Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Hot Day of Racing at Caulfield – the first Group 1 of the season

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Derby winner Polanski returns this Saturday in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes

As the title of this post suggests, a hot day, in both temperature and racing action, is on the cards this Saturday.  Featuring the Group 1
CF Orr Stakes, the 9 race program also includes two Group 2 races and four Group 3 events.

Taking into account the forecast of 40°C , the Melbourne Racing Club has decided to start the race meeting two hours  early, so that all the races be will run and won by mid afternoon. The temperature in Melbourne mounts throughout the day and normally peaks at around 4.30-5.00pm.

It is going to be sizzler of day, but I intend to go nevertheless, slathered in sunscreen, as I really want to witness in particular the two Blue Diamond Preludes and the Orr Stakes.

My intention is to arrive in time to see the running of the Group 2 Autumn Stakes, Race 3 on the program, which is scheduled for 12.00pm. It’s a race for three year olds over 1400 metres, and has Victorian Derby winner Polanski as top weight.  The 1400 metres may be a bit short for him, but he is the class act in the field.  Thunder Fantasy who ran third in the Derby appears to be the next best dressed, along with Sydney colt Rock Hero and Countersnip.

The Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes, a 1200 metre race for three year old fillies, has some class with Bound For Earth and Shamalia as part of the field. Bound for Earth defeated the practically invincible Guelph in the Furious Stakes last spring, though Guelph went on to defeat her in the Tea Rose Stakes, Flight Stakes and Thousand Guineas thereafter. Shamalia has won her only two starts, and is a bright star in the Bart & James Cummings stable.  Other classy fillies in the mix are Spirits Dance, Marianne, Whistle Baby and Miracle To Me. An interesting race.

The first of the Blue Diamond Preludes (1100 metres) is to be run at 1.05pm, and is for the fillies. All eyes will be on Earthquake whose only run back in November 2013, had her posted as early Blue Diamond favourite.  She gets her chance to prove she is super special in this race. However, there are a few other well credentialed fillies competing against her, such as Eloping who has raced twice for two wins, Lumosty who ran second to Eloping at her last start, Top Dolly who ran a close second to the smart Oakleigh Girl who was runner up in the Magic Millions Two Year Old Classic behind Unencumbered, and Golconda, who looks a promising type.

In the colts and geldings Blue Diamond Prelude, there are a total of six young lads with a win against their names.  One of them of course is Rubick who is the current Blue Diamond favourite. I must admit his win was quite impressive, but then again so were the wins of Nostradamus, Mohave and Chivalry, so the hype on Rubick is I think a little premature. He very likely will win the Prelude with Nostradamus being disadvantaged by a bad barrier draw (Gate 18). The race will most certainly be riveting, whoever wins.

The CF Orr Stakes is scheduled to run at 2.45pm, and has a small field of 8 (now 7 since Playing God was scratched) runners, five of them being Group One winners. It’s good to see the stars of the spring resuming, and several of them are in this race. Surprise three year old  Cox Plate winner Shamus Award has a chance to emulate All Too Hard and beat the older horses and score the second win of his career.  Fellow three year old Eurozone trained by Bart & James Cummings and with the in form Damien Oliver on his back may be a better chance. Other familiar runners resuming are Foreteller, Hawkspur and Moment of Change.  The latter is currently the favourite, but I reckon Foreteller might pull off one of his rare wins in the Orr Stakes. Whatever, he can’t be overlooked. The only contestant with recent  runs under his belt is Finishing Card who won the Group 3 Barton Stakes at Caulfield in late January and is worthy of consideration.

In Sydney, one of the 2013 spring superstars,  Boban, starts his autumn campaign in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200 metres). Can he add another picket to the fence against his name?  He has to beat the smart Rain Affair who always goes well fresh. Also in the field is the Queen’s horse Carlton House who is yet to win a race in Australia, though to be fair, he’s only run in one so far. Honest mare Appearance also resumes in the Expressway, as do Speediness,  Sizzling and Pinwheel. No doubt all eyes will be on Boban in what looks to be a very interesting race.

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