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Hawk’s Saturday Selections: 2013 Caulfield Guineas Day

October 12, 2013

With no footy to dominate the back pages, racing takes its place as the main focus of sports editors from now until the first week in November.

As a racing fan, there’s no more exciting time. The Caulfield Cup is next weekend, the Cox Plate is just two weeks away, and it’s only three and a half weeks until the race that stops the nation, the Melbourne Cup.

I’m looking forward to writing a monster horse-by-horse preview of the Caulfield Cup for next Saturday.

In the meantime though, here are my tips for today’s Caulfield Guineas meeting, as well as for the Spring Champion in Sydney. The races with summaries are races I previewed for Luxbet.

Expect the spring picture to be defined by what happens today, with the Cox Plate in particular set to become far clearer after today’s racing.

Enjoy!

CAULFIELD

Race 1 – LISTED INGLIS DEBUTANT STAKES (1000m)

11 – PIACENZA
7 – MOONLIGHT HUSSLER
3 – FELAROF
6 – HAWKING

Race 2 – GROUP 3 THOROUGHBRED CLUB STAKES (1200m)

1 – MISSY LONGSTOCKING
6 – MINEKO
5 – ANATINA
9 – SENSE OF HITE

Race 3 – CATANACH’S JEWELLERS BLUE SAPPHIRE STAKES (1200m)

3 – SAFEGUARD
7 – VILLA VERDE
6 – MIRACLES OF LIFE
2 – VA PENSIERO

Race 4 – GROUP 2 SCHILLACI STAKES (1000m)

For a race that has been won by Buffering and Black Caviar (twice) the last three years, and super mares Gold Edition (2007) and Miss Andretti (2006) before that, this is one of the weakest runnings of this race in recent memory. If Kuroshio runs to his smashing last start victory in the McEwen Stakes, he’ll be very hard to beat, and he looks very well suited under the weight for age scale. I doubt we’ve seen the best of Unpretentious, who is having his first run since November. He was due to resume in The Galaxy, but was a late scratching at the gates after he had been well supported. He won a trial in good time at Cranbourne, and if he can stay sound, this may be the preparation where he makes the leap to Group-class sprinter. This is a good starting point.

6 – UNPRETENTIOUS
9 – KUROSHIO
1 – BROKEN
3 – PAGO ROCK

Race 5 – GROUP 3 NORTHWOOD PLUME STAKES (1200m)

4 – SHAMAL WIND
5 – YOU’RE SO GOOD
12 – OUR MISS JONES
6 – ASSERTIVE EAGLE

Race 6 – GROUP 1 CAULFIELD STAKES (2000m)

This race tends to attract a small field each year, and as such it tends to be overlooked when assessing form later in the spring. This was apparent last year, when Ocean Park (won the Cox Plate) and Alcopop (second in the Caulfield Cup, won the Mackinnon Stakes) were both underrated after they ran 1-2 in the Caulfield Stakes. This year, Atlantic Jewel is a hot favourite despite a last start loss to It’s A Dundeel. The big query with her is 2000m – she did win the Wakeful Stakes by seven lengths over the trip, but she beat Rahveel and Dowager Queen, both who have subsequently trained off as older mares. If she runs the trip, class should get her home. If not, though, any of her five rivals could beat her. The stablemate Super Cool had no luck in the Turnbull Stakes and is backing up, with the Cox Plate now a possibility, while Foreteller ran better than it appears on paper off a slow tempo in the Underwood Stakes. Even Spacecraft could win, invoking memories of the longshot win of Douro Valley on pace who dictated on the speed, while Massiyn is an intriguing entrant. It will reveal a lot about the Cox Plate picture.

6 – ATLANTIC JEWEL
5 – SUPER COOL
3 – SPACECRAFT
2 – FORETELLER

Race 7 – LISTED WEEKEND HUSSLER STAKES (1400m)

10 – RICHIE’S VIBE
6 – FLORIA
8 – EXIMIUS
4 – IT IS WRITTEN

Race 8 – GROUP 2 HERBERT POWER STAKES (2400m)

Another race which offers ballot exemption for the Caulfield Cup, this time run over the same course and distance as next week’s feature. The prepost favourite is Kesampour, who finished second in the Naturalism Stakes after tracking Mr O’Ceirin all the way. He will appreciate getting out to the 2400m and he should have the race run to suit. However, it’s by no means an easy affair. The first of the international raiders steps out in Simenon, second to Estimate in the Ascot Gold Cup in June before a narrow defeat in the Lonsdale Cup last time out. He came to prominence with a smashing victory in the Queen Alexandra Stakes over 4350m at Royal Ascot last year, when he showed a good turn of foot (over that distance) in defeating Shahwardi by seven lengths. Given Shahwardi then came to Melbourne and won this race, that’s not the worst form at all. Other chances include Sea Moon, who had the Bart Cummings taken from him on protest, and Makybe Diva Stakes fourth Let’s Make Adeal, while Oasis Bloom is the knockout.

8 – LET’S MAKE ADEAL
4 – KESAMPOUR
2 – SIMENON
6 – OASIS BLOOM

Race 9 – GROUP 1 TOORAK HANDICAP (1600m)

Another week, another very open handicap over the mile. French galloper Trevieres and the emerging Bass Strait will be looking for Caulfield Cup ballot exemption with victory here, a double that is rarely attempted. The last Toorak Handicap winner to go to the Caulfield Cup was Allez Wonder in 2009, while the last horse to complete the double was Cole Diesel back in 1989. Both look to have a good chance, in particular this French-trained miler. Trevieres is a rather unusual runner, in that he’s coming straight from handicap class in France to a Group 1 handicap in Australia. Just because it wasn’t black type in France, though, is misleading, as handicaps aren’t generally part of the pattern in Europe. His turn of foot in a big handicap at Deauville last start was electric, and he looks the perfect type for Australia. It’s not surprising he’s been well backed. Bass Strait may be looking for 2000m now, but a hard run race should suit him well. At least you know they’ll be giving it everything in order to clinch a spot in the Caulfield Cup. Solzhenitsyn won this race 12 months ago, and his last run suggests he’ll be right in the mix, as will Stradbroke Handicap winner Linton and Bobbie Lewis Quality winner Speediness. And if there’s a horse that can surprise at odds, it is Mutual Trust. You couldn’t back him on form, but his closing sectionals in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes were the best in the race and he is ready to show his best.

12 – TREVIERES
17 – BASS STRAIT
2 – SOLZHENITSYN
14 – MUTUAL TRUST

Race 10 – GROUP 1 CAULFIELD GUINEAS (1600m)

The Caulfield Guineas has long been the premier race of the spring for three year olds, although in recent years it has been joined by the Golden Rose and the Coolmore Stud Stakes in terms of allure. It has an illustrious history stretching back to 1881, and some of the best three year olds to have graced Australia’s racetracks have won the race. This year’s Caulfield Guineas looks an open contest with the entire field of 14 looking to have some chance. This is reflected in early markets, with Long John a $4 favourite ahead of Prince Harada ($5.50) and El Roca ($7.50). What makes this year’s Caulfield Guineas so fascinating, though, is that five of the 14 runners remain in contention for the Cox Plate. Given the strong record of three year olds in the Cox Plate, there is every chance this may be a relevant form reference come our weight for age championship.

The typical form reference is the Caulfield Guineas Prelude, with the first six across the line matching up again. Éclair Big Bang came with a well-timed run to defeat the Kiwi El Roca, with Long John flying home into third, but Long John is favoured to turn the tables on this occasion. However, El Roca’s run was admirable under the circumstances, and he can only have improved for the run. He flew at trackwork on Tuesday morning, and with a kinder run, he’ll be awfully hard to beat. That said, New Zealand-trained gallopers have generally struggled in the race, with Our Maizcay the only successful Kiwi in 1995. Another relevant formline is the Bill Stutt Stakes (Divine Calling, Shamus Award, Cluster, Late Charge), which last produced the Caulfield Guineas winner in 2008 in Whobegotyou, while Dissident will be aiming to emulate last year’s winner All Too Hard, who came off an unplaced run against the older horses in the George Main Stakes to win the Caulfield Guineas. It is set to be a terrific contest.

10 – EL ROCA
7 – PRINCE HARADA
1 – DISSIDENT
4 – LONG JOHN

RANDWICK

Race 6 – GROUP 1 SPRING CHAMPION STAKES (2000m)

The Spring Champion Stakes is being run on the same day as the Caulfield Guineas for the first time.

Savvy Nature is the early favourite off the back of a top win in the Spring Stakes at Newcastle, followed by a narrow defeat at the hands of Spring Champion second favourite Complacent. He shapes as the most likely horse in this field to make a top stayer, and sometimes, that can be crucial – as was seen last year when It’s A Dundeel just got the better of Proisir. Still, both Savvy Nature and Complacent look tough to beat once again. The impeccably bred Rock Hero was as impressive as possible in the Dulcify Quality last week, charging through from an impossible position to win. The distance is some query, but on last week’s effort, he deserves his place in the field. His stablemate Criterion has been somewhat forgotten, after a couple of lacklustre performances early in his preparation. However, he was very good when finishing second to Eurozone in the Stan Fox Stakes, and he races as though the 2000m will be right up his alley. Don’t forget he was classy enough to finish a closing sixth in the Golden Slipper, and he should not be overlooked. And although he’s building quite a reputation as a non-winner, don’t overlook Drago. He found the line okay in the Gloaming Stakes when third, and this has been his target race all preparation. Now up to 2000m, this is his chance to shine. It really is an open contest, and for the winner, perhaps a place in the Cox Plate may beckon.

8 – ROCK HERO
4 – SAVVY NATURE
1 – CRITERION
6 – DRAGO

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