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Hawk’s 2013 Underwood Stakes Runner-by-Runner Preview

September 21, 2013

Today marks the return of my horse-by-horse preview for a selected race, every Saturday!

This week’s race is the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield, which is one of the best weight for age races you’ll see. It’s set to be an exciting race, which promises to give us a taste of what to expect in the coming weeks.

Here’s how I see this afternoon’s feature, set to jump at 4:55pm:

Green Moon1. GREEN MOON (10)

Jockey: Brett Prebble
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $26

Flew home in the Memsie Stakes, just like he did last year. He was just nosed out second up last spring in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, while he was a dour fourth in the Australian Cup second up in the autumn. I think he’ll come on for the run, and I think he’ll be tough to hold out in the Turnbull Stakes. But second up, I think he won’t be as screwed down as others. Place best, but I think I’ll risk him today.

Manighar2. MANIGHAR (3)

Jockey: Daniel Stackhouse
Trainer: Peter Moody
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $51

This time last year, Manighar was an even money favourite. He finished sixth to Ocean Park in a disappointing effort, and he didn’t race again during the spring. Now an eight year old in the twilight of his career, he is being aimed at the Caulfield Cup this year, a race he’s run good races in twice. On his efforts in the autumn, though, I doubt he can match it with the big guns here. Would need to be better than he was during the 2012 autumn if he were to win here. Not for me.

Mr Moet3. MR MOET (13)

Jockey: Damien Oliver
Trainer: Adam Durrant
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $41

Perth galloper who ran second to Foreteller at this track and trip in the Peter Young Stakes in the autumn. He’s a good galloper on his day but I’m not sure how he measures up to this very good group of horses at weight for age. He’s heading to the Cups so you’d want to see him hit the line nicely, but I’m happy to overlook him today.

Foreteller4. FORETELLER (11)

Jockey: Craig Newitt
Trainer: Chris Waller
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $19

Makybe Diva Stakes winner who found the line nicely to record his first victory at Group 1 level. It’s been a while since he’s put two wins together, though, and he tends to run flat after he wins. Has won at this track and distance though, winning the Peter Young Stakes.  Wouldn’t shock, but I’m will be risking him today.

Happy Trails5. HAPPY TRAILS (4)

Jockey: Dwayne Dunn
Trainer: Paul Beshara
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $61

South Australian galloper controversially scratched from the Dato Tan Chin Nam, a race he won last year. I’m still not entirely convinced he measures up to this class, but there’s no doubting he should have won more races than he has on his resume.  If he runs to his best, he may finish top five, but probably not one I’ll be including.

Ethiopia6. ETHIOPIA (1)

Jockey: Rhys McLeod
Trainer: Pat Carey
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $41

Australian Derby winner who made the step up to weight for age last spring, running fourth in the Cox Plate before a distant last in the Melbourne Cup when injured. He was pretty good in the Makybe Diva, racing handy and boxing on for a solid fifth. Likely to need one more race to get him to his peak, but I expect him to be a major Cups contender. Not today.

Sea Moon7. SEA MOON (5)

Jockey: Craig Williams
Trainer: Robert Hickmott
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $15

One of the better imports to race in Australia, he lost all chance at the start of the Makybe Diva when he slipped out of the gates. In the end, his effort to finish only five lengths from them was very good. The step up in trip will suit, although he’ll still be wanting further, but expect him to bounce back and prove he’s a legitimate Cox Plate contender today.

Puissance de Lune8. PUISSANCE DE LUNE (14)

Jockey: Glen Boss
Trainer: Darren Weir
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $8.50

French import who has been the Melbourne Cup favourite since the first markets opened last November. He resumed with a scintillating victory against an inferior field in the Lawrence Stakes, before Boss took off too early and he was just beaten in the Makybe Diva Stakes. You’d be wanting to see a solid run from him today, but I’m not sure how he stacks up at weight for age and I think he may be wanting further now. I’ll be looking elsewhere today.

Waldpark9. WALDPARK (9)

Jockey: Ben Melham
Trainer: Anthony Freedman
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $51

German galloper who came to Australia having finished a head second to runaway King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes winner Novellist at his final European start in May. He never got clear in the Makybe Diva Stakes and it was a run best forgotten. The camp are supremely confident he’ll run well today and prove he is worthy of a Cox Plate performance. In a race devoid of speed, it wouldn’t surprise to see him run a bold race at big odds. Place chance.

My Quest For Peace10. MY QUEST FOR PEACE (2)

Jockey: Luke Nolen
Trainer: Peter Moody
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $101

English import who has now run at 1350m-1400m his last three starts, after a Cups campaign last year. They were coming away from him in the final stages of the Memsie Stakes, and on that run you’d suggest he faces a task if he’s to beat them home here. The step up to 1800m will suit him, as it will most runners, but I’m waiting to see whether they’ve discovered the secret with him, as was claimed earlier this week. Happy to overlook until he shows something.

It's A Dundeel11. IT’S A DUNDEEL (12)

Jockey: James McDonald
Trainer: Murray Baker
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $7

Kiwi excitement machine who was good in the closing stages in the Memsie Stakes. He’s yet to prove himself at weight for age but given his arrogant performances in the Rosehill Guineas and the Australian Derby, it is surely just a matter of time. There’s no doubt he’s the main danger and he has been well backed.

Atlantic Jewel12. ATLANTIC JEWEL (7)

Jockey: Michael Rodd
Trainer: Mark Kavanagh
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $1.70

Star mare going for 10 straight after a walk in the park against much inferior mares in the Stocks Stakes last weekend. Beat much of this field comfortably in the Memsie Stakes and the 1800m should suit her perfectly. Clearly the one they all have to beat and a deserving favourite.

Silent Achiever13. SILENT ACHIEVER (8)

Jockey: Steven Arnold
Trainer: Roger James
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $35

Consistent Kiwi mare who gets up to a better journey. She may have finished third last in the Memsie Stakes, but she was hard held the entire straight, and she never saw daylight at any stage. She’s won three from four second up and the gate should give her a few options. She’s the best roughie in the race and well worth having something on each way.

Dear Demi14. DEAR DEMI (6)

Jockey: Brad Rawiller
Trainer: Clarry Conners
Odds (courtesy of Luxbet, as of Saturday 11:30am): $81

Even in her relatively short career to date, she has mixed her form, but she has raced at her peak second up in her last two preparations. She hit the line strongly when a first up seventh to Commanding Jewel in the Let’s Elope Stakes. That said, I’m not sure that’s the correct formline for this race and she’d need to improve significantly if she is to figure here. Later on.

SUMMARY

This has been called, in jest, “the race of the millennium” – but in seriousness, this is a terrific race. If the Moonee Valley Racing Club got these fourteen at the gates for the Cox Plate, I reckon they’d be thrilled. As I said in a release for Luxbet this week, it would rank up there with the 1992 or 2002 Cox Plates. That’s an indication of how highly I rate this race.

All week, I was thinking I would choose another horse other than ATLANTIC JEWEL, but I simply can’t. She’s going for 10 straight and if she runs to her Memsie Stakes performance she should just win. It’s easy to forget how rare it is to see genuine champions in Australian racing, and yet, in the space of five years, we’ve been blessed with three horses I’d declare genuine champions – Black Caviar, So You Think, and now, Atlantic Jewel. Perhaps it may be too early to rank her in that company, but if she continues on her way this spring, I think she’ll fit into that group quite comfortably.

IT’S A DUNDEEL is clearly her main danger, as he’s a terrific horse in himself and if it wasn’t for her, I think he’d be a clear Cox Plate favourite. You just don’t see horses win the Australian Derby the way he did, and I’m very excited to see what he can do this spring. He can begin with a top run today.

This is always a race which sees some surprises in the placings, and I think SILENT ACHIEVER and/or WALDPARK may be the two at odds who can make it into the placings.

Next best SEA MOON.

NUMBERS

12 – ATLANTIC JEWEL
11 – IT’S A DUNDEEL
13 – SILENT ACHIEVER
9 – WALDPARK

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