Thu, Sep 14, 11:38pm by Head Editor
Melbourne racing ramps up another gear on Saturday with the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) headlining a strong card. The rail is in the true and the track was good at the time of acceptances although there are the odd showers forecast leading into race day.
Hartnell ($1.75) began his spring campaign in Melbourne in a deliberate plan to avoid Winx and in doing so took out the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) when resuming. He was a G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) winner here last spring when easily accounting for Jameka – who then went on to win a Caulfield Cup – and he did run third in a Melbourne Cup. He had excuses when second-up last campaign with the in-form Kerrin McEvoy aboard on Saturday.
Le Romain ($9) was a G1 winner over this track and distance last spring, with three G1’s in total and two at the 1600m. Black Heart Bart ($5.50) has been good without threatening the winners at his two runs in while Ventura Storm ($41) is second-up and on a Melbourne Cup path. Jon Snow ($19) was impressive over an unsuitable distance when first-up in the G1 Memsie (1400m) and is one who should be suited at Flemington.
The girls battle the boys in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) with Catchy ($3.90), Esperance ($4.20) and Jukebox ($4.60) fighting out early favouritism. Catchy is a G1 Blue Diamond (1200m) winner and is second-up after a narrow defeat behind Crown Witness at Caulfield. Esperance set tongues wagging when bolting in at Echucha by 8L and has won a BM64 at Sandown since while Jukebox is undefeated from his three career starts to date. Booker ($5) got within 0.2L of Merchant Navy (the highly fancied stable mate to Jukebox) in the G3 McNeil (1200m) while Limestone ($13) did finish alongside to Catchy in the autumn when beaten 0.1L in the G2 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m).
The G2 Bobbie Lewis (1200m) is an interesting race with Redkirk Warrior ($3.10) opening as the solid favourite as he looks to stake his claim for the Team Hayes/Dabernig slot in The Everest. He broke all records last time when fresh in taking out the G1 Newmarket over this track and distance, with Voodoo Lad ($3.90) who ran second in that race also lining up here. Voodoo Lad has gone to a new level since joining the Darren Weir stable with ten wins and nine placings from 22 starts overall. He’s second-up after a win when fresh, with So Si Bon ($6) – who ran second on that occasion – here as well.
A striking looking horse, he’s caught the eye at his two runs this campaign and is down on the 53kg limit while Scales of Justice ($6.50) makes his Melbourne debut for trainer Lindsey Smith. The 5YO gelding comes over from WA with nine wins and eight minors from 17 career starts, a G1 victory and over $1.3 million in prize money under his belt. Lucky Hussler ($11) has amassed $2-million for his connections and he resumes carrying top weight of 58kg.
SUGGESTED BET: Hualalai could be an improver at Flemington and Muraahib is a competitive horse, and whilst he’s the favourite for race two – although he might be slightly under the odds – hoping Royal Symphony (number 1) can continue on his winning ways. One of only two horses fresh, he’s been heavily supported in Caulfield Guineas betting so hopefully Dwayne Dunn can guide him to victory on Saturday.
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