The spring carnival is now well under way and the road to Flemington lies here at today’s Geelong Cup and Classic meeting for horses seeking berths in the Melbourne Cup and Victoria Derby.
Leading trainer Darren Weir holds the key to the Geelong Cup with the outstanding Gallic Chieftain and the ever-consistent Kellstorm.
The three-year-olds do battle in the Geelong Classic with the Godolphin-trained Astoria bringing to town some outstanding efforts back home in Sydney.
The track is rated perfectly as a Good 4 and the False Rail will be at the true position.
The weather will be cool with a maximum of 18C forecast with cloud overhead.
QUADDIES (races 6,7,8,9)
Skinny Play: 1,11 – 4,8 – 2,3,13 -9,11
Wide Play: 1,7,11,15 – 2,4,8 – 2,3,13,14 – 7,9,12,16
BEST BET: R6 – 1. ASTORIA
Next Best Bet: R7 – 4. GALLIC CHIEFTAIN
Best Roughie: R6 –15. MIGHTY QUINN
No13 SERACENA will strip far fitter for having a start under her belt when gave a good effort to run third over 1400m at Flemington on September 27. That was first-up from a 22-week spell and gets top jockey Craig Williams to guide from a top draw in gate four. Strong claims.
No2 GOOD THERAPY is a speedy type who won over 1400m in good style at Pakenham three starts ago. Was dropped to 1200m on the synthetic track last start when finishing seventh at Pakenham on September 22. Mark Zahra replaces Michael Walker and worth consideration. Can make amends.
SCRATCHED No9 BENNY GOES BERZERK supporters will be looking to this Darren Weir-trained gelding to go berserk here after his strong fourth over 1600m at Ballarat on October 12. He gets new rider Michael Dee to ride here and from a middle alley in eight gets his chance.
No7 STAR MAJOR could not have made an audacious debut than by racing away to a 3.5 length win in a maiden over 1400m at sale on June 1. Returning to racing here without a trial in the chase to keep his unbeaten streak intact. Gets the highly experienced Nikita Beriman as his new partner.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 STAR MAJOR
No4 KING WAY had a big excuse for uncharacteristic flat run when fifth over 2500m at Moonee Valley on October 6. He pulled up with soreness in a fetlock joint. His previous form at this grade was tops with a win over 2447m here three starts ago. Expect him to bounce back to his best here.
No3 UBIN THUNDERSTRUCK was an easy $4.20 favourite before finishing second over 2000m at Ballarat on October 12. Top jockey Craig Williams replaces a 3kg apprentice at this assignment and he looks to be on the rise in form. He has a fantastic draw in two and is a good chance.
No7 ASCOT RED scored a comfortable 2.5 length win over 2200m at Ballarat on October 5. He gets the benefit of a 4.5kg weight drop down to 54kg for his step up in class here. Ace jockey Dwayne Dunn is his new partner and his prior synthetic form here was respectable. Has good claims.
No10 ADATTO has the tongue-tie going back on following his fifth over 2000m at Ballarat on October 12. He also drops 2kg in weight to the limit on 54kg and gets the in-form James Winks as his new pillion for this encounter. He has been placed over the longer journey but has yet to win. Each-way.
VALUE RUNNER: No10 ADATTO
No2 BEACH LIFE Pulled up lame after bombing the start last time out when finishing sixth over 1500m at Mornington on September 30. Despite all that went wrong showed courage to chase hard down the home stretch. Resumes here and loves this track. Top jockey Mark Zahra is his new partner.
No7 POTEMKIN has Patrick Maloney to ride and the jockey is riding well. Last start ran home strongly to go down in a close finish running third over 1600m at Moonee Valley on October 6. He drops a big 3kg here to 56.5kg and has the perfect alley on the rail to get a soft run.
No1 PUFNSTUF posted his fourth career win at 11 starts when he narrowly beat Jamaican Rain in a ding-dong finish over 1600m at Seymour on October 8. Ben Thompson rides but cannot use his 1.5kg claim and must carry his full weight on 61kg. The barrier in three is perfect.
No9 CADABRA cruised to an easy 2.5 length win over 1600m at Ballarat on October 5. He carried 56kg to win that day and drops to 55kg here and top jockey Michael Walker is booked to ride again. He was backed from $10 into $8.50 that day and is capable of a repeat performance.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 CADABRA
No3 EMOJI gets a good chance to reverse the placings on Gold Fields here with apprentice Ethan Brown’s 1.5kg claim reducing his impost down to 57.5kg. Had a tough run last time and fought to the line despite being beaten by 2 lengths by Gold Fields over 1500m at Mornington on September 30.
No4 ESCHIELE was first-up when finishing a good third over 1350m here on October 4. He was a drifter from $12 to $20 that day. Senior rider Daniel Moor again rides and he gets the bonus of a big weight drop down from 62kg to 59kg. Only issue is his second-up record is not great.
No2 GOLD FIELDS will be going all out to keep the wood on Emoji after claimed a 2 length win and downing the favourite over 1500m at Mornington on September 30. He jumps 1.5kg for the win and must carry the full 60kg here with Brandon Stockdale unable to use his allowance.
No7 FRESHWATER STORM kept grinding way to chisel his way into third place over 1600m at Ballarat on September 29. There was something to take from the run and he drops down sharply in class this time out. Patrick Maloney rides again and he jumps from gate three.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 FRESHWATER STORM
No1 ASTORIA (BEST BET) has very strong form coming out of his fifth in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) to Ace High at Randwick on October 7. The colt won the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) at Newcastle three starts ago and he gets Sydney’s ace jockey Hugh Bowman to ride at his Geelong debut. Well backed in early betting here.
No11 OCEAN’S FOURTEEN super impressive maiden win over 1600m at Donald at first run back from a spell.
No15 MIGHTY QUINN (BEST ROUGHIE) he is rock hard solid and he finished on their heels last start. Great odds.
No2 SAVAHEAT won a stakes race at big odds in Adelaide last start. He is a Darren Weir youngster.
VALUE RUNNER: No15 MIGHTY QUINN
No4 GALLIC CHIEFTAIN (NEXT BEST BET) looks very hard to beat on his third to Lord Fandango in the Herbert Power (2400m) at Caulfield on October 14. Lord Fandango ran a cracking fourth in last Saturday’s Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m). Ace jockey Craig Williams has got the leg up here and from barrier two he is going to get a soft run in transit. The import loves this distance too.
No2 LIZZIE L’AMOUR she had no luck when trapped wide before finishing a steady tenth to Folkswood in the Cranbourne Cup (2025m) on October 15.
No8 KELLSTORM ran a great third to Amelie’s Star in the Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 7.
No6 FANATIC is from the Caulfield Cup stable of Team Hayes and he is worth a look at long odds.
VALUE RUNNER: No6 FANATIC
No2 QUILISTA ran a great third to Snitty Kitty and she came out and endorsed the form to win brilliantly at Caulfield at stakes level last Saturday. That was over 1100m back at Caulfield on October 1. She likes to take charge in front and has the ear muffs going back on. Top showing here.
SCRATCHED No13 DIVINE QUALITY has won at three and been placed third at her four career starts. She was a red hot $1.50 favourite when scoring a run-away 4.5 length win over 1200m at Ballarat on October 12. That was her first start back from a spell and she is unbeaten second-up.
No16 CRYSTAL FOUNTAIN boasts the impeccable record of two starts for two wins at this track. Latest she was a $3.10 favourite when winning over 1100m here on August 9. She is fresh for today’s encounter against her own sex and should get a cosy run from barrier five.
No3 GHISONI showed she was on course for a good effort first up with a close second over 7490m in a trial at Randwick on October 17. The Godolphin-trained mare goes very well fresh with a record of two wins at her three starts. Sydney ace Hugh Bowman is to ride.
VALUE RUNNER: No3 GHISON
No9 BORD DE GAIN returns to country racing from some good efforts in the city. Latest he ran a good third down the straight 1100m at Flemington on September 27. He is fresh from a four-week break for this break-neck chase and has missed a place only once at five starts.
No12 AMADEUS has been freshened up with a four-week gap between starts. Latest he ran a solid sixth down the straight 1100m at Flemington on September 27. He gets ace jockey Craig Williams to ride this time around and has a good alley in eight. Can go very well.
No7 AJANI has been most consistent and expect another forward showing here. Latest he ran a tradesmanlike third over 1200m at Mornington on September 30. The Sydney sprinter gets ace Sydney rider Hugh Bowman to steer for the in-form team of Peter and Paul Snowden.
SCRATCHED No19 A MIST OPPORTUNITY must get a start as is an emergency. She showed plenty of ability to post an effortless win over 1200m at Cranbourne on October 15. She coasted way by 1.5 lengths that time and she drops 3kg to 56.5kg here. Looks to have each-way claims.
VALUE RUNNER: No19 A MIST OPPORTUNITY
SCRATCHED No3 LABUAN STAR should relish his return to the country after a fifth over 1200m at Moonee Valley on September 29. He was caught off the track that night but never surrendered finishing 1.65 length from the winner. He drops in class and goes up in weight to 58.5kg for that. Can overcome alley in 16.
No12 URBAN RULER ran to the line hard when finishing a narrow second over 1600m at Flemington on July 8. Top jockey Damien Oliver is the new rider on him fresh here. He has an excellent record first-up of two wins and a third at three starts and from gate three gets a soft run.
SCRATCHED No2 THELBURG has won at six of his 15 starts. Latest he ran along the rail to finish a good third over 1400m at Sandown back in May. He has a top shelf record fresh with a win and a second at three starts. With Chris Caserta’s 1.5kg allowance he will carry a comfortable 57.5kg here.
No7 STRIKE FORCE was immediately spelled after his last of 12 over 1600m at Flemington on July 8 in the Winter Championship Final. His first-up record is fair with two seconds at five starts and he has a nice draw in gate four. Jake Bayliss is the new rider and is an each-way hope.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 STRIKE FORCE