The rail goes back to the true position for this meeting after being out 4m the entire last time out. On that occasion (August 25) the track was biased towards those on the pace which made it nearly impossible for those back in the field. The track manager has gone on record this week as saying the circuit will be playing more “fair” this time around. There has been some rain about throughout the week which has pushed the track rating into the Good 4 range.
Hard to find a clear cut leader here but Odeon does begin well and from the pole is definitely going to be there early. Expect Williams to go forward with Hartnell while Spanish Reef does tend to race on the speed when racing against her own sex. I expect Night’s Watch to settle no worse than midfield.
The Key Runners:
1. Hartnell – C.Williams (59kg) (Barrier 9): $3.80*: The old boy is getting on now but he is still a force to be reckoned with. Good return in the Lawrence Stakes when he was poking through along the rail but couldn’t reel in the speedy Showtime. At the WFA conditions this race appears to be right up his alley and Hartnell does perform well when second-up (8s 2w 4p). From barrier nine Williams will have to make a decision early as to what he wants to do. A lot will depend on how the track is playing earlier in the day but the track manager believes it will be playing fairly after the rail was put back into the true position for this race. The class runner.
4. Odeon – D.Thornton (59kg) (Barrier 1): $15*: Should be at his peak for this race. Hasn’t been too far away from Theanswermyfriend in two starts since resuming and last time out had to sit outside the winner and was only beaten 0.8l. I’ve always said this is his ideal distance and from the one he will get a nice smother and give you a great sight at eachway odds.
7. Night’s Watch – J.Allen (59kg) (Barrier 5): $3.60*: Was simply brilliant in winning last week and trainer Darren Weir hasn’t hesitated by backing him up again here. Is rock bottom odds for mine though when comparing his form to that of Hartnell, however, he ran quicker closing splits than Memsie Stakes winner Humidor last week. Has to be respected but just how good is he? This is his biggest test to date.
8. Mighty Boss – N.Callow (58.5kg) (Barrier 11): $16*: Wasn’t the best away when resuming in the Lawrence Stakes and that effectively put paid to its chances. Still ran on okay and the form out of the race is good with Humidor winning a Group One last week. Hasn’t won second-up previously but this horse beat Kementari in the spring to win the Caulfield Guineas. The talent is there but I don’t know if he has taken the next step to take on the likes of Hartnell and co. Will improve with the run but barrier 11 is a concern as is the fact he is unplaced from his only run at the track.
9. Bonneval – R.Bayliss (57kg) (Barrier 8): $7*: The champion mare is resuming from nearly a year off the racetrack. First-up last preparation won this race in brilliant fashion when swamping her rivals. Proved it was no fluke with a big win in the Group One Underwood Stakes beating Hartnell. Definitely has the class to win this but doubt she is fully wound up because this isn’t her Grand Final. That said, she is a winner of two from three starts when fresh.
Night’s Watch ($3.60*)
Going for ‘old faithful’ here and backing Hartnell. He is a proven Group performer at WFA level and if you are down to your last few dollars, he is the type of horse you want to be on. Go a bit wide and have a saver on Bonneval and Odeon at the price. I’m not saying Night’s Watch can’t win but I don’t want that price.
70% on Hartnell to win ($3.80*)
20% on Bonneval to win ($7*)
10% on Odeon to win ($15*)