A fine Spring day is forecast for the racing at Caulfield this coming Saturday. It will feature the Group One Underwood Stakes (1800 metres) and has attracted a very fine field of stayers. It’s great to see old Efficient back on the track after being out of action since his Turnbull Stakes win in October 2009. He’s top weight and isn’t expected to win; the Underwood is a sort of practice run for him.
So who are the likely chances in the Underwood? Well, Lights of Heaven who was very disappointing in the Makybe Diva Stakes, is the current favourite. It seems it was fortunate that she didn’t win the Makybe Diva Stakes as the curse has struck again with the 2011 winner Littorio’s racing career being declared over due to yet another injury. Classy New Zealand stayers Lion Tamer, who won the Victoria Derby last Spring and Scarlett Lady who won the Queensland Oaks over autumn are part of the first rate field as is Western Australian star Playing God. Throw in the consistent Heart of Dreams – he won this race in 2009 – and Maybe Diva Stakes placegetters Glass Harmonium and Midas Touch, not to mention the wonderful mare Shamrocker and you have a very interesting line up. Any of the above can win.
Rosehill in Sydney has the Group One George Main Stakes as the feature of its race card. It’s a standard WFA over 1500 metres. The top pick is Sincero who opened his Spring campaign with a win in the Tramway on September 3rd and also won the Stradbroke Handicap in Brisbane over winter. Ilovethiscity winner of the Randwick Guineas in autumn could mount a challenge, though he has not shown anything like his autumn form so far this Spring. Sacred Choice is also too good to totally dismiss. Both she and Ilovethiscity will be wearing blinkers for the first time which may make all the difference to their performances.
There are several other interesting races happening on Saturday, the Group 3 Thousand Guineas Prelude at Caulfield for 3yos and the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes at Rosehill for 3yo fillies, not to mention the Group 3 Naturalism Stakes (Caulfield) for stayers desperate to qualify for the big cups, and Group 2 The Shorts (Rosehill) where I’m pleased to see the return of Love Conquers All - all worth watching in the light of what’s yet to come.