The running of the Mornington Cup is the highlight of today’s autumn program. The winner is exempt from the ballot of the Caulfield Cup and Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has the Irish bred The Gold Trail set to make his Australian debut. Appleby celebrated a great spring here running second with Scottish in the Caulfield Cup and winning the Geelong Cup with Qewy. Stable-mate Oceanographer ran third in the Geelong Cup. The rail is at the true position and the track is rated a Soft 5. There is a 20-per-cent chance of showers for the day with the forecast high on 27C.
QUADDIES (Races 6-7-8-9)
Skinny Play: 3,5,7,11 / 3,6,8 / 1,2,3,13 / 1,3,7,10
Wide Play: 1,3,4,5,7,8,11,12,16 / 2,3,4,6,8,9,10 / 1,2,3,4,7,10,13 / 1,2,3,7,9,10,11
BEST BEST: R8 – 1. CLIFF HANGER
Next Best Bet: R7 – 3. THE GOLD TRAIL
Best Roughie: R8 – 7. SCREAMARR
No5 SCHISM Won brilliantly for his new stable over 1000m at Ballarat on March 7. He gets apprentice Beau Mertens to ride and his 2kg claim reduces his impost to 54kg – a drop of 4kg on his last win.
No6 EL SICARIO Gets a change of rider with Luke Currie replacing Mark Zahra on his first-up fourth over 955m at Moonee Valley on February 10. He gets a nice weight relief down from 58kg to 55kg and will be fitter.
No4 CAPANNELLO Had won two in a row before finishing 10th down the straight 1100m at Flemington on January 28. Has been freshened for this and with apprentice Ben Thompson’s 2kg claim carries 54.5kg.
No1 AUNTY MO Ran a close third over 955m at Moonee Valley last Friday night. Gets Chris Symons replacing Ben Thompson here and is racing well. She should get a soft run from gate six. Now ready at her third run back this preparation.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 SCHISM
No10 VIATRIX Made the successful switch from Sydney to Melbourne winning very well over 1200m at Moonee Valley last Friday night. Faces a quick back up but has Dwayne Dunn and drops 1.5kg to 55kg in a most competitive mares’ race here.
No4 FLORELLE Most reliable galloper when fresh having yet to miss a place. Showed she was on key for this with a second to speedster stable-mate Miss Vista over 9000m at Albury on March 4. The in-form Dean Holland rides.
No5 MILES OF KRISHAN Lightly raced mare who can sprint well fresh. She has not run since finishing third over 1600m at Moonee Valley on November 26. Rider Thomas Sadler will have to combat a wide gate in 11. Each-way.
No6 WEATHER THE STORM Likes this track and her return here could be a blessing after finishing sixth over 1200m at Sandown on March 1. She is fresh with Luke Nolen replacing Dwayne Dunn in a most open mares’ race.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 WEATHER THE STORM
No9 SNITZELWOOD Won at last two starts last preparation over the longer distances. Now is fit having third run back here from a spell after finishing a solid fourth in the Wangaratta Cup (2000m) on March 5. Good chance.
No4 TRY FOUR Is worth thought here despite that he is bound for jumps racing. He is going to strip fitter on sound fourth over 1800m at Flemington on March 11. He faces easier opposition and with Ben Allen’s claim carries 56kg.
No5 GOLDEN MANE Is a race-hardened galloper who can again loom on his fourth over 1800m at Flemington on March 11. Gets top jockey Craig Williams to ride here on 56.5kg, which is a half-kilo drop on his last start.
No7 GLADSTONE Is a former WA stayer who has been thereabouts in recent times. He ran a solid seventh after leading in the Launceston Cup (2400m) on February 22. He carries only 55kg here and from four can lead.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 SNITZELWOOD
No1 ESHTIRAAK Is out of the State’s No. 1 two-year-old stable. Will find this much easier than when the $2.45 favourite and finishing sixth in the Group 2 Vic Sires (1400m) at Flemington on March 11. Has ace jockey Dwayne Dunn to steer.
No2 TOGA PICTA Was having his first Melbourne start when finishing a good fourth in the Vic Sires (1400m) at Flemington on March 11. Faces easier opposition here and at third career start would expect further improvement.
No7 ABERRO Had a really tough debut when caught deep but showed good fight to run second in a 1200m maiden at Pakenham on March 2. Michael Dee is the new rider and drawn on the rail should get a soft run.
No8 IL DIVO The longer trip will suit it is a matter of race experience. Made a solid debut to finish third over 1400m in a maiden at Pakenham on March 16. Is up in class but is worth place thought at the odds of $31.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 ABERRO
No4 RISING HOPE Is unbeaten at this track at two starts. This is easier than when finishing 10th over 1600m in the Group 3 Matron Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 11. Ben Allen’s claims sees her carry a mere 54kg.
No1 STRIKE FORCE Has been as consistent as a Swiss watch. Fought hard to score a smart win over 1600m at Flemington last Saturday and is on the quick back up here. Does rise 1.5kg to 59kg for the win but is too honest to ignore.
No5 MAGNUS SLIPPER Chased very hard to claim third place at second start back from a spell over 1400m at Pakenham on March 16. Drops 4.5kg to 55kg and again has a super draw in gate one to gain a soft run throughout.
No2 HOKKAIDO Gets a nice drop in weight on last start when carried 61kg to finish second over 1400m at Pakenham on March 9. With Beau Mertens’ 2kg claim will carry 55kg here and he will be rolling forward. Has claims.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 MAGNUS SLIPPER
No3 RELDAS Looks to be ready to fire up here after two solid runs this preparation. Latest ran on well to claim second over 1200m at Moonee Valley on March 17. He gets the premiership winning jockey Craig Williams to steer here.
No7 WELL SPRUNG Won very impressively at Flemington down the straight 1200m two starts ago. Latest ran home well to finish third over 1200m at Moonee Valley on March 17. His sectional times have been top class.
No11 FAST CASH Has a grand first-up record of two wins and a third at five starts. Left the track on a winning note at Moonee Valley last September. Craig Newitt is the new rider and had a soft trial in the lead up to this race.
No5 BASSETT Has been racing in top stead and chases a hat-trick here though the barrier in 16 has made his task harder. Latest was over 1200m at Moonee Valley last Friday night. Rises 2kg to 56kg for his win.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 WELL SPRUNG
No3 THE GOLD TRAIL (NEXT BEST BET) The stable of Charlie Appleby made a big impact on the Melbourne spring and this English stayer was left here to qualify for this year’s Caulfield Cup. Melbourne’s premier jockey Craig Williams has been booked to ride the stallion at his Australian debut and on his European form he looks hot to trot here.
No6 BOOM TIME Ran out of his skin to finish sixth to Humidor in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 11.
No9 GOLDSTREAM Racing well and finished runner-up to Boom Time last start.
No8 DARK EYES Form over the middle-distance in NSW is top shelf. The 2400m may be a query.
VALUE RUNNER: No6 BOOM TIME
No1 CLIFF HANGER (BEST BET) Ran a great second to Farson in the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield on February 25. Leading apprentice Ben Thompson rides here but is unable to use his claim. Farson has upheld the form running well in the Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley last Friday. He has been a model of consistency at three starts back from a spell.
No3 ODEON Posted a smart first-up win over 1400m. Backed from $6.50 into $4.20 early.
No7 SCREAMARR (BEST ROUGHIE) Has had support at double figure odds early and last start maiden winner.
No13 RED IS THE ROSE She performed well against her own sex last time at Flemington.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 SCREAMARR
No10 MATERNAL Has been a most reliable mare. She was warmed up with two solid trials at Rosehill for her comeback here and won at her last start at Pakenham before going for a spell. Craig Williams rides and respect.
No1 JUST MAGICAL This is a most open race and Chris Caserta’s 3kg claim alleviates his weight down to 59kg after running a good sixth in the Apache Cat (1400m) at Cranbourne on March 3. Will have admirers.
No5 IN FAIRNESS Drops to 57kg with the claim of apprentice Ben Allen and has a great first-up record on two wins and a third at three starts. Has not raced since running sixth at Moonee Valley last January and one to watch.
No2 SPREADEAGLED Experienced apprentice Ben Thompson’s 2kg claim helps dropping his impost to 59kg. He has not raced since finishing seventh over 1400m at Caulfield on December 26. Has been entered in other races but saved for this.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 JUST MAGICAL