Multiple Williams (or Howley?) runners always makes for an interesting map. Homesman and Gailo Chop should be the leading pair. Behind them it gets a bit messy with Lord Fandango (1) and Single Gaze (5) looking to find a position with The Taj Mahal (7), Devise (8) and Supply and Demand (9) all looking to be prominent with Hartnell and Almandin behind them. The rest back. Expecting either Homesman or The Taj Mahal (best used as a pace maker overseas) to attempt to put Gailo Chop out of its comfort zone and put on a strong tempo, setting it up for one of the other Williams runners.
2. Almandin – D.Oliver (59kg) (Barrier 11): $6: Paraded with improvement first-up when just missing stable mate Homesman in the Mornington Cup Prelude over this trip. Has solid second-up (4:2-1-0) and distance (7:1-3-1) statistics, however the major head-turner is the application of the blinkers for the first time. Could he be the pace maker? Either way, the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner oozes class and cannot be kept out of any exotics.
3. Ambitious – D.Lane (59kg) (Barrier 12): $23: Will likely get back from the outside gate. His trial looked well under par back in early February but was recently seen bolting in a jump out under some riding. He’s run his best races at this trip (4th in the 2016 Tenno Sho). If he looks right in the yard he’d be one to consider for exotics players. Glue on shoes big negative.
4. Gailo Chop – M.Zhara (59kg) (Barrier 10): $3: Deserved favourite coming off two dominant wins this prep over 1600m and 1800m, making Hartnell (hoof filler still in here) look second-tier last time out. He has the ideal fitness base for a contest of this nature, also parading with improvement to come last time out. Looks to get map favours as well but a team-Williams pace-maker could make it interesting. No way I could be letting him go around a loser in the race.
8. Lord Fandango – J.Childs (59kg) (Barrier 1): $35: Extremely disappointing last time out, running last to Gailo Chop. Not saying he can make up the 16.05L required but he did sharply peak third-up last campaign winning the G2 Herbert Power and he wears blinkers for the first time here. Could put in the multiples on trust.
9. The Taj Mahal – B.Melham (58.5kg) (Barrier 7): $7: Looks to have found his stellar overseas form at the back end of last preparation, running a big race for fourth in the G1 Emirates Stakes along the rails then putting a gap in the Zipping Classic field (3.5L on Almandin and 4.75 on Big Duke) over 2400m. Imports generally improve even further into their second Australian prep but being from the Williams camp there are no trials/jump outs to go on. Drawing in the middle of the track gives Melham (who gets off Homesman) plenty of options, but he won’t be far away. Top pick.
10. Homesman – M.Dee (58.5kg) (Barrier 3): $11: Will go right forward from an inside gate. Another lightly raced import with some solid overseas credentials. In the Belmont Derby (G1), they smashed the clock with Homesman recording a time in excess of 10L above benchmark. However, taking a line through the winner Oscar Performance, Homesman was beaten 2.8L whilst The Taj Mahal ran the same galloper to within 2.25L over also over 2012m. Only run in Aus he paraded very forward and out-bobbed Almandin to win the Mornington Cup Prelude, gapping the rest. Have to be betting at the $11.
11. Single Gaze – K.O’Hara (57kg) (Barrier 5): $8.50: This mare has been the definition of honest for some time now and looks to have come back better than ever this prep. She’s run two seconds over 1400m in the C.F.Orr (one of many who can say they should’ve won) then last time out over 1800m she had every chance but missed Gailo Chop by 1.25L. It’s tough to say she’ll turn the tables with only an extra 200m and Gailo Chop also open to improvement but she has to be included in all multiples.
1. The Taj Mahal ($7)
2. Homesman ($11)
3. Gailo Chop ($3)
4. Almandin ($6)
Both The Taj Mahal and Homesman represent good value at $7 and $11 respectively and at least one should get the race made to order. Suggest equal staking both The Taj Mahal and Homesman and saving on Gailo Chop.