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The Hawk’s Preview: Epsom Handicap/Turnbull Stakes Day

October 6, 2012

There is no better indication that the spring is here than today’s meetings at Flemington and Randwick – they are brilliant!

Unfortunately, I’ve had a bit of a drama overnight – after finishing five runner-by-runner previews for the five Group 1s, plus finishing my comments for each race from both venues, my computer crashed this morning.

I’ve fixed it, but the only thing that I’ve been able to retrieve in entirety is the Spring Champion Stakes preview. Everything else is incomplete.

As I’m heading out to Randwick for Super Saturday, there is simply no time to rewrite them all, which means this week’s preview is a bit lacklustre.

However, I will still provide my tips to you, with comments for each of the Group 1s. Hopefully, next week, the gremlins can be fixed in time for a mammoth day of Group 1 action at Caulfield.

Today is a tough day of racing, as there are many chances in most races. Some horses will be close to peaking in an endeavour to make it into bigger races, other horses will still not quite be there. It’s a day where the best option is to tread warily.

Here are my tips for today’s racing:

RANDWICK

Race 1 – LISTED GIMCRACK STAKES (1000m)

2yo first starters – no tipping

Race 2 – LISTED BREEDERS’ PLATE (1000m)

2yo first starters – no tipping

Race 3 – GROUP 2 ROMAN CONSUL STAKES (1200m)

5 – ICHIHARA
1 – YOUR SONG
2 – DESTRUCTION
7 – JOLIE BAY

Race 4 – GROUP 3 CRAVEN PLATE (2000m)

4 – CLASS IS CLASS
2 – MOURAYAN
10 – DARE TO DREAM
7 – WESTERN SYMBOL

Race 5 – GROUP 1 SPRING CHAMPION STAKES (2000m)

As much as it pains me to say it, I have to put PROISIR on top. Everything points to him recording his first Group 1 win here, setting up a potential tilt at the Cox Plate. His win in the Spring Stakes was outstanding, and despite the query at 2000m I think you’ll find he may prove too speedy. He’s a good horse and looks a weight for age galloper in the coming years. IT’S A DUNDEEL is a very promising horse and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a Melbourne Cup contender this time next year. Pace is a major concern, and it is the sole reason I can’t have him on top. But I love the horse and so hope desperately he proves me wrong! How he is ridden may prove decisive – he was so impressive in coming from last in the Gloaming Stakes, but it remains to be seen how effective he will be if ridden closer. LUNAR RISE may get an easier run today and stepping up to 2000m suits. Not sure he has it in him to win, but he’s one to keep an eye on for the future as he steps further up in distance. And HONORIUS is plugging away, he’s an honest horse so don’t be surprised if he ends up in the top three. But I’m expecting Gai to win the first Group 1 of Super Saturday, while hoping for a Kiwi victory. Either way, I’m also expecting my top two to be features of Group 1 races over the next couple of seasons.

1 – PROISIR
2 – IT’S A DUNDEEL
4 – LUNAR RISE
3 – HONORIUS

Race 6 – GROUP 1 FLIGHT STAKES (1600m)

The Flight Stakes is always a tough race to sort out, especially in a year like this where they are so even. There’s probably only one or two I could definitely say I don’t think can win, but that doesn’t make it easier. The maestro Bart Cummings has two in the race, but I’m going for the lesser fancied of his two runners. DUET only won a Kembla maiden last start, but at this point in the spring the leap from Kembla maiden to a Group 1 three year old fillies race is not as monumental as it may seem. She won very easily, which followed a good second at Canterbury behind last week’s Reginald Allen placegetter Roll The Bones. She’ll stay, being by Danehill Dancer out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, and I think the ability to run a strong 2000m is important over the Randwick mile. I think she’ll surprise a few people today. NORZITA should have won the Tea Rose Stakes, but lost it on protest in what was a controversial decision by stewards. She’s been up for a long time, but I think she can go on with it. Could Bart quinella it? I think so.  DEAR DEMI has been slightly forgotten in the lead up to this race, which is understandable after she looked so dour in the Tea Rose Stakes. She is looking for 2000m now, but she’s definitely in the mix. And I think LONGPORT is underrated. The only poor run in her life, she finished tailed off behind Proisir, yet she showed last start she’s on track. I don’t think she’s the best filly in the race but I think she’s genuine, which is always a positive. The other main chances are Jade Marauder, who looks a nice filly but always seems to run on, so she’s not a betting proposition, and Urban Groove, who is stepping up significantly in trip but has won her two starts to date impressively. But I’m keen on Duet.

8 – DUET
5 – NORZITA
1 – DEAR DEMI
2 – LONGPORT

Race 7 – GROUP 1 EPSOM HANDICAP (1600m)

One of Sydney’s great races – but I’ve changed my selections about five or six times. I’ve narrowed it down to seven horses – Shoot Out, Rangirangdoo, Secret Admirer, Yosei, Ambidexter, Fat Al and Lightinthenite. A big deal has been made about weight in the race, but I reckon that those high up in the weights are actually fairly well off this year. Remember, there’s only a 6kg spread this year, so to make comparisons with the likes of Super Impose, who won with 60kg on a 11kg spread. That brings the topweights into it big time in my opinion. Lots have been jumping off him but I believe the horse that beats SHOOT OUT wins. 58kg is a hefty weight but he deserves it, and he carried 56.5kg to second in the Doncaster Mile behind More Joyous. There’s no More Joyous here, and while he rises in weight, he is a most consistent commodity who will be able to carry it easily. His record over the track and distance is superb – wins in the Randwick Guineas and George Main Stakes in addition to that second in the Doncaster Mile – and I expect him to stamp his Cox Plate credentials here. Big chance. SECRET ADMIRER is a grand final mare (much like one of her competitors, Yosei). She peaks for the big races. Every run this prep I’ve been wary of her due to pace – she needs pace on to show her best – but that isn’t a concern for me today.   She will be flashing home and is a definite chance of making it two in a row, the first since Desert War in 2004/2005. LIGHTINTHENITE comes into this race second up, having gone close in the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle first up. I was dismissive of the Cameron form at first, but Rolling Pin and Offenders franked the form in the Shannon Stakes so I think he may be the one on the limit who could go close. The question is, does he have it in him to win an Epsom? I’m not sure but I think he’s a chance. And FAT AL comes into this off a disappointing run as a hot favourite last week. However, he was on the worst part of the track and he should improve drastically. I don’t think the price about him is generous, but it represents the very real possibility he’ll improve lengths this week. Danger. The others I’d consider for quaddie players are Rangirangdoo, the old warrior who just keeps giving his all, Yosei, who is one of the most enigmatic horses I’ve seen but she thrives in races like this, Ambidexter, who defeated Fat Al in the Theo Marks and remains untapped and PERHAPS Said Com, who fits the profile of recent Epsom winners. But I’m a huge Shoot Out fan and think he’ll give a great sight today.

1 – SHOOT OUT
3 – SECRET ADMIRER
14 – LIGHTINTHENITE
8 – FAT AL

Race 8 – GROUP 1 THE METROPOLITAN (2400m)

I love staying races, so The Metropolitan is one of my favourite races every year. I think it helps that, as I was becoming really passionate about racing (2005/2006), the race produced two Caulfield Cup winners in succession in Railings and Tawqeet. I’m not sure any of these are Caulfield Cup material, but I could see them going on to run good races in the Geelong Cup, Moonee Valley Cup and maybe the Melbourne Cup. This is another race where I’ve been switching my selections around on an hourly basis. I did have Lamasery on top for much of the week, especially after the scratching of Efficient, but in the end I switched to Gai’s GLENCADAM GOLD. He’s been on fire in Australia, remaining unbeaten from three starts, and he looks like he still has improvement in him. I expect him to get out in front, he’ll have them off the bit chasing, and I’m just not sure if they’ll be able to make up the ground. They desperately want to go to the Caulfield Cup with him, but the only way he’ll get a run is if he wins today, so expect him to be wound right up. LAMASERY is a good, good horse. He may come to represent the Australian dream in the Melbourne Cup if he gets there, as he started his career on bush tracks in NSW. What he’s done in his career to date already is remarkable. I personally still have a query about him at 2400m, but I think it depends on the run he has in transit. I remember trainer David Vandyke once saying he has never had a horse pass him in a race and beat him, it’s always been him catching horses. That’s quite true, really, although I reckon he may have been passed once or twice. I reckon the same could happen here – he’ll flash home, but it’s a matter of whether he’ll be able to catch Glencadam Gold. I’m not sure. STOUT HEARTED’s been in good form this preparation. He’s a horse that needs pace on to fly home, and I’m not sure if he’ll get that here like he did last start when he flew over the top of Crafty Irna and Strawberry Boy. Still, off that effort, he’s some sort of a chance.  Furthermore, Chris Waller is the backbone of staying handicaps of all classes in Sydney, so it would be foolish to discount him in the biggest staying handicap in Sydney. And perhaps the smokey could be FICTIONAL ACCOUNT, an imported mare with David Hayes. She finished tailed off at her first Australian start before fighting out the finish with fellow runner Buxted at Moonee Valley last start. She looks dour, but I get the sense David Hayes is still learning with her and it wouldn’t surprise me to see her take off early like she did at Moonee Valley in order to make it a true staying test. She’s one to be wary about. Tough race though, and realistically any horse could win it.

6 – GLENCADAM GOLD
3 – LAMASERY
9 – STOUT HEARTED
13 – FICTIONAL ACCOUNT

Race 9 – GROUP 2 PREMIERE STAKES (1200m)

1 – RAIN AFFAIR
7 – SATIN SHOES
4 – RED TRACER
5 – STREAMA

FLEMINGTON

Race 1 – LISTED HERALD SUN SUPERRACING STAKES (1000m)

2yo first starters – no tipping

Race 2 – LISTED UCI STAKES (1800m)

11 – HIGH ESTEEM
4 – PHILIPPI
12 – PINS OF PELE
17 – SEKIGUCHI

Race 3 – LISTED YELLOWGLEN VINTAGE STAKES (1410m)

2 – PRONTO PRONTO
14 – DAZZLER
1 – LIMES
10 – SUPER COOL

Race 4 – LISTED THE BART CUMMINGS (2520m)

8 – EXCEPTIONALLY
2 – MALUCKYDAY
10 – DAME CLAIRE
5 – SHENZHOU STEEDS

Race 5 – GROUP 2 BLAZER STAKES (1410m)

1 – MOSHEEN
6 – HI BELLE
14 – BONARIA
10 – SOFT SAND

Race 6 – GROUP 2 EDWARD MANIFOLD STAKES (1600m)

10 – KATE
5 – COMMANDING JEWEL
12 – SHOWMYA MISS
13 – SPITFIRE LADY

Race 7 – GROUP 1 TURNBULL STAKES (2000m)

The Turnbull – the real start to serious spring racing. This year’s Turnbull is a cracking affair, with almost every horse in the race having some legitimate claims. I can guarantee there will be some real shorteners for the spring features after this race. And I think that this could be the race where ZURELLA stamps herself as a spring contender. She was disappointing last start in the Naturalism when she had respiratory issues following a very good first up win in the Let’s Elope Stakes. She actually has a very similar profile to Let’s Elope, and she needs to win to secure a spot in the Caulfield Cup. I think she’ll be wound up, ready. She’s drawn slightly awkwardly, but I hope to see her flash home to win. VOILA ICI is going to be the one they all have to catch. The Italian import is eight, but he’s shown there’s still life in his legs at his last two starts. He was very good in the Underwood Stakes, when he kicked out and looked the winner for a few strides. In the end, only Ocean Park could catch him. It will be interesting to see him away from Caulfield, but a good run is expected. GREEN MOON will run well, but I’m wary that he may still be a run away from his best. Still, I think he’ll be somewhere in the mix on class. And DECEMBER DRAW has an affinity with Flemington, he was good in the Underwood Stakes and he is a chance of going back to back. A tough, very open affair.

16 – ZURELLA
9 – VOILA ICI
11 – GREEN MOON
3 – DECEMBER DRAW

Race 8 – GROUP 2 GILGAI STAKES (1200m)

2 – SPIRIT OF BOOM
11 – HALLOWELL BELLE
7 – KING’S ROSE
4 – BEL SPRINTER

Race 9 – LISTED TAVERN STAKES (1410m)

9 – AMAH ROCK
5 – FAWKNER
11 – THAT’S  THE ONE
13 – MENADOS

Good luck today!

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