I must preface this by commending the Flemington track staff, the track has held up and played beautifully for all three days of the carnival thus far.
The rail went out 3m for the entire course on Oaks day and played brilliantly. It was certainly no disadvantage to be up on the inside despite the previous traffic. Tempo and race shape played a far more crucial role in determining the winner.
Don’t anticipate this will change for this 2000m contest, despite the rail position yet to be announced. For the record, outside fence may prove the place to be in the straight races.
Seems a stack of early speed on paper, anticipating the speed to be 2-3L above even early then a slight mid-race slacken back to around benchmark.
Gailo Chop and Cliff’s Edge will look to drive up and hold the lead from their middle draws. The Taj Mahal will likely sit very hand, could even test for the lead. It’s Somewhat and Folkswood will make their way across into the second pair. Folkswood could map awkwardly into a 3-wide line, but McEvoy will figure it out.
Can see Tom Melbourne taking more of a sit since it was working well in Sydney. He could lob mid-field with the likes of Samovare, Harlem and Odeon. Off mid-field comes So Si Bon from the inside with Sense of Occasion and Tosen Stardom with Happy Clapper and Gingernuts going right back.
Happy Clapper - $8:
If he’s ever going to run a strong 2000m at Weight For Age this is his chance with two 2000m runs under his belt. Although, Oliver’s dodge ‘em cars steering in the Cox Plate might not provide the ideal platform. His run was solid enough given he was 3-wide no cover early in that event, holding his ground in the straight for 6th. Prior to that he had a tough run over 2000m at Randwick (wide no cover again) and failed to reel in Classic Uniform, who’d be long odds here.
Think there were better runs in the Cox Plate and still not convinced he’ll get the strong 2000m I anticipate will be needed to win this.
It’s Somewhat - $18:
Still no jockey declared at this point, will they scratch? Produced a sound effort last time out at Moonee Valley in the Crystal mile where he started a well-backed $4.40 chance. Settled up on a hot (suicidal) speed set by Burning Front and Religify and just plugged away to the end for 3rd to go down by 4L. Don’t anticipate the step up to 2000m is the right recipe.
Better controlling the pace over 1600m. Odds about right.
Gailo Chop - $7.50:
Looks your leader. Won the G1 Caulfield Stakes over the trip two starts back. Holding off Johannes Vermeer – that form looks premium at the moment. The ex-French galloper since put in a commendable effort in the Cox Plate, leading the field up then weakening slightly late for 5th. He’s still in his first preparation for Darren Weir and at absolute peak fitness for his 7th run in. He doesn’t look to get his own way up front here and might be left wanting late by those with a superior turn of foot.
Wouldn’t be suggesting a bet at the current odds. One for the placings in the exotics.
Tosen Stardom - $11:
Last time we saw this galloper second-up off a few weeks freshen he won the G1 Toorak over 1600m in emphatic style. This win came off a similarly sound but below market expectation run in the 1400m G1 Sir Rupert Clark Stakes, when beaten 2.6L into 6th as a $6 chance. Out to what looks to be a strong 2000m is the query after only a plain effort in last weekend’s Cantala over 1600m.
Another slight distance query. $11 to find out seems solid.
Sense of Occasion - $41:
Needs significant sting out of the ground to be competitive here and doesn’t look to get it. Don’t have an issue with a strong 2000m. 8th in the Hill Stakes over 1800m at Randwick and 9th in the G1 Cantala over 1600m last weekend doesn’t make for inspiring reading.
Have plenty of time for the horse but needs it wet. Not here.
Tom Melbourne - $11:
The punters pal is back. Looked to have the Cantala shot to bits last week but lost the race by a head like only Tom Melbourne could. Has good form over well in excess of the 2000m when with Anthony Freedman, placing in both the 2016 Lexus (2500m) and the Queen Elizabeth at Flemington (2600m). Distance no issue. Could give another huge sight here ridden with cover as he’d been doing in Sydney. If he’s ever going to win one he can’t be left in front for long enough to remember who he is.
Right in it on form, but he’s Tom. $3.50 the place would be a good bet.
Folkswood - $5:
Overseas form is quality without being absolute top-shelf. Best performance came in Dubai, when running a 0.3L 2nd in a G1 over 1800m. That run would see him right in the finish here. Charlie Appleby looks to have uncovered yet another galloper who thrives in Australian conditions. His win in the Cranbourne Cup was easy by 2.8L, whilst importantly providing him a platform to build on this preparation. Comes here on the back of a great run in the Cox Plate where he was strong on the line into 3rd, beaten (only) 4.6L.
Best Cox Plate run of those here. Strong 2000m suits. Barrier 15 only negative, but offset by McEvoy booking. Top pick, each-way odds a spoil.
Harlem - $26:
Most polarising runner of the field. This is no-doubt a fall-back option on the back of three successive disappointing runs. He did have an eye infection prior to last start but looked absolutely stunning in the yard and was the subject of heavy investment, so forgiving that run is tough. However, last time he was seen at 2000m he produced his most dynamic performance in Australia, towelling them up by 3.2L in the G3 Naturalism. On that run alone you’d mark him favourite here. Look for a market move from a betting stable.
Easy to mark him well shorter than $26. Won’t cost you much to at least chop out at the $26, suggesting doing so. At least.
Gingernuts - $6:
Almost an anti-Tom Melbourne, having a cult following of loyal punters. He was last seen on Australian shores going down in the G1 ATC Derby over 2400m on a bog Randwick track. Easy to forgive that run (as a short-priced favourite) due to a lack of tempo and track bias being hard against this back marker. Also boasts a G1 win over 2000m on Australian soil in the Rosehill Guineas. His NZ preparation has been excellent, resuming a strong 5th in a G1 over 1400m when getting airborne late. Then winning a G1 over 1600m before narrowly being defeated last time in (by a runner with a much more sympathetic run) over 2040m as a $1.80 favourite in the G1 Livamol Classic.
Preparation was significantly disrupted with a G1 race day being called off due to the weather. Aim was the Caulfield Cup. Won the G1 NZ Derby on a Good 4, so on top of the ground shouldn’t be an issue. Strongly run 2000m suits. Right in this, good each-way bet.
Odeon - $18:
Big step up in grade for the 4YO. On the short back-up from a 2L Listed win on Cup Day over the 1800m. Looked all over the SA Derby winner last preparation before he didn’t quite see out the 2500m. A strong 2000m should be no issue. Drawn nicely and can obtain a tactical position but probably lacks the turn-of-foot to catch these high-class middle distance galloper, getting only 0.5kg off the top-weight
Big fan of the horse but probably not up to G1 WFA company just yet. Would need $20+ to consider. Wider exotics perhaps.
So Si Bon - $31:
Went back to the inside and rode for luck after drawing 12 of 14 last time in and only held his ground, running 11th and never looking a threat. Could map similar here from gate 1. Has had the one run at 2000m for a slightly surprising 3rd in the G1 Rosehill Guineas (SP $20). Gets the cross over nose band on for the first time and the tongue tie off again. Seems a bit like the stable is searching for an answer.
Building a record of a horse that doesn’t like his photo taken. Only for the wider exotics as a place chance.
The Taj Mahal - $26:
A 4YO son of Galileo having his second Australian start for team Williams. His first start down under saw him make no impression from back and wide in the G1 Caulfield Stakes over 2000m. Admittedly not much did run on from out wide in that event. Boasts some top-line European form, running 5th in the G1 Irish Champions over 2012m (3.8L) and 2nd in the G1 Secretariat over 2012m the start prior. Both on top of the ground. Wouldn’t surprise to see a more positive ride here from barrier 2.
Quality European form but disappointing first start in Australia. Getting good odds here for an each-way play.
Samovare - $20:
Been running well in lower class group races without winning. Lead up the G3 Coongy field last start over 2000m before weakening last to be claimed by Kiwia late. That form stood up well with Kiwia subsequently being extremely competitive with Qwey in the Bendigo Cup. Not running out 2000m strongly with all the favours in a G3 would have to be a query coming in to this. Prior to that run this mare lead the G1 Underwood field up over 1800m before again finding the top-class middle distance horses too good late and finishing 7th.
Consistent enough type but leaving out in G1 WFA company.
Cliff’s Edge - $6:
The 3YO who gets 8kg off the top-weights is right in the betting here. Had previously staked his claims as the yard stick for 3YO middle distance males, romping the G3 Neil Robinson (2000m) in by 2.8L. The Cranford Cliffs colt was then towelled up by classy filly Aloisia over the 2040m in the Moonee Valley Vase, but comfortably beat the rest of the field. Wouldn’t read too much into Aloisia’s subsequent defeat in the Oaks, different kettle of fish entirely. Will be right up on the speed here with a very light weight. If the leaders get a breather or those on speed are advantaged, he’ll be very hard to catch.
Definitely not out of this. Gets favours on the map and in the weights. $6 is a touch short to be having a play in a G1 WFA event for mine.
Suggesting a good play on Folkswood the win. Market is open enough to either cop out on Gingernuts, The Taj Mahal and Harlem or have a good result on the two longer priced gallopers.
The Taj Mahal: $26