Thu, Feb 8, 3:47pm by Staff Writer
Saturday at Caulfield sees the first of Melbourne’s Group 1 races for the autumn and it’s also the first day of Melbourne’s ‘Festival of Racing’ carnival. The rail will be in the true and the track, a good-3.
The CF Orr Stakes (1400m) is the feature of the day with a field of 14 to line up. Black Heart Bart ($6) won this race last year and is one of three runners for the Darren Weir stable. Last year, he won this race after finishing second to Malaguerra in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) but he’ll defend his crown at his first run this prep.
Tosen Stardom ($4.80) finally broke through for his first win in Australia last campaign when taking out the Group 1 Toorak (1600m) before also adding the Group 1 Mackinnon (2000m) to his name.
Brave Smash ($8.50) is the third of the Weir trio and he’s second-up after a fifth of 12 to Thronum ($11) in the Australia Stakes. All his previous starts in Australia have been over 1200m and with the step up to 1400m he’ll have the blinkers removed on Saturday.
Hartnell ($6) had an interesting prep last campaign which began with a strong win over 1400m at Caulfield in the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes. He then ran second at his next two starts when a short-price favourite on each occasion before finishing well back in the G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and G1 Melbourne Cup (3200m).
Mr Sneaky ($8.50) was second to Thronum in the Australia Stakes and they both line up here while Shillelagh ($8.50) has been supported in pre-post betting and resumes from a spell after winning the G1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at her most recent run before a break.
A field of eight speedsters will line up in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) with current G1 Newmarket pre-post favourite Merchant Navy ($3.20) set to resume. A winner of five from six, he was explosive when taking out the Group 1 Coolmore (1200m) down the Flemington straight at his most recent run back in the spring.
Rich Charm ($8.50) carries top weight and he’s also fresh, and comes into this off back-to-back wins last preparation. He’s won eight from 17 in total with five from his last six himself.
Super Cash ($5.50) has won four from five when first-up with three from five at the track. Prezado ($8.50) got within a length of Nature Strip at his last run and is joined by stable mate Flamberge ($10) while Ardrossan ($4.80) is yet to taste defeat from his two career starts and he’s at $17 in futures betting for the Newmarket handicap.
With the G1 Blue Diamond (1200m) only a fortnight away, the two-year-olds are out in force. A field of 14 will line up in the Group 2 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) for colts and geldings with Godolphin’s Plague Stone ($3.70) opening as favourite for the race. He caught everyone’s attention when winning a recent trial by nearly 5L and he’s having his second career start here. Ollivander ($4.40) and Run Naan ($7.50) finished in the placings behind Long Leaf in the Listed Blue Diamond Preview (1000m), Native Soldier ($6.50) is looking to make it three-in-a-row while High Ratio ($7) and Written By ($10) were winners on debut, and both have drawn wide here.
The G2 Prelude (1100m) for the fillies has attracted a field of 13. Crossing The Abbey ($8) and Oohood ($3.40) finished second and third in the fillies Preview a fortnight ago with Pure Elation ($7.50) a disappointing fifth after being heavily backed leading into the race. Enbihaar ($12), Al Naifa ($8.50), Angel ($15) and La Parva ($15) are all last start winners while Downloads ($7.50) finished fourth in the Preview where she was beaten less than a length.
SUGGESTED BET: Gailo Chop ($2, race 4, number 1) is a handy horse resuming here. The seven-year-old has won ten of 23 with two at G1 level, and while he’s not getting any younger he’s raced against much tougher company of late and acquitted himself well. He’s short enough but in a field of seven, that’s probably a justified quote.
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