a race like the Blue Diamond. Good luck if you got the $17 in early markets! GENERAL RIPPA was another impressive debutant and the style in which he did it was very nice. He should be suited by the way the race pans out. For fourth, go with NO LOOKING BACK – who I initially had on top but had to relegate due to her terrible barrier draw. Next best are The Travelling Man and Rusambo.

15 – MAMA’S CHOICE
10 – SAMAREADY
1 – GENERAL RIPPA
9 – NO LOOKING BACK

Race 8 – Group 2 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m)

While I think the Oakleigh Plate is probably the best race of the day in Melbourne, the Peter Young Stakes (formerly the St George Stakes) looks to be the most intriguing. In fact, it looks a race of the imports – although the dominant favourite is an Australian-bred! I’m looking away from her though and selecting GLASS HARMONIUM, who I believe is the classiest horse in the race when on song. Forget his last run – he was never going to stay in the Melbourne Cup and running him was a waste of time. Take him on his superb Mackinnon Stakes win three days before. The Caulfield Cup winner was left lingering a long way behind. For the record, I have her second. SOUTHERN SPEED was incredible first up and, despite finishing a distant second to Black Caviar, caught the eye second up. The step to 1800m suits. Easy to understand why she’s favourite. I’m keen on Melbourne Cup placegetter LUCAS CRANACH laster on in the prep, but I think he’ll go alright first up, while MANIGHAR was very good in the Carlyon Cup and will go well if he can put two together!

4 – GLASS HARMONIUM
13 – SOUTHERN SPEED
9 – LUCAS CRANACH
5 – MANIGHAR

Race 9 – Group 3 TBV Mannerism Stakes (1400m)

Competitive mares race to end the day – much better than the opening race! I really like VINTEDGE here, she’ll be better with racing but she’s always underrated for mine. I think she’ll win here. LET’S BE HAPPY has been the revelation of the summer and it would be good to see her continuing to race in good heart. SLOW THE FLOW always seems to be around the mark, while Queensland Oaks winner CRAFTY LADY (oh, sorry, made the same mistake as Alan Thomas – it was Scarlett Lady that won the Oaks) could run a place at massive odds.

1 – VINTEDGE
3 – LET’S BE HAPPY
4 – SLOW THE FLOW
10 – CRAFTY LADY

ROSEHILL

Race 1 – The Juniors 2yo Handicap (1200m)

A tough two year old affair to begin. I’m going to go for the unraced ASHOKAN, because I liked his trials and his breeding. TATRA should improve, DEAR DEMI has been aching for the 1200m and THE BROKEN SHORE is one of the best bred horses around. Tough to split them, so will go with Ashokan.

2 – ASHOKAN
1 – TATRA
9 – DEAR DEMI
10 – THE BROKEN SHORE

Race 2 – Quakers Inn 3yo Handicap (1500m)

Always a good 3yo race, it was won by Rock Classic two years ago before he went on to win the Australian Guineas. It’s been plagued by scratchings, but there are still two very promising horses there. I expect SAID COM to win. He’s a Group 1 horse in the making and I think he’ll confirm his potential by winning here. I know LASER HAWK has a lot of admirers and he’s been well supported. I still think he’ll be better next start though. BIG TIME was a big winner of the Dulcify Quality here in the spring and the step up in trip will suit, while BUSHCRAFT looks the next best.

2 – SAID COM
6 – LASER HAWK
3 – BIG TIME
7 – BUSHCRAFT

Race 3 – Tigers Five Dock Handicap (1100m)

Tough mares race. We haven’t seen POTIONS since last autumn, when she had some good form in the fillies races. I’m intrigued by her return here and think she could be the one to beat here. LA REMLAP is speedy and simply went too hard out in front last start. With a more patient ride, she’ll go close. SHAMUS and MIGHTY OBVIOUS the next two.

7 – POTIONS
3 – LA REMLAP
8 – SHAMUS
4 – MIGHTY OBVIOUS

Race 4 – North Ryde RSL Club Handicap (1800m)

Another tough race to sort out! On promise it is hard not to have SINGLE on top. Should be suited in a larger field too. PRAECIDO has only won the one race, but boy, has he got some good form. Has a lot of weight here but I think a win isn’t too far away. It should come sometime during the autumn. MAULES CREEK should enjoy the trip, while RED EYE SPECIAL surprised in a similar race in the spring. He’s at big odds and should be monitored.

7 – SINGLE
1 – PRAECIDO
10 – MAULES CREEK
4 – RED EYE SPECIAL

Race 5 – Group 3 Southern Cross Stakes (1200m)

Let me introduce this race by saying I love Secret Admirer. I think she’s in the box seat to win the Doncaster-Epsom double. But I think she’s vulnerable here. It is a big ask to carry 59.5kg first up over a distance short of your best, particularly when the track’s firming up and Rosehill’s not the best track for her. So for me, I’m going to be going against her today. I think NO EVIDENCE NEEDED could be the one. She has good stats and gets a significant weight pull off the topweight. I have to put SECRET ADMIRER in for second, even though my gut is saying put her lower. NEESON is a class sprinter, but he’s a bit inconsistent, while LATIN NEWS is becoming a bit of a bridesmaid this preparation! Surely it can’t happen again?

5 – NO EVIDENCE NEEDED
1 – SECRET ADMIRER
2 – NEESON
8 – LATIN NEWS

Race 6 – Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1400m)

Top line up again here! Most of these went around in the Expressway Stakes, where Rain Affair was a big winner. I don’t think he is a lay down misere here though. 1400m first time is a query. He should win, but in case he’s off his game, I’m going with TRUSTING who finally recaptured form last preparation. He trialled a treat too. RAIN AFFAIR has to be in the mix, but I think he could be vulnerable today. SHOOT OUT was good off a fairly long break in the Expressway and the step up in trip will help, while don’t be surprised to see improvement from RANGIRANGDOO. Top race.

3 – TRUSTING
5 – RAIN AFFAIR
2 – SHOOT OUT
1 – RANGIRANGDOO

Race 7 – Group 3 Triscay Stakes (1200m)

Not much between these mares. I’ve put LITTLE SURFER GIRL on top, because she seemed to find some of her best form last preparation and because she loves Rosehill. DYSTOPIA is obviously a talented mare and goes in, while the former Queenslander ALBERTON PARK has had her supporters. If there is one who could cause an upset, it could be LUCHA LIBRE. Didn’t do much in the spring but rose through the ranks very quickly in the autumn. Keep an eye on her.

1 – LITTLE SURFER GIRL
3 – DYSTOPIA
8 – ALBERTON PARK
10 – LUCHA LIBRE

Race 8 – Bar 100 Handicap (1400m)

I looked at this race five times and had no idea which way to go, it was that open. In the end, I decided upon NOTHING LIKE LUCA, who mixes form but is a chance. OLINOOR, FONTELINA and A REAL PRINCE were the other three I came up with, but in the end I think it will be a race which I avoid.

14 – NOTHING LIKE LUCA
10 – OLINOOR
3 – FONTELINA
5 – A REAL PRINCE

Good luck with your investments today!

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