The Mounting Yard: Underwood Stakes day preview
I cover another Saturday of Group 1 action, yet again at Caulfield where the Underwood Stakes headlines the program and Cups contender Russian Camelot opens as a $2 favourite. The supporting cast are the Caulfield and Thousand Guineas preludes where (hopefully) punters will have a clearer picture of who they want to be on in […]
I cover another Saturday of Group 1 action, yet again at Caulfield where the Underwood Stakes headlines the program and Cups contender Russian Camelot opens as a $2 favourite.
The supporting cast are the Caulfield and Thousand Guineas preludes where (hopefully) punters will have a clearer picture of who they want to be on in the two features. With a deteriorating track (expected rain on Friday and Saturday) and with the rail out six metres it will more than likely suit those who race on speed. Let’s find some winners!
Race 1: mares, Benchmark 90, handicap, 1100 metres
It is an intriguing way to kick off the program with some exciting types in action. I don’t think they’ll go overly quickly here. Expect the two favourites in Kalkarni Royale and How Womantic to control the race on speed.
With the price differential considered I was happy to be with Kalkarni Royale. The Corstens mare has won three out of a possible five and one of those wins was over a very smarty type in Felicia. In her two losses, she had legitimate excuses. At Caulfield three-back she had no room in the straight, and she got laid out on about 400 times in the straight at Flemington. She handles soft ground, her jump-out leading into this was fantastic and the sticking point for me is that she draws a barrier (2) whereas the main danger in How Womantic draws out (9) and might have to work to get across.
How Womantic is the danger, with a fantastic record to date (6:5-0-0). The form line coming out of her resuming win at the Valley is very good, with the third horse, Fabric, winning at this track last weekend. She loves winning and will be right in the mix again. I’m confident the winner comes from those two. Include Algadon Miss and Be My Star in exotics.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #9 Kalkarni Royale at $4.60.
Race 2: Benchmark 78, handicap, 1400 metres
A capacity field should ensure the race is run at a solid enough tempo. Expect Easy Beast and Design Rouge to take it up.
Duke of Plumpton can run a big race first-up. The Payne Gelding has a brilliant first-up record (5:3-1-0) and he only improved that last preparation when winning by three lengths at Echuca. He then ran two solid seconds against Shot of Irish when the pattern was against him, and Savaheat, who had a career peak rating on the day. If the rain comes it suits this bloke down to the ground and Billy Egan can be more positive from the gate (5) and get the gun run.
Not Mine is a former Hong Kong galloper who brings over pretty good form lines. He has been gelded during this 39-week spell and his Flemington jump-outs leading into this first-up assignment were good.
Grand De Flora is the best horse in the race but after only the one jump out. It’s a bit of a worry first-up even though she is undefeated. Another worry is the inside gate (1) and getting back in the ruck in such a large field. If the luck comes, she is a huge chance, but I think she is more of an $8 favourite than a $5.50 favourite.
Recommended bet: Leaving this one alone. Go wide for anyone taking early quaddies!
Race 3: Benchmark 84, handicap, 2000 metres
It was a difficult race to map with a few runners alternating between being on speed and back markers in recent starts.
I’m happy to be with Don’t Doubt Dory at a good price. The Julien Welsh yard have been striking at 30 per cent in the last 12 months (admittedly from 30 runners) and he is the horse with the most upside in this field along with the short-priced favourite. He has been taken through his grades, going from a Class 1 at Pakenham to a very strong Benchmark 78 at Sandown last start. I love the riding appointment of Patrick Moloney and from the inside draw (2) he should get the run of the race and any rain around is a bonus.
Le Baol is a huge chance and I also had him marked as favourite, just not a $2.40 one. The import won the French Derby a couple of preparations back and his first-up win at Sandown over both Don’t Doubt Dory and Lord Bouzeron was impressive. He draws trickily here (8) and it will be interesting to see what the tactics are, but he might be the best horse in the race and class will take him a long way.
Lord Bouzeron improves on wet ground and maps to lead, which will take him a long way in the race, while Skyman is a good horse who can bounce back, rising back to 2000 metres.
Recommended bet: #11 Don’t Doubt Dory each way at $12.
Race 4: Testa Rossa Stakes, listed level, 1200 metres
They don’t map to go overly quick here and Alfa Oro probably hands up to Runson and those two should be able to dictate out in front.
Alfa Oro faces his biggest test to date, but he will pass it with flying colours. His win at Pakenham three starts back was outstanding when beating the track record on the synthetic, before winning another two on the trot, one over Pinyin at Flemington (subsequent winner), and one over Sansom at this track. The only query is the fact he is first-up over 1200 metres, but from the ideal barrier (4) he should get the run of the race and just prove too good for these. He will win group races this spring.
Brooklyn Hustle will need luck but does shape as the main danger. The Warren-trained mare was breathtaking on debut, beating Propelle by 3.5 lengths (subsequent winner), before running on strongly to finish 0.75 lengths off Group 1 winner Bella Vella. That form reads best coming into this race and she should be ready to peak third-up.
Runson is the only other winning chance. Going by his first-up run he has come back better than ever, running half a length off Lyre and Diamond Effort. His form from last preparation reads better than expected as well, running second behind Diamond Effort again. He should get a lovely run on the speed and provide a big kick on straightening.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #7 Alfa Oro at $2.70.
Race 5: handicap, 1400 metres
The tempo should be very strong here with the likes of Buffalo River, Alsvin, Gold Fields and Morrissy all wanting to sit on speed. I’m going to back a couple to roll the favourites.
Morrissy has been consistent this preparation and maps to get a lovely run behind a hot speed. He was a dominant winner three-back when winning over Ruban Bleu, before running on strongly last start behind I Am Superman. That runner is a $4 chance in a Group 2 in Sydney on the same day and the third horse, Nonconformist, is a legitimate Cups contender. He is over the odds in this type of field.
Simply Invincible is another consistent type who can run a huge race at big odds. The Peter Moody gelding was very good on resumption after a 74-week break in the same race Morrissy ran second in. He had to work early to cross and sit outside the leader and battled on brilliantly to only peak over the last 100. He maps to get a perfect run fifth or sixth and that might be the best position to be in the run.
Buffalo River has a strange running action yet was very good last preparation, beating a couple of smart ones in Achernar Star and Harbour Views. He will need to work to get across, which is the concern. Windstorm and Adelaide Ace should also be included in exotics as both should be ready to peak third-up.
Recommended bet: Each-way plays on #6 Morrissy at $8 and #10 Simply Invincible at $21.
Race 6: Caulfield Guineas Prelude, Group 3, 1400 metres
I start the features off with the Guineas prelude. I found it hard to judge the tempo as some who have drawn wide will have to decide on whether they come across. Expect Prague to cross and lead from Bartley and Crosshaven.
Flying Award seems like a horse that will appreciate the 1400 metres here in readiness for the mile. The O’Brien galloper recorded a brilliant win before spelling at Flemington, running the seventh fastest last 200 of the day to win after looking no chance. He resumed in good fashion, flashing home to run a neck away from Immortal Love over 1200 after settling last on the turn. He needs cover in the three-wide line but if he gets it, he will be hard to hold out.
Savannah Cloud faces a massive rise in grade, but he gets a few favours today and the Stokes team have seen the Guineas as a target from a long way out, which shows what they think of him. He had excuses when running close-up placings to Sense of Honour and Saltpeter last preparation, before absolutely dominating on resumption in a Cranbourne maiden, winning by 5.5 lengths. This horse maps perfectly and handled the wet just fine with that win coming on a soft seven.
I am terrified of Cambourne. The wide barrier turned me off him (11) but he is ultra-talented. Both his wins to date have come so effortlessly and his last win at Bendigo was over a couple of smart ones. The market is respecting him and so am I. Prague and Crosshaven are musts for exotics players.
Recommended bet: Win bets on both #4 Flying Award at $5.50 and #9 Savannah Cloud at $11.
Race 7: Thousand Guineas Prelude, Group 2, three-year-old, fillies, 1400 metres
The prelude for the girls takes place now and I have a feeling they will probably run quicker time than the boys. The speed looks hot on paper with Letzbeglam, Love Sensation, Night Raid and River Night all pressing forward but they will pinch a few cheap sectionals upon settling.
Night Raid is over the odds at $4.40 in a two-horse affair barring maybe one outsider. This filly was outstanding on resumption in a Tatura maiden, winning by seven lengths. She didn’t beat much and that was the query when she came to the city at the Valley in the Atlantic Jewel, but she put the doubters to bed when bursting through the gap late to beat Dirty Thoughts ($3.40 in a Group 3 tonight). She was terrific over the last 100 here, which shows she will be able to run out the 1400, and from the gun draw (4) she maps to get the run of the race and should take a ton of catching.
Instant Celebrity hasn’t put a foot wrong and her best win was on resumption when she seemingly made up nine lengths in 200 metres. Not many horses can just switch a flick and accelerate like that, but this girl can. The rise to 1400 metres seems ideal and if they go too quick in front, she will be the one running over the top of them.
Personal is the only other winning chance. I have plenty of time for this filly and was her on when completely luckless in a strong Blue Diamond. Her run on resumption down the straight was very good and her last 100 metres were clearly her best. She maps well and she will be an eye-catcher headed towards the guineas. Letzbeglam was okay resuming and is another who maps to be on speed and should be fitter second-up.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #5 Night Raid at $4.40.
Race 8: Underwood Stakes, Group 1, WFA, 1800 metres
It is an interesting speed map. They will run along at a decent clip. Trap for Fools, Levendi, Gailo Chop and Harbour Views will all be wanting a spot.
I was surprised there betting black odds for Russian Camelot and have already taken some of the $2 on offer for what might be the best horse in Australia at the end of the spring. The O’Brien colt was dominant last preparation, winning a Pakenham BM64 by six lengths, before going to South Australia and winning the Oaks off just the two lead-up runs, which was a remarkable effort. His run on resumption in the Makybe Diva was enormous, travelling four-wide and without cover the trip yet still making ground on the winner Fierce Impact over the last 100. Rising to 1800 suits and even if he is caught wide and without cover, he just wins, in what is the weakest Group 1 he will contest this spring.
Arcadia Queen leads all the others as winning chances. The Western Australian worked home nicely when fresh in the PB Lawrence, before storming home late to finish a neck away from Pretty Brazen in the Let’s Elope. She maps well and can settle closer today.
Mr Quickie should appreciate rising to the 1800 after a brilliant first-up effort over 1400 in the Memsie, but I don’t trust him at all regarding winning. They are the only chances.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #10 Russian Camelot at $2.
Race 9: handicap, 1700 metres
It is an intriguing way to end what is hopefully a fantastic day of racing. Expect the speed to be genuine with Inverloch, Kentucky Breeze and Lord Durante trying to cross from horror barriers while Odeon kicks up from the rails.
Nonconformist doesn’t draw many favours (11) but he brings in the best form line and best profile and he is clearly the best horse in the race going forward. He had the potential to get into the Cups as a lightweight contender after a dominant display when beating Adelaide Ace by three lengths at the Valley at the end of last preparation and nothing he did on resumption did anything to say I was wrong. He got a long way back and recorded clearly the fastest last 400 of the race to finish 1.75 lengths off I am Superman, who is a $4 chance in a Group 2 in Sydney. He will be giving them a head start but the rise to 1700 suits and he is rock-hard fit.
Inverloch draws terribly (13) but has the speed to cross the field. He was very good on resumption at $101 and was unlucky not to have been in the finish. He loves this track and the more rain around the better for this galloper.
Junipal has been good this time in even though he is another who draws terribly (14). He did it easily over Odeon last start and I can’t see that horse turning the tables on him, especially if it’s wet. Shot of Irish is a chance if it jumps cleanly, but it isn’t really a betting proposition due to the fact he hasn’t been.
Recommended bet: Win bet on #8 Nonconformist at $3.80.
Best bet: Race 8 #10 Russian Camelot
Next best bet: Race 7 #5 Night Raid
Best value: Race 3 #11 Don’t Doubt Dory