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Hawk’s Saturday Selections: Victoria Derby Day

November 2, 2013

The day of the racing purists is here – Victoria Derby Day! And while it may not be the best Derby Day card I’ve seen, it still promises to be a competitive day.

Most of my time this week has been focused on putting together the monster Melbourne Cup preview that will come out tonight after the barrier draw.

However, I’ve still got all my selections for Flemington today, and I’ve written short previews for the four Group 1 races and the Lexus Stakes.

Good luck today!

Race 1 – GROUP 3 CARBINE CLUB STAKES (1600m)

9 – SAINTLY LAD
2 – HUCKLEBUCK
4 – EQUATOR
5 – BEST CASE

Race 2 – GROUP 2 WAKEFUL STAKES (2000m)

5 – WORDPLAY
3 – MAY’S DREAM
2 – ARABIAN GOLD
10 – MELALEUCA

Race 3 – GROUP 3 LEXUS STAKES (2500m)

The final chance for many of these to make the Melbourne Cup field. Just a decade ago, nearly all of these horses would have got a run in the Melbourne Cup comfortably, so it just shows how times have changed.

What it has done is increase the profile of this race, and the quality seems to improve every year. It wouldn’t surprise if an upgrade is on the cards in the coming years.

I’d love to see LET’S MAKE ADEAL make it into the Melbourne Cup for Nigel Blackiston. She’s a granddaughter of a Melbourne Cup winner, Let’s Elope, and she has had a terrific preparation. She won first up in a midweek at Sandown before going on to run fourth at cricket score odds in the Makybe Diva Stakes. She was beaten by Star Rolling in Adelaide (Araldo was behind her) before she went on to finish a game fourth in the Herbert Power Stakes when she almost fell after slipping past the post the first time. She’s in good form, and I think she can win.

Obviously ARALDO is hard to beat on his last start performance when he ran Sea Moon to a head and then won the race on protest. He’s tracking the right way, and I daresay they’ve targeted this race for a long while in order to sneak him into the Melbourne Cup. He’s tough and will be there when the whips are cracking.

IRONSTEIN ran well in the Coongy last start after a terrific run in the Metropolitan. He won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes here in 2011, while he finished second to Puissance de Lune last year. If he can reproduce one of those efforts, he’ll go close – and maybe finally, he’ll make it into the Melbourne Cup field and give John Singleton his second runner this year.

And I think VAQUERA has snuck under a few radars, she disappointed last start but that 2400m grounding will be crucial to her chances here. She’s had a perfect preparation to be peaking here, and she’ll run a bold race.

I also think BASS STRAIT and KINGDOMS could win, while KELINNI could repeat his success of last year. But I’ll be sticking with Let’s Make Adeal.

11 – LET’S MAKE ADEAL
6 – ARALDO
8 – IRONSTEIN
12 – VAQUERA

Race 4 – GROUP 1 COOLMORE STUD STAKES (1200m)

In just a few short years, this has become one of the highlights on the calendar, so much so that ZOUSTAR’s managing part-owner (at least until a couple of days ago) Sheriff Iskander called it one of Australia’s main stallion-making races.

Whether that is the case or not is beside the point. It’s a competitive race that is going to produce an exciting finish.

I have to have Zoustar on top, given that he’s been the most dominant three-year-old to date and his last start win in the Roman Consul Stakes was nothing short of arrogant. The straight remains some query, and he didn’t look overly comfortable in a recent jumpout, but nevertheless he goes on top.

I rate NOT LISTENIN’TOME a potential Group 1 horse, because the penny has yet to drop with him. He should have won last week, but he wobbled around Moonee Valley and THERMAL CURRENT got up on his inside. Again, the straight is a query, but I rate him highly and expect him to run well.

THUMP impressed all and sundry with her recent jumpout down the straight. She’s a filly that still seems to be underrated, because she has improved significantly from her two year old days. She won the Silver Shadow first up before a game third to Bound for Earth and Guelph in the Furious Stakes. At her last start, she impressed in the Champagne Stakes beating Miracles of Life and I Love It. If she handles the straight like she did in her jumpout, she’ll go awfully close.

Next best FAST ‘N’ ROCKING, who I think is just a sprinter and will be suited back to the 1200m, and LION OF BELFORT.

1 – ZOUSTAR
8 – NOT LISTENIN’TOME
11 – THUMP
3 – FAST ‘N’ ROCKING

Race 5 – GROUP 1 MACKINNON STAKES (2000m)

Quite an ordinary edition of what has for many years been one of the better races on the calendar.

Most punters seem to be with JET AWAY after a remarkable Caulfield Cup run. He refused to settle, so Damien Oliver let him run to the lead before they made the home turn. His effort to battle on for fourth was remarkable.

He needs to win today if he is to run in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup. However, back to 2000m, you’d want him to settle today. And the way the race will be run, I’m not sure it will be ideal to his ambitions on Tuesday.

Anyway, I think PAKAL can beat him. The last start Cranbourne Cup winner was impressive, beating Bendigo Cup winner Sertorius and JRA Cup winner Mourinho. This year, the step from a Cranbourne Cup to a Mackinnon Stakes is not as massive as it usually would be, and he still looks to have some upside. I think he can win.

I’ve put Jet Away in for second, and it wouldn’t surprise to see him win, as highlighted above.

Unplaced Cox Plate runners have a terrific record in this race, and you’d have to think on last week’s effort SIDE GLANCE would be some chance of recording his first Group 1 win. He was slow away, and once Williams dug him up to get into the box seat, he began to overrace. His effort to finish sixth was solid, and a bette

Next best MR MOET, who wasn’t far behind Jet Away in the Caulfield Cup, and MOURAYAN, who will press forward.

7 – PAKAL
6 – JET AWAY
3 – SIDE GLANCE
2 – MR MOET

Race 6 – GROUP 1 VICTORIA DERBY (2500m)

The Victoria Derby is one of the most impossible races to tip, as three-year-olds step up to the classic trip for the first time. You are taking a bit of a gamble that they’ll run the trip out.

This year, there’s the added factor of the favourites drawing out wide. With the short run from the 2500m start to the turn out of the straight, it doesn’t give their riders too many options.

On all form, I think COMPLACENT should win the Derby. He’s by an Epsom Derby winner Authorised out of a speedy family, but I think he has the ability to see out 2400m against this company. Had the dream run through when he beat SAVVY NATURE and DRAGO in the Gloaming Stakes, but was simply dominant in the Spring Champion Stakes. A repeat would see him win.

SAVVY NATURE was dominant in last weekend’s Moonee Valley Vase, although admittedly, I’m not sure he beat much. But he looks a horse that will lap up the 2500m and he can definitely go one better than his sire Savabeel, who finished second in 2004.

On pedigree, CRITERION would have no hope of getting the distance, being by a Golden Slipper winner in Sebring out of a Group 3 winner over 1200m in Mica’s Pride. But the way he savaged the line in the Spring Champion Stakes suggests he can defy pedigree. He’s one to keep a close eye on.

Next best THUNDER FANTASY, who was well beaten in the Spring Champion Stakes but was going the right way before that and is in with a chance. And if you are including a roughie at huge odds, include HONEY STEEL’S GOLD. Maps well on paper and can run a bold race.

2 – COMPLACENT
3 – SAVVY NATURE
1 – CRITERION
13 – THUNDER FANTASY

Race 7 – GROUP 1 MYER CLASSIC (1600m)

Before I give my selections, I will say this race appears to be at the mercy of RED TRACER. If she runs up to her last start performance in the Tristarc Stakes, she simply wins.

That said, she’s a slight query at 1600m, so I’ve tried to look for value to beat her. I’ve gone down the bottom, to the Kiwi mare ZONZA. She was good on Thousand Guineas day, and looks to be progressive. Whether she’s good enough at this stage to win a race like this remains to be seen, but she’s worth including.

Outside the top two, I think FIRE UP FIFI is some hope, while ZURELLA can run better than her first up run suggested. Also, don’t be surprised to see a form turnaround from XANADU.

14 – ZONZA
1 – RED TRACER
2 – FIRE UP FIFI
7 – ZURELLA

Race 8 – GROUP 2 YELLOWGLEN STAKES (1200m)

4 – FONTELINA
15 – CHIARAMONTE
11 – SHAMAL WIND
10 – LONGPORT

Race 9 – GROUP 3 CHATHAM STAKES (1400m)

13 – EXIMIUS
3 – GALAH
10 – STRIKE THE STARS
1 – RIVA DE LAGO

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