We’re off to Flemington on Saturday, and the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes headlines a talent-rich nine-race program.
The rail will be left in the true position around the entire course and at publish, we’re faced with a track rated in the Soft (5) range.
Race 1 – 12:30PM – Long May We Play Plate, (2500m)
I am going to roll the dice on Pondus in the first on Makybe Diva Stakes Day.
Pondus was formerly saddled by Joseph O’Brien in Ireland, and returned many pleasing performances around some of the world’s leading horses.
He has raced in Australia previously, running second in both the Bendigo and the Queen Elizabeth Stakes last spring, and arrives into the care of Robert Hickmott off the back of a second placing in the Group 2 Curragh Cup in June.
Race 2 – 1:05PM – Listed Exford Plate, (1400m)
Blue Diamond Stakes winner Artorius can return to winning form in the Exford Plate.
Artorius was nothing short of outstanding during his debut prep, winning his first Group 1 race at just his third trip to the races.
He stormed home from the tail of the field to only just miss in the McNeil Stakes when resuming, and I simply cannot wait to see him over 1400m for the first time.
Race 3 – 1:40pm – Listed Poseidon Stakes, (1200m)
Ingratiating has opened a clear favourite in Poseidon Stakes betting, and for good reason.
He was excellent during his debut prep and finished a close second behind Artorius in the Blue Diamond and third in the Golden Slipper most notably, and he returned to the races for an easy win in the Vain Stakes last month.
I’m confident that he’ll only improve for that run and he can win again.
Race 4 – 2:15pm – Listed Cap D’Antibes, (1100m)
Dosh can make a winning return in this year’s Cap D’Antibes.
The Rich Enuff filly recorded two wins from as many starts during her debut prep, winning the Group 3 Ottawa here on Melbourne Cup Day and returning in January to win the Blue Diamond Preview for fillies.
She has reportedly flourished in her time away and I am happy to have something on in a race like this one.
Race 5 – 2:55pm – Listed The Sofitel, (1400m)
Ayrton looks well placed to record yet another win when he contests The Sofitel on Saturday.
His resuming effort a fortnight ago was outstanding and he’ll only improve for it, but the $1.70 available for him at publish is too short for me, and I am happy to watch.
Race 6 – 3:35pm – Group 2 Let’s Elope Stakes, (1400m)
This is an open edition of the Let’s Elope with several winning chances engaged, including Still A Star.
Still A Star has been nothing short of outstanding since making her debut, and she has delivered Tasmanian horseman Bill Ryan and connections plenty to cheer about.
Her last prep was highlighted by wins in the Vamos Stakes and the Anniversary Vase, while she also contested the All-Star Mile.
Her fresh record is excellent, she’s had the benefit of a couple of trials leading into this race and at around the $8 mark, we can have an each-way play.
Race 7 – 4:15pm – Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Quality, (1200m)
The Bobbie Lewis Quality shapes as one of the better races on Makybe Diva Stakes Day, and I am going to back a couple.
The first is the Tony Gollan-trained Jonker.
Jonker has been a great horse throughout his career, but he has certainly gone to another level since transferring to the care of Queensland’s leading stable, and he was a model of consistency earlier in the year, running third in The Galaxy and second in the Kingsford-Smith Cup most recently.
A recent trial at Doomben suggested he is ready to strike, and I am happy to stick with him.
I’m also going to have a small each-way bet on Front Page.
Front Page returned from a lengthy spell to finish fourth, beaten two lengths by the talented Corner Pocket at The Valley when resuming, and he is yet to finish worse than second at this point of his prep.
He is also a Listed winner down the straight, and we can have an each-way play at around the $21 mark.
Race 8 – 4:50pm – Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes, (1600m)
Almost every horse in this year’s Makybe Diva Stakes field has claims on winning and with that in mind, I’m keen to take a bit of the value on offer, and I think that lies with Aegon ($10 at publish).
Aegon won each of his first five career starts when debuting for Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman, including a Group 1 race in New Zealand and the Hobartville in Sydney.
He kept all of his best work for late when fourth, beaten two lengths by Behemoth in the Memsie Stakes when resuming a fortnight ago, and getting out to a mile on Saturday will be ideal.
Race 9 – 5:25pm – Very Special Kids Pin And Win Plate, (1700m)
I am going to give Ziegfeld one last chance at Flemington on Saturday.
Ziegfeld certainly hasn’t raced poorly in four starts back this time, but he looked to have every chance in his last three starts in particular, and just couldn’t get there.
He did keep coming in the Heatherlie last time and he looks to be a horse that will relish racing on the big track at HQ, and under Damien Oliver, this does look a nice race for him.