Fresh off establishing a new personal best of six Group 1 winners on his way to breaking the Commonwealth training record in 2015/16, Darren Weir has a strong hand in the first major of the new season, the Memsie Stakes (Race 7) over 1400m at Caulfield on Saturday.
Weir saddles-up the first three horses in the market, including favourite Black Heart Bart who went to another level during his last preparation having transferred across from Perth at the start of the year.
A barnstorming win in the Goodwood at Morphettville was followed by a game performance under 58kgs in the Stradbroke, where he was just edged out by Under the Louvre following an epic duel over the final 250m.
A start in the Cox Plate looms large on the radar for ‘Bart’, who won the Victoria Handicap over the same trip on his only previous visit to Caulfield and has drawn comfortably in gate five.
Also in his favour is the fact the last six winners of the Memsie have all been first-up from a spell.
The likes of Dissident and So You Think have been able to use victory in this race as a springboard to later riches during the Melbourne carnival.
Indeed, last year’s winner Boban followed a similar path into the race having had a couple of runs over the Brisbane winter carnival before edging out Entirely Platinum in a driving finish.
Black Heart Bart ticks a lot of boxes but in a field with undoubted quality, he’s come up fairly short and while we have plenty of respect for the horse, we’re happy to accommodate punters wanting to back him on the weekend.
As it is, the best backed runner early in betting with us has been Australian Guineas winner Palentino(pictured above), who should have sourced some extra conditioning from his fourth placed finish behindVoodoo Lad in the Regal Roller a fortnight ago.
The step up to seven furlongs suits but he may have to cover some extra ground having landed out in ten, with Mark Zahra set to resume his association with the chestnut.
Mahuta hasn’t quite come back the same horse this time around and has produced two underwhelming runs to date, most recently in the PB Lawrence where he box-seated but was eventually beaten by more than two lengths.
Of the others, the rails draw and the booking of Damien Oliver work in favour of Robbie Laing’s Lord of the Sky, who led them up as usual but failed to run out a strong 1400m in the PB Lawrence.
Laing also expressed some dismay at the inclusion of John Sadler’s Charmed Harmony, who will likely push forward as well from the three alley, given that Lord of the Sky’s hopes probably rest on being able to dictate both terms and tempo in front.
Tony McEvoy’s talented galloper Alpine Eagle also presents as a real query runner, having recovered from the cracked pedal bone which saw him scratched from the 2015 Turnbull along with missing the entire autumn.
McEvoy was reportedly thrilled with the horse’s work after a recent trial at Tatura and our traders will be on the lookout for any serious money in support of him.
With a number of these runners being aimed at the Caulfield Cup, look for the likes of Tavago and Tarzino to be running on late while Melbourne Cup winner Prince of Penzance, the last of the Weir quartet, will be partnered by Harry Coffey.
The stayer’s owners made the controversial decision to overlook Michelle Payne as she continues to recuperate from a heavy fall.
Memsie Stakes Tips:
1. Black Heart Bart
3. Alpine Eagle
4. Lord of the Sky
Tips and Preview provided by UniBet.com.au