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The Hawk’s Preview: Underwood Stakes Day

September 22, 2012

The spring carnival really starts to shine today with Group 1 racing in both Sydney and Melbourne. It’s a top card at Randwick, while the last four races at Caulfield are a punter’s nightmare (or a punter’s dream, depending on their luck).

I’ve looked at the entire Randwick card today, while I’ve done the last four races at Caulfield – although I’ve given my selections for the mammoth nine-race card.

Good luck today!

RANDWICK

Race 1 – GROUP 3 GLOAMING STAKES (1800m)

A small but good field tackles the Gloaming, a race that has always been a favourite of mine – probably because I’ve had bets on three of the last four winners heading further into the carnival. In 2008, I’d backed Predatory Pricer for the Spring Champion Stakes, and he won accordingly. In 2009, I’d backed So You Think for the Cox Plate, and he won on the road to that famous success. And last year, I’d backed Strike The Stars for the Spring Champion, with his price slashed following a good win in the Gloaming. Never mind the fact that two of those bets didn’t salute – the Gloaming still gave me confidence. I’ve backed three horses for the Spring Champion Stakes this year, and all three run here. However, I do believe IT’S A DUNDEEL is a horse of immense promise. He’s won three from three now, although he only just fell in at Canterbury. By High Chaparral out of a Zabeel mare, he’s bred to stay all day and this may be too short now. But the bigger track should suit and I think he can assert his Spring Champion Stakes claims here. LUNAR RISE has emerged as a potential stayer at his last two starts, following three okay performances. His last start, especially, was visually impressive, albeit only in a Class 1. I think he can step up but I have more confidence in It’s A Dundeel. KING OF OLYMPIA may get a soft lead here, and the Gai Waterhouse stable is on fire, so one must be very wary. And NINTH LEGION backs up after a good fourth in the Golden Rose last week. It’s becoming a habit though – he’ll run on without winning – so he needs to rectify that soon. Wouldn’t surprise to see him do that here today.

3 – IT’S A DUNDEEL
5 – LUNAR RISE
7 – KING OF OLYMPIA
1 – NINTH LEGION

Race 2 – LISTED HERITAGE STAKES (1100m)

RACEWAY was a great two year old, winning his first two starts before a slightly disappointing second behind Golden Rose placegetter Ashokan in the Skyline Stakes. Then finished fifth in the Golden Slipper, a gutsy effort, before below par runs in the ATC Sires Produce Stakes and the Champagne Stakes. This preparation he’s being kept to sprinting distances, so I expect to see him quite fit here. His trials were good without being outstanding, but I still think he may prove too good. DESTRUCTION is an unbeaten Patinack colt who has quite big wraps on him. I saw him at the trials and he looks a mongrel of a colt. Meets his toughest field to date here, and his trials weren’t all that flash. I don’t think he can beat Raceway but he’s one to watch for the future. AGUEDA has been very good in two runs this preparation, both in Melbourne. Her effort behind Elite Elle was outstanding, while she was good behind Members Joy. Back to Sydney should suit her, and she comes in with fitness behind her. Good chance. And I’m sure RELAXED AND HAPPY will be off to Asia after this preparation, but his last two wins have been very good and he only needs to run to his last start rating to be in the finish.

1 – RACEWAY
2 – DESTRUCTION
6 – AGUEDA
4 – RELAXED AND HAPPY

Race 3 – CELLARBRATIONS HANDICAP (1600m)

Probably one of the best benchmark 85 races you will ever see. I don’t know how long it has been since a horse the calibre of JACQUINOT BAY has emerged from Goulburn. He lost his unbeaten tag last start when second to Strawberry Boy, but it was an enormous effort. He was almost knocked down on the turn, and yet he still kept coming. Today is another step up in class, but I think he’s capable. Big watch. STUDIO is another Waller import – he has an incredible strike rate with these horses. He was very heavily backed first up, and he emerged a four length winner. This is quite a step up, but he drops a fair bit in weight and he should handle the class rise. He looks the main danger to Jacquinot Bay. HIGH ON BELIEVING was a good winner last week. He’s been very consistent this campaign and is likely to be somewhere in the finish. And at big odds, WORLD WIDE is capable of a good run in this company.

11 – JACQUINOT BAY
8 – STUDIO
7 – HIGH ON BELIEVING
2 – WORLD WIDE

Race 4 – GROUP 2 TEA ROSE STAKES (1500m)

When you look at the winners of this race over the last decade – Streama, More Joyous, Samantha Miss, Cheeky Choice, Mnemosyne, Shamekha, Victory Vein – it quickly becomes apparent that this race is a stepping stone to greater things. And so it appears this year, with a number of these fillies on the brink of becoming a star galloper. Who will emerge victorious this year? Bart Cummings has not had the firepower in recent times that we’ve come to expect from the stable – ever since So You Think was taken from him, he’s had a bit of a quiet period. However, he’s slowly rebuilt (as he has so many times in the past) and he looks to have a very nice filly in NORZITA. She’s still in her first preparation, which is a scary thought. She charged home on debut at Gosford before recording a very good win at Rosehill. This saw her start odds on at Warwick Farm, when she was the victim of a poor ride. Last start she was almost two and a half lengths behind Proisir, but this is the same Proisir that won the Spring Stakes by almost six lengths on Wednesday. She comes through a different formline to the other fillies and I think she can win here. The obvious danger is the Furious Stakes winner DEAR DEMI. She’s quite underrated, this filly, but she’s finally starting to hit her straps and all the indications are she’ll improve as she gets over further. Should get a good run today and she’s a big chance. JADE MARAUDER is a filly who gets back in her races. She always hits the line strongly, but it’s always too late. Up to 1500m on the bigger track should suit her, and perhaps today might be the day she fires. And MEIDUNG was good in the Furious Stakes, but she has the habit of finding one better than her.

6 – NORZITA
1 – DEAR DEMI
3 – JADE MARAUDER
9 – VAQUERA

Race 5 – GROUP 3 BILL RITCHIE HANDICAP (1400m)

The Bill Ritchie is always a funny race – horses from the race don’t tend to run well in the Epsom Handicap, even though it is an obvious lead up event. I initially had Torio’s Quest on top, after he trialled well, but he’s had a setback and I’d probably prefer to see him over a shorter distance first up. And so, I’m going mad – I’ve put two Bart Cummings runners on top in two consecutive races – I don’t know the last time I even tipped one of Bart’s! DARE TO DREAM is an import who has won three from four in the UK between 1600m and 2000m, under the name Dare To Dance. He looks to have a bit more speed than your average import, and he’s been sourced by Richard Pegum, who has had great success with imports in Australia (the best probably being My Kingdom of Fife). He’s owned by some of Bart’s most prominent clients – Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan have joined with Dato Tan Chin Nam and Richard Pegum – and he creates much interest.We can dare to dream today, but he may be better over further. TORIO’S QUEST still has to go in, but I’ve given my thoughts on him already. Wish he was over shorter, but he’s trialled well. After looking so promising first up, SAID COM has been a disappointment. Expect to see him running on again, but whether that’s enough remains to be seen. And SPEEDINESS was very good first up behind We’re Gonna Rock in the Bobbie Lewis. Goes alright second up and this shapes as a good race for him.

10 – DARE TO DREAM
3 – TORIO’S QUEST
6 – SAID COM
5 – SPEEDINESS

Race 6 – GROUP 1 GEORGE MAIN STAKES (1600m)

A small field has become the hallmark of the George Main Stakes in recent years, but no one can doubt the quality – won in the last few years by Sincero, More Joyous, Mentality, Racing To Win, Grand Armee, Lonhro, Defier and Viscount. Looking at this year’s field, I think many of the runners would not look out of place among that list. However, I’m convinced the one they have to beat is SHOOT OUT. I like the fact they’ve taken Shoot Out straight to 1600m first up after two trials, one in which he was placed under immense pressure to get him fit. He’s run twice at the track and distance, for a win in the Randwick Guineas and a second in the Doncaster Mile. He’s found a new lease of life under Chris Waller and I expect him to be very hard to beat today. Three year olds are always difficult to overcome in these early season weight for age races with the big weight relief, and I think ALL TOO HARD will relish that today. I don’t think his two runs have been nearly as bad as has been portrayed – both races were sit and sprint style races over a distance which was unsuitable. Up to 1600m today, he needs to show something, but I think we’ll see a marked improvement. Definite chance. Whatever SECRET ADMIRER does today, I think she will be lengths better in the Epsom Handicap (if she heads there) or the Caulfield Stakes. Back to Randwick will suit, but I still have in my mind her run prior to the Epsom last year, where she was a lacklustre fourth to King Lionheart in the Shannon Stakes. Of course, she came out and blew them away in the Epsom a week later. And old RANGIRANGDOO looks to have come back well, he’ll improve on his first up effort but think he may just need one more to get him spot on.

1 – SHOOT OUT
8 – ALL TOO HARD
5 – SECRET ADMIRER
2 – RANGIRANGDOO

Race 7 – GROUP 2 HILL STAKES (2000m)

Always a good pointer to the Cups, this year’s race looks to have a fair amount of depth in it and I’d be surprised if some of these weren’t in Cups contention in a few weeks time. CLASS IS CLASS is another Pegum import, this time with Chris Waller. He was good late in the Tramway Handicap, and has a much better draw today. He’s a bit quirky, but the step up to 2000m should suit and I expect him to emerge as a Caulfield Cup contender after today. Big chance. LAMASERY is flying this preparation, having returned well from a number of issues. The step up to 2000m suits, and he will be spot on for The Metropolitan after this. MOURAYAN has never won at 2000m but he’s placed five of his seven attempts, including a second in last year’s Mackinnon Stakes behind Glass Harmonium. Returned well in the Makybe Diva Stakes. And POLISH KNIGHT won the Tulloch Stakes when he stepped up to 2000m earlier this year. Not sure weight for age suits just yet, but I think he’s going the right way towards the Caulfield Cup.

3 – CLASS IS CLASS
5 – LAMASERY
1 – MOURAYAN
10 – POLISH KNIGHT

Race 8 – GROUP 2 THE SHORTS (1200m)

An extraordinarily tough race to end the day, with a large field of very good sprinters. Much attention centres on the return of Manawanui, but I want to see how he runs today before backing him further into his preparation. I think PAMPELONNE should go close. Has a nice little record for a lightly raced type, and did start well in the market in the Doomben 10000 around good sprinters like Sea Siren and Buffering. If he’s improved, which is likely, I think we might see a very handy sprinter emerge. NOBBY SNIP is another one who may have improved. Took huge steps last preparation, going from a benchmark 75 to running second in a Group 1 (The Galaxy) in two months. The barrier may make it awkward but I’m sure Nash Rawiller will give him a good ride. SPIRIT OF BOOM was a huge run when second to We’re Gonna Rock first up. The Queenslander has drawn the visitor’s gate, but he’s consistent and is sure to give a good sight. And although I think she’s better over 1100m, SATIN SHOES returned well and has drawn a good gate, which could be pivotal. A very tough way to end the day!

6 – PAMPELONNE
5 – NOBBY SNIP
4 – SPIRIT OF BOOM
9 – SATIN SHOES

CAULFIELD

Race 1 – BMW HANDICAP (1400m)

1 – SHOPAHOLIC
2 – LET’S BE HAPPY
9 – TRANQUERA
4 – RED TYPHOON

Race 2 – LE PINE FUNERALS HANDICAP (1700m)

5 – COMMITTED
8 – HVASSTAN
10 – COSTA NOVA
11 – INIGO

Race 3 – KS ENVIRONMENTAL PLATE (1000m)

3 – PLANET VOYAGE
5 – MAURY
9 – LANKAN RUPEE
11 – ROYAL RADA

Race 4 – PIN & WIN FOR STARLIGHT CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION HANDICAP (1100m)

6 – DREAM FACE
1 – CANALI
8 – HOT SPIN
2 – KULGRINDA

Race 5 – DREAM THOROUGHBREDS PLATE (1400m)

5 – DUSTY STAR
13 – MENADOS
9 – VEEWAP
11 – INSTINCTION

Race 6 – GROUP 3 THOUSAND GUINEAS PRELUDE (1400m)

It is almost impossible to sort these fillies out, as there are many different formlines for this. However, most of them will be on a similar route from now on. I came up with three chances in my early analysis – Lady of Harrods, Members Joy and Commanding Jewel. LADY OF HARRODS comes from a different formline to the rest, having beaten the boys when at big odds in the McNeil Stakes. She’s at big odds once again, although not quite so big. I think it is too early to make an assessment on her form, but she has not run a place at her three first up attempts while she is two from two second up. I think she may be a filly who improves with racing, but that will be tested today as this is the first time she gets three runs in to a preparation. I also think it will be an advantage to be on the pace today, which is where she will be. Happy to stick with her at odds. MEMBERS JOY was another who won at big odds last start, defeating a lot of these fillies in the Cap D’Antibes at Flemington. She showed nice acceleration there after floundering on the heavy track the start prior. She’s owned by a Melbourne Racing Club members syndicate, so they would love to see her win today. The draw may make it difficult but I think she’ll be around the mark. COMMANDING JEWEL, the boom filly, is a solid favourite. Her three quarter sister Atlantic Jewel may be on the sidelines, but this filly is carrying the flag for the family. She was good at Moonee Valley, but I don’t know how that form stacks up as opposed to the black type formlines. I think she’s under the odds based on hype so while I think she’s a chance, I’ll be looking elsewhere. For fourth, I’ve thrown in the blueblood DAZZLER – very disappointing at Flemington when last to Members Joy, but back around a bend should suit and she gets up to a more suitable distance. Next best Spitfire Lady.

1 – LADY OF HARRODS
3 – MEMBERS JOY
8 – COMMANDING JEWEL
10 – DAZZLER

Race 7 – GROUP 1 UNDERWOOD STAKES (1800m)

The Underwood Stakes, the first Group 1 of the season in Victoria (although from next season that mantle will be taken by the Memsie Stakes), is always a race of such intrigue. It is the start of the race for the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. This has traditionally been a good race for each way punters, with a number of roughies sneaking into the placings – the likes of Southern Speed (2nd, 2011), Dariana (2nd, 2010), Littorio (3rd, 2008), Rubiscent (1st, 2007), Polar Bear (2nd, 2006) and Molotov (3rd, 2006) have all been greater than 30-1 when they’ve placed in the race. So perhaps it may be worthwhile having sneaky each way bets on a couple of longer priced runners. Every man and his dog is tipping MANIGHAR, but he looks the winner on paper. I’ve made much of his transformation under Moody before, but it really is something to behold – he’s so tenacious these days, attacking the line with gusto. He was unlucky in the Makybe Diva Stakes, he really should have won, and with the run under his belt I think he goes close. The danger in my mind is another Peter Moody-trained import – VOILA ICI. Was very good first up in the Memsie Stakes, he weakened late but that is understandable given he was first up since November last year. In a race that looks devoid of a great deal of pace, he could be the one that gets them off the bit chasing. Good each way proposition at odds. OCEAN PARK was a stunning victor of the Makfi Challenge Stakes in New Zealand first up. He looked bottled up with nowhere to go, but somehow Lisa Allpress darted him along the rails – he showed a very nice turn of foot to win. He’s drawn perfectly, and I expect him to be ridden closer to the speed today. Definite hope. And for fourth, I may be crazy, but I think ILLO could run a place. I agonised over whether to include him at the expense of the likes of Southern Speed and Sincero. But I get the feeling he’ll race a lot handier today then he did in weaker company first up, and he did beat home Southern Speed and Manighar over this course and distance in February. It remains to be seen whether he can do it here, but is worth an each way wager at monster odds.

1 – MANIGHAR
4 – VOILA ICI
13 – OCEAN PARK
11 – ILLO

Race 8 – GROUP 3 NATURALISM STAKES (2000m)

This race is like a mini-Caulfield Cup each year, and this edition is no exception. This race is full of horses trying to gain a run in the Caulfield Cup, with the winner exempt from the ballot for the feature. I was on Kiwi mare ZURELLA first up at very nice odds, and she duly saluted. The step up to 2000m from 1400m is a slight query, but trainer Shaune Ritchie had said all along he would have her fit for 2000m – so much so that he was worried he had her too fit for the 1400m first up. She only needs to repeat that performance to book herself a place in the Caulfield Cup. I must be one of the only SEA GALLEON fans out there, as he always seems to fly under the radar – although he has been backed in from $15 to $8. Glad I got on early! Followed a good run at Moonee Valley (third to EXcluded and Philda) with a very nice fifth at Flemington. He’s going along perfectly for the Cups, if he can get a run! He shapes up as the main danger to Zurella – in my mind, it’s a race between these two and I’ll be backing both. SEVILLE doesn’t need to win this to get a Caulfield Cup berth, as he is safely ensconced in the top 18. He improved substantially in April/May between his first and second runs in Australia, and I think the same thing will happen here. It’s been five weeks since his first up run in the Lawrence Stakes, so I don’t know if something isn’t quite right, but on his European form he’ll be in this for a very long way. And STREETS AWAY is flying this preparation, if he runs up to his prior form he’ll be right in the thick of things. There can be no doubt though the winner of this race will deserve a place in the Caulfield Cup! Tough race.

7 – ZURELLA
13 – SEA GALLEON
1 – SEVILLE
12 – STREETS AWAY

Race 9 – GROUP 3 SPORTINGBET SPRINT SERIES HEAT 2 (1200m)

Good group of mares to end the day here at Caulfield. I will say from the outset – I believe, at her best, Mosheen would win this. However, I was a bit disappointed with her run first up, even under the big weight, and I need to see her return to that form before I contemplate backing her again. The other class mare I’m avoiding is Hurtle Myrtle – her most recent trial was very good, but she generally improves with a run under her belt so I’ll be looking elsewhere today. Now that we’ve got the two class mares out of the way, I’ll be putting another class mare on top – SOFT SAND. She has a devastating turn of foot on her day and she flies fresh. The only concern is how the track plays today – if it is playing leaderish, she may have trouble getting into the race. If that pattern is established, then I reckon it is worth having something on GOSSIP GIRL. I’m not sure where she fits into this field, but at her last run she ran second in a Group 3 at weight for age – the winner was Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes winner Happy Trails, while third was Makybe Diva Stakes winner Southern Speed. That’s a formline and a half to bring into this!!! Granted, things went her way that day. But there’s no reason she couldn’t run to that level again, and if she does, she’ll be hard to beat at odds. TOTAL ATTRACTION comes out of the Let’s Elope Stakes, won by Zurella, and if Zurella goes close in the previous race the form will look good (Oasis Bloom already came out of the Let’s Elope and won last week’s Stocks Stakes). Not sure the step back in distance suits, but she comes in fit which may be an advantage here. And ALBERTON PARK is drawn to get the gun run and she flies fresh.

6 – SOFT SAND
10 – GOSSIP GIRL
12 – TOTAL ATTRACTION
5 – ALBERTON PARK

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