So far only the faintest inklings of Spring have come to Melbourne, with the weather being capricious as usual – one day warm and sunny, the next cold, windy and wet – but racing fans will be welcoming the first Group One race of the new racing season this Saturday.
It is the Golden Rose, a race for three year olds over 1400 metres run at Rosehill. This year’s edition has attracted a field of 10 runners, including two fillies. I am most interested to see if Kabayan - a son of Haradasun who was a big favourite of mine during the years 2006 to 2008 – can finally win a quality race after running very close seconds at his last three starts. His biggest opposition comes from the filly Nechita who has comfortably won her only two starts. The other chances, on form, are Albrecht who won his last start, and Your Song who ran second to the brilliant Pierro at his resumption in the Run To Rose on 1st September.
Rosehill also hosts several other interesting races, most particularly the Listed Sheraco Stakes, where grand mare More Joyous will be kicking off her spring campaign. Another talented mare Streama is also resuming in this race, but I doubt she can beat a fresh More Joyous over the 1200 metre distance. Throw in Emotional Circus who prevailed over Miss Marx a fortnight ago, and also Gai’s Choice and you’ve got a very attractive field of talented mares, though an upset is highly unlikely.
Moonee Valley hosts the so called Cox Plate Preview this coming Saturday, that is the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. Whobegotyou, pictured above, who died Wednesday morning, won the race in 2009 and 2010. It is sad to hear of his passing. Though not a particular favourite of mine, I did respect his record and having seen him race on several occasions, felt a certain affection for him after all. I’ll be thinking of him at the track tomorrow.
This year’s race which I intend to witness again in person, has a super field of resuming stayers and Group winning middle distance runners. Rekindled Interest, who won this race last year, loves the Moonee Valley circuit and will probably start favourite. Second favourite, Green Moon, when resuming recently, ran a decent fifth to Sincero in the Memsie Stakes and has the services of top jockey Craig Williams as his rider. I’m not sure about the chances of Heart of Dreams on the Moonee Valley track, but he is a genuine WFA performer and could run a place. And I’m pleased to see the return of Linton who has won over the distance at Moonee Valley in the past and is now with a different trainer who had success with the horse at Morphettville in the autumn where Linton scored his first win for some time. It will also be interesting to see how Australian Derby winner Ethiopia performs. It will be his first start since that race, though the 1600 metres is probably too short for him.
There’s also a Group Two sprint on the cards at the Valley on Saturday, the McEwen Stakes over 1000 metres. Golden Archer is the one to beat, as he has come back this spring in fine form, though others like Bel Sprinter and Morant and Didntcostalot might give him a run for the money.
And for variety, the Group Two Stock Stakes over 1600 metres for mares, rounds off the card nicely. Spirit Song is top pick in this and will most likely win. Second pick appears to be French staying mare Never Forget who may appreciate the extra distance from her last race (1400 metres) where she acquitted herself fairly well.
The track will most likely be on the dead side as Melbourne’s rainy weather continues.