Elsewhere, there’s also Group 1 action down in Melbourne with the WFA Makybe Diva Stakes (Race 7) over 1600m at Flemington honouring Australia’s only three-time Melbourne Cup winner.
Black Heart Bart couldn’t have been more impressive first-up in the Memsie Stakes where he was heavily backed late on and we’re expecting a surge of money in support of him again on Saturday up against a similar calibre field.
Damien Oliver, who partnered Fawkner to victory here 12 months ago, takes over from the suspended Brad Rawiller in the saddle and while we have him on top we’re happy to accommodate punters wanting to side with Bart.
While the horse’s only previous trip to headquarters saw him finish a gallant second to The Quarterback in the Newmarket, it’s interesting to read that he hasn’t saluted in seven previous attempts at a mile or longer, a statistic the camp would surely like to reverse with the Cox Plate on their radar.
Stablemate Palentino’s two runs back from a spell have been fair at best but the horse has happy memories of his last try over this distance after an epic win over Tarzino in the Australian Guineas back in March.
While the horse has won both of his previous third-up runs and is well suited by this track we think he’s probably under the odds at present and are instead looking elsewhere for the biggest threat to the favourite.
Ironically, that may come from one of the Hayes/Dabernig camp’s three starters in He or She, a gelding part-owned and formerly trained by Black Heart Bart’s original master Vaughan Sigley.
Like Palentino, this horse also has a Flemington mile win on his resume having had the better of The United States in the Blamey Stakes here during his previous preparation.
Our traders were happy with his run in the Memsie and felt the horse was capable of sharp improvement second-up.
Although the forecast of wet weather in Melbourne would be a deterrent to his chances given that the horse historically goes better on firm surfaces.
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Of the others, Tony McEvoy’s Alpine Eagle should be better suited back on home soil and represents some each-way value while the likes of Tarzino and Sofia Rosa should also be closing late as they build towards staying races later in the spring.