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24/03/2012 – Coolmore Classic Day Preview

March 24, 2012

If Coolmore Classic Day is any indication of the strength of Golden Slipper Day in two weeks time, then bring on Slipper Day!

Today is an outstanding card, so much so that it is the feature, the Coolmore Classic, which ranks as the fifth or sixth best race on the card.

The Ranvet Stakes is an absolute beauty, the Canterbury Stakes will be so revealing and the Golden Slipper trials look top notch.

I think the autumn will look much clearer after today’s racing.

I have looked at today’s races in Sydney and come up with the following previews:

Race 1 – Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m)

A typically tough Todman Stakes. It’s a culmination of formlines – the Silver Slipper (Pierro), the Canonbury Stakes (Shelford), the Black Opal Stakes (Epaulette and Faustus – and to a lesser extent Trophies and Red Excitement) and the Magic Millions Classic (Amorino). Personally, while I’m a fan of both Epaulette and Faustus – I think they’ll make great three year olds – I’m not sure how the form stacks up out of the Black Opal Stakes. The time wasn’t flash, the sectionals overall were pretty poor and the track gave backmarkers no hope. So I’m going to be wary there. I think the Silver Slipper is the strongest form, and PIERRO looked like he’d appreciate further, so he looks the logical one. But I’ll be keen to see AMORINO here. Was a very impressive winner here on New Year’s Eve, when he stuck on off a quick pace, while he was only three lengths from them in the Magic Millions. No Looking Back was first past the post there and then ran second in the Blue Diamond Stakes, while Driefontein (winner on protest) has won the Widden Stakes since so the form’s been franked somewhat. Amorino’s trialled brilliantly too. I think these are the two, and at the value, I’m going to put Amorino on top narrowly from Pierro. The query is where SHELFORD fits into the equation. He was good behind Raceway on debut in the Canonbury, although the Raceway hype has abated now. He looks to have a future, it just may be too soon for him behind these other horses who are into their second preparation already. I’m going to put FAUSTUS in for fourth with the blinkers on, while Epaulette is the next best. But it is definitely a tough race to figure out.

4 – AMORINO
2 – PIERRO
6 – SHELFORD
3 – FAUSTUS

Race 2 – The APN Spirit of Outdoor Handicap (1200m)

I hate it when every other race on the card is a black type event, and then we have to do the form for a Benchmark 80. Those good horses cloud the vision when it comes to other races! This would be a perfect race for Kembla Sunday, as it is actually pretty competitive. STARTREUSSE had a massive boom on him last preparation, but his failure to settle cost him dearly. He returns two stone lighter here, and for his rating, he simply has the strongest form in the race. Not many horses in this race could boast a 1.5L 4th to a Group 1 winner at set weights last preparation – he finished fourth to Friday night’s William Reid Stakes winner Foxwedge. I don’t think the hype was misplaced – in his first preparation, he defeated Fontelina and Strike The Stars, both black type winners. So I think he’s the one here from barrier 2. PAMPELONNE is another promising horse. Finished in front of Randwick Guineas placegetter Said Com last preparation and definitely looks a three year old of quality. Has been scratched a few times in recent weeks so I think Tim Martin will be eager to start him here. I doubt there’ll be a question over his fitness. The quinella material. CHOICE WORDS was still a maiden last preparation but managed to run second at Listed level. She’s been good in two victories this preparation and deserves her shot here, while LIECHTENSTEIN always tends to be around the mark fresh. Competitive race.

11 – STARTREUSSE
14 – PAMPELONNE
12 – CHOICE WORDS
8 – LIECHTENSTEIN

Race 3 – Group 2 Reisling Stakes (1200m)

Another very good two year old race, arguably a stronger trial than that for the males. I have a big opinion of SNITZERLAND, I have been on her bandwagon prior to her making her debut. I remember last year thinking Sepoy could not be beaten in the Todman, but lo and behold Smart Missile comes out and wins. You have to remember Mick Price will want to retain a bit of freshness in Samaready ahead of the Golden Slipper and this is not her grand final. Granted, it is not Snitzerland’s grand final either, but I think Snitzerland could be the fly in the ointment. The style of her two wins this preparation has been very nice. She races on the pace, which makes me question whether she’s a Golden Slipper filly. But I think she’ll be suited here. I’ll be on. SAMAREADY picks herself and if I can’t have her first, I have to have her second. It would be a big shock if she didn’t finish in the top two. Even if she is beaten, she should cement her spot at the top of the market here. HUSSOUSA was good in the Silver Slipper and she’s probably nearing her peak, which means she should be around the mark here, while the blueblood THE BROKEN SHORE is untapped and could get into the money at odds. I think the Golden Slipper favourite will come from this race.

2 – SNITZERLAND
1 – SAMAREADY
3 – HUSSOUSA
6 – THE BROKEN SHORE

Race 4 – Listed Sky High Stakes (1900m)

I was going to go against the favourite here purely because I thought there was some good value elsewhere, but in the end I can’t tip against SINGLE. He looks to have everything in his favour here. The form’s definitely stood up out of his last race, with Maules Creek second and Permit third – they were very good last week. He should get a nice run and prove too good. FIUMICINO, third up from a two and a half year break last week, ran bravely I thought. The cobwebs should be almost gone and if he repeats that run he can run a nice race here. I was so keen on BRAYROAN last time out that I was disappointed with his run, even though there was merit in the run. He steps up in class but if the track plays fair he’ll be steaming home. And I think BEIJING BOY may be ready to improve, don’t be surprised to see a better run here on the back up.

6 – SINGLE
1 – FIUMICINO
9 – BRAYROAN
4 – BEIJING BOY

Race 5 – Group 2 Canterbury Stakes (1300m)

This race oozes class. This race is a bit hit and miss some years, it is definitely a hit this year!!! Wow. If this is an indication of how strong races like the George Ryder Stakes and the Doncaster Mile will be, this will be an autumn carnival to remember! All the indications are that MORE JOYOUS has come back strongly. She never looked like the true More Joyous in the spring, I think it has something to do with the fact she was rushed back after her injury in the Doncaster last year. She’s had a long break this time, and her trackwork indicates she’s back to her best. Her stats are quite strong, she’s only missed a place twice at Rosehill – and once was in the Silver Slipper when she buckjumped! I think she’s definitely the one to beat. If there’s a chink in her armour, LOVE CONQUERS ALL could be there ready to take advantage. Ironically, he was the one who was most inconvenienced when More Joyous put on that infamous rodeo exhibition. He is a bit of a non-winner in recent times, with only two wins in the last 18 months. But his best displays tend to come when fresh. He finished second to More Joyous last year in this race and I expect the same thing to happen here. FORETELLER is one of the better imports, he’s flourished here and I think he can go to a new level this preparation. He goes well fresh and he’s shown a liking for Rosehill, so don’t be surprised to see him get into the money. Another one at huge odds who could go well is TORIO’S QUEST, who has snuck under the radar a bit here. At his best he’d be right in this race. The race definitely doesn’t end there with Sincero, Monton, Centennial Park, Albert The Fat, Ilovethiscity, Somepin Anypin and even Happy Zero looking possible chances. But I’m happy to stick with the four I’ve mentioned as my top four.

14 – MORE JOYOUS
4 – LOVE CONQUERS ALL
9 – FORETELLER
13 – TORIO’S QUEST

Race 6 – Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m)

What a great Group 1! This is my idea of a great contest. Plenty of winning chances, all should get a reasonable chance, plenty with winning form, it’s great to see an edition of this race which sparks memories of the halcyon days for the Ranvet (once the Rawson) Stakes. I just wish I’d had time to write a full preview. Weirdly, I kept coming back to one horse. I thought I was crazy, but after discussions last night I’ve decided to put him on top. Stand up NIWOT. This horse, who I backed in the Warrnambool Cup last year, has been outstanding his two runs this preparation so far. That’s a good sign considering he hasn’t got much fresh form. His Rosehill record is top notch, he’s yet to miss the top two at the track, while his record at 2000m is not too shabby. Weight for age is a big query, obviously, but I thought he was good at weight for age last start. I may be crazy, but I think he could be the bolter. He’s my best roughie all day. It has been so good to see SHOOT OUT get back to form this preparation, I think he’s right back where he was in the spring of 2010. If he is at his peak, then he’ll be going close here. The Chipping Norton Stakes suggests he will be close up. Call me crazy, but I’m prepared to give ILLO another chance here. I was potting him last start with the blinkers on, but the blinkers come off which makes me feel comfortable. Could race near the speed and prove hard to run down. And while I’d prefer to see him at 2400m now, MANIGHAR has been reinvigorated under Peter Moody and must be considered a chance. Next best the two mares, Scarlett Lady and Southern Speed, while I was considering throwing in Rangirangdoo and Wall Street. Seriously, though, almost anything could win the race. Just hope it’s Niwot!

10 – NIWOT
2 – SHOOT OUT
8 – ILLO
4 – MANIGHAR

Race 7 – Group 1 Coolmore classic (1500m)

Click here to read my Coolmore Classic preview.

Race 8 – Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m)

This race is always an enigma on the card. While in theory it should be redundant given the Randwick Guineas is now run the week before, it still manages to find a good horse. Take 2009, when Heart of Dreams defeated Whobegotyou and Predatory Pricer! In recent years, other winners have included Tickets and Apache Cat. So it still has a place on the calendar, although I can imagine this will continue to be assessed. Maybe the Randwick Guineas will one day take the Phar Lap Stakes name? For surely our most revered galloper deserves a Group 1 named after him! To today’s race, I’m very keen on REKINDLED ALLIANCE. I thought he’d go well last week and I believe the patience from connections will pay off. 1500m should suit perfectly, and if there’s a hint of pace he’ll be charging home. Good chance. I’ve never really warmed to THAT’S THE ONE as a horse but a horse with his form is a big chance in this race. Will race handy which could help. The Sydney direction may be the only query. WILD AND PROUD is favourite from his Hobartville Stakes win on protest, but I still think he was just the fittest horse on the day. Note that none of the trifecta from the Randwick Guineas came from the Hobartville Stakes. I do think I’d prefer to be on a horse who would have improved from the race, like Rekindled Alliance, as opposed to Wild and Proud. And if FREE WHEELING returns to his best, I think he’ll be in the finish. He’s due for improvement.

9 – REKINDLED ALLIANCE
2 – THAT’S THE ONE
3 – WILD AND PROUD
7 – FREE WHEELING

Race 9 – Listed Bacardi Together Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m)

WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! That’s my reaction to the amount of speed in the race. Zaratone leads, Karuta Queen leads, La Remlap can lead, Hurrara goes forward, Tahitian Black goes forward, News Alert can go forward – it’s a lot of speed. One word of warning – I remember a day when it looked like there would be a heap of speed on paper. I backed every backmarker I could. Of course, it didn’t pan out that way and Zaratone led all the way. So I’m a bit wary of that happening again. I do like PANIPIQUE though. She’s been good to me, this mare, and the strong speed should suit her. I think she’d be a backmarker making ground even without a strong tempo, which is definitely a factor in why I like her here. RIVA DE LAGO and PARABLES both get back and both have been backed strongly. They’ll be in the finish if the pace is on. If the pace isn’t as strong as expected, then expect a big run from ZARATONE who has a liking for this track.

5 – PANIPIQUE
11 – RIVA DE LAGO
3 – PARABLES
6 – ZARATONE

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