Shamrocker resumes in the Group 2 Memsie Stakes – photo by Michael Dodge source Daily Telegraph
For the past week, the weather in Melbourne has been kind – warm and sunny, though it is expected to cool off by the weekend. Not much rain is predicted, so the course at Caulfield on Saturday should be spot on and good for an interesting race card.
The Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400 metres, WFA) is the feature event and the field has a quality field of stayers and a few middle distance runners, several of them resuming for the Spring. Notably, Shamrocker, who won the Rosehill Guineas and the AJC (Sydney) Derby in the autumn, will kick off her spring campaign in this race. 1400 metres is a little too short for her, but it will be interesting to see how she goes.
Other favourites of mine resuming, are Linton, who acquitted himself well in the autumn running second to Shocking in the Australian Cup and third to the recently deceased Cedarberg in the BMW, and Heart of Dreams, getting on now, but a quality WFA galloper who could well be in the finish. It’s a wide open race as far as picking the winner, but the in form Rekindled Interest and Prince Obama may be the ones to beat. The mystery runner is the former New Zealand trained mare, King’s Rose who has now joined the Peter Moody stable and is highly thought of within racing circles.
The other race of interest at Caulfield is the Group 3 McNeil Stakes – a race for 3yos over 1200 metres. A good field of smart youngsters have accepted. There’s Golden Archer who ran second to Sepoy in the Vain Stakes a fortnight ago, gutsy filly Satin Shoes who narrowly won the Quezette Stakes from Metonymy who is also part of the field and may turn the tables on her this time. Others of interest are Do You Think, beaten by the classy Helmet in the Sires Produce Stakes in April, the beautifully bred Decircles, a last start winner albeit on a country racetrack, and the aptly named Vatican (Gods Own – Our Sistine).
The Group 3 Run To the Rose is the feature race at Rosehill in Sydney on Saturday. For 3yos and run over 1200 metres, it witnesses the return of classy colts Helmet and Smart Missile as well as last start San Domenico Stakes winner Fox Wedge and Karuta Queen who ran third in that race. The resumption of Smart Missile is the most anticipated. He is the only horse to have beaten Sepoy, which he did by a short margin in the Manfred Stakes back in March on a bog track. Helmet has won his last three starts and is obviously a very talented youngster. He almost blew his chances in the Champagne Stakes, by veering wildly when reacting to the tap of a whip in the final stages of the race, but still managed to win.
As well as the above races on Australian turf, over the Tasman several New Zealand bred Spring contenders will be contesting the Mafki Challenge Stakes at Hastings, so is of interest in terms of the big races yet to come. The ripper field includes Mufhasa, Jimmy Choux, Lion Tamer, Wall Street and Scarlett Lady, all familiar names from the autumn, most of them with Group wins in Australia under their belts.
It’s still two weeks until the first Group One race (Golden Rose) of the season, but as fields build in quality, the excitement continues to rise accordingly.