The Flemington Carnival has arrived and Derby Day will launch the biggest week on the Australian racing calendar at HQ on Saturday.
Nine races will be run and won on Derby Day and four of the season’s most highly anticipated Group 1 races headline the impressive card, which will begin with the running of the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes at 11:45am AEDT.
The rail will remain in the true position around the entire Flemington course on Derby Day and the track has been rated in the Good range.
The Carbine Club Stakes always gets Derby Day off to a cracking start and this field of three-year-olds is terrific.
Ranier returned to winning form through an excellent performance two weeks ago and has opened the $5.50 favourite in Carbine Club Stakes betting. He was absolutely luckless when blocked for a run in the Listed Antler Luggage Plate (1400m) here two starts ago but still savaged the line for a close second when he finally found clear running, and a repeat of his smart win in the Listed Gothic Stakes (1400m) most recently would surely find him too difficult to beat again.
Vassilator boxed on to finish second in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) at a huge price last time and will enjoy the step back in class, while Wild Planet ($9) has been racing well this time and would not look out of place in the winner’s stall.
Good ‘N’ Fast has enjoyed a smart preparation this time and hit the line well to finish fourth in the Caulfield Guineas. He’s another horse that will be better suited to this Group 3 race and he looks over the odds at his current price ($14).
Twelve classy fillies with a view towards Thursday’s Group 1 Kennedy Oaks (2500m) will step out in the Wakeful, but it really does look like Verry Elleegant’s race to lose. Verry Elleegant ($2.30) has enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence this season and recorded consecutive wins in her native New Zealand, before joining Darren Weir’s astable and finishing third in the Group 2 Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) in early October. Her win in the Group 3 Ethereal Stakes (2000m) two weeks ago was outstanding and she’s drawn perfectly.
This Group 2 sprint down the famous straight has drawn a smart field of horses and I am happy to back the favourite Osborne Bulls ($4) at his current price. Osborne Bulls simply does not know how to run a bad race and his flew home on the outside rail to finish a strong third in The Everest (1200m) last time out. He will enjoy a return to good going at Flemington on Saturday and a repeat of anything that he has done this time would see him fighting out the finish again.
There’s value around several other horses in the market including Flemington straight specialist Missrock ($10), who is sure to carry plenty of benefit into her second-up assignment.
With ballot-free entry into Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup on the line, the Lexus Stakes has drawn a simply outstanding field of locally-trained and international stayers.
A Prince Of Arran ($5.25) ran an eye-catching third in the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) on debut in Australia a few weeks ago and with natural improvement, he’ll be right in the finish of this race. The Shirroco gelding has form around some of the world’s best stayers and he can find a nice position in transit from barrier 7.
Japanese raider Sole Impact ($41) didn’t fire a shot in the Caulfield Cup, but he’ll be better in this company and has the notable advantage of Hugh Bowman in the saddle for this race.
Patrick Erin ($17), Sixties Groove ($11) and Brimham Rocks ($7) are all live chances in this field.
The first of four outstanding Group 1 feature races will see a classy field of three-year-old sprinters step out and the Chris Waller-trained Zousain has opened the $4 favourite, from Group 1 winner Written By ($4.20) and Magic Millions champion Sunlight ($4.60).
I think that the value actually rests with the other Waller runner in this field, Lean Mean Machine ($12). The Zoustar colt is a multiple stakes winner and his win in the Group 2 The Run To The Rose (1200m) earlier this season was absolutely huge. Hugh Bowman can tuck in behind the early pace from barrier 3 and will look to finish over the top of his rivals.
This is always one of the most open Group 1 races of the Spring Carnival and Saturday’s edition of the Empire Rose Stakes (formerly the Myer Classic) certainly fits the bill. Thousand Guineas winner Amphitrite is the $4.70 favourite from Shillelagh ($7.50) and three-year-old Oohood ($8).
There is legitimately a case to be made for nearly every horse in this field but I am leaning towards another Waller runner in Invincibella ($9.50). Invincibella has been knocking on the door of the highest level for more than a year and has recorded several impressive performances at results this time. With even luck, she’ll be fighting out the finish again.
This is one of the most highly-anticipated races of the year and an excellent field of three-year-old stayers will step out for this season’s Victoria Derby. Thinkin’ Big is the $3.40 favourite from Aramayo ($6) and last weekend’s Group 2 Moonee Valley Vase winner Stars Of Carrum, $11 into $7.50 at the time publish.
There looks to be some progressive types in this field and obviously there is always an element on the unknown when three-year-olds get out to longer trips like this for the first time.
I think the market just about has this one right; Tim Clark will take Thinkin’ Big straight to the front and he’ll give them something to chase home.
The last Group 1 feature on Derby Day has drawn some of the country’s best milers and Land Of Plenty is an easing favourite ($4 out to $4.70) from Hartnell ($6.50) and Cliff’s Edge ($8).
There looks to be plenty of leaders on paper so they could go along at a decent clip here, and if that does happen horses like Hartnell and Peaceful State ($10) will really be brought into the race late. With only 52kgs in tow, Peaceful State does look another nice each-way bet.
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A tough way to end Derby Day from a betting perspective and a case to be made for nearly every horse in the field. There’s value around every runner and it could prove to be a lucrative conclusion, if we can find the right horse. Two horses that have caught the eye at their current prices at the market favourite I Am Excited ($4) and quality sprinter Snitty Kitty ($7).
I Am Excited has recorded several impressive results at black type level this year and she stormed home to win the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes (1200m) down the Flemington straight last time. A repeat of that performance would see her right in the finish again.
Snitty Kitty is a multiple black type winner and has returned two good performances for fourth in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) and fifth in the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes (1100m) this time. She’s yet to race down the straight but will have easy passage to the outside rail, should that be the place to be by the end of Derby Day.