Weekend racing returns to Caulfield after a break where racing on Saturday has been held at country venues or at Sandown.
Looks to be a strong card of nine races with depth in most of the races.
The best stables and best jockeys are in action.
The False Rail will be moved out to 12 metres, so keep an eye on the pattern of racing.
After meetings where the tracks have been rain-affected we get to race on top of the ground on a Good 3. The weather forecast is for fine but a bit cloudy.
QUADDIES (races 6,7,8,9)
Skinny Play: 4,5 – 1 – 2,9 – 3,13
Wide Play: 4,5,6,10 – 1,8,10 – 1,2,9,13 – 3,11,12,13
BEST BET: R4 – 6. VINLAND
Next Best Bet: R6 – 6. ETAH JAMES
Best Roughie: R7 – 5. MUBAKKIR
No3 FAKE has leading Victorian jockey Damian Lane to ride at his Melbourne debut. He showed great zest to post a brilliant win at his debut over 1000m maiden at Gosford on November 25. The son of Sepoy is now in Melbourne to contest his first race in an anti-clockwise direction.
No11 ENNIS HILL had to dig deep to post a narrow win in an 800m trial at Cranbourne on November 27. Hails from Victoria’s premier juvenile yard in Team Hayes and has ace jockey Craig Williams to steer at her debut. She is a lovely bred daughter of Fastnet Rock.
No13 VIA REGINA is a stablemate to Ennis Hill by Australia’s premier two-year-old sire Snitzel. She has no trial form to use as a guide, but has leading stable rider Andrew Mallyon on board and has drawn perfectly on the rail. Keep safe.
No10 ANTHEMOESSA showed good form to run second over 1000m at Ballarat on November 25. That race was held in a clockwise direction and will be going the reverse way here. She is trained in Victoria so the change in direction is of no concern. Barrier 10 is a setback.
VALUE RUNNER: No10 ANTHEMOESSA
No5 DON’T BLUSH BABY faces a deep field here. He comes into this race with the right credentials having won at his past two country starts over 1100m and 1200m. Latest was a 2.5 length winner over 1200m at Cranbourne on November 24. Ethan Brown’s 2kg claim reduces his weight to 59kg.
No6 SACRED SHAM did peak first-up when finishing a close fourth over 1100m at Ballarat on November 25. He was backed into a $4.80 favourite that time and with the 2kg claim will drop in weight to 59kg. The wide gate in 11 hurts a little.
No4 TOOSBUY gets the in-form apprentice Fred Kersley to ride and his 2kg claim offers weight relief on 59.5kg here. He was a brilliant 2.25 length winner at his last start over 1200m at Mornington on November 23. Has won twice and been placed second at six starts. Most reliable.
No8 FORTIFY burst through to post a second win over 1100m at Ararat on November 12. Has been freshened up for this race and has drawn well in gate five. Will carry his full 61.5kg with Ryan Maloney the new jockey. He has the speed to lead or sit right on the pace.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 FORTIFY
No3 HOLY FREEZE gets stable jockey John Allen back on top. Allen rode the three-year-old to win over 1100m at his debut in a maiden at Hamilton. Latest he ran a close second after being left flat footed at the gates over 1300m at Sandown on December 2. He was a strong $2.70 favourite that day.
No11 FOLK SONG was given a respite of three weeks following a clever win over 1400m at Cranbourne on November 23. She was backed into a warm $2.60 favourite and steamrolled then by 3 lengths. Top jockey Craig Williams is booked for today in a harder assignment but her form is top class.
No5 KASI FARASI scored a fighting win over 1200m at his debut at Pakenham before finishing a good third over 1300m on a bog track at Sandown on December 2. Will be back on top of the ground today and the experienced Jake Noonan is the new rider.
No6 MONTASER is a New Zealand bred colt who had a flying start to his career with a 1 length win over 1200m at Mornington on November 23. He has drawn perfectly for his city debut in gate four and gets top apprentice Ben Allen to steer. Would expect another strong showing from this three-year-old.
VALUE RUNNER: No6 MONTASER
No6 VINLAND (BEST BET) ploughed through the mud to register an imposing win over 1600m at Sandown on December 2. He was an easing favourite at $3.40 that day, but handled the bog. He won his maiden at Bendigo over 1400m three starts ago in good style and from barrier six should get a nice run in transit. He drops a kilo to 57kg and Andrew Mallyon keeps the ride on the colt.
No3 RED CHOUX’S had no luck whatsoever last start when running third at Sandown. Good chance.
No10 ATONE has won and finished second at two starts so form is difficult to fault. Must respect.
No8 WHISTLER BOWL drops 2kg to 56.5kg and has won or been placed at two starts.
VALUE RUNNER: No8 WHISTLE BLOWER
No1 MRS GARDENIA has won three times and been placed second twice from her past five starts. She looks perfectly placed here with a last start win over 1600m against her own sex at Sandown on December 2. She should relish going back to the top of the ground today.
No7 PORTION CONTROL may have been bogged down on the Heavy 8 at Sandown when a fading tenth over 1800m on December 2. She is back on the top of the ground today and should rally. She also likes this track and has Mark Zahra on board to steer from gate four.
No9 EUREKA STREET struck a rain-soaked track first-up when finishing eighth over 1300m at Sandown on December 2. This time she gets to run on firm going and would expect improvement from her as there was some betting on her first-up at Sandown. Keep safe.
No6 GUIZOT had Jordan Childs on board when winning at Pakenham two starts ago. Childs is back on top here after Ben Thompson rode her to finish second over 1800m at Sandown on a bog track on December 2. Far better suited this time on firm going.
VALUE RUNNER: No6 GUIZOT
No6 ETAH JAMES (NEXT BEST BET) has been a flag-bearer for young trainer Matt Cumani and can continue on with her hot winning streak and make it a hat-trick today. She beat the hot favourite Tiger Tim over 2300m at Ballarat on November 25 on the limit on 54kg. She will carry 56.5kg today and the under-rated jockey Linda Meech retains the mount. She has won at four of her past five starts and looks a good bet.
No10 PRINCE OF PAGODA is coming off a smart win at Bendigo and has won twice at five starts this campaign.
No9 SERENADE THE STARS was a smart winner at Bendigo this campaign and looms as an each-way hope.
No5 LYCURGUS has struck soft tracks at recent outing and is best on firm ground. Gets that here.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 LYCURGUS
No8 OZI CHOICE showed far too much speed and had his rivals off the bit to post an outstanding win over 1400m at Morphettville on December 2. He was entitled to tire a shade at the end of the race and with Ben Thompson’s 1.5kg claim will carry only 52.5kg in this assault.
No10 URBAN RULER was a fighting winner at Geelong three starts ago. Latest he struck a bog track when finishing fifth over 1400m at Ballarat on November 25. He is back on top of the ground today and gets a new rider in Jye McNeil. He does like this distance and would respect.
No1 CHAMOIS ROAD with Ethan Brown’s 2kg claim will carry a more comfortable 57kg today. He was backed into a $3.20 favourite before finishing a steady seventh over 1200m on a bog track at Ballarat on November 25. Will be better suited here on firm going.
No5 MUBAKKIR (BEST ROUGHIE) is an Adelaide trained gelding brought across for a Melbourne assault. Latest chased hard to finish a strong sixth over 1400m at Flemington on November 11. Gets ace jockey Craig Williams to ride and from barrier two gets a cosy run along the rail. Each-way chance.
VALUE RUNNER: No10 URBAN RULER
No13 MANOLO BLAHNIQ lived up to his good trial form with a strong second over 1000m at Sandown on November 29. That was first-up and will be fitter for the race experience. The four-year-old has drawn well in gate six and gets the top Melbourne rider Craig Williams to guide.
No6 GOT THE GOSS is chasing three straight wins following two smart efforts in the country. Showed plenty of tenacity to narrowly beat Proud Wolf over 1200m on a bog track at Ballarat on November 25 last start. Will again be on the limit on 54kg and lots to like.
No9 DANUKI is returning from a month’s break and will be fresh for this. Latest ran a solid sixth over the scamper of 955m at Moonee Valley on November 17. Drops down to a mere 52.5kg with the 1.5kg allowance and looms as an each-way chance.
No1 CRYSTAL DREAMER gets a nice weight with the 3kg claim of apprentice Stephanie Thornton on 56kg. She was a brilliant winner over 1000m in a listed race at Sandown on November 18. Should be right in the money here but the barrier is of contention in gate 13.
VALUE RUNNER: No9 DANUKI
No13 CREATIVITY went close to making a perfect return when finishing a close second over 1100m at Ballarat on November 25. That run was from a 33-week spell and will strip fitter today. Gets Melbourne’s top rider Damian Lane to steer from gate four.
No11 CLUB TROPICANA is absolutely flying with two good wins over 1100m and 1000m at Sale and Sandown to her credit. Latest she showed strength to claw to a narrow win at Sandown, carrying 55.5kg for jockey Craig Williams. Williams rides again and she drops down to 54kg.
No10 STRYKINGLEE has finished third and second at her two starts this preparation. Latest she ran a good second over 1200m at Moonee Valley on December 1 carrying 58.5kg. She plunges down to 53kg with the 1.5kg allowance of apprentice Ben Thompson.
No3 BRUGAL REWARD will race on the speed and with the 2kg claim of apprentice Ethan Brown will carry 56kg. The barrier in 11 is a setback but she did win well over 1200m against her own sex at Ballarat on November 25. Will have the Darren Weir polish and is right in this.
VALUE RUNNER: No13 BRUGAL REWARD