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The Hawk’s Preview: Caulfield Cup Day

October 20, 2012

Caulfield Cup Day is one of the great days of the Australian turf.

Many horses are preparing for Derby Day in two weeks, which ranks as this country’s best overall day of racing. Therefore, the quality of horseflesh is top-notch and the races themselves highly competitive.

Today will see a departure from tradition for The Hawk’s Preview. Instead of putting all my previews up before the start of the first race, I’m putting them up race by race.

You can already read my preview of the big one, the BMW Caulfield Cup, here.

Hopefully we can find a winner today and build a bank ahead of next week’s massive Cox Plate Carnival.

Good luck today!

Race 1 – SNOWHITE MAINTENANCE PLATE (1400m)

A tough race to begin the day with a lot of these fillies still lightly raced. A TIME FOR JULIA is the favourite for Peter Moody, and I think she should win here. She comes out of the Balaclava Lady lead up to the Thousand Guineas, which wasn’t a good form reference for the Thousand Guineas. That said, she looks to have upside so she ranks on top. But I could see anything happening and really, any of the fillies could win this. VILLA SPLENDIDO was disappointing last start behind Pronto Pronto. Before that, she was good behind Ichihara in the Heritage Stakes in Sydney, so she ranks highly on that effort. The half-sister of Lights of Heaven, ZORIA, and Anthony Freedman’s TRIQUETRA look the best of the rest to my eye. Probably best to stay out early.

5 – A TIME FOR JULIA
1 – VILLA SPLENDIDO
7 – ZORIA
8 – TRIQUETRA

Race 2 – LISTED D’URBAN GOTHIC STAKES (1400m)

One race for one winner! Let’s hope we can make it two from two. The Gothic Stakes is always a good lead in to the Carbine Club Stakes in two weeks. It has been won in the last few years by the likes of Galah, Mr Chard, Kidnapped, Heart of Dreams, My Middi, Delzao, True Glo and La Zagaletta. This year’s race looks open on paper, but I’m going to stick with DIVINE MOON. The Bart Cummings-trained galloper has only raced three times and is still a maiden, but last start he finished third to Group 1 placegetters Kabayan and Albrecht when he was on the wrong part of the track. It was a great run. He may be looking for further now, but I think he can stamp himself as a promising horse here. At odds, SWIFT SUCCESSION is one to watch. He’s another who may want further, but he put together two nice wins before finishing sixth to Pronto Pronto last start. It wasn’t a bad effort by any means, but I think he can improve now. PRONTO PRONTO was good last start in winning at Flemington, and if he repeats that effort he’ll be hard to beat. He looks the ideal Carbine Club Stakes horse. And for fourth, go with MAGNIER – two starts back he finished second to Lankan Rupee, who almost beat Snitzerland last week. That form looks solid. I’d also love to see Royal Rada run a big race, as he finished behind a mare that’s very close to my heart, Stella Command, last start. But I’d be surprised to see him featuring here.

8 – DIVINE MOON
7 – SWIFT SUCCESSION
1 – PRONTO PRONTO
5 – MAGNIER

Race 3 – GROUP 3 NORMAN ROBINSON STAKES (2000m)

Divine Moon was quite disappointing in the last race, but they were all beaten by a masterful ride by Glen Boss. Al Aneed was too good. So now we look to the Norman Robinson Stakes, a key lead up to the Victoria Derby. It usually gets a bigger field as opposed to its Moonee Valley counterpart, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year. Perhaps it is just a year where there aren’t too many three year old stayers around – I don’t blame them! They are all unlikely to beat It’s A Dundeel in the Victoria Derby. Past winners include Sabrage, Retrieve, Shamoline Warrior, Pillar of Hercules, Pendragon, Casual Pass, Platinum Scissors, Amalfi, Blackfriars, Lawyer, Nothin’ Leica Dane, Omnicorp and Born To Be Queen. This year, I’ve put Gai Waterhouse’s KABAYAN on top. He’s been looking like he needs 2000m for a while now. The Stan Fox form must now be a bit of a query given the performance of Divine Moon in the last, but Kabayan has already experienced Caulfield which makes me think he is a good chance here. HVASSTAN was great last start behind Philippi, who was unfortunately scratched today and has gone to the paddock. 2000m may be a query, but I think he’s a clear second pick behind Kabayan. ELECTRIC FUSION was good in a maiden at Moonee Valley, he’s stepping up big time in class here but I could see him putting in a big performance. And I don’t know how to assess RIGHT TO ROAM, but he’ll relish the 2000m so must be a chance. But I think Kabayan wins.

1 – KABAYAN
5 – HVASSTAN
8 – ELECTRIC FUSION
6 – RIGHT TO ROAM

Race 4 – LISTED ETHEREAL STAKES (2000m)

We were around the mark in the last race, without getting a bullseye. Hvasstan beat Electric Fusion, although Electric Fusion lost second placing to Honorius on protest. Nevertheless, there were some emotional scenes post-race. The father of Hvasstan’s trainer Peter Gelagotis died this week, and his display of emotion was a reminder of the beauty of racing. Hopefully we can pick ourselves off the canvas in the Ethereal Stakes. It looks a pretty thin race that should give us a guide towards the Wakeful Stakes and the Crown Oaks. I think CAMEO is the one to beat. Comes out of the Edward Manifold, which  provided the Thousand Guineas first and third placegetters. In fact, she split Commanding Jewel and Zydeco in the Edward Manifold! She hit the line nicely late and should relish the 2000m. I’m very keen. SUMMERBLISS has only had one start for one win. By Danehill Dancer out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, she’ll want further in time. Mick Kent is a very shrewd trainer and she looks the main danger. I think the Kiwi filly KATE will go better here, she was disappointing in the Edward Manifold but should improve here out to 2000m. I’d be disappointed if she didn’t do something. And go with TRANSONIC for fourth, although I reckon the winner will come from one of the first three.

3 – CAMEO
12 – SUMMERBLISS
7 – KATE
2 – TRANSONIC

Race 5 – GROUP 3 MOONGA STAKES (1400m)

Of course, I get second and third again among my first two selections in the Ethereal Stakes – but the winner comes from nowhere! Alzora, green as anything, proved too strong for Summerbliss and Transonic. Cameo had nowhere to go and had excuses, while Kate led them up and faded. The next race, the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m), is a lead up to a number of different races, with many going to the Emirates Stakes in three weeks. Over the past 25 years, winners have included Vo Rogue, Rough Habit, Assertive Lad, Thorn Park, Perfectly Ready and Love Conquers All. Everyone seems to be tipping KING’S ROSE, and I can’t help but jump on the bandwagon! She was very good first up in the Gilgai Stakes, and I like that she is using this race as her lead up to the Myer Classic. She’s a class mare on her day, and I think she’s better than these. GALAH was good in the Gilgai Stakes too, he won the Gothic Stakes on this day last year and he tends to go well second up. I’d be expecting a good performance. They look a good quinella. HAPPY ZERO is a Stradbroke placegetter who looks well suited to a race like this. He looks to get in well and seems to be flying under the radar a tad. And for fourth, go with a former winner of this race in MCCLINTOCK. First up here after a failed stint in Singapore, he was really tough. I reckon he’ll be somewhere in the mix! But it is King’s Rose’s race to lose…

5 – KING’S ROSE
4 – GALAH
7 – HAPPY ZERO
8 – MCCLINTOCK

Race 6 – GROUP 2 CAULFIELD SPRINT (1100m)

Ouch!!! Once again, second and third are in my top four, but not the winner!! King’s Rose loomed up, but ultimately she was quite disappointing. You couldn’t have had King’s Rose and Whateverwhenever on the same page, but it was the lesser light who emerged victorious. Now, for the Caulfield Sprint. Winners over the last 25 years have included Schillaci, Toledo, Rubitano, Jet Spur, Biscayne Bay, Sunburnt Land, Set For Fame and Sepoy. It looks a perfect race for the lightly raced HOWMUCHDOYOULOVEME. I met Con Karakatsanis at a luncheon in Melbourne last spring, at that stage he’d only won the one race. He said this horse would be a very good sprinter, and so far he looks spot on. He’s won four from five, including arguably Australia’s most prestigious country sprint, the Ramornie Handicap at Grafton. He’s first up here, but he looks like he should measure up to this class. I think he’ll prove Karakatsanis right in time. The value may be FREERETURN, who has been flying this preparation. Next best THANKGODYOU’REHERE and METALLURGICAL. Please, Lord, some salvation!!! Or, perhaps, we are just saving up for a big result in the Caulfield Cup!

7 – HOWMUCHDOYOULOVEME
6 – FREERETURN
3 – THANKGODYOU’REHERE
8 – METALLURGICAL

Race 7 – GROUP 3 DAVID JONES CUP – COONGY HANDICAP (2000m)

Finally, a winner!!! Howmuchdoyouloveme proves too strong, and he looks a very promising stayer in the making. Now we look towards the Coongy Handicap, which has actually produced some Melbourne Cup types in the past few years. The likes of Maybe Better, Frightening, Circles of Gold and Silk Ali went onto the Melbourne Cup after winning this race, while other winners have included Foreteller, Ginga Dude, Baughurst, Fire In The Night and Activation. For me, I’m going to be extremely keen to see WATERFORD HILL here. He came into the spring having won four from six. He missed the start badly first up in the Theo Marks but somehow managed to only finish eight lengths behind the Epsom quinella Fat Al and Ambidexter. Then he dropped sharply in class and was slaughtered by Jamie Mott. He was never, ever a chance. I think, up to 2000m, he’s a very good chance and I’d be surprised if he’s not in the mix at some point. The import PRAIRIE STAR is a good chance on his international form, if he finds his best. He wasn’t far from Reliable Man in last year’s French Derby, the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (2100m). And if he strikes his best, he could flog this field. For third, go with LIGHTINTHENITE – he ran fourth in the Epsom Handicap last start, better form than most of these, but I’m still concerned about him at the 2000m. And for fourth, go with DAME CLAIRE who has found form her last two. It’s always good to stick with mares in form!!! I’ll go out on a limb – the top two are the only ones I think can win.

12 – WATERFORD HILL
1 – PRAIRIE STAR
5 – LIGHTINTHENITE
8 – DAME CLAIRE

Race 8 – GROUP 1 BMW CAULFIELD CUP (2400m)

What a disaster!!! Waterford Hill misses the start by six lengths, then boots up around them. Lost the race at the start. Lightinthenite gets there narrowly, but I’d be following Prairie Star for the future. But now, it is time for the Caulfield Cup! Here is my preview of today’s big race. You can also go here to watch the past ten Caulfield Cups.

Race 9 – GROUP 2 TRISTARC STAKES (1400m)

Coming shortly…

Race 10 – LISTED ALINGHI STAKES (1100m)

Coming shortly…

RANDWICK

Today’s racing at Randwick is also quite strong. I’ve decided to look at the three Listed races on the card.

Race 5 – LISTED BRIAN CROWLEY STAKES (1200m)

The feature for three year old sprinters in Sydney today. It has been won by the likes of Hot Snitzel, Love Conquers All, Northern Meteor, Reigning to Win, War of the Worlds, Brannigan, Legally Bay, Planchet, Shovhog, Al Mansour and Ravarda in the last two decades. Many of these are likely to go to the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day. I’ve been juggling up between a couple of these all day, but in the end I decided to go with SHELFORD. Ran second to Raceway and third to Pierro at his first two starts before finishing seventh in the Golden Slipper. He looks a nice sprinting type and this is well within his grasp. The Queenslander BETTER THAN READY has been flying. He won very easily last start and while this is a big step up, he can measure up. JOLIE BAY has emerged from nowhere this preparation and should be in the mix, while ICHIHARA probably is better over shorter but is strong out in front. But I’m quite keen on Shelford.

6 – SHELFORD
3 – BETTER THAN READY
5 – JOLIE BAY
4 – ICHIHARA

Race 6 – LISTED CITY TATTERSALLS CLUB CUP (2400m)

Well, Shelford was very disappointing, but the other three selections filled first, second and fourth in that order! So we didn’t do too badly. But, we’ll be doing badly if our main selection in this race doesn’t win. This race may not seem like a logical Melbourne Cup lead-up but it has been done before. In the last 20 years, Maharajah (1992), Grandmaster (1997), Perpetual Check (1998), Rebbor (1999) and Maluckyday (2010) have used this race as a stepping stone to the Melbourne Cup. The three in the mid-1990’s were all trained by Bart Cummings, and he’s hoping to do it again with DARE TO DREAM. This import, who raced as Dare To Dance in the United Kingdom, has had two starts for a sixth over an unsuitable 1400m and a last start third in the Craven Plate. He flew home to finish only 0.4L behind Western Symbol, who he meets 4kg better here. He looks like a potential Melbourne Cup challenger, but he’d want to be winning here to be any chance. WESTERN SYMBOL has to carry plenty of weight, but he was good second up in the Craven Plate. At his best, he’d be very hard to beat here. Next best for me are PEAL OF BELLS and LESS IS MORE but I think Dare To Dream can put himself into the Melbourne Cup picture here.

7 – DARE TO DREAM
1 – WESTERN SYMBOL
11 – PEAL OF BELLS
12 – LESS IS MORE

To see today’s full list of tips, along with the tips of Just Horse Racing’s Morgan Payne and Sportsbet’s Xavier Blair, head over to Just Horse Racing’s tip sheet.

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