Now that the AFL Grand Final has come and gone, the focus shifts to horseracing. For most of the year it is the second class citizen of the sports arena, so for racing fans this time of year is when our knowledge of the sport comes in handy.
Here at Cat Politics we love to write about horseracing and don’t mind giving a few pointers, which are not exactly tips, but more an indication of likely winners.
This weekend Caulfield hosts a great day of racing, with three fabulous Group One races and the added attraction of Black Caviar beginning her Spring campaign.
Tomorrow she will be gunning for her 14th win in succession – matching the record of that great Aussie equine hero Pharlap. It’s history in the making. The race which all racing fans will be watching is the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes, a sprint over 1000 metres. Black Caviar will be at unbackable odds. It’s a small field of eight runners, and of course we expect Black Caviar to win. Speedy filly Karuta Queen will be trying hard, even if no match for the champ, likewise Kulgrinda, Black Caviar’s stable mate, who has not lived up to her earlier promise in her last two runs. Perhaps Peter Moody is hoping for the quinella, but may denied that by one of the other runners, NSW mare Platinum Skye for instance, who has won 10 of her 19 starts.
The feature Group One race is the Caulfield Guineas, a race for three year olds over 1600 metres. It has a superb field albeit with only eight runners, but the class of those runners is first rate. You’ve got Helmet, Smart Missile and Manawanui who all contested the Golden Rose in early September, with Manawanui the winner on that occasion. He also won his last start, the Stan Fox Stakes. Helmet redeemed his failure in the Golden Rose, by winning the Guineas Prelude in spectacular fashion by a margin of 3¼ lengths. Smart Missile, perhaps the most talented of all the previously mentioned didn’t cope with competing in open company in the Rupert Clarke Stakes, tarnishing his reputation somewhat. It’s very hard to pick the winner out of the three above, but perhaps Victorian gelding Chase The Rainbow, who has been very consistent and won very well at Moonee Valley last Friday night, will cause an upset.
The Caulfield Stakes (formerly known as the Yalumba Stakes) is the first of the Group One races on the card. It was won by So You Think last year. Run over 2000 metres it’s one for the stayers. Top pick this year is Lion Tamer who won the Victorian Derby last spring by six lengths, and also won the Underwood Stakes at his last start. The pundits seem to be spruiking At First Sight, one of Lloyd Williams’ imports, as he ran a good second to December Draw in the Turnbull Stakes last Sunday. Others with a chance are Sincero, too good to ignore, Alcopop who is going great guns this Spring and Playing God who is improving with every race. I’m also interested to see how International gallopers - here for the Melbourne Cup – Sahara Sun and Mighty High perform, in light of their prospects for the big race.
Other Internationals are running in the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400 metres), most notably Bauer who ran second to Viewed in the 2008 Melbourne Cup. Moyenne Corniche and My Scotsgrey from the UK are the others.
The other Group One on the cards is the Toorak Handicap (1600 metres). The super consistent mare King’s Rose is the current favourite. She’s won her last two races including beating the boys in the Memsie Stakes. Toorak Toff, aptly named for this race, is a major threat, especially after he proved he was back to his best when winning the Rupert Clarke Stakes. Others in with a chance are Torio’s Quest, Fast Clip, Yosei and New Zealander King Mufhasa.
Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be out lunching with friends, but fortunately the venue boasts a TAB, so I’ll still be able to watch the races.
Next weekend the first of the big races, the Caulfield Cup is to be run, so the Spring racing season is well and truly hotting up.