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14/04/2012 – Australian Derby Day Preview

April 14, 2012

I’m currently at Dublin Airport, about to fly over to the mother country for tomorrow’s Grand National at Aintree.

It is an incredible race, really the only National Hunt race I follow closely all year, and I can’t wait to see that incredible test of stamina.

I have almost had to throw darts to find a winner in that race – but I think I’ve found a couple to back at odds.

But before that happens, we have to pick winners on today’s Randwick card – featuring the 151st running of the Australian Derby.

It may not have the quality of last weekend but there are still some great races on the cards, and there should be a couple of spectacles – All Too Hard and Atlantic Jewel spring to mind.

Here are my thoughts on today’s racecard:

Race 1 – Group 3 Kindergarten Stakes (1100m)

Tough little race despite only six runners. ICHIHARA looks to have it clearly on what we’ve seen. She’s a winner of the Magic Night Stakes and Cavalry Rose didn’t disgrace the form last Saturday. DANCES ON STARS is back for his second preparation, he was heavily spruiked before his debut and looks the main danger. AGUEDA has form around horses like Raceway and Driefontein while the Wellington Boot winner GOLD BENDER probably wants further but has her chance to grab black type here.

3 – ICHIHARA
1 – DANCES WITH STARS
4 – AGUEDA
5 – GOLD BENDER

Race 2 – Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m)

These very much look the second tier three year olds, with the exception of two of them. GALAH gave his supporters a fright in the Victorian edition of this race – he only just scrambled home over Highly Recommended. Should go well here back in trip. FAT AL obviously had something go wrong as they were targeting the Australian Derby with him at one stage. Guessing he now heads to Queensland. Has potential but think he’s short enough. BRAMBLES looks a nice three year old in the making and comes out of what will I think will be the best provincial Benchmark 70 race possible, while DEVONSHIRE DUKE also has promise.

1 – GALAH
3 – FAT AL
4 – BRAMBLES
9 – DEVONSHIRE DUKE

Race 3 – Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m)

What a deplorable Group race. I’m not sure I’ve seen many worse than this. Therefore, no big preview. Expect Roger James to kick off a big day with FULL OF SPIRIT. Behind her, it’s a lottery. SECRET LIAISON comes out of better races so she goes second. TAVARNELLE’s by Zabeel and will want 2000m so she goes third, while SCRAM’s a lightly raced filly who could improve. But a despicable race. You won’t catch me betting here. If only Virgin Islands was fit…

2 – FULL OF SPIRIT
1 – SECRET LIAISON
3 – TAVARNELLE
10 – SCRAM

Race 4 – Group 1 T J Smith Stakes (1200m)

It’s only twelve months ago that we were witnessing one of the best runnings of this race. Black Caviar came from five lengths off Hay List to mow him down. That was an incredible moment trackside, especially when we thought – just for a split second – that Black Caviar looked vulnerable. Unfortunately, there’s nothing quite as exciting here. FOXWEDGE has been improving with every run this prep, and he was extremely good beating Hay List at Moonee Valley last start. Only needs even luck to figure here. He’ll be in the finish as long as RAIN AFFAIR doesn’t get an easy lead. It’s a possibility he will, particularly in this small field. He’s hoping he doesn’t. Rain Affair just keeps going round, keeps giving his all, he’s a sprinting warhorse. I think Foxwedge has more class but we’ll see here. MASTER OF DESIGN was very good last weekend but should be found out by the top two, while HALLOWELL BELLE now does look a sprinter. Can’t see her winning but she could place.

4 – FOXWEDGE
1 – RAIN AFFAIR
3 – MASTER OF DESIGN
6 – HALLOWELL BELLE

Race 5 – Group 1 ATC Sires Produce Stakes (1400m)

ALL TOO HARD. PIERRO. RACEWAY. ASHOKAN. Thanks for coming! Seriously though, he looks like he could be a star – and with that breeding, that makes him an incredibly valuable racehorse. It’s always good to see a Slipper winner attempt the Triple Crown but on this instance, I hope the Slipper winner is beaten. Cheering home Black Caviar’s half brother instead!

2 – ALL TOO HARD
1 – PIERRO
3 – RACEWAY
5 – ASHOKAN

Race 6 – Group 2 Sapphire Stakes (1200m)

She’s back!!! The unbeaten winner of the Thousand Guineas and the Wakeful Stakes, ATLANTIC JEWEL, makes her return here. There are plenty of reasons why she can’t win – she’s first up from a five month break, she’s coming back from a pretty severe injury and she is racing over a distance short of her best. She’s also weighted to her best too. But it’s irresistable – you can’t help but falling in love with this mare as she flogs her rivals. They weren’t poor horses either – she beat Mosheen by three and a half lengths in the Thousand Guineas, and look what she’s done this spring! I hope she wins. BORN TO ROCK came from nowhere last winter to run third in the Tatt’s Tiara. This requires a big step up after her failures in the spring but I do think she has the potential. I’m expecting a big run. GRACEFUL ANNA was good first up, in that she looked to return to her honest self. Think she can run just as well here, which puts her close. I think CELTS, from that race, is also a chance here. But cheer home Coolmore’s Fastnet Rock filly!

2 – ATLANTIC JEWEL
9 – BORN TO ROCK
6 – GRACEFUL ANNA
5 – CELTS

Race 7 – Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m)

Click here to read my preview of the Australian Derby.

Race 8 – Group 2 Chairman’s Quality (2600m)

A top Sydney Cup trial here. If the ghostly grey makes it to the start here, I’m on and I think he can win. Of course, I’m talking about the Melbourne Cup winner of five years ago, EFFICIENT. Can you believe this is his first time up beyond 2040m since then? And he’s two from two beyond 2040m – winning the Victoria Derby in 2006 and the Melbourne Cup in 2007. The weight’s a big ask but he’s racing in good heart and I think this could be his race. Go boy! It’s hard to overlook ONCE WERE WILD here though. She seems to love Randwick and if she gets her own way in front she’ll be hard to beat. PERMIT is the fresh horse on the scene, the up and comer, while OLDER THAN TIME is going well enough to figure. Good race.

1 – EFFICIENT
3 – ONCE WERE WILD
5 – PERMIT
4 – OLDER THAN TIME

Race 9 – Group 3 Doncaster Prelude (1600m)

I doubt you’ll see your Doncaster winner here, but you never know. Remember – My Kingdom of Fife won this race at 150-1 last year! I’m not expecting quite the blowout this year. I found myself coming back to an unexpected galloper – ALMA’S FURY. I’ve never been a huge fan but he’s the one right down in the weights going well enough to win this. ILLO is coming off far better races and while he is extremely quirky, he has to rate as a chance here. FORETELLER probably has too much weight but I do like the horse so I’m including him, while I am keeping faith with IRONSTEIN. He has shown alright form over through shorter trips, even though he was poor fresh.

14 – ALMA’S FURY
3 – ILLO
1 – FORETELLER
5 – IRONSTEIN

Good luck with all your investments today, and may you back a winner!

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