Friday, September 25, 2015

Back to Caulfield Again–Underwood Stakes Day

race 7_finish 1
2014 Underwood Stakes finish – Foreteller hits the front

Saturday is expected to be warm and sunny, perfect in fact for another fine afternoon of racing as the Spring Racing Carnival, literally and figuratively, heats up.

There are two Group 1 races on the program – Underwood Stakes and Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes – plus two Group 2 Guineas Preludes, one for the boys, the other for the fillies.

The fillies Thousand Guineas Prelude is scheduled as Race 5. It is run over 1400 metres and has a fabulous field of classy fillies. The main contenders are Pasadena Girl, Stay With Me, Jameka, Miss Gunpowder and Alaskan Rose. The first three above ran the trifecta at Moonee Valley in early September  in the Atlantic Jewel Stakes, with Stay With Me being the victor on that occasion,though Pasadena Girl’s run was the most eye catching.  Miss Gunpowder ran third to Petits Filous in the Quezette Stakes, then won her next race at Morphettville in her home state. Alaskan Rose is unbeaten in two starts and is highly regarded. It looks to be a doozy of a race.

Race 6 is the colts and geldings Guineas Prelude run over the same distance. It’s time for pretty boy Ready For Victory to live up to his name, after running second and third in his first two starts this season behind Gold Symphony on the first occasion and Kinglike in the second. Neither of these colts are entered for the Caulfield Guineas Prelude, so Ready For Victory has a very good chance of winning this time. However he’ll have to beat the Chris Waller trained Metallic Crown  who has two wins under his hat so far this season, and the Ciaran Maher trained Bon Aurum, also a last start winner . New Zealand colt Dal Cielo, trained by the wily Murray Baker, Snoopy who was unlucky in his start and Tulsa, could also feature in the finish.

The first of the Group 1 races on the program is the Underwood Stakes run over 1800 metres. Last year it was won by Foreteller from Happy Trails and the year before was the memorable duel between Atlantic Jewel and It’s A Dundeel with the latter being the victor.

It’s always a great race and a fab field has been assembled this year.  Fawkner is the top pick, if he can defy the Makybe Diva Stakes hoodoo and beat The Cleaner, who has drawn Barrier 1 which will enable him to take the lead without expending any energy. Who knows, the Longford Lion could leave them all in his wake, and at least assure an honestly run race. 

Contributer failed to impress at his last start running fifth behind The Cleaner in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes. Perhaps he didn’t enjoy the tight Moonee Valley track, but could show his true colours at Caulfield. Whatever, dismiss him at your peril. The same goes for Dibayani who has run third behind The Cleaner in his last two starts.

Four year olds have a good record in this race and both Mongolian Khan and Volkstok’n’barrell are in that age bracket and have as good a chance as any in the field, though the Khan would prefer it longer. I’m interested to see how they go.

The Group 1  Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes is now incorporated in the program of Underwood Stakes day, previously being run on the Sunday after the AFL Grand Final. It makes more sense to run it with the Underwood Stakes and adds to the quality of the meeting.

It is run over 1400 metres and has a super field of middle distance runners.  As we’re now in the sign of Libra (ruled by Venus), you would think that Charmed Harmony is the perfect name for the Astrological season.  He has won his last four races leading boldly from start to finish, but faces much tougher opposition in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes with classy gallopers like Disposition, Cosmic Endeavour, Rich Enuff, Amicus, Strawberry Boy and Under The Louvre all being in the picture. The Venus influence could spread to Amicus and Amorino  with their names reflecting the Latin for love (amor).

In Sydney, everyone’s favourite race mare, Catkins, is having her second start for the season in the Golden Pendant in which she ran second to Arabian Gold last year. That mare is also in the field, as is Amanpour who relegated Catkins to second place twice in the autumn.  Cross fingers for Catkins to beat them this time round.

The Equinox on September 23, as well as heralding the warmer weather, also marks a royal birth. Black Caviar delivered her second foal on the night of the Equinox, a colt by Sebring.

There are some lovely photos of the new foal here.

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