Today’s Aurie’s Star meeting is the traditional launching pad into the Victorian spring carnival.
With the weather improving the track should be drier with a Soft 6 forecast but it could be upgraded.
The days are still cool with cloudy weather forecast. The track penetrometer is at 4.90 and the false rail at the seven metres.
QUADDIES (Races: 6-7-8-9)
SKINNY PLAY: 3,8/4/1,2,3/3,5,17
WIDE PLAY: 3,5,8,10,11,4/2,4,5,9,11,13/1,2,3,8,13/2,3,5,7,11,15,17
R1 12.05pm VRC Member Paul Tamburro Handicap 2000m
KHUTULUN posted a soft 1½ length win over 2000m at Caulfield last Saturday. She was backed from $4.40 into $3.20 favouritism to win. She rises a bit in weight up to 57kg on the 54.5kg she carried last week with the claim of Beau Mertens but capable of repeating.
YULONG BABY chased hard when finishing fifth over 1800m here at her last start on July 23. She has the talented apprentice Ben Allen on with his claiming reducing her impost to 55.5kg. She is again drawn well in gate 3 and rates highly.
AZ GIVEN was an imposing last start winner over 2040m at Moonee Valley against similar company. Beau Mertens has stuck to Khutulun with junior colleague Michael Dee the new rider here. She again gets in with a light weight on 53kg with Dee’s 1.5 allowance.
SAVANNAH MOON beat Khutulun at their last clash over 1800m here on July 23. She again gets into the race with no weight carrying 52.5kg with the 2kg allowance of apprentice Ben Thompson. Will be up on the pace and sure to be a threat.
SELECTIONS: No1 KHUTULUN, No2 Yulong Baby, No3 Az Given, No4 Savannah Moon
VALUE RUNNER: No5 Cinnamon Carter
R2 12.40pm VRC Member John Gubbins Handicap 1400m
ZUNBAQA is a daughter of top sire More Than Ready who comes here after notching three wins in succession at Geelong and Morphettville. Leading apprentice Dylan Dunn takes the ride with his 2kg allowance reducing her impost to 57kg.
ODEON showed great improvement at his second career start when fighting hard down the straight to do under narrowly over 1400m here on July 23. He carried 58kg that day and gets a slight decrease in weight in a tough field on 57.5kg
BROOKWATER led his rivals a merry dance to score a narrow win over 1400m at Pakenham on July 17. That was the son of leading sire Hinchinbrook’s maiden victory. Damien Oliver takes the reins from junior rider Michael Dee here.
SELECTIONS: No3 Zunbaqa, No6 Odeon, No8 Brookwater
VALUE RUNNER: No5 Decorated Soldier
R3 1.15pm VRC Member Wendy Johnson Handicap 2000m
ALMANDIN is a German Group 2 winner having his second start in Australia after running sixth over 1600m at Moonee Valley on June18. He was improving out deep and he will relish the extra distance and soft under-foot conditions here on a sweeping track.
KILLARNEY KID has enjoyed an outstanding campaign. Trainer Darren Weir gave him a trial over 2000m to warm him up for his return here. He won the Country Cup Final at his last start over 2000m here on July 9. Strong claims.
PIN YOUR HOPES has been the punters’ pal chasing a fourth straight win. He was too classy for his rivals slipping away to a 3 length win over 1800m here last start on July 23. Ben Thompson’s 2kg claim will see him carry 55kg.
DIAMOND DUKE looms as a chance at good odds on his closing second over 2000m here on July 23. The six-year-old still gets in with a light weight on 54kg, 1.5kg less than he carried last start and he has a good draw in seven.
SELECTIONS: No1 ALMANDIN, No2 Killarney Kid, No3 Pin Your Hopes, No7 Diamond Duke
VALUE RUNNER: No5 Golden Mane
R4 1.50pm VRC Member Allen Aylett Handicap 1700m
PETROLOGY can be a tricky one to catch, but he certainly put the writing on the wall when he zoomed home to snatch second place in the Winter Championship Final over 1600m here on July 9. Cory Parish keeps the ride and he goes up only 1.5kg to 56kg.
ROYAL RAPTURE caused a boil-over last start when romping home by 1½ lengths over 1600m here on July 23. He has been up for a while but continues to race well and is chasing a Flemington hat-trick here. Apprentice Michael Dee’s claim sees him carry 56kg.
FALAGO hails out of the mercurial yard of Darren Weir and was racing well over the longer distances. Weir has freshened him up off a 42-day break for his return and he has plenty of residual fitness and drops 4kg to 54kg in his favour.
LORD DURANTE is a veteran galloper who does not win too many but he is competitive. Found the winner Royal Rapture too strong in the straight when fourth over 1600m here last start on July 23. He plummets 4kg to 54kg here and Darren Gauci keeps the ride.
SELECTIONS: No2 PETROLOGY, No4 Royal Rapture, No5 Falago, No7 Lord Durante
VALUE RUNNER: No5 Falago
R5 2.30pm VRC Member Daniel Maher Handicap 1400m
PILOTE D’ESSAI is a five-year-old British import who was super impressive in winning over 1400m by two lengths at Bendigo at his Australian debut on March 19. Nicholas Hall rode him on that occasion and Dwayne Dunn will take the reins here first-up. He drops 2kg to 54kg and appears a star bet.
ULMANN has been racing in good form this campaign notching a second and a win at his two starts. Latest he ran away to 1¾ length win over 1400m at Caulfield on July 16. Apprentice Ben Allen replaces top jockey Craig Williams, but with Allen’s claim he will carry a mere 52kg. He has drawn well in (8) to be prominent.
DUKE OF BRUNSWICK has been most honest landing in the first two placings at his past four starts. Latest he fought hard but could not match Ulmann over 1400m at Caulfield on July 16. Nicholas Hall replaces Dwayne Dunn and he drops 2.5kg to 55kg. From his draw in (2) he is bound to box seat and give his rivals a good chase.
ALL CERISE notched four straight wins last start. Trainer Chris Waller has sent the mare down from his Sydney stables for today’s assault after giving her a warm-up trial over 900m at Rosehill last month. The daughter of top sire Redoute’s Choice has a perfect record at Flemington of two starts for two wins and she is well drawn in (7) to kick off her new campaign on a high.
SELECTIONS: NO11 PILOTE D’ESSAI, No6 Ulmann, No5 Duke Of Brunswick, No8 All Cerise
VALUE RUNNER: No8 All Cerise
R6 3.10pm Jockey Celebration Day Handicap 1000m
GUN CASE is one of three runners leading trainer Darren Weir saddles here. The others are Profit Share and Olivier. The six-year-old gelding is out to stretch his winning streak to four straight wins after powering home to coast to a 3½ length win over 1000m at Moonee Valley on July 13. Apprentice Ben Allen keeps the ride and he drops 3.5kg to 54 with his 3kg claim.
ROUGH JUSTICE has an excellent first-up record of four starts for two wins and two placings. The five-year-old boasts a strike rate of two wins and five placings at his nine starts at Flemington. Apprentice Ben Thompson’s 2kg claim will see the gelding’s impost reduced to 58kg and he rates as an each-way chance.
PROFIT SHARE won two straight at Warrnambool last campaign. He showed good pace at a warm up trial to win over 900m in preparation for his first-up start. The five-year-old will be ridden by stable jockey Brad Rawiller and has a solid first-up record of three starts for a win and a second. He has proven to be consistent.
SHAF has established a great record at Morphettville. He is now set the task to bring those efforts to Flemington, where he will rise a kilo to 56.5kg on his last start second over 1250m at Morphettville on June 6. He has been freshened for this race and will have leading Victorian jockey Mark Zahra to steer.
SELECTIONS: No8 GUN CASE, No3 Rough Justice, No5 Profit Share, No11 Shaf
VALUE TIP: No13 Pretty Possum
R7 3.50pm Aurie’s Star Handicap 1200m
MIGHTY LIKE was most impressive in winning first-up when carrying 58.5kg with apprentice Beau Merten’s claim over 1200m here on July 23. Leading jockey Damien Oliver takes over the reins and the stable is most confident he is capable of handling the rise in class.
TASHBEEH has a good record at this track of five starts for three wins and two placings. The son of Commands has performed best over the longer distances but he has proven capable over the shorter trips when fresh. He gets a significant weight decrease here for his rise in class and will have stable rider Michael Walker to steer.
RUETTIGER is most reliable and again rates well with a dryer track forecast. He edged away late to post a narrow win in the Sprint Final Championship over 1200m here at his last start on July 9. He is unbeaten over this trip and has won and finished third at his two starts here. Daniel Moor is the new rider and he again is at the bottom of the scale on 54kg.
BEIRUT has been in striking form against her own age and sex winning at her past four starts. The Henry Dwyer trained six-year-old rises up in class here but again gets a light weight on 54kg. She has the speed to lead but this is her first attempt down the straight-six and that is a big question as to whether she will handle it.
SELECTIONS: No4 MIGHTY LIKE, No5 Tashbeeh, No9 Ruettiger, No11 Beirut
VALUE RUNNER: No10 Magnus Reign
R8 4.30pm VRC Member John Lee Handicap 1400m
MY SISTER LIL had no luck down the home stretch and when she did see daylight late she flew to finish eighth over 1200m against her own sex at Caulfield last Saturday. She butters-up here and with the 3kg claim of apprentice Ben Allen she will carry 56.5kg, which is 2.5kg above the limit. Rates as a good each-way chance.
LAHQA was flying before given a let-up. She won twice at Sandown and was placed second over 1600m against her own sex as a $3.40 favourite at her last start at Moonee Valley 49 days ago. Leading apprentice Dylan Dunn reduces her impost to 57kg. She only turned four-years earlier this week so there is heaps of room for further improvement.
MISS SOFTHANDS notched a hat-trick at Sale, Sandown and Flemington before finishing a strong fifth to Beirut, who is strongly fancied in the Aurie’s Star, over 1400m at her last start at Caulfield on July 16. She has an excellent scorecard at this track having won at her sole start over this trip and having won once at her two starts at Flemington. Beau Merten’s 3kg claim will see her carry 57kg.
JUST STELLAR is racing in peak form. She chased hard when finished in a cluster to run a close second Stylemaker, who is a rival here, over 1400m here at her last start on July 23. Top jockey Dwayne Dunn keeps the ride and she drops 3kg to the limit on 54kg here. The draw is a concern due to jump from 13 in a field of 14.
SELECTIONS: No2 MY SISTER LIL, No3 Lahqa, No1 Miss Softhands, No13 Just Stellar
VALUE RUNNER: No8 Soosa Rama
R9 5.05pm VRC Member Keli Sponner Handicap 1200m
BADAJOZ hails from the leading stables of John O’Shea and with apprentice Michael Dee’s 1.5kg claim comes in well on the weights on 56kg in a wide betting affair. The four-year-old stallion won at Randwick over 1100m before he was brought to Melbourne, where he ran on strongly to finish third down the straight 1100m here on July 23. He carried 60kg that day and was ridden by last season’s champion Victorian jockey Craig Williams.
HEZA RIPPER is certainly racing in peak form. He is chasing a hat-trick here after wins over 1205m and 1200m at Sale and Caulfield at his past two starts. Top apprentice Dylan Dunn retains the ride and his impost is reduced to 57kg with his 2kg claim. He will be right on the pace and sure to be hard to pass.
TYRANNIZE will be a danger if he can get a start. Currently he is on the edge as the second emergency. He gave an eye-catching effort off a 42-day break when running a close second to Astro Castro down the straight 1100m here on July 23. Damien Oliver keeps the ride and the four-year-old drops 2kg to 54.5kg.
MANHATTAN BLUES won at Morphettville three starts ago. He was courageous when held up but fought on well to fill the minor end of the trifecta to Magicus over 1200m at Moonee Valley last start on July 13. Ace jockey Dwayne Dunn keeps the mount and he will carry the same weight on 58kg.
SELECTIONS: No7 BADAJOZ, No3 Heza Ripper, No17 Tyrannize. No5 Manhattan Blues
VALUE RUNNER: No12 Mick’s Hustler