Fri, Jun 9, 12:50pm by Senior Writer
While the Brisbane carnival hits its peak with the running of three Group 1 races at Doomben, here in Melbourne, Flemington hosts a typically strong off-season meeting.
Starting in Melbourne, I have had to change my best bet with De Little Engine scratched. Instead I have gone for Race 3 No.4 Military Reign, who is a talented sprinter from Western Australia.
We’ve seen this Western Australian form stand up over the past few months here in Melbourne and this mare’s has form around the likes of Rock Magic and Malibu Style, who we know have been competitive in good company.
She’s run some really good races over longer distances this campaign, but back to the 1000m is ideal. She has had seven starts over this distance for four wins and three seconds. Military Reign is around the $4.80 mark with Sportsbet.
In terms of a best value, there are a few at good odds I really like on Saturday, but I can only choose one and that is Race 6 No.14 Windbern.
WATCH: Our Preview of this weekend’s racing
Windbern comes off a run at Sale when beaten last week when she didn’t really settle and was forced to go forward after being trapped wide. I think that’s the perfect preparation for a race like this. She should get a gun run from barrier four and with in-form Beau Mertens in the saddle, can be right in the finish in what looks an even three-year old race.
I know the Mick Price stable here at Caulfield rate her highly and at $17, she is certainly great value.
In Brisbane, we’ll start with the Stradbroke, where the favourite Clearly Innocent has come up with a very difficult barrier. I’m happy to go with a horse here who represents considerable value, Burning Front. Burning Front has been superbly placed this campaign, winning seven races and steps up to Group 1 for the first time. He loves to go to the front and roll along, and he will be hard to get past over the 1350m here. He was $16 and is now $10.
In the Derby, I think Ruthven can break through for a deserved win. He was just behind the placegetters in the Australian Derby, was a big run when second in the SA derby. With that fitness and experience on his side, I think he can get the cash at around $4.80.
The JJ Atkins is a 1600m race for the two-year-olds and it’s hard to go past Melody Belle, the Kiwi filly who was so impressive winning last time.
Here’s our race by race preview for Flemington on Saturday.
Race 1 Eugene Gorman Hcp – 1100m
1st: 2. Lone Eagle ($2.35)
2nd: 8. Olifants ($21)
3rd: 4. The Consigliere ($15)
4th: 1. Andaz ($9.50)
Summary: Lone Eagle was excellent in his first start two weeks ago, charging home to finish second in a race won bin very smart time. A reproduction of that effort will see him get the chocolates here. Olifants might be the one to watch at big odds after having had two decent runs into this. You’d expect him to improve here. The Consigliere had excuses last time and ran a reasonable race after striking interference. Can improve with a clear run. Andaz won well first-up beating Olifants home and might prove a nice horse.
Race 2 Trevor Clarke Hcp -1400m
1st: 6. Swampland ($7)
2nd: 2. Pedrena ($4.20)
3rd: 1. Samovare ($2.35)
4th: 7. Summer Glen ($9.50)
Not sure why Soho Ruby is not favourite here off her last-start win. She was dominant that day and should have no problems coming back to the 1400m, so long as she is ridden positively. Swampland is building towards a win and while she doesn’t win often, the $7.50 about her looks good value. Pedrena was comfortably beaten by Soho Ruby last time, and faces a challenge to turn the tables here. Samovare is a talented WA filly resuming here for the Hayes family. She trialled well, just a slight query first-up over the 1400m. Summer Glen has bee crying out for the 1400m.
Race 3 Bruce Gadsden Hcp – 1000m
1st: 4. Military Reign ($4.80)
2nd: 7. Lake Como ($7.50)
3rd: 1. Husson Eagle ($6.50)
4th: 2. Santa Ana Lane ($2.90)
Summary: As mentioned earlier, Military Reign looks very well suited in this race. Her best 1000m form puts her right in this race. Lake Como loves the Flemington straight with two wins here this campaign. Back to 1000m is a query given she has never raced over that distance. Conversely Husson Eagle loves the 1000m, having won three and placed five of his 10 starts. Won over 1000m here this time last year. Santa Ana Lane was a huge run in the G1 Goodwood last time. That form is very good but he also comes back to the 1000m for the first time.
Race 4 Young Member’s Ball Hcp – 2500m
1st: 5. Goathland ($2.15)
2nd: 4. Shoreham ($9)
3rd: 7. Try Four ($8.50)
4th: 9. Charlevoix ($34)
Summary: This race looks a benefit for Goathland after the scratching of De Little Engine and Grand Dreamer. Won over the 2500m here back in December in very impressive style and has built up nicely through his two starts this campaign. Shoreham has enjoyed being back in Melbourne and his two runs have been very good. He hasn’t won for 1372 days which is a worry! Try Four has been mixing his flat and jumps runs but did get home nicely last time at Sandown. Charleviox is the other one first considering,
Race 5 Ken Cox Handicap – 1800m
1st: 1. Kilimanjaro ($7)
2nd: 8. Zourkhan ($3.80)
3rd: 9. Zahspeed ($8.50)
4th: 2. Master Zephyr ($11)
Summary: Really not sure about this race. If Kilimanjaro has anything like the ability his form shows, he should eat these for breakfast. He has Derby form in England and Ireland but hasn’t raced for two years. I’ll pick him, but tentatively. Zourkhan was an impressive winner last time. Got a great run and race run to suit, but clearly is back in form. Pace is an interesting factor in this race and with not a lot of it on paper, Zahspeed could get a cushy run up front and give them something to chase. Master Zephyr has been up forever, but is consistent enough to be in the finish here.
Race 6 Henry Bolte Hcp – 2000m
1st: 14. Windbern ($17)
2nd: 3. Docker Pav ($11)
3rd: 12. Tell The Truth ($9)
4th: 4. Guangzhou ($6)
Summary: A really open race, but feel there’s some great value here with Windbern. Her run at Sale last week was very good especially after she missed a run prior to that and that should have her topped off well for this challenge. Docker Pav has progressed very nicely in his first campaign and ran well against the older horses last time. Comes back to the 2000m here, but can figure in the finish. Tell The Truth has been crying out for the 2000m and shapes as a contender while Guangzhou comes off a good win here over the 1600m last time.
Race 7 Rod Johnson Hcp – 1400m
1st: 10. Airalign ($14)
2nd: 2. Royal Rapture ($16)
3rd: 6. Sovereign Nation ($4.80)
4th: 8. Zebrinz ($10)
Summary: Another really tough race with heaps of chances. Have opted for Airalign on the basis of his outstanding second-up record, having won five or six races off a first-up run. Last time out knocked off Bassett and Inspector second-up over this distance. Royal Rapture has to be included on his excellent Flemington record. He is four of six here and is three of six second up. Nice odds. Sovereign Nation won well here first-up and can figure in this race, which looks not that much harder. Zebrinz has been really consistent this campaign and needs to be considered.
Race 8 LV Lachal Hcp – 1000m
1st: 4. Invincible Al ($11)
2nd: 5. Dam Ready ($4.50)
3rd: 1. Nasdex ($8)
4th: 5. Overstep ($4.50)
Summary: Have gone with another one at good odds here in Invincible Al. He’s a nice horse this bloke and has run well down the Flemington straight previously, Will improve a lot of that first-up run at Bendigo and the stable are on fire at the moment. Dam Ready’s spring form is very strong and he resumes here off a good trial and with an in-form jockey on board. Nasdex comes back to his own age group after finding the open class a bit tough last time. Has a great winning strike rate. Overstep was good winning over the 1200m last time, but a slight query back to the five furlongs.
Race 9 Comic Court Hcp – 1400m
1st: 14. Valliano ($8.50)
2nd: 6. Guizot ($19)
3rd: 18. Pattern ($5)
4th: 6. Nikitas ($6.50)
Summary: A tough way to finish off, but sticking with Valliano here. Has enjoyed being ridden more positively his last two and is building towards a win, just needs to find the right race. This could be it. I’m a fan of Guizot despite him being a touch disappointing last time. Back to the 1400m looks ideal and he is out to big odds. Pattern intrigues more than any other runner. He looks a really progressive horse and Lloyd has used these 1400m Flemington race to build up his less experienced horses before Think of Fawkner. Nikitas has been busting to get out to the 1400m and his breeding would suggest that even further would suit.
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