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Hawk’s 2015 Blue Diamond Stakes Day/Chipping Norton Stakes Day Selections

February 28, 2015

We’re back for the autumn!

I haven’t posted selections since Melbourne Cup day, but with the autumn starting to ramp up with Group 1 racing in both Sydney and Melbourne, it seems a logical time to get the head buried back in the form guide to find some winners.

Also a big factor is the fact Hong Kong is betting on the last seven races of the Caulfield card, so there will hopefully be some overlays for those of us betting through the HKJC.

I’ve provided my top four selections for each race at both Caulfield and Warwick Farm, as well as a small write-up on all four Group 1 races.

Best of luck today!

CAULFIELD

Race 1 – GROUP 3 ZEDITAVE STAKES (1200m)

3 – GALAXY PEGASUS
7 – ONEROUS
5 – ARMADA
2 – FAST CASH

Race 2 – GROUP 3 PREMIER SIGNS STAKES (1400m)

1 – BONARIA
3 – GIRL GUIDE
4 – TYCOON TARA
5 – BIPPO NO BUNGUS

Race 3 – GROUP 2 ANGUS ARMANASCO STAKES (1400m)

8 – BOTTLE OF SMOKE
2 – SABATINI
4 – THINKING OF YOU
1 – FONTEIN RUBY

Race 4 – GROUP 2 CAULFIELD AUTUMN CLASSIC (1800m)

13 – BETSY
5 – ALPINE EAGLE
4 – HONG KONG CAPTAIN
9 – ZAHSPEED

Race 5 – GROUP 1 FUTURITY STAKES (1400m)

A fairly straightforward feature by the looks of it, and once again the Futurity seems to get a little bit lost on the calendar.

After DISSIDENT’s dominant Orr Stakes victory, it’s hard to find anything to beat him here in what shapes as an easier assignment. He should get a similar set-up to last time, being able to sit just behind the speed and should prove too strong late.

The quinella horse looks to be BULL POINT, who is currently at a worthwhile price. He needs to be ridden stone cold, which may not be ideal in this race, but he should stil be close enough to gather them in if good enough. He ran fourth in this race last year when ridden far too close and should be able to finish better this time around.

ENTIRELY PLATINUM was very good fresh in the Orr Stakes, dictating from the front on what was a pretty easy pace. I think though that the edge will probably be knocked off him now and I would have preferred to see him in the Peter Young Stakes. Nevertheless, he might get cheap sectionals again up front, with only DRIEFONTEIN looking a real danger to challenge for the lead. He can’t be entirely dismissed.

Driefontein is next best.

1 – DISSIDENT
3 – BULL POINT
4 – ENTIRELY PLATINUM
7 – DRIEFONTEIN

Race 6 – GROUP 2 PETER YOUNG STAKES (1800m)

2 – HAPPY TRAILS
9 – AKZAR
1 – PROTECTIONIST
8 – AU REVOIR

Race 7 – GROUP 1 OAKLEIGH PLATE (1100m)

A big field over the 1100m scamper at Caulfield is ripe pickings for an upset, and this race has been very good to us in recent years with the likes of Eagle Falls and Woorim.

However, this year it looks a perfect race for a favourite to salute as last year’s Blue Diamond Stakes winner EARTHQUAKE returns to the scene of the crime. A brilliant juvenile, she looked somewhat below her best in the spring, although her Coolmore Stud Stakes eighth behind Brazen Beau was far better than it appeared on paper when she got stuck on the wrong part of the track. She was first home of the inside runners, still beaten six lengths, but it was definitely a forgive effort. She has trialled brilliantly and looks back to her best. She’s drawn slightly wide here and will probably be forced to push on, but I think with the 50.5kg she’ll prove too nippy here.

ICONIC is the horse that maps well here. From the inside, he should get a nice smother, hopefully around midfield, and as long as he gets a clear crack at them he’ll be in the mix. His first-up record is outstanding – in fact, all his wins have been fresh – and so this is the time to jump on him if ever.

SHAMAL WIND gets a nice set-up here and will be charging at them late, while ATMOSPHERICAL is still on an upward spiral and this race proves a nice stepping stone to elite company for her.

16 – EARTHQUAKE
13 – ICONIC
5 – SHAMAL WIND
10 – ATMOSPHERICAL

Race 8 – GROUP 1 BLUE DIAMOND STAKES (1200m)

It’s always difficult to tell the strength of a juvenile crop this early in the season, but this doesn’t look the worst Blue Diamond I’ve seen.

FONTITON is clearly a terrific filly on what’s she’s shown so far. Her win on Cox Plate day was exceptional and stamped her as the best juvenile seen in the spring, her Preview win was good enough, and her Prelude win was exactly what one would want to see heading into this. She’s drawn gate one, which had some pundits worried, but it appears a case of Miracles Of Life all over again – Mark Zahra just needs to follow Lauren Stojakovic’s blueprint and he will find himself in the winner’s circle.

The logical danger appears PRIDE OF DUBAI, who charged late in the colts and geldings Prelude to just miss catching OF THE BRAVE. It was the run of the race by far and probably the best trial outside of Fontiton. By Street Cry out of a Danehill mare, one would expect him to be a Caulfield Guineas and potentially a Cox Plate contender in the spring, but for now the step up to 1200m is ideal and he’ll be the one coming at the filly late.

The blueblood LAKE GENEVA will be vastly improved for her debut effort in the Widden Stakes, where she kept coming but was just nosed out by Fireworks on the line. This might prove a better set-up for her, as indications are she should appreciate being able to sit a little bit further back.

Next best SAMPEAH, who also came from a long way back in the colts and geldings Prelude, and THURLOW.

8 – FONTITON
7 – PRIDE OF DUBAI
13 – LAKE GENEVA
5 – SAMPEAH

Race 9 – LISTED MORNINGTON CUP PRELUDE (2000m)

1 – BIG MEMORY
2 – SPURTONIC
7 – INDEX LINKED
6 – EXTRA ZERO

WARWICK FARM

Race 1 – SCHWEPPES HANDICAP (2400m)

7 – DANJEU
4 – SASENKILE
5 – ARTIBAI
3 – PHRASES

Race 2 – GROUP 2 SKYLINE STAKES (1200m)

5 – EXOSPHERE
1 – ODYSSEY MOON
3 – SEBRING SUN
4 – WOLF CRY

Race 3 – GROUP 2 SWEET EMBRACE STAKES (1200m)

5 – ALWAYS ALLISON
8 – SPEAK FONDLY
6 – MICUCCI
7 – HEAVENLY HAND

Race 4 – GROUP 2 SURROUND STAKES (1400m)

2 – FIRST SEAL
9 – SLIGHTLY SWEET
7 – ADRIFT
8 – WINE TALES

Race 5 – GROUP 3 LIVERPOOL CITY CUP (1300m)

3 – PORNICHET
6 – RUDY
4 – RED EXCITEMENT
1 – HOT SNITZEL

Race 6 – GROUP 1 CHIPPING NORTON STAKES (1600m)

If one ever needed a reminder of the dominance of Chris Waller in Sydney racing, have a look at this year’s Chipping Norton Stakes – he saddles up eight of the 15 runners, and it could easily have been 10 if not for Bagman and Beaten Up heading south to the Peter Young Stakes. It’s an extraordinary number and eclipses the most runners one trainer has had in a Group 1 race – the previous record was seven, jointly held by Gai Waterhouse (1995, 1996 Metropolitan) and John Hawkes (2003 Golden Slipper).

Still, the non-Waller brigade looks mighty strong and strength in numbers doesn’t necessarily guarantee a result.

The Apollo Stakes does look the best formline for this, with 11 of the 15 runners coming out of that race. CONTRIBUTER was outstanding that day and the former European looks to have acclimatised a treat. The step up to the mile can only be a good thing and with the same turn of foot as he showed that day, he’d be hard to beat in almost anything in Australia.

Still, he is short enough and I liked the performance of SILENT ACHIEVER enough there to put her on top at the better price here. She’s better second-up, she’s better at a mile – in fact, her only unplaced run at the trip was in this race two years ago, when she flew home for fourth. She should get a bit more toe today and I think she’s a better mare now than she was back then.

Contributer is the one to beat and he goes in next, while third and fourth from the Apollo Stakes – WEARY and LUCIA VALENTINA – also look dangers. Weary looks Chris Waller’s best hope but would probably appreciate a little bit of give in the ground, while Lucia Valentina is never as good second-up and will probably be looking for further now already.

Next best is another of Waller’s, HE’S YOUR MAN.

14 – SILENT ACHIEVER
5 – CONTRIBUTER
8 – WEARY
15 – LUCIA VALENTINA

Race 7 – GROUP 3 GUY WALTER STAKES (1400m)

11 – NEENA ROCK
8 – ARABIAN GOLD
1 – COSMIC ENDEAVOUR
13 – MY SABEEL

Race 8 – CAL REI HANDICAP (1200m)

9 – VALID CONTRACT
3 – LE CORDON BLEU
13 – SNIPER FIRE
1 – FLORAL INSIGHT

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