The first Group One race of the 2011 racing season is to run at Rosehill on Saturday, namely the Golden Rose Stakes, a million dollar, 1400 metre race for three year olds. It has only attracted six starters, composed of three colts and three geldings, no fillies. Smart Missile will no doubt start as favourite, considering his recent stunning, come from behind win, in the Run to The Rose. On that occasion he beat Foxwedge by a neck with Helmet 1.3 lengths away in third spot. So, these three you would think are the top picks, but actually there are two others, Manawanui and Aeronautical, who have not raced against the aforementioned, but have excellent winning form that may tell at the winning post. It’s a field big on quality if not quantity.
At Moonee Valley on Saturday the feature race is the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes formerly known as the Feehan. It is a Group Two, 1600 metre standard WFA competition and regarded as a Cox Plate preview.
Whobegotyou won this race in 2009 and again in 2010. Can he score the hat trick this year? He started his Spring campaign with a good win in the PB Lawrence Stakes a month ago, so is very likely to make history with a third victory in the Dato Tan and is the short priced favourite, naturally. The competition is not much chop and the likeliest challengers are Linton who I witnessed winning at Moonee Valley back in 2010 over the same distance, Alcopop who recently signalled his return to form winning the Penny Edition Stakes at Morphettville, Spacecraft who has also won over the distance at this track. The mystery horse Unusual Suspect, a former American galloper, could surprise us all. And I suppose I should mention Rekindled Interest who is in the second line of betting, though looking at his form, I’m not sure why.
There are a couple of other Group Two and Three races at Moonee Valley on Saturday, firstly the McEwen Stakes, a Group 3 sprint over 1000 metres. It has first rate field that includes former Singapore speedster Happy Zero, Atomic Force and Shrapnel both last start winners. But the most interesting runners in the field are classy mares Crystal Lily who has been the bridesmaid to Black Caviar on two occasions, and also won the 2010 Golden Slipper, Kulgrinda, a super sprinting mare from the Peter Moody stable, who won at Moonee Valley when I last attended, and the tough filly Satin Shoes who won the Quezette Stakes against her own age group back in August, but may be outclassed in this race despite her weight advantage.
The Group Two Stock Stakes, also over 1600 metres for mares, is also worth a look. King’s Rose, the former champion New Zealander who won the Memsie Stakes a few weeks ago, is the top contender. She’s up against the likes of Pinker Pinker who scored a nice victory last weekend in the Let’s Elope Stakes, and old Lady Lynette who occasionally cracks a win, but will most likely be outclassed in this.
I intend to go to Moonee Valley on Saturday to witness the above events. Hopefully my luck will have improved from my last visit. The weather is likely to be pretty awful, cold and wet - a return to winter. Who knows what the track conditions will be like - dead or slow I assume. If slow, anything could happen.