Expecting the track to be posted a Good 4 come Saturday morning then dry progressively into a Good 3 come race time. There has been some minor watering of the track on Wednesday with probably 5-10mm more to come either naturally or through the irrigator prior to Saturday.
Expecting minimal to no bias on the day, with tempo and race shape playing more major roles. The inside 5 to 6 lanes may provide an ever to slight advantage.
Very interesting map with the probable leader in Beachwood being an emergency without a jockey declared. If he does not run, Greycliffe drawn in barrier 9 will likely take up the running. Behind him will follow Ocean’s Fourteen on the rail with Rockarral on its outside. Weather With You and Ace high look to be the second pair with a possibility to drive up on the inside to keep the others wider.
Johnny Vinko and Eshtiraak will look for a tactical position leaving from barriers 4 and 5 respectively, with Main Stage perhaps trying his luck to slot in mid-field from barrier 13. This could give Sully or Justice Faith a cart into the 3-wide running line from wider barriers.
Tangled, Abbero and Pissaro all look to lob mid-field or worse with Astoria landing right in the middle of the ruck on the fence from barrier 1. Bringing in the rear are Wolfe Tone from the widest draw and Nothing Too Hard will likely be ridden dead cold.
Overall tempo looks to only be moderate, but in these large races something can always surprise.
Ace High: $6.50
This galloper has really come into his own past the 1600m in his last two starts, having won the G3 Gloaming over 1800m and G1 Spring Champion Stakes over 2000m. He has lead both these fields around and not had it all his own way in doing so. Trainer David Payne suggested after his last start G1 win that he’d be better with something to chase and is drawn ideally to do so. Looked far better than he ever has in the yard last time out one would wonder if he can peak again. Only knock is that Tangled and Sully were really coming at him late last start over 2000m. But ridden more conservatively, the extra 500m may not prove an issue.
One of the main chances, just a slight query at the end of 2500m down the long Flemington straight.
With the in-form Blake Shinn booked, this colt could find a nice mid-field position from barrier 11 after settling closer than normal last time out. Comes into the race with two 2000m runs under his belt, providing a nice platform to launch off. He finished a 2.75L second to the in-form Cliff’s Edge last time out (importantly beating main rival Main Stage by 2.25L) and charged late to just miss Ace High by 0.1L the start prior. Getting the winkers for the first time could provide a little spark.
Another main chance, going in everything.
Huge run last time in, in the Geelong Classic over 2200m against the pattern of the day. Lobbed some 10L off the speed, sustained a very wide and long run and sprouted wings late to just miss Weather With You by under a length. He’s been well-beaten by Ace High the last two times they have met over 2000m and 1800m (margins of 3.9L and 6.8L respectively) but had major excuses in the latest, sitting wide for much of the trip. Have a feeling he could be peaking at the right time now and the 2500m looks to suit. Main knock is where he gets to from barrier 1 but Damien Lane is a good booking.
Can’t knock an each-way play at the $10, map is the main concern.
Only held his ground in a race dominated by those up on the speed last start. However, he did finish right alongside Main Stage who is well-fancied in this race. Being by Street Cry he could have no issues with the 2500m but given his most recent runs this is still a question mark. Booking of Kerrin McEvoy is a huge bonus, looking to lob in a mid-field position.
Been going around consistently enough to warrant consideration for wider exotics.
Main Stage: $7.5
Another one of the leading contenders who is yet to finish out of the placings at his 6 career starts. Importantly he has two great runs under his belt at the track. The latest of which was a superb win over Cliffs Edge when storming down the middle of the track from near last to nab Cliff’s Edge on the post over 1800m. Prior to that He and Tavistock Abbey put a 4L gap in the field over the same distance. Last time in he was buffeted out of the gates and had to settle in an awkward position which saw him boxed up with nowhere to go. However, he was yielding ground late and well-beaten by 5L.
If you can put a line through his last run he’d be top pick, another that must go in everything.
The Derby was this Gelding’s long term goal and he finds himself here with some solid lead-up form and Hugh Bowman to steer. He has been his own worst enemy in some of his races, racing very erratically when put under pressure. The blinkers come off for the first time and the near side bubble cheeker is applied, hopefully suggesting his racing manners are improving. He’s run on very encouragingly at his last two behind Ace High, suggesting the 2500m around the wide spaces of Flemington is going to be right up his alley.
Good each-way prospect with a bit of X-factor.
Weather With You: $8.50
Comes here under the guidance of genius Kiwi trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman with Mark Zahra to pilot, two big ticks. He produced a career best performance last time out to win the Geelong Classic over 2200m toughing it out on pace. He’s been improving steadily both in the yard and on the track this campaign to suggest he’ll be peaking at exactly the right time on Saturday. His form is polarising, being well-beaten by Main Stage two and three starts ago and even finishing behind Johnny Vinko two back. But there is a real sense of timing out to the 2500m for this son of Teofilo.
Solid set-up for the 2500m journey, yet another good each way chance.
One at big odds with place claims. Has run in the right lead-up races behind Main Stage and Cliff’s Edge. Last time out in the G3 Ladbrokes Classic over 2000m he was only 0.1L off Main Stage when 4th. Looks a real one paced type, just grinding to the line in his last few outings, suggesting the step up in trip will suit. He did start favourite over Main Stage 3 runs back.
Include in wider exotics.
The Pierro Colt’s lone win form 8 starts has come in a BM70 a as a $26 chance. He was subsequently beaten by almost 9L at listed level in SA before running within 10L of Aloisia in last weekend’s G2 Drummond Golf Vase (still finished 4th). Suggesting he’ll be out of his depth here.
Putting a line through.
Justice Faith: $51
Only broke his maiden two starts back in a weak looking Kyneton maiden, getting the job done by 0.2L over Tina Turban who was beaten by 5.5L at her next start in Benalla. Was fair in the Geelong Classic last start going down by 3.65L for 6th against Weather With You after being held up at a vital stage and doing his best work late. Barrier 16 is an issue.
Another at long odds hard to make a case for. Leaving out.
Ocean’s Fourteen: $13
Won a Donald Maiden in style two back before running a very gallant second in the Geelong Classic last time out. Along with Astoria, he was driving hard at Weather With You late in the piece at Geelong but did receive a better run in transit. The Colt has only had the 3 career starts and gives the impression he’s on the upwards spiral. Maps nicely to boot.
Splitting Weather With You and Astoria is enough to warrant consideration at the double figures here.
Has a record of 3:2-1-0 as a 3YO, racing on the country circuit. Really relished the step up to 2200m from 1606m last time out, where he raced up on the speed and kicked clear at the top of the straight to demolish a BM64 field at Seymour. Being by Tavistock the 2500m should not be an issue and he maps to be right on the pace if not leading. Has been some money around early doors.
Brings the different form. Would not be surprised if he held on for a place after being in a forward position.
Johnny Vinko: $34
Interesting galloper from the Busuttin, Young yard. Worked home well behind Main Stage two runs back at his only run at Flemington and on a good track. He then started in the market in the Geelong Classic where he got a mile back and sustained a long run to finish moderately into 11th, beaten 5.8L. Could be looking for a good track, 2500m doesn’t look to be an issue and he could settle closer.
One at big odds that has claims. Goes in exotics.
Nothing Too Hard: $251
Another to come through the Geelong Classic. He settled back 10th and was given a nice ride, saving ground along the inside but just failed to match it with them late. Prior to this he ran against the older horses at Newcastle and finished within 2L of Bon Equus in a BM60.
Don’t see him as a threat but $251 is probably excessive.
Broke his maiden at $1.35 in a low race at Gawler two back and comes through the Geelong Classic. Settled back close to the tail and mad some ground to finish just within 5L of the place getters there.
Suggesting he’s out of his depth here.
Wolfe Tone: $151
Finished 1.4L behind Pissaro when 6th last start at Moonee Valley over the 2040m journey. Not giving much hope to Pissaro, so by extension nor this colt.
A first half of the field finish would shock.
The lone emergency without a jockey nominated at this point, also nominated for a 2414m race at Mornington on Sunday. Could find the front if he runs but having never stepped out of maiden grade the rail would have to provide some 15L advantage to see him figuring in the finish.
Doubtful runner. Not up to these.
Weather With You: $8.50