Fabulous Flem, The Diva Stakes
Group 1 racing arrives at Flemington.
A red hot bunch of gallopers arrive for a crack at the $1 million event over the eight furlongs. Superstars from New Zealand, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland are here to clash with the Victorians in what promises to be an epic race which will tell us plenty as we inch closer to the major races across spring.
As discussed on the inaugural episode of The Field - Horsepower Victorian racing headquarters presents us with a beautiful day of racing with much more than just the Makybe Diva Stakes. We also have the Bobbie Lewis and Let's Elope Stakes, both at Group 2 level.
Throw in boom horses like Ayrton, Artorius and Ingratiating and you begin to see what all the fuss is about.
Tune into The Field - Horsepower, because Channel 7 racing broadcaster Hamish McLachlan joins the pod and drops a nice tip for us in the Makybe Diva. He also shares a few great stories about the great game.
Here is how I see Saturday playing out - plus a few winners elsewhere.
Race One: PONDUS is untapped and hard to gauge but I've been waiting for COOLTH to get to Flemington over a trip. He's the play at around $5.
Race Two: Backing a get back, run on horse like ARTORIUS always comes with some stress but on the big track this fella should give them windburn. Chuck him in your all-ups.
Race Three: INGRATIATING returned in stunning form at Caulfield so he deserves top billing. Looking away from the favourite and FINANCE TYCOON could give a sight out in front.
Race Four: GLISTENING and PICARONES will do me as roughies in a race I'm not super keen on.
Race Five: AYRTON is one of the highlight horses on the card. You're not getting a spoil at the price but he could also go in all-ups.
Race Seven: I've got to stick with the Crouch brothers in this one, as they have an interest in gritty gelding, THE ASTROLOGIST. He loves the straight at HQ and will be in front for a long way. Race Eight: I'm taking a 1a and 1b approach to this Group 1. I was initially keen to be with West Aussie INSPIRATIONAL GIRL and I still am. The trainer, owner combo works as does the progression to 2nd up over the mile, a la Superstorm last week. But, I'm also having something on Kiwi star AEGON. He's 5/8 and ran excellently first-up at Caulfield. I'm backing both but I could easily be with a few more.
Race Nine: YOUNG WERTHER probably wants further and this is not a race I'm too keen on overall. But, forced to pick one and I'll go with the Danny O'Brien-trained galloper who once had a major boom on him.
BEST BET: R2 N1 Artorius $1.80 BEST VALUE: R1 N6 Coolth $5 BEST ROUGHIE: R6 N8 Zou Dancer $14
Kembla Grange Best: R6 N4 Entriviere $2.80 Value: R8 N8 Remarque $7 R7 N3 Roheryn $11
Bendigo hosts a pair of quality Group 1 races in the standardbred world as metropolitan racing continues its regional tour. A star-studded field has been assembled for the $100,000 Caduceus Classic over the sprint trip and the staying test of the Australasian Trotting Championship will be a brilliant race.
Here's who I like in the two big ones...
In the trotting race over the 2650m, boom four-year-old COVER OF DARKNESS should start favourite but from gate seven and as a new-to-the-scene horse, I'm happy to look elsewhere for my tip. I like two horses: I'M READY JET and SLEEPEE. Two mares with the qualities needed to overcome their indifferent barrier draws. SLEEPEE just needs to lob into a nice cosy position early and follow the right one into the race to unleash that lethal finishing sprint. She did so, so effectively, last start. Someone agrees as she's been $13 into $8 in the Sportsbet market. I'M READY JET showed us how good she is first-up but after running fourth 2nd up, it seems the bookies have forgotten her class. At around the $7 mark, I'll be on.
In the pacing Group 1, WESTERN SONADOR gets his chance to make me look silly with the advantage of gate one. Holding out MAX DELIGHT and GENERAL DODGE will be his first task, but I do think he eventually hands up to someone - or more likely, gets crossed. MAX DELIGHT could be the one to cross, who could then hand to GENERAL DODGE. OUT TO PLAY is over the odds back in his preferred role as a stalker whilst we must not discount WOLF STRIDE, despite all things looking like being against him in this one.
TRIPLE EIGHT or even PERFECT STRIDE could be the knockouts. For me, I'll roll with MAX DELIGHT at $5.50.
Enjoy another huge weekend of racing. One Group 1 at Flemington and two more at Bendigo in the evening.
Spring is here.