When is a six-horse field a “Match Race”? When you’re Darren Weir and you’ve got two Group One performers like Tosen Stardom and Humidor matched against four ‘victims’ in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes at Flemington on Saturday – that’s when.
You couldn’t blame “Weiry” for being more than a little bit confident. After all, Tosen Stardom has proven himself to be almost unbeatable between 1600m and 2000m on his day. And Humidor, the Group One winner of the Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes, is the former Kiwi galloper who literally stopped Australian hearts when he dared to challenge the all-conquering Winx in the final 50m of last year’s WS Cox Plate. Poor old Hellova Street, Odeon, Cool Chap and Radipole are going to have a “hellova job” keeping up with the Weir-trained duo and will simply be running for minor money in the Blamey. But what a race it will be. The only problem is working out which of the two will finish in front: Tosen Stardom or Humidor? That is the question.
With the Weather Bureau predicting a 20% chance of a shower in the morning in Melbourne town, the track should play as a Good4, with the rail out 7metres for the entire circuit.
QUADDIES (races 6,7,8,9)
Skinny Play: 4,12 – 7,8 – 3 – 2,4,13,18
Wide Play: 3,4,5,7,12,13 – 2,3,4,7,8,12 – 1,2,3,5,7,8 – 2,4,7,13,18
BEST BET: R8 – 3. TOP OF THE RANGE
Next Best Bet: R6 – 12. CONDAMINE
Best Roughie: R3 – 9. TARCOOLA SPIRIT
No1 FRENCH EMOTION Quality mare who has been racing in Group races for mares and gets in well under the Set Weights and Penalties conditions of this race. Was having third run of a short campaign when she got home late for a 2 length seventh to Shoals 1600m G1 Myer Classic here on Nov. 4. Beat Whistle Baby and Devilishly 1400m Caulfield five runs earlier April 22. Has won first-up in the past and a forward showing is expected.
No3 QUILISTA Coming off a courageous 2.35 length eighth behind Russian Revolution in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate 1100m at Caulfield Feb. 24 when she showed plenty of toe to be just behind the leaders turning for home. Covered ground and just failed to catch Angry Gee first-up over 955m at Moonee Valley previous run with 55kg Feb. 2. Should be right at her peak now and with jockey Mark Zahra in excellent form, he should give her every chance of winning.
No4 HEAR THE CHANT Lightly-raced mare who returned in brilliant fashion when she sprinted to the lead on straightening and safely held Fragonard 1100m Fillies and Mares BM84 this track March 3. Her previous win had been over the same trip when beating Concealer and Overstep five runs earlier March 18/2017. She has an obvious liking for the Flemington straight and although she’s only won at the 1200m once, she’s a young mare on the way up and must be respected.
No2 DEJA BLUE Tough little campaigner who has the pace to take up a forward position and will take running down. Resumed as a $3.80 chance when 5 length third Gogo Grace 1200m Hobart Group 3 Bow Mistress Feb. 9 then weakened over the final stages for 3.2 length eighth Flippant in the Group 3 Tressady Stks 1400m here on March 3. Fitter for those two runs and a more forward showing is on the cards here.
VALUE RUNNER: No1 FRENCH EMOTION
No2 SCARECROW Looks like a real class racehorse on the rise with three wins from his four starts this time in. Took on the best of his age when 2.35 length fifth Grunt, Cliff’s Edge in the 1400m Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes this circuit Feb. 17 then hit the line hard to just hold off Muraahib over the same trip two weeks later. Meets Muraahib 2kg worse here for the neck margin of that race but is a winner and could defy the weights-and-measures theory. Hard to beat.
No5 HOLBIEN Has produced wins at Yarra Valley and Sandown, plus a third and a fourth placing from only four starts and has loads of promise. Beat Spirit of Aquada 1200m Sandown Lakeside BM64 Firm2 59kg Feb. 14 then led until final 100m when 1.9 length fourth behind Scarecrow, Muraahib, Indernile over this trip 55kg Good3 March 3. Meets Scarecrow 3kg better, Muraahib 1kg better and Indernile on same terms for the narrow margin. Will take running down now that he has extra fitness on his side.
No3 ICONOCLASM Chasing a winning hat-trick following wins over Miss Lillian 1310m Maiden 58kg Good4 Feb. 8 and beating Reap The Benefit and Raheeba 1300m Morphettville Parks BM64 Good3 57kg last Saturday. Will find this tougher but is racing in great form and should be handy for a long way.
No4 MURAAHIB Has been racing consistently in Group or Listed company for most of his career and deserves another win. Started at $51 third-up when 4.65 length eighth Holy Snow 1400m Group 2 Autumn Stakes Caulfield Feb. 10 then hit the line hard for neck second Scarecrow 3-year-old Super Vobis over this course and distance two weeks back. Previous form included a cracking third to Merchant Navy and Booker 1200m G3 McNeil Stakes at Caulfield five runs earlier Sept. 2. Has to be included in the chances.
VALUE RUNNER: No5 HOLBIEN
No5 DEMERARA Impressive type with four wins, a third and a fourth placing from only six starts. Resumed with a most impressive 2 length victory over Holy Blade 1000m Moonee Valley 3-Yr BM78 Good4 Feb. 23. Holy Blade franked that form by winning at Sandown last Wednesday. Will be vastly improved with the benefit of that hit-out and drops from 59kg to 55kg here. Her only run on this track resulted in her weakening to fourth behind Jorda in the 1100m Group 3 Red Roses last November before heading to the spelling paddock. She’s a class act and looks the testing material here.
No9 TARCOOLA SPIRIT (BEST ROUGHIE) Had to be restrained from outside barrier and raced rearward and wide throughout when first-up 4.9 length ninth Tulip Group 3 Typhoon Tracy Stakes Moonee Valley 55kg Feb. 23. Two runs earlier she finished fast from midfield for a neck second to Blondie – with Demarara third – 1200m Listed Crocket Stakes 1200m Moonee Valley Oct. 28. Meeting Demarara on level weight terms here and with the benefit of fitness she represents excellent each-way value.
No2 LIMESTONE One of last season’s best 2-year-olds who returned to racing with a gallant 2 length fifth behind Hay Bale 1000m Moonee Valley BM78 57.5kg Feb. 16. That race was against older males and she drops back to her own age and sex here with the same weight. Excellent effort at her previous start when she charged to the line to finish 2.3 length behind Merchant Navy, Invincible Star and Formality in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic 1200m here Nov. 4. Beautifully placed in this company and could bounce back to winning form.
No1 TIME AWAITS Top flight filly coming off a 44-week break. Hasn’t started since beating Broadband in the G3 SA Sires’ Produce Stakes at Morphettville May 13/2017. Previous form included a win in the Listed Cinderella Stakes Morphettville last March and second to Formality G3 Chairman’s Stakes 1000m Caulfield. Has proven herself in the best company and must be respected first-up.
No2 KHULAASA Railed through to hit the lead at 300m but looked all at sea until challenged late by Prairie Fire when second to that youngster over this course and distance Listed Talindert Stakes 54kg Feb. 17. Blinkers go on here which should prove to be a big assist to this promising but wayward filly. Hopefully, they will do the trick and break her sequence of second-placings. Damien Oliver has stuck with her.
No3 METRONOME Responsible for a huge effort at her second start when she sat wide without cover throughout but still managed to power past Sunderbans 1200m Moonee Valley 56kg Good4 Mar. 2. Meets Sunderbans on 3.5kg worse terms for that run but that may be offset by the fact that she will be able to at least get some cover down the long Flemington straight 1100m. Ran second to Sanctimonious at her only other start Moonee Valley 1200m Feb. 2 and she should figure in the finish again.
No4 SUNDARBANS Led comfortably and had everything her own way but wasn’t able to withstand the finishing effort of Metronone when 1.25 length second 1200m Moonee Valley 56.5kg Mar. 2. Narrowly beaten by Jay Jay D’ar 1000m Moonee Valley Feb. 16 at only other start. Promising type with plenty of pace and will be prominent – especially with the weight advantage over Metronone.
No1 KRONE Has recorded a win and two placings from only three starts and sure to figure again. Ridden patiently back in the field before powering over the top of Humma Humma and Viennese Star 1050m Listed Cinderella Stakes 56kg at Morphettville two weeks ago – as a $14 chance. Narrowly beaten by Viennese Star on debut two runs earlier at Moonee Valley 1000m Feb. 2 which shows just how much she’s improving with each run. Respect.
No1 TOSEN STARDOM Improved by two solid hit-outs in this campaign and should be cherry-ripe for the 1600m of this. Caught wide and pulled fiercely to take a forward position mid-race when fading first-up 2.4-len 11th to Hartnell 1400m Group 1 CF Orr Stakes Caulfield Feb. 10 then ranged up to win but unable to fend off the sprint of Brave Smash when 0.75-len second in Group 1 Futuruty over the Caulfield 1400m Feb. 24. With Hellova Street in the field to set a solid tempo, he should be box-seating and it will take an outstanding effort from any other runner to withstand his final finishing burst.
No2 HUMIDOR The only logical danger to Tosen Stardom and a major threat if he brings his “A-Game” - which has seen him claim Group 1s in the Australian Cup and Makybe Diva Stakes, as well as his stirring neck second to Winx in last year’s WS Cox Plate. Returned to racing after a 15-week lay-off with an eye-catching 3 length fourth to Brave Smash in the Group 1 Futurity over 1400m at Caulfield on Feb. 24. Looked a threat when he emerged at the top of the straight but his condition gave out over the final 100m. He will strip much fitter here and the 1600m is ideal.
No4 ODEON Highly-promising galloper but he is stepping into the ring with a couple of heavyweights at Weight-for-age here and place prospects look best. Railed through to momentarily share the lead on straightening before being swamped and finishing 2.5-len behind Tosen Stardom in the Group 1 WFA Emirates over 2000m here on Nov. 11 before having a 16-week break. That effort indicated that he might eventually measure up to the best WFA company but for now he’s only to be included in multiples.
No3 HELLOVA STREET Gallant front-runner who is really punching above his weight here but might give some cheek if left alone in front in this small field. Had a 7-week let-up before winning consecutive races 1400m Listed Lyons Stakes Hobart Feb. 11 and 1600m Listed Mowbray Stakes at Launceston Feb. 28. Won’t be lacking anything on the score of fitness.
VALUE RUNNER: No4 ODEON
No12 CONDAMINE (NEXT BEST BET) Has been brought along masterfully by trainer Cumani to have him reaching his full potential at only his second Australian campaign since coming from the UK. Rattled home second-up to get within a length of Sensational Ally 1600m Pakenham BM64 59kg Good3 Feb. 15 then streaked away to a 5 length win over Letsahope and Rondalago 1856m Terang BM64 59kg Mar. 1. Showed plenty of promise in his first Aussie campaign and is now taking his form to a higher level. Drops from 59kg to 55.5kg here – luxury!
No4 HE EKSCELS His tricky trainer has done a wonderful job placing this horse to advantage across three States - taking his record to three wins and four placings from eight starts. He thought highly enough of him to run in a South Australian Derby, where he finished 12th to Volatile Mix last May. Since returning from a 38-week lay-off, he’s won first-up over 1400m at Sapphire Coast NSW and beat No Commitment 1.25 length in a BM70 over 1736m at Sale with 60.5kg on Feb. 27. Should be right at his peak for this.
No7 ADDISON Blinkers go on, and 2kg comes off with Fred Kersley’s claim. Won races at Stawell 1300m, Benalla 1406m and Caulfield 1600m and three subsequent runs have been very good. Worked home solidly for 2 length third Exalted Lightning 2035m Listed Birthday Cup Morphettville 55kg Feb. 17 last start. Hopefully the blinkers will liven her up sufficiently to be the difference between winning and placing.
No3 CULLINGWORTH Hasn’t been far away in three runs since arriving from the UK. Overcame a check near the 200m to finish a gritty 3.5 length third to So Poysed 1600m Moonee Valley8 BM78 58.5kg Feb. 2 then only plodded in straight when 3.45 length fifth behind Top Of The Range 1600m Caulfield BM78 58.5kg two weeks later. Has been given a freshen-up for this and could bounce back to form.
VALUE RUNNER: No 12 CONDAMINE
No7 MASK OF TIME Turned in a cracking Australian debut when he box-seated and fought on tenaciously for 2.2 length fourth to Tosen Stardom in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap 1600m at Caulfield on Oct. 14. Raced in Group and Listed company in France previously, including a win in the Listed ‘Derby Du Midi’ over 1900m Soft going at Bordeux le Bouscat last May. Loved the way he toughed it out in the Toorak and now that he’s acclimatized to Aussie conditions, he will give them something to think about in this campaign.
No8 THE ANSWERMYFRIEND Quality galloper who has been hampered by hoof problems previously and will race in glue-on shoes for the first time under new trainer Henry Dwyer in this. Beat Mr Sneaky in the Listed Sofitel over this trip Sept. 16 before game 2.4 length fifth Santa Ana Lane Group 1 Rupert Clark Stks Caulfield 1400m Oct. 1, then turned out after fading 17th Tosen Stardom in the Group 1 Toorak Oct. 14. Impressive in recent trial so forward showing expected.
No4 NOZOMI Former Victoria Derby placegetter who is never far away in his races but seems to only win at huge prices. His last two victories were at the odds of $151 and $20. Eased from $11 to $20 before fighting on too well for Violate and Cool Chap first-up in the Group 3 Shaftesbury Avenue over this track and distance. Might be looking for longer now but cannot be left out of calculations.
No12 OVERSHARE Showed promise as a 2-year-old but has furnished into a much tougher individual in this campaign. Hit the lead inside final 150m but outgunned by Cliff’s Edge 1200m G3 Manfred Stakes 58kg Caulfield Feb. 3 then fought off Wild Heart and Streets of Avalon to claim the G3 Zeditave Stakes with 57kg over that same trip three weeks later. Gets a nice weight allowance against the older horses and should go on with the job.
VALUE RUNNER: No7 MASK OF TIME
No3 TOP OF THE RANGE (BEST BET) Worked to the line nicely first-up when 2.25 length sixth Runson 1400m Caulfield Jan. 27 then absolutely smashed Sohool and Dylanson second-up over 1600m BM78 Caulfield Feb. 21. Connections thought highly enough of him to tackle the Grand Prix Stakes and Queensland Guineas at the end of his last preparation, suggesting that he’s a high-class galloper on the way up. Stick with him. Should beat these.
No5 SOHO RUBY Has been racing well against her own sex but goes up 5kg on fast-finishing third to Flippant and Oregan’s Day 1400m Group 3 Tressady Stakes here on Mar. 3. Beat Jester Halo BM70 same trip for Fillies and Mares two runs earlier Jan. 1. Has to be considered but weight scale is a worry.
No2 PORTMAN Best to forget he went around last start when he sat wide throughout and came down the worst section of the track when 10 length 10th – as $3.80 fav – behind King’s Command 1400m BM84 here two weeks back. Claims 2kg for Fred Kersley which will help his cause.
No1 NAVAL WARFARE Imported galloper from the Chris Waller stable. Won races at Newmarket 1609m, Leicester 1657m and Ayr 1453m – on Soft to Good tracks - in the UK from only nine starts. Ran a 1.4 length fourth to Combat 1609m Listed Fortune Stakes at Sandown Park Sept. 20 before 7 length 14th of 34 1810m Newmarket Sept. 30 under 54kg. Goes up to 61kg for his Australian debut. Watch the market.
VALUE RUNNER: No3 TOP OF THE RANGE
No18 LAND OF PLENTY Has form around some outstanding gallopers but has only won once – with five placings – in 15 starts. Has recently joined the mighty Darren Weir yard which might just kick-start a highly successful run in this campaign. Not started since chasing home Dollar For Dollar 1400m here Nov. 7 and again when 1.9 length fourth 1500m Sandown Stakes 54kg Soft5 Nov. 18. Copped a huge weight here due to him finishing third behind Group1 winners Redkirk Warrior and Scales Of Justice in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis over this straight track on Sept. 17. Has class on his side.
No2 BLUE TYCOON Going for four-in-a-row and another win would not surprise. Followed Cranbourne 1300m BM64 wiin by beating Miss Identified 1250m Morphettville Parks BM75 55kg Feb. 10 and easily accounting for This Kid Rocks same trip BM82 Feb. 24 under 53.5kg. Kersley’s claim only reduces to 60kg here.
No4 HANDSOME THIEF Had a win at Morphettville Parks BM84 57kg and three placings at Caulfield from four starts before battling 3.5 length seventh Ken’s Dream BM90 over this course Feb. 17. Up-and-coming sprinter who should be nice and fresh for this.
No13 GALAXY RAIDER Victoria’s most unlucky galloper who appropriately sports ‘No. 13’, which might be a lucky omen. He has heaps of ability and, despite being tried as a middle-distance horse in recent campaigns, he has won over 1200m in the past so it would not surprise to see him kept nice and fresh for this sprint distance and finish over the top of them late.
VALUE RUNNER: No13 GALAXY RAIDER