AFL Finals, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Australian Open, Boxing Day Test – all momentous Melbourne events which captivate most of the city, some of the state and a portion of the nation.
None – in my humble opinion – grab the attention of the country like the Spring Racing Carnival.
Melbourne Cup day is the one most are aware of, even those who are not interested in racing are aware of the race because of the public holiday which comes with the day.
Horse racing has endured some of its most testing times recently and those tests will keep coming and rightly so but for the next week and a half we get to enjoy Melbourne’s magical spring carnival of racing, beginning with Derby Day, then the enormity of the Melbourne Cup, Oaks Day for the ladies and climaxing with Stakes Day to cap off a monster period of racing, fashion and socialising.
We begin this weekend with Derby Day, highlighted by four Group 1 races and a support cast of Group 2 and 3’s.
Let’s sink our teeth into the big races and try find a few winners to kickstart Spring;
Race 7 – AAMI Victoria Derby (Group 1, 2500m, $2,000,000)
I must say this year’s crop of Derby contenders have escaped me for the most part with many smaller trainers securing a shot at the $2m race.
Son of Pierro, Shadow Hero, brings impeccable form defeating Cox Plate runner-up Castelvecchio in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick.
That form is the yardstick, hence his $3.30 quote.
Soul Patch bounced back at Moonee Valley with a commanding Group 2 victory but he was down the track at Group 1 level in the Caulfield Guineas.
Thought of That is a very progressive colt whilst Warning gets the Damien Oliver-Anthony Freedman polish.
1 Warning $8
2 Thought of That $3.40
3 Shadow Hero $3.30
4 Long Jack $20
Race 6 – Coolmore Stud Stakes (Group 1, 1200m, $1,500,000)
Sunlight blitzed the boys in last season’s edition of the Coolmore but the boys look to have a stranglehold on this one.
Bivouac was a good thing beaten in the Manikato and has been the top seed for most of the season among the three-year-olds, even with Yes Yes Yes winning The Everest.
Microphone is a talented colt winning at top level as a baby boy and he receives the James Doyle magic and we know how well Godolphin are going.
Filly Libertini was the next great white hope before succumbing to Funstar in the Tea Rose. She’s been freshened for this and her talent is undeniable. Broadwayandfourth is one I’ve followed throughout its career and I was rewarded handsomely last week. This is a big jump but her turn of foot is supreme.
1 Bivouac $3.30
2 Libertini $4.80
3 Microphone $10
4 Broadwayandfourth $23
TAB Empire Rose Stakes (Group 1, 1600m, $1,000,000)
Our money could be headed across the ditch here with Kiwi Melody Belle the warm favourite to take out the Group 1 mares race.
She’s won more Group 1’s than the rest of the field combined but this is a massive rise in class. She’s certainly good enough.
Throw a blanket over the rest with Savatiano, Aristia, Invincibella, Princess Jenni and Pohutukawa leading the way.
1 Savatiano $10
2 Melody Belle $3.40
3 Invincibella $14
4 Aristia $14
Kennedy Cantala (Group 1, 1600m, $2,000,000)
A staggeringly open contest with some mixed form lines converging. Such is the openness of the race it’s basically 6/1 the field.
There is legitimately close to 15 horses who I could make a case for so this is a race where going wide in the quaddie is a must!
1 Royal Meeting $8
2 Cliff’s Edge $13
3 Cascadian $12
4 Fierce Impact $7.50
Race 1 – TAB Stakes (Group 2, 1200m, $300,000)
1 Viridine $5.50
2 Zoutori $2.20
3 Order of Command $8
4 Renewal $7.50
Race 2 – G.H. Mumm Wakeful Stakes (Group 2, 1600m, $300,000)
1 Flit $2.40
2 Vegas Jewel $3.30
3 Miami Bound $7
4 Foxborough $18
Race 3 – Carbine Club Stakes (Group 3, 1600m, $500,000)
1 Groundswell $3.50
2 Hilo $7.50
3 Heirborn $4.80
4 Dalasan $3.50
Race 4 – Lexus Hotham Stakes (Group 3, 2500m, $300,000)
1 Downdraft $4
2 The Chosen One $5.50
3 Patrick Erin $10
4 Wall of Fire $26
Race 9 – Furphy Sprint (Group 3, 1100m, $200,000)
1 Resin $14
2 Humma Humma $8
3 Manicure $5.50
4 Gift of Power $10
R2 N1 Flit win
R3 N7 Hilo each way
R5 N4 Savatiano each way
R7 N4 Warning each way