It’s a tricky track condition to assess once again. The rating is a soft 7 (as of Thursday), with a few showers predicted on Saturday. The rail is out 6m, after being out 3m on Slipper day.
Check out the preview and verdict for every race below.
Going for some value in the opener of the day with unbeaten colt Fortress Command (5) from the Ryan stable. He faces a big step-up in class off a Newcastle win, but there’s a bit to like about him. It was a convincing win at Newcastle over this distance and the runner-up has come out and won since. With a better draw this time around he can settle a bit closer to the speed.
Bellevue Hill (1) is the one to beat after being an emergency for the Slipper last week. He spanked his opposition on debut in the Black Opal preview before giving a good sight out in front when finishing 0.5L 2nd to Yes Yes Yes. Clark should find the front on the Pierro colt from barrier 7.
La Tene (3) heads to Sydney off the back of two wins in Melbourne, including a last-start victory at G2 level in the VRC Sires’. She sat outside the leader at Flemington and expect she’ll find a similar position here with McDonald to push forward from the wide draw.
Strasbourg (2) was dropped by the leading pack early in the straight in the Todman before holding his position to the line to finish 5th, 2.8L off Yes Yes Yes. Blinkers are coming off here as he rises in distance.
VERDICT: Fortress Command e/w
There’s plenty of chances here after Roger James elected to go to the Tancred with Rondinella. All Too Soon (12) should be reaching peak fitness fourth-up and on the back-up from last week’s G3 Epona. She got trapped behind horses early in the straight before finding the line well once clear over the final 150m. Likely to get back in the run with the draw.
Goathland (8) has returned in good form with a win first-up on a good deck followed by a 3rd to Red Cardinal on a heavy 10 in the Sky High. Both runs have been over this distance. He maps to get a great run in behind the leaders from barrier 4.
The sting out of the ground is a plus for Moss ‘N’ Dale (2) who claimed the G3 Craven Plate over 2000m at Randwick during the spring. He’s had a couple of tough assignments to start the autumn, finishing last of 14 first-up in the Orr before beating one runner home in the All-Star Mile. Does need to lift on his last start effort even with the drop in grade.
Harlem (1) has to lump 59.5kg, but has to be considered after defending his Australian Cup crown. His two runs in Sydney last autumn after winning the Aus Cup were average including a 7th to Almandin in this race. Will need an improving track.
VERDICT: All Too Soon e/w
The Kiwi’s hold a dominant hand in the race, led by Madison County (1). The Baker/Forsman gelding missed the Rosehill Guineas last week after suffering an abrasion on the way to the track. His run behind The Autumn Sun in the Randwick Guineas was terrific, closing off in 22.78 for the final 400m, which wasn’t far off The Autumn Sun’s 400m split of 22.52. In A Twinkling (2) for Jamie Richards has performed well at his past two starts since stepping up in trip. He drops back in distance after going down by a head to Crown Prosecutor in the NZ Derby (2400m) which followed another close-up 2nd in the Avondale Guineas behind Surely Sacred. Slightly awkward draw in barrier 7, but JMac has the option of pushing forward.
Cossetot (4) has been up a while now having debuted back in December. He is holding his form however, having placed at G2 level at his past two starts in Melbourne after claiming the Tasmanian Derby last month. He looks the likely leader from barrier 5 and is rock-hard fit.
Carif (9) is one at big odds that could surprise. He didn’t show a lot first-up over 1400m when sent around the $4.80EF, settling last in the field of 7 before passing a couple in the straight. He appreciated the step-up to 1850m second-up at Newcastle, claiming his maiden victory by 2.9L. By So You Think, he shouldn’t have an issue with the sting out of the ground.
VERDICT: Madison County
Alizee (1) has to concede weight to the field, but should prove hard to hold out. She loomed as the winner of the All-Star Mile, but was no match for Mystic Journey over the final 100m and was nosed out of 2nd by stablemate Hartnell. She claimed the G1 Futurity Stakes the start prior despite racing wide without cover. The wide draw isn’t an issue for her.
Invincible Gem (6) looks value with the Lees-trained mare covering plenty of ground in the G1 Coolmore when 8th behind Dixie Blossoms. The knock is she hasn’t been in the winners’ circle since the 2017 Missile Stakes.
Daysee Doom (2) faded late first-up in the Millie Fox, finishing 6th behind White Moss. She had to do a little bit of work early to sit outside the lead, but given the leader won the race, she was entitled to finish off a touch better. She’s worth giving another chance given her record at the track (13:5-1-2).
Dyslexic (8) gave a good sight up on the speed in the G2 Ajax on a very heavy track and should be up on the pace again from barrier 4. Oregon’s Day (3) loomed as a chance down on the inside at the 300m in the G1 Coolmore, before dropping back to 6th. Her chances will be enhanced by a drying track.
There are plenty of chance in the G3 sprint. Brave Song (7) appeals e/w. The Snowden-trained 4YO resumes off two trials and has performed well fresh in the past (3:2-1-0). He really caught the eye in his latest trial over 1050m, running on strongly from the back under a hold. He had good form during the spring including a Listed win at Caulfield and a 3rd to Osborne Bulls.
Estijaab (6) is coming up for her third run of the autumn. She resumed from a lengthy spell with a 2nd to Fiesta over 1100m. She dropped back to 1000m for the G2 Challenge Stakes, making her run early in the straight with Redzel before dropping back over the final 150m to finish 5th, 2L adrift of Ball Of Muscle. She’ll need to begin well to cross from the outside gate with a bit of speed engaged here.
Trekking (8) closed off solidly on a very heavy track first-up when 4th behind Easy Eddie. He held his form throughout the spring, finishing outside the top four just once in six starts, when a luckless 9th behind Brave Song at Caulfield (having started the $2.80F).
Manuel (1) has a G1 win to his name this campaign, taking out the Orr last month at Caufield. He then finished 5th to Alizee in the Futurity and 8th to Fifty Stars in the Blamey. He has found the lead at his last three starts, but could have Fiery Heights, Ardrossan and Estijaab competing for the front here.
Verdict: Brave Song
Outstanding field of fillies for the Vinery. Nakeeta Jane (1) has been in fantastic form this prep for Mark Newnham. She took out the G1 Surround Stakes earlier this month and backed-up a week later in the G1 Randwick Guineas, finishing 3rd, just over a length off The Autumn Sun. She’s had a three-week break into this assignment and should be primed for the step-up to 2000m fourth-up.
Verry Elleegant (3) will by mighty hard to beat and has had plenty of support in early betting. She’s got a stack of talent – which was only display last start when winning the G2 Phar Lap by 3.5L – but still does a fair bit wrong in the run. Given the fact she can be her own worst enemy, $2.45 looks short enough in a quality field.
Scarlet Dream (11) shapes as a leading Oaks contender. What she has shown in her five runs to date suggests she’ll relish getting out to 2400m. She finished off strongly in the Kembla Grange Classic off a slack tempo and should be finding the line strongly again here.
Aristia (4) was easily held by Verry Elleegant last start in the Phar Lap, finishing 5.3L off the winner, but should improve on a better track and with the step-up in trip. She found her best form in the spring once she got to 2000m and beyond, getting her maiden win in the G2 Wakeful before taking out the VRC Oaks.
The chances certainly don’t end there.
VERDICT: Nakeeta Jane
Going with Avilius (1) on top, but he’s rock-bottom odds at $1.60 after opening at $2.20. Bounced back from a slightly flat performance in the Australian Cup to take out the Ranvet last week in dominant fashion. He’s on the back-up and will be very fit now after the run on the heavy track. He was a winner over 2500m in the spring, but it was only by a nose over Jaameh and this might be at the end of his distance range.
Red Cardinal (2) is the obvious danger. The import has found his mojo this campaign, claiming back-to-back wins on rain affected going at this track. He hasn’t finished outside the top two in his four starts at the trip.
Stablemate Big Duke (8) is on the back-up after finishing runner-up to Midterm last week at this track/trip in the Manion Cup when conceding weight to the rest of the field. He likes Rosehill and the sting out of the ground.
James/Wellwood have elected to have a crack at the G1 Tancred with Kiwi mare Rondinella (14) rather than the easier assignment of the Sellwood Stakes earlier in the day. She should have finished closer to Melody Belle last start in the G1 NZ Stakes, having endured a torrid run in transit, including copping a severe check at the 500m.
Mask Of Time (5) has finished 3rd in his two runs over 1500m to start the prep. It was a tough effort in the Ajax last start where he led, was then headed by Dyslexic in the straight, fought back to regain the lead, only to be nabbed in the final few strides. Only slight query is whether he is looking for further at this stage of his prep.
Siege Of Quebec’s (2) first-up performance was just OK in the Newcastle Newmarket, finishing 5th after enjoying a good run in behind the leader. He has been back to the trials since, putting in a good hit-out over 1200m on a heavy track. A soft track is a concern. He got through the going in the trial, but all-bar one of his career starts have been on good tracks, flopping on a heavy track in the Theo Marks.
It’s been a mixed campaign for Seaway (8). The 4YO gelding won twice over 1500m on a soft 7 before a disappointing run over the same distance in the G2 Ajax on a genuine heavy. A better track could see him bounce back here.
Don’t Give A Damn (12) struggled first-up on a firm track and then hit a heavy 10 last time when 5th to Star of the Seas. We might get to see the best of him here with conditions to suit.
VERDICT: Mask Of Time
Star of the Seas (1) and Mahalangur (7) ran the quinella a fortnight back over 1350m and both look major players here. The latter might be able to turn the tables, meeting Star of the Seas 2kg better off for a 1.8L margin. Mahalangur (7) was first-up on the heavy 10 track and should be fitter here. Certainly no knock on Star of the Seas who put the writing on the wall with a couple of runner-up efforts to start the campaign.
Renewal (8) resumed with a win first-up over 1200m at Randwick. He is a versatile galloper who has performed well being ridden conservatively so the wide draw isn’t a major concern, although it will force Avdulla to go right back.
First emergency Napoleon Solo (14) is a chance if he gains a start. The Snowden colt is inexperienced with just the five career starts, but has shown plenty of promise, finishing his last campaign with a maiden win before making the big jump to a BM78 and getting the job done again. He’s drawn well in barrier 7, which should allow Lane to settle midfield.
Spring Charlie (9) will warm-up for the Provincial Championships with a run here, having booked his spot in the final last month at Hawkesbury. It’s been five weeks between runs, but he did put in a good trial at Wyong recently over 1200m. He is by Myboycharlie and has a win on a soft 7 so the sting out of the ground won’t present any problems.