Cup Week explodes into action with Derby Day - and whoever thought 5,000 fans at Flemington would seem like such an amazing thought.
Four huge and competitive Group 1 events are on the slate for us to chow down as well as the 7.5m Golden Eagle at Rosehill.
EMPIRE ROSE STAKES (1600m, Group 1, $1,000,000) So... how much rain has there been?
I am a big Colette fan but am not ignorant to the fact she needs to get the toe into the surface to be most effective. Here in Geelong, it's been hammering down but we know how excellent Flemington is for drainage.
I'll oppose Tofane for two reasons - she's had a long campaign and I'm not certain a mile is her A1 trip.
The Tassie mares, Still A Star and Mystic Journey are both likely winning chances but both have their knockers. Either would be a fantastic story.
Hungry Heart and Amarelinha represent excellent value and without any more rain to aide the cause of Colette, I'll be playing Hungry Heart and Amarelinha on an each way basis.
Tune into Horsepower where I spoke with Channel 7's Jason Richardson to catch his thoughts on Hungry Heart, who he was very keen on.
TIP - Colette $7 (rain?) or Amarelinha each way $14.
VICTORIA DERBY (Group 1, 2500m, $2,000,000)
The Derby is becoming a race no one wants to win - well, that's silly but hear me out - because few horses are going on to do much more than win a Derby there afterwards.
You'd be hard pressed to name the most recent handful of Derby winners in fairness.
This year - we have a warrior who keeps fronting up facing a bunch of unknowns with varying formalises.
This race has me scratching my head.
Forgot You keeps on keeping on so I must respect that and will give him the edge. You just wonder how many wars a three-year-old has got in him.
Alegron is bred to cop the trip and thrive on the 2500m, which cannot be said for all of these.
Anything could win this but you've got to respect what Forgot You has done and how good and courageous the stable think he is.
TIP - Forgot You $5.
COOLMORE STUD STAKES (1200m, Group 1, $1,500,000) This race is worth 1.5m but it's worth 10 times that for the right colt with the right bloodlines.
We've seen Merchant Navy explode onto the scene and end up as incredibly valuable colts after winning this race, just as we've seen connections gasping with a filly stealing the cash as Sunlight did a couple of years ago.
There are no fillies in this, so the stallion opportunity is there for the winner - but who wins?
Extreme Warrior will look to continue to rich run Rosemont Stud are on, whilst Artorius drops back from the mile to the six furlongs and gets up the straight at Flemington - which should help.
Kallos and Paulele are big hopes for Godolphin, whilst Home Affairs come off an Everest run.
And not to be forgotten is the Kiwi son of Snitzel, Sword of State. He's a richly bred colt who almost came across for a Slipper but was left to spell in New Zealand. He's had no luck in two Aussie runs and could knock them over here.
TIP - Artorius $8 and Sword of State $41.
CANATALA STAKES (1600m, Group 1, $1,000,000) Talk about even races, this is exactly that.
I'll start with Superstorm who is such a consistent type who has rarely even run a poor run. His career record of 3-3-4 from 17 runs is very consistent and good enough for me.
Cascadian, Aramayo and race favourite Mr Brightside are all in the market and in the mix to win the fourth of four group 1's on Derby Day.
TIP - Superstorm each way $10
GOLDEN EAGLE (1500m, $7,5,000,000) Everyone wants to be with I'm Thunderstruck, but I think there's some value to be had in this race.
Aegon is a boom Kiwi who was unbeaten for a handful of starts, but has had his issues in Australia. His Aussie debut win was immense and a replication of that effort would see him close here at odds.
I'm Thunderstruck demands respect and his best is explosive and probably wins this, unless there's some track bias toward the leaders.
'Richo' was keen on Ellsburgh when he joined me on the podcast is a race he made the valid point is worth persisting with to try and keep these talented three-year-old colts in work when turning four instead of just heading straight off for stud duties.
TIP - Aegon each way $34.
BEST BETS: FLEMINGTON Race Five (9) Amarelinha $13 Race Seven: (11) Sword of State $41
Race Eight: (3) Superstorm $10
ROSEHILL Race One: (2) Katalin $2.20
Race Six: (3) Gytrash $17