Racing returns to Flemington after the Oakleigh Plate and Blue Diamond meeting at Caulfield for the running of the Group 1 Australian Guineas.
The weather forecast is fine and the rail will be at the true position. The Penetrometer at 4.89 and a Good 4 anticipated.
Co-trainers John, Michael and Wayne Hawkes, and jockey Dwayne Dunn, join forces here with TOP ME UP. The three-year-old drops in class after two sound efforts in the Group 3 Manfred and C S Hayes stakes. He started the New Year on a perfect note with a fighting win over 1200m at Pakenham three starts ago. The son of leading sire Exceed And Excel has the pace to dictate terms to his opposition of take a box seat.
Data Point has been in top form and was flying home but the post proved too close when narrowly failing to catch the winner, Daniela Rosa, at Sandown last start. The Lonhro colt drew 14 on that occasion, but will jump from three in this race. He has not been out of the prizemoney at his three starts and he hails from an astute stable in Mick Kent.
Sistine Spirit looks worthy of the rise in class from a fillies only race first-up where she had no luck before finishing fifth over 1200m at Moonee Valley. The stable took her to Adelaide for her last preparation for a crack at the Adelaide Guineas (1600m), where she finished fifth in higher company, at her final start. She won at her sole start over 1400m and she could appreciate the step up in distance.
Lazumba broke her maiden status at Werribee at her last start, but she has shown plenty of promise at her seven starts. This is a sharp rise in class, but she did donkey-lick them by 3 ½ lengths over 1420m first-up.
Palace Tycoon resumes without blinkers on for leading trainer Peter Moody. He won two on the bounce on Victorian provincial tracks before he was taken to Flemington where he flopped at his last start and was spelled. The son of Testa Rossa has compiled a good record of two wins and three placings at nine starts and should be given another chance to make amends on his last Flemington run.
Top Me Up 1, Data Point 2, Sistine Spirit 3, Lazumba 4.
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3AW 693 Festival Of Racing
The pressure goes on to Alter Call to live up to her big prize tag. The two-year-old is a daughter of champion sire Fastnet Rock and was sold to her owners at the Magic Millions Gold Coast sale for $1.05 million last year. She has not had an official trial so it is hard to gauge how forward she would be, but her price connections will be chasing a debut win. Her dam Response was a dual Group 1 winner in Adelaide and Melbourne and is a half-sister to Return to sender, who is a Group 2 winner in Adelaide.
SWORD OF LIGHT’s effort in the Blue Diamond Prelude (fillies) was full of merit as she was not on the track at any stage and battled on to run 10th to Samara Dancer at her last start. She plummets in class and has Damian Lane to steer.
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne goes on board Emphatically, as she faces a drop in class on her last start eighth in the Blue Diamond Prelude (fillies). She was runner-up to Sword Of Light in the Blue Diamond Preview in January.
Selenia battled on well to finish fourth in the Blue Diamond Prelude (fillies) at her last start. Her connections have thrown her into the deep end as she ran in the Blue Diamond Preview at her debut in January. The Not A Single Doubt filly has the pace to burn to the front and she has been freshened for this assignment.
Sword Of Light 1, Alter Call 2, Selenia 3, Emphatically 4.
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Mrs Macs Family Bakery Sprint
ESTAMINET appears to have a grip on this race for fillies and mares. She was a $1.75 favourite when romping home by 1 ½ lengths over 1000m at this track at her last start against similar opposition last Saturday week and will be tough to beat.
Noted trainer Tony McEvoy has taken over the preparation of Miss Seton Sands, who has top credentials. The four-year-old boasts a 50 percent winning strike with seven wins and four placings at 14 starts. She also is unbeaten at her two starts first-up.
Champion jockey Damien Oliver takes over on the reins on Afleet Esprit, who is burdened with topweight on 59.5kg. Having Oliver on top is a big bonus when again aiming to deal with the extra weight.
Celeritas has proven superior around the bend, but she hails from a top stable with Robert Smerdon and has top jockey Dwayne Dunn on board.
Signoff is on trial here for the Adelaide Cup (3200m) and must carry 60kg. He came off a 55-day break last start so we should expect a heap of improvement from the six-year-old at his final lead-up into the Cup.
Former West Australian mare REAL LOVE is a stable-mate of Signoff and was impressive at her first start for new trainer Darren Weir when finishing third in the Torney Cup (2500m). The 2014 Perth Cup winner drops 1.5kg to 56.5kg and is a big chance.
Assign is searching for a hat-trick. He won over 1800m and 2000m at his past two starts at Sandown and Caulfield and could step up to 2600m. He should box seat and is sure to be the hot fancy to bring down the higher weighted Weir-trained pair.
Wales won over 2040m at Moonee Valley two starts ago before finishing a luckless 10th in last month’s Group 3 Hobart Cup (2400m). Noted jumps trainer Robbie Laing gave the six-year-old stallion a trial for the hurdles over 2400m last Friday week. The distance won’t prove a hurdle and looms as a pace chance.
Real Love 1, Assign 2, Singoff 3, Wales 4.
Tab Rewards Stakes
BURNING FRONT thrives on racing and gets his chance to claim a hat-trick after wins over the mile distance at Moonee Valley and Caulfield. The five-year-old gelding has won at his past two starts by a total distance of 4 ¼ lengths and with 57kg is not overburdened with weight. He is drawn well in four and hails from the yard of top trainer Darren Weir.
Dan Zephyr is chasing his fourth straight win. He strives for a third Flemington win at his past four starts. The gelding is from the Mornington stables of Pat Carey and he should be handy throughout.
Leebaz drops dramatically in class on his last start when he ran fifth to the champion four-year-old mare Winx in the Group 2 Apollo Stakes (1500m). He carries the top weight on 58.5kg, but has top hoop Dwayne Dunn to steer.
Mighty Like hails from the stables of Mick Price who last week prepared the quinella in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes. He was caught deep last start and peaked but he did not toss in the towel to run third to Dan Zephyr over 1400m here two weeks ago.
Burning Front 1, Dan Zephyr 2, Leebaz 3, Mighty Like 4.
ATA Bob Hoysted Handicap
KINGLIKE is a talented colt and Peter Moody had plans of bring him back for the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at this track but he hit a snag. He won an 800m trial at Cranbourne in good style so he is primed for his first-up assault.
Malaguerra has an impressive 50 percent winning strike-rate. He resumes down the straight 1000m having won at his previous two starts at this track last spring. He has an unblemished first-up record of three starts for three wins and is sure to test the top weight.
Headwater has been kept fresh, with the three-year-old having a 35-day gap between runs. The Exceed And Excel colt beat rival Bullpit by a lip over this trip at his last start on January 30. He likes it fresh and is on the minimum on 54kg again.
Robert Smerdon has warmed up Lumosty for her return with two trials at Cranbourne. She loves the Flemington straight and the top weight 58kg boasts the imposing record of two wins and two seconds at her four starts first-up.
Kinglike 1, Malaguerra 2, Headwater 3, Lumosty 4.
This is a classic Australian Guineas with a cracking field of three-year-olds assembled.
New Zealand colt XTRAVAGENT won twice at the elite level. He is a noted front-runner so is sure to set a good pace for the others.
Leading Melbourne trainer Darren Weir has three excellent chances in the Guineas, saddling Mahuta, Palentino and Perfect Reflection. Perfect Reflection beat the older horse at weight-for-age in the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) to post a rare debut win at Group 1 level. Weir has put blinkers on the filly for what is her toughest encounter at her six starts and has tweaked her workload.
Tarzino is the reigning Victoria Derby winner and his stable is running red hot having quinellaed the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes last Saturday. He will appreciate the speed up front here and expect him to be flying home at the end.
Mahuta keeps passing each challenge his trainer Darren Weir throws at him. He was due to run last Saturday at Caulfield, but connections opted to scratch and run the Flying Spur colt here at the elite level. Mahuta strives for his seventh straight win in the Guineas and it would be a popular victory as he has built up something of a cult following. He did not fare well in the barrier draw at nine, but he has overcome obstacles in the past.
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Frances Tressady Stakes
Abidewithme holds favouritism on what is a wide market. The six-year-old mare of champion stallion Redoute’s Choice won a similar race last time and she has the gate (2) to be prominent with leading hoop Glenn Boss to steer.
My Sister Lil chased hard to go close to the winner when fourth to Azkadellia in the Group 3 Mannerism Stakes (1400m) at her second Melbourne start at Caulfield last Saturday. She butters-up here for her new trainer John Price. Former WA jockey Mark Zahra takes the ride.
Wawail ran into a dead-end inside the last 100m when finishing sixth in the Mannerism Stakes (1400m) last Saturday at Caulfield. She’ll be rolling forward this time and with any luck will be finishing strongly for champion jockey Damien Oliver.
Vital Importance is another Western Australian mare whose three runs at city tracks in Victoria have not been without merit. She drops back in distance here and will be value.
Abidewithme 1, My Sister Lil 2, Wawail 3, Vital Importance 4.
Antler Luggage Trophy BM90
DIVAN looks to have the goods heading into this race with a smart first-up second to Dan Zephyr over 1400m here on February 20. He will relish the increase to 1800m and he has champion jockey Damien Oliver to steer to mean he is sure to command the helm of betting.
Spreadeagled has won four of his past five starts and keeps jumping each hurdle put in front of him. The son of Irish stallion Mastercraftsman is striving for a hat-trick after his 1 ¾ length win at Moonee Valley on February 19. Ace jockey Dwayne Dunn has stuck to the four-year-old who appears to be on a fruitful journey up the charts.
Nevis is the stable-mate to Divan but will be at better odds and he should get a bit more luck than he did first-up when he ran seventh over 1600m at Moonee Valley on February 19. The Irish import won over 1600m at Morphettville at his second Australian start last April. This will be his fourth start Down Under and the increase in distance to 1800m should suit.
Bass Strait has been consistent since returning to Melbourne without winning. He was placed at his first two Melbourne starts in January before when backed up quickly but flopped. He ran a good fourth over 1800m at Caulfield at his last start on February 13. Nic Hall replaces the injured Chris Parnham on the gelding and he will be running home at juicy odds.