Later, the Darley Classic (Race 8) over 1200m down the straight should be a cracker with a number of horses vying for favouritism at the time of writing.
Matthew Dale’s Fell Swoop went within a whisker of breaking through for his maiden Group 1 win in the Manikato when he was edged out by Rebel Dane and he gets the chance to atone for that result against a pretty similar field.
Having Hugh Bowman aboard once again is a huge plus but he’s a bit of an unknown quantity down the straight and at the prices we’re prepared to take our chances.
The same can’t be said of The Quarterback, who has a real affinity for Flemington having landed The Newmarket here back in the autumn and last month’s Gilgai Stakes.
On a track that doesn’t naturally suit him, Robbie Griffiths’ charge really hit the line well in the Manikato and that augurs well for his chances come Saturday with the early money suggesting he will be hard to beat.
A combination of a bad draw and sluggish start saw Dwayne Dunn drop Our Boy Malachi back to last in the Caulfield Sprint but the horse earmarked his versatility with a swooping win against his usual pattern of racing and he once again presents as one of the main chances here.
Off a long break, multiple Group 1 winner Lankan Rupee was forced to shoulder 61kgs in that same race but still managed to hit the line well and dropping 2.5kgs into this he also comes under consideration, particularly in light of his notable second-up record.
Following on from Black Caviar’s consecutive wins in 2010-11, this race has become somewhat of a graveyard for favourites in recent years with the likes of Delectation and Terravista successful at double-figure prices, a statistic that makes the odds about Sheidel look rather attractive in light of her recent form.
While the calibre of opposition is obviously higher here, the mare has shown a ton of guts to record back-to-back victories at Group level over the past month and it wouldn’t surprise us in the least to see her figure in the finish.
Likewise, Malaguerra worked home nicely behind Star Turn in the Schillaci Stakes and is another horse to boast a sound record at headquarters.