Racing returns to Melbourne’s headquarters at Flemington after the opening meeting for 2018 was held here on January 1. Does not appear an easy card to find winners but there should be plenty of value should you be lucky enough to catch one. The false rail is again at six metres and the track anticipated to be a Good 3 (Thursday). The weather is perfect with sunny conditions forecast for a good day of racing.
The Chester Manifold Stakes (Race 7) signals the start of the Melbourne autumn carnival so get ready for some hot racing over the next weeks.
QUADDIES (races 6,7,8,9)
Skinny Play: 3,12 – 3 – 7,9 – 5,6
Wide Play: 3,4,6,12 – 1,3,7 – 1,2,7,9 – 5,6,8,10
BEST BET: R7 – 3. DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR
Next Best Bet: R8 – 7. KEN’S DREAM
Best Roughie: R9 – 7. GOGO GRACE
No1 FAKE won a maiden at Gosford three starts ago. Pay to forget last start when was badly held up before finishing sixth over 1000m at Sandown on December 30. Has drawn perfectly in barrier one and Craig Williams keeps the ride on the Godolphin-trained colt today.
No4 TEMPLAR ran a solid third to the hot favourite over 1000m at debut at Sandown on December 30. Was badly held up between the 500m to the 200m so with a clear run here should be far more prominent. The wider alley in eight might keep him out of trouble and would keep safe.
No2 AL DORAMA exhibited natural speed to lead before being overcome by Graceful Storm over 1000m at Sandown on December 30. That was the Al Maher colt’s first start and would expect improvement. Ryan Maloney again rides and drawn the same gate in six and again carries 57kg.
No9 NASAAYIM is a daughter of champion sire Redoute’s Choice making her debut for the leading juvenile stable of Team Hayes. She won her trial over 800m at Wodonga back in September and was turned out. Expect her to have taken natural improvement and would watch betting.
VALUE RUNNER: No2 AL DORAMA
No5 PRETTY PUNK has leading Melbourne jockey Craig Williams booked on this Adelaide stayer at her assault today. She comes here with an excellent win over 2018m at Morphettville on December 30. She carried 57kg that day with the 2kg claim and drops to the limit on 54kg here.
No4 GOLDEN MANE is chasing consecutive wins after driving home to a narrow victory over the hot shot Shoreham over 2000m here on January 1. The seven-year-old gets into this race on the same weight on 54kg but gets a change of rider with Tahlia Hope’s 3kg claim reducing the handicap to 51kg.
No1 HOWARD BE THY NAME was bridging the gap strongly when finished second over 1700m at Warrnambool on December 31. Senior rider Brad Rawiller replaces a 3kg apprentice and his weight is down 3.5kg to 59kg today against five other rivals here. Lot to like.
No3 SECOND BULLET ran a rock solid third to Golden Mane over 2000m here on January 1. Has been a consistent stayer and with Taylor Marshall’s 2kg claim will carry a mere 54kg today. That is a drop of 4kg on his last start, but this time does not have top rider Damian Lane. Works home well.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 HOWARD BE THY NAME
No2 SAYED has an excellent record fresh and underlined he was on target with a good second in a 1200m barrier trial at Warwick Farm on December 19. Top trainer Chris Waller has booked leading Melbourne rider Craig Williams for the assignment and expect a bold showing today.
No3 JACQUINOT BAY has finished inside the money at past four starts but has failed to win. Expect to show again here on last-start second to the hot favourite Payroll over 1700m at Caulfield on December 26. Again will carry 56kg and has the aid of an inside alley in one. Good appeal.
No5 THE CHAIRMAN should relish the increase in distance after running a solid sixth over 1400m at Sandown on December 30. Has been Group 3 placed and gets senior rider Michael Dee replacing a 3kg apprentice. Will only go up 2.5kg to 55kg here.
No7 BURRUM’S BUZZ has father and son team chasing a Melbourne win after landing a touch in Adelaide over 1600m on December 30. He is running in red hot form with a hat-trick on the cards today. He has no weight again on 54kg and has an inside alley in gate three.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 BURRUM’S BUZZ
No1 TWITCHY FRANK has blinkers added for the first time and the 2kg claim of apprentice Ethan Brown alleviates her weight down to 58kg. She was a $3.70 favourite when running second over 1300m against her own age and sex at Sandown on December 30. Chance to atone here.
No4 TAGREEDA cleared out to a comfortable 1.5 length win over 1500m against her own sex at Sandown on January 3. She carried 57.5kg last time and goes up to 59kg today. She also gets a jockey change with Jake Noonan replacing Damien Oliver in the saddle. Yet to put a hoof wrong this campaign.
No3 SHOKORA is a nice three-year-old chasing a hat-trick after scoring smart wins over 1300m and 1200m. Latest she strode to half-length win over 1300m at Sandown on December 20. She does rise 3kg to 59kg today, but Andrew Mallyon keeps the ride and looms as a big danger.
No5 BELLEGANO gets a critical gear change with the addition of blinkers. This is her third start back from a spell and is primed following her last-start fourth over 1300m against her own age and sex at Sandown on December 30. Ryan Maloney keeps the ride and is again to carry 58.5kg.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 BELLGANO
No6 MONTASER has looked promising winning and being placed second at two starts. Latest he was backed from $12 into $9 before a closing third over 1440m at Caulfield on December 16. Hails from a very astute stable and Ben Allen rode him to win at his debut at Mornington in November.
No5 CRYSTAL SPIRIT ran a cracking second over 1200m at Caulfield last Saturday. He will carry no weight with Stephanie Thornton’s 3kg claim reducing his impost to a mere 54kg. He carried only 52.5kg last week with the allowance. Has been in the money at six of his seven starts.
No3 MURAAHIB should appreciate the step out to 1400m after running a good fifth over 1200m at Moonee Valley on December 23. The gelding is a Group 3 place-getter last spring and he ran only 2.5 lengths away from the winner first-up last time. Mark Zahra will ride on 59.5kg today.
No2 SALSAMOR has a fantastic fresh record of a win and a second at two starts. He is resuming from an 11-week spell and with the 2kg claim of apprentice Zac Spain will carry 58kg. He ran a top race to finish third in the Group Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley last start in late October.
VALUE RUNNER: No3 MURAAHIB
No12 STRYKINGLEE is now fully toned with his fourth start back from a spell today. He faces an even bunch down the straight 1100m here and with the addition of Mark Zahra gets his chance to break-through. Should get a nice run drawn in gate one along the inside rail.
No16 SCAPPARE found the winner Epic Moment too good but battled on well to run third over 1200m at Mornington on December 27. The four-year-old mare was backed from $12 into $9 and gets her chance from barrier three she will rail on the inside.
No4 PRAVRO was steady in the betting at $10 when posted a good win over 1100m at Caulfield on December 26. Apprentice Zac Spain has been booked to have his 2kg claim reduce his big impost down to 59kg. Having drawn in gate 14 he will follow the outside rail down the straight.
No5 BOB OF THE HEAD has been most consistent at Mornington and will be attempting to transfer that form to here. Latest he ran a solid second over 1200m on December 27. He carried 60.5kg that day, which is the same weight he carries today and Jamie Mott keeps the ride.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 PRAVRO
No3 DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR (BEST BET) has been a tower of strength and is resuming today from and eight-week spell for trainer Tony McEvoy. Five of his seven wins have been on the dry and he bowed out on a high with a smart win over 1500m in a Group 3 at Sandown on November 18. He is unbeaten at four starts over this distance and he has won at this track. Jye McNeil is the new rider.
No7 LITE’N IN MY VEINS former Perth sprinter who showed his true colours last start and expect to be a threat here.
No2 GOLD SYMPHONY is a Sydney-trained sprinter capable of finishing strongly here over this trip.
No1 BURNING FRONT has been placed at five of his nine starts at this track and will be thereabouts.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 BURNING FRONT
No7 KEN’S DREAM (NEXT BEST BET) was a high grade three-year-old last season and he gets a big weight drop down 4.5kg to the limit on 54kg here. Top apprentice Ben Allen rides for top trainer Darren Weir and he is fresh with three weeks since his good fifth over 1000m at Moonee Valley on December 23, when lumped on 58.5kg. Has been placed at listed level at this track and looks to have strong chances.
No9 INVINCIBLE AL can burst through the pack and he did win over 955m at The Valley three starts ago.
No1 THERMAL CURRENT will carry 58kg with the 2kg claim of apprentice Ethan Brown. Good claims.
No2 PRINCEFAMOUS was an impressive Randwick winner over 1000m last start and from a top yard.
VALUE RUNNER: No2 PRINCEFAMOUS
No6 SOHO RUBY raced away to comfortably beat a field of her own sex over 1400m here on January 1. She carried 60kg that day and drops to 56kg today with mark Zahra replacing Stephen Baster here. She has won twice at this track and should get a soft run from barrier four.
No5 MOONLOVER was a brilliant winner over 1200m at Mornington three starts ago. Last start she ran a strong second over 1400m against her own sex at Sandown on December 30. She carried 55kg that day and will carry 57kg today with the 2kg claim of apprentice Ethan Brown.
No10 ROYAL FASHION ran a solid third to the hot favourite Bella Martini over 1200m at Caulfield on December 26. That was also against her own sex. She will drop 4kg to 55kg on her last start today and senior rider Andrew Mallyon replaces an apprentice.
No7 GOGO GRACE (BEST ROUGHIE) has outstanding form at home in South Australia with two placings and a Morphettville win at three starts this campaign. She gets ace Melbourne rider Craig Williams replacing a 2kg Adelaide apprentice and is nicely weighted on 55.5kg.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 GOGO GRACE