We’re infected with spring carnival fever here at Cat Politics, and are keenly looking forward to more great racing action at Flemington this weekend, though only in front of the TV as opposed to being present at the track.
The feature race is the Victoria Derby a race for three year olds over 2500 metres. The result of this race is often surprising and favourites rarely win. It’s A Dundeel will start as the favourite despite being beaten last week. His breeding indicates that he will run the distance, but he’ll have to be at his best to win. His main opposition comes from Hvasstan, Super Cool, Honorius and Fiveandhalfstar.
Before the Derby however there are several other races of interest. The first of these is the Group Two Wakeful Stakes, for fillies run over 2000 metres. Dear Demi has been most consistent, running a place in her last two starts against smarter fillies Norzita (Flight Stakes) and Commanding Jewel (1000 Guineas) so is due for a win. Her main danger is Zydeco who ran third in the 1000 Guineas and will appreciate the extra distance having the Zabeel factor in her favour. Others in with a chance are Transonic, Tyanna and New Zealand filly Kate.
The first of the four Group One events is the Coolmore Stud Stakes, another race for three year olds over 1200 metres. It has attracted a quality field. My top pick is super filly Snitzerland, though the hyped Nechita will start as favourite. Fire Thunderbolt who fought Snitzerland to the post in the Blue Sapphire has be a top chance, as does Hidden Warrior who I witnessed winning at Moonee Valley last week. Lankan Rupee, Sizzling and Jolie Bay could also feature in the finish.
The Group One Mackinnon Stakes (2000 metres) is the last ditch chance for Melbourne Cup hopefuls to win a place in the field. Ocean Park is backing up in this after his sensational win in the Cox Plate, though he is not Melbourne Cup bound. No doubt he will start as favourite and rightly so. Pitted against him are six other stayers, principally Alcopop who ran second to him (Ocean Park) in the Caulfield Stakes and also took out second place in the Caulfield Cup behind Dunaden. And don’t forget December Draw whose chances are enhanced when he runs at Flemington, his favourite track. Zabeelionaire is also in with a chance and could run a place.
The final Group One race for the day is the Myer Classic (1600 metres) for mares. Now that Mosheen has been retired, having sustained an injury in the Tristarc Stakes, Streama can stake her claim to being the best mare racing at present. She took out the Tristarc Stakes comfortably from Pear Tart and Red Tracer who are both contesting the Myer Classic as well, and will no doubt represent a serious challenge along with Secret Admirer and Oasis Bloom.
As well as the abovementioned races there is also the Lexus Stakes, like the Mackinnon Stakes a chance for unqualified horses like Geelong Cup winner Gatewood to get automatic entry into the Melbourne Cup. As the last two Melbourne Cup winners Dunaden and Americain also won the Geelong Cup before winning the big one, Gatewood would become a serious Cup contender should he make it to the field, so he has to win the Lexus to be part of it.
Saturday’s Flemington races are the start of a week of racing action, with the Melbourne Cup run on Tuesday, the Oaks on Thursday and the Emirates Stakes on Saturday week.
Update – Saturday night
What a shocking day it was for favourites! The major Group One races all resulted in upset wins by outsiders, one at least being a 50/1 shot.
The Coolmore Stud Stakes was won by Nechita (5/1), with Jolie Bay (8/1) running second and 50/1 long shot, Shamexpress, running third.
Good old Alcopop scored his first Group One win in the Mackinnon Stakes beating Glass Harmonium who ran second. Ocean Park managed to run third.
The Derby was won by Fiveandahalfstar (21/1) followed by Super Cool (5.9/1) and Rawnaq a 90/1 shot.
And the Myer Classic was taken out by Appearance (50/1) with Soft Sand and Secret Admirer running second and third respectively.
The Melbourne Cup is the next Group One race on the agenda. I’ll post my thoughts on that in the next day or so.