This is a great card with outstanding three-year-olds Flying Artie and Star Turn going toe-to-toe in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes down the straight 1000m here. There is also a strong support card of three-year-old fillies and colts and geldings races and a strong two-year-old race with juveniles who may back up into next week’s Blue Diamond Stakes. The rail is at nine metres with the track rated as a Good 3. The day should be overcast but no rain is forecast.
No 2 PURE PRIDE Returns here after running a ripper fifth in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m) here on October 29. The red hot Craig Williams sticks to her here first-up and she is drawn ideally in gate one.
No 8 MA JONES Has been hit in early betting backed from $9.50 into $7. Hails from the Darren Weir camp and with Ben Allen’s 2kg claim will carry no weight on 52kg after a smart second here on January 28.
No 10 BRAEMAR Defied a betting drift to run home strongly and finish second over 1400m at Sandown on February 8. She gets a massive weight drop of 4.5kg to 54kg here for her step up in class. Respect.
No 9 SHARING Is another mare racing in super form and will benefit from her 3.5kg weight drop to 54kg here. She blitzed her rivals over 1200m at Sandown last start on February 1. Good chance.
VALUE RUNNER: No 9 SHARING
NO 3 DUKE OF BRUNSWICK (BEST BET) Is thriving and he was my best bet and got the money last time when winning by a length at Caulfield on February 4. He is still down in the weights rising 2kg to 56kg and he has the services of the in-form Damien Oliver. He is having his fourth start back from a spell and he has won before at this number. Strikes a small field and looks one of the best bets.
No 2 GREAT ESTEEM Pulled up lame when fresh and has Group 1 form.
No 6 ZEBRINZ Sectional star last time and ready to pounce.
No 1 CHARLIE BOY Was marginally slower 400m time than Duke Of Brunswick last time.
VALUE RUNNER: No 1 CHARLIE BOY
No 8 SO SI BON Is a very classy staying three-year-old resuming. He had a good hit out when running a close second over 800m at Cranbourne in a trial on February 7. Stayers can sprint well fresh and has no weight on 54kg and Damien Oliver to ride.
No 5 WELL SPRUNG Has been kept fresh and has the 2kg claim of Ben Allen reducing his weight to a mere 52kg. He ran a top fifth down the straight 1000m here last start on January 28 and worth watching.
No 2 SMART DART Found Duke Of Brunswick too strong but did not wimp out and fought hard over 1400m at Caulfield on February 4. He gets senior rider Damian Lane as his new pillion and is ultra-consistent.
No 6 INSPECTOR If he brings his form from his close third in a Group 3 1200m sprint here on New Year’s Day then he is some chance. Daniel Moor replaces Dean Yendall and he drops 4kg to 54kg so that is a help.
VALUE RUNNER: No 5 WELL SPRUNG
No 1 TAKING AIM Gets Sydney’s top jockey Hugh Bowman to ride at his Melbourne debut. He ran a fighting second to a smart type over 1100m at Randwick at his second start on January 14 and he looks to have strong claims.
No 9 TIME AWAITS Has been specked in the early markets in what is an open juvenile race. She is fitter now for her second in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield on February 4. Singapore hoop Corey Brown is the new rider.
No 2 GROUNDBREAK Hails from the leading stables of Team Hawkes and was solid at his debut when finishing second over 1100m at Rosehill on November 12. Gets top Melbourne rider Dwayne Dunn to steer here.
No 3 DUCIMUS Is a former $700,000 yearling graduate who impressed at winning in good style at his debut at Ballarat. He drops 2kg to 56kg here for his rise in grade with Noel Callow keeping the mount. Stablemate to Groundbreak.
VALUE RUNNER: No 2 GROUNDBREAK
No 1 LEGLESS VEUVE Could not have been more impressive first-up than when beating the boys over 1200m at Caulfield on February 4. She is back against her own sex and won the 1000 Guineas Prelude last spring. Strong chance again.
No 2 NURSE KITCHEN Was super impressive when winning at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day last spring. That was at Group 3 level against her own age and sex over 1600m. Sydney’s top hoop Hugh Bowman rides here at her return to the track.
No 3 HARLOW GOLD Is a New Zealand bred filly who ran second in the VRC Oaks (2500m) at her last start here on November 3. She has had no trials but with a record of two wins and two placings at seven starts is worth a look.
No 6 KENEDNA Will have the services of top jockey Damian Lane replacing apprentice Ben Allen on her last start third as an easing $3.20 over 1400m at Caulfield on January 26. Down a kilo to 55kg here.
VALUE RUNNER: No 6 KENEDNA
No 3 HEY DOC Over-raced a little before finishing second to Legless Veuve in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield first-up on February 4. Will strip fitter now and is a talented 3YO who appears well suited in this race.
No 2 MORTON’S FORK Sandown Guineas winner who ran on with a flurry first-up to finish fifth in the Manfred Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 4. Will take a heap of benefit from the run and be right in the finish here.
No 1 SEABURGE Smart 3YO resuming after a tough spring campaign. Capped his spring with a good second in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) here on November 5, when carrying 51kg. Respect here fresh.
No 5 THROSSELL (Best Roughie) Hails from a leading stable and was given a nice pipe-opener when running second over 800m on a Heavy 8 at Cranbourne in a trial on February 7. Has won twice and been placed twice at six starts.
VALUE RUNNER: No 5 THROSSELL
No 6 CROCODILE ROCK (NEXT BEST BET) Is an exciting type and having been super impressive at his three Australian starts for two wins and a second. Hails from the Melbourne Cup-winning stable and won convincingly over 2400m at Sandown last start on January 18. Damien Oliver is the new rider and he drops 4kg to 57.5kg on his last win. Makes a very strong case.
No 7 HURSLEY Has been most solid at his two starts this preparation.
No 9 POST D’FRANCE Can slot into a nice place and go forward.
No 13 SKULDUGGERY Pay to forgive his last start as there were excuses and go on prior form.
VALUE RUNNER: No 13 SKULDUGGERY
No 11 FLYING ARTIE This looms as a clash between two 3yo colts here. This bloke won the Group 1 Coolmore Stakes (1200m) here on October 29 with Star Turn finishing third. There is not much separating the two. Damien Oliver is the new rider here.
No 12 STAR TURN Is an outstanding 3yo and he will be fitter for having a trial at Rosehill on January 31. He won the 900m trial with ease and comes into this race on a good weight under the weight-for-age. Big chance.
No 7 SPIETH Is a Sydney stallion who ran second in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) here on November 5. He gets Sydney’s premier jockey Hugh Bowman to ride at his return to Flemington and would respect.
No 10 HEATHERLY Showed she was forward with a smart win in an 800m trial at Cranbourne on February 7. She beat Flying Artie and Illustrious Lad in the heat on a Heavy 8 track. She has an outstanding record fresh too.
VALUE RUNNER: No 10 HEATHERLY
No 8 DIVINE MR ARTIE Is on the quick back up but he will appreciate the drop in class after running eighth to Burning Front in the Group 2 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield last Saturday. Craig Williams stays on board which is a big positive.
No 3 OUR CENTURY Is a lightly-raced Irish bred import who has not put a foot wrong at his three Australian starts. Is fresh here having finished third in the Bendigo Cup (2400m) 115 days ago. Hugh Bowman is the rider and respect.
No 5 HARD CALL With the 1.5kg claim of Jordan Childs will carry 58kg here. He had to overcome interference to win over 1519m at Moonee Valley on February 3. Drawn in gate four he should get a softer run here.
No 6 ADIRONDACK Was a solid third to Duke Of Brunswick over 1400m at Caulfield first-up on February 4. That was a great run fresh because was deep for most of the trip. He had Dwayne Dunn again and is drawn in gate two.
VALUE RUNNER: No 6 ADIRONDACK