Group 1 racing may be over in Melbourne for 2018, but the ever-popular Zipping Classic Day will take place at Sandown this weekend and we’re set for an exciting card!
The Group 2 Zipping Classicheadlines the ten-strong card and it has attracted several Melbourne Cup runners and a host of quality stayers, but every event on the day boasts black type status.
The Listed Merson Cooper Stakes for two-year-olds will officially launch 2018 Zipping Classic Day at 12:25pm AEDT and it could be the first opportunity that we’ll get to see the superstars of tomorrow.
Twelve two-year-olds remain in the field for this year’s Merson Cooper Stakes and of those runners, only three have exposed form.
The Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Salome has opened the $4.70 favourite and will take plenty of benefit into what is her second career start. The daughter of Unencumbered hit the line well to third at Moonee Valley on debut and looks a talented type.
These two-year-old races full of debutants aren’t for me and I am happy to watch, with a view towards the major Autumn Carnival races.
The second two-mile race in as many weeks and a talented field of stayers has been taken for this year’s Sandown Cup.
Master trainer Darren Weir has set Yogi ($3.30) for this race and he will be extremely difficult to beat. The Raise The Flag gelding hit the line well for second in each of his first two starts and was last seen finishing seventh in the Group 3 Lexus Stakes (2500m). A step up to two miles looks ideal at this point of his prep and he’ll be given every opportunity by Craig Williams.
Weir will saddle four horses in the Sandown Cup field in total, and a runner like Kellstorm ($10) could really come into calculations if the track reaches the soft range.
This looks to be one of the more open races on the Zipping Classic Day card and there is a case to be made for more than half the field.
Into The Abyss ($3.50) has been running well this time and finished third down the straight of Melbourne Cup Day. She has improved each time that she has stepped out and looks ready to peak in this race.
Sweet Rockette has finished worse than second only once through her four career starts so far and looks well placed again. The Fastnet Rock filly was last seen finishing second in the Group 3 Scarborough Stakes (1200m) in September and has trialled well in the lead-up to this race. She’s already received the greatest share of attention in betting and is $7 into $5.50 at the time of publish.
Eawase ($15) improved to finish fifth over this trip at Caulfield last time and will be rock-hard fit for her fourth-up assignment. The black type winner would need to improve, but on class she’s up to winning a race of this quality. She could prove to be the value in the field at double-figure odds.
Ten horses will step out in the Eclipse Stakes and is looms as one of the better editions of the race since the turn of the century.
Bring Me Roses ($3.50) hit the line well to finish second in the Group 1 Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) on Derby Day and is a fitting occupant of the tip line. The High Chaparral mare is another horse that looks ready to peak fourth-up on Saturday and she will relish the slight increase in trip.
Darren Weir stable mates Tradesman ($14) and Kiwia ($11) are both capable of winning this race in their best form, but I’m happy to follow the favourite here.
Another terrific field rich with Spring Carnival performers and plenty of value to be found in Kevin Heffernan Stakes betting, as a result.
Missrock ($5.50) has maintained favouritism in this market since Wednesday and looks to have conditions to suit from barrier 3 and with James McDonald in the saddle.
First Among Equals ($10) returned a flat effort on Cup Day, but with improvement and back on good going, could surprise. Rich Charm ($7) is also yet to show his best this time but will take improvement into his third-up run. Illustrious Lad ($19) typically takes sharp improvement into his second-up run and could prove to be the value.
Quilista ($8) hit the line well to finish fourth in the Group 3 Furphy Sprint (1100m) and is good enough to fight out the finish again on Saturday. The Scandal Keeper mare has been a strong and consistent performer for Darren Weir for several seasons now and looks well placed for a return to the winner’s stall.
A good field has been taken for this year’s Sandown Stakes, but it really does look like Fifty Stars’ race to lose. Fifty Stars ($2.25) finishes second in each of his first two starts this time before returning to the winner’s stall with a dominant performance over 1400m at Flemington on Cup Day. He is rock-hard fit and can go straight to the lead on Saturday from barrier 2. He will be extremely hard to beat and is my best of the day.
Three horses have caught my eye in the field for this year’s Sandown Guineas at their current prices, including impressive last-start winner and early favourite Ringerdingding ($3). Ringerdingding has gone to another level since joining Darren Weir’s stables and absolutely flew home to win the Listed Springtime Stakes (1400m) at Flemington last weekend. The slight increase in trip looks ideal and a repeat of that effort would see him winning again.
Good ‘N’ Fast ($12) hit the line well to finish fourth in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) two starts back, but was unable to replicate that performance when eighth in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) on Derby Day. At his best, he is up to the class of winning a race of this calibre.
Scottish Rogue ($9) improved noticeably to finish second in the Listed Springtime Stakes (1400m) and is primed for another big run in the Sandown Guineas.
Only eight horses have been confirmed in the field for the feature, but the depth of talent has led to an open betting race with plenty of live chances.
Who Shot Thebarman ($12) and Ventura Storm ($6) will take their places after tough runs in the Melbourne Cup and each with enjoy a step back in class.
Libran ($6.50) was probably only denied by bad luck again in last weekend’s Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) and with even luck, can be right in the finish again. The Lawman gelding was knocked in the final straight at Flemington but recovered well to hit the line for third. He is rock-hard fit and primed for a return to the winner’s stall.
This 1000m dash is set to be one of the better contests on 2018 Zipping Classic Day and that has been echoed in the wide-open betting market.
I’m leaning towards the John McArdle-trained I’ll Have A Bit ($7) at her current price and she should take plenty of benefit into her second-up start. The Smart Missile mare won the Group 2 Euclase Stakes (1200m) and finished third in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in autumn and resumed this time for third in the Listed Absolut Stakes (1000m) on Oaks Day.
This only capacity field on Zipping Classic Day has been confirmed for the last and it looms as a reasonable tough assignment for punters.
I’m going to hold true with the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Our Crown Mistress ($4.80), who has opened as race favourite. The talented grey hit the line well to finish third in the Group 3 Cape Grim Beef Steaks (120m) two runs back before a tough on-pace effort to finish fourth in the Group 3 Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (1400m) on Cup Day. She’s ready to peak and is faced with far-more suitable conditions on Saturday, including the ideal barrier 6.