The other Group 1 event on the Caulfield card, the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (Race 7) over 1400m, should be an intriguing affair with Chris Waller’s Counterattack chalked up atop the betting after a luckless first-up second behind Mackintosh in the Theo Marks.
Held-up for a run under Hugh Bowman, the four-year-old hit the line hard after finding clear air at the 150m mark and it’s telling that Waller has chosen to place him here in preference to the Shannon Stakes at Rosehill.
While he’s undoubtedly a talented horse, an underwhelming second-up record and the relative lack of any racing experience in Melbourne give our traders an avenue to oppose him on the weekend and in a field with a bit of depth, we’re keen to take him on.
Weir has a strong recent record in this handicap with both Stratum Star and Trust In A Gust successful over the past couple of years and he’ll be represented by the in-form Voodoo Lad (pictured above), who has already come in for support in our prepost market.
Having disappointed in consecutive runs down the straight at Flemington, the lad cast a spell on them with a runaway win in the Regal Roller.
He followed up an equally impressive performance in the Chandler Macleod last time out, coming from the tail of the field to finish over the top of them in style.
Teenage jockey Chris Parnham, who has partnered the horse at each of his past three victories, may have some work to do to find cover after the horse drew out in 10 and it’ll be interesting to see what tactics he adopts in pursuit of his first triumph at this level.
Stradbroke winner Under the Louvre drops 1kg off his two runs this preparation and has performed credibly on both occasions but statistics don’t paint a pretty picture for potential backers.
Six-times Group 1 winner Testa Rossa is the only horse this century to lump 58kgs or more to victory in this race and while we expect the bay to prove competitive and it will take a huge effort to claim the purse here.
Of the others, highly touted Kiwi Xtravagant enters this race with huge question marks surrounding his temperament after flopping badly at his only two previous runs on this side of the ditch, most recently in the Bobbie Lewis where he failed to beat a runner home.
In an unusual step, connections have negotiated an agreement with stewards that will allow the horse to bypass the parade ring and head straight to the barriers in an attempt to prevent him being stirred up by the raceday experience.
It remains to be seen whether that will do the trick and our traders will be keenly anticipating any market moves closer to the race.
Of the others, Tivaci wasn’t far away in the Bobbie Lewis and figures to run a forward race from the favourable draw while Thames Court has been thereabouts at Group level this preparation and is definitely one to consider for the trifectas.