The track’s a soft-6 but I’m hoping it will be upgraded by Saturday to a good-4. In any event it will be around the 4-5 mark, and either way LORESHO represents value at $8.00. He’s a French import who’s had four runs back for Darren Weir off a two-year break, the latest a closing fourth to Aloft over 2000m at Flemington. He got onto heels a bit nearing the bend and was held up for a stride, but he came to the end of his run a furlong out and held the length margin with Aloft to the line. He’s a Group Three winner in France over this trip and one would expect some more improvement in him tomorrow. YOGI is priced on potential at $2.90 and is no value, but he is the one on the up and is capable of figuring. He has won three of his last four, two of them in awfully weak company before a better success last time at Flemington under 58.5kg. Drops 4.5kg here which will be needed, but he is certainly one who doesn’t mind where the track rating ends up on the day. MASTER ZEPHYR beat a reasonable field last start over this trip after a couple of encouraging performances behind Pacodali over the shorter trip. He is consistent enough, but with only six wins from 37 starts he looks a bit skinny at $3.50 to go back to back.
There’s no doubting this race will be fought out by the fresh runners, and MERRIEST comes into it off the back of a big trial win at Cranbourne earlier in the month. She does go well fresh, and has been a very consistent performer, either in stakes grade or against stakes- quality fillies (Snitty Kitty, etc). She won the Atlantic Jewel here at Listed level this time last year and followed with a narrow defeat over the same track and distance at G3 level. Sits back and off the fence from the wide draw but will hit the line hard. About right at $4.60. HEAR THE CHANT blotted her copybook with two disappointing efforts at the end of last campaign, though she did kick off well that prep with a close-up run here in the Typhoon Tracy. Jumps out with the same weight as Merriest and has drawn much better. There’s value in the $9.00 and she’s worth a small saver. SWORD OF LIGHT will go better over longer, but she has never missed a place first-up and showed with a gutsy run behind Missrock when resuming last campaign that she is well up to this level fresh. She’ll need to go forward from gate 10 which makes the draw more problematic for her than my top two. Enhanced prospects if the track is wet.
I was a huge fan of LIMESTONE when she was last in work and while I’m not a huge fan of the first-up 1200m scenario for these young sprinters, the other chances are all in the same boat and this one has a touch of class about her. Accounted for Tulip with a huge run on Australia Day this year in blue Diamond Preview, then had to change course a couple of times before getting out in the Prelude only to be nabbed by Blue Diamond winner Catchy on the line. There doesn’t seem an enormous amount of speed here outside of Madeenaty (and not even her if she opts for the San Domenico) and it’s possible Limestone could slide forward and sit on her shoulder in running. She is top shelf and looks great value at $4.00. TULIP is likely to be giving the speed a big start on straightening but she will be catching the eye late. Swamped by Limestone at their only clash back in January but this one did kick on, winning the Magic Night and placing in the Golden Slipper on very wet tracks. A lack of high speed here is an issue for me, as is the $3.10 quote. ROOMOOZ wasn’t all that far from Catchy in the Prelude last prep but didn’t measure up in the main event a fortnight later. Beautifully bred filly who should get a nice run in the pack and can be strong late.
Not overly excited about this $60k race but it’s reasonable to expect some improvement out of SIN TO WIN and with the drop in grade he is as good as any. Closed late behind million to one pop Nozomi at Flemington, and he did win two in a row in weaker grade over a mile across the ditch before transferring to the Hayes/Dabernig team. Not enthused at $2.70 but is the one to beat. SPUNLAGO and JAMINZAH went across the line together in a similar race at Flemington three weeks ago over this trip but the former meets the latter 5.5kg better for the narrow defeat. Spunlago has definitely lifted for the new stable and gets the nod at the $5.50. Jaminzah has since beaten a stronger field at Flemington and lines up here for his hat-trick, though he did that with 54kg and rises 6kg tomorrow back to this easier assignment. Not a fan of the race at all but these three probably have it between them.
This is a tough race to approach as we don’t know how good the Robert Hickmott pair are going. Luckily I have one that is flying to hang my hat on and while the other pair might lap him later on, PACODALI is the fit horse lining up for a hat-trick here. Sat up on the speed at his last two at Flemington and was too strong in the run home for a bunch of consistent, open-to-Listed level stayers. Looks as though he’ll get the softest of leads and with only 54.5kg on his back should be very strong when they rev up before the bend. Happy with the $3.70, and although I can’t see him troubling the big Cup hopes in a month or so he might be able to snag one more before they catch up to him. ALMANDIN’s form isn’t too bad, having won the Melbourne Cup at his sixth run back off a two-year spell and that followed effortless victories in the Harry White and Bart Cummings. Who knows where he is for a 2000m fresh run, but giving Pacodali 7.5kg I’ll back him out for this run. Definitely all eyes will be on his performance though as he is on the third line for this year’s Cup. HANS HOLBEIN showed glimpses of his real talent last campaign winning two of his last three in emphatic style, but he does strike me as one who will need the hitout. Half a chance to be meeting the stablemate in a big race later on in the spring and this formline could hold up all the way to November.
This looks much weaker to me than the fillies’ division and with a strong run under his belt I’m sticking with AZAZEL to push his form out to 1200m. He wasn’t far from the smart colts at his first two preps, and he looked strong late when resuming down the middle of the track at Flemington. He has options tomorrow with a lot more speed engaged here than the fillies edition and I can see him finishing off in a similar manner to his BD Preview run behind Property. Nice each way pop at $5.50. FRANKEL MY DEAR is a very interesting runner by Frankel who went pretty well at his debut run behind Azazel. Ground away over the last 200m or so to make up a couple of lengths on the winner and it’s fair to assume he will appreciate the step up to 1200m. Looks unfairly treated at $18 and could surprise. LONE EAGLE made ground on debut over 1200m to beat all but the talented Cliff’s Edge at Lakeside and did score a nice win over the same trip at Caulfield last run before a break. Drawn awkwardly here but will be saved for a late run at them from the back.
After a sequence of tricky contests we can rest easy here with HEATHERLY who is all but over the line for mine. At her last run on the StrathAyr she beat all but Extreme Choice in the Moir Stakes finishing ahead of sprinters like Chautauqua. Close third in the Oakleigh Plate the campaign prior, and two runs ago belted them in the Bob Hoysted over this trip giving the field a ton of weight as mare. Drawn perfectly and against this line-up is entitled to start $1.75, so the $2.30 is a gift. SPEEDEOR is an interesting stallion on the up who won all three starts last prep over the short course. Sits off the speed here and while there’s is a small question mark about his ability to match it with these, we get a free look at him for future reference as our money will be on the winner. MISSROCK has an excellent fresh record and raced superbly at her last two runs in Adelaide before a spell. Beat all but Vega Magic in the Goodwood and will more than pay her way this campaign.
DUKE OF BRUNSWICK is one of those horses you have to follow just about every run to make sure you catch him. He has won just one of his last nine starts but after outstanding back to back efforts in stakes company this time in this is surely his race? Beat all but Ability first-up, then placed behind that horse and Lankan Rupee in the Bletchingly. He does lift here, and with a half under the limit will be finishing strongly. Fair price at $3.60, looks a moral as a place bet if nothing else. HARLOW GOLD had an outstanding 3yo autumn campaign without tasting success and should run a good race fresh here. Ran on behind Kenedna in The Vanity at Flemington first-up last preparation and is multiple Group One-placed, albeit over longer trips. She can beat these fresh and $12 is a must for your quaddie on the score of value. RAW IMPULSE won first-up over this trip here two campaigns ago, but that was 18 months in the past and he hasn’t raced for nearly a year. Loaded with talent, but at $4.60 I’d be looking elsewhere until we see how he is travelling after a lengthy spell.
Not impressed with the price, but OAK DOOR will give this a shake first-up. Hasn’t raced since running a shocker in the Queensland Guineas but he did resume with a nice run in the Straight Six at Flemington over 1200m the run prior. Likes to lead over 1400m but may find it tough tomorrow if they burn hard early and form gate 11 Ben Thompson will want to find a spot to slot in. His best hope is that this is not overly strong and although the $3.50 is not great value, he deserves the top line of betting. ROCKET TOMMY is a question mark at the trip but at least we can put a line through his first-up run where he didn’t pull up well. Chalked up a hat-trick over shorter trips when last in work and should improve tomorrow. HAY BALE has drawn poorly but his form around this grade has been good. He’ll push forward at the jump and might give my bloke something to sit behind but has the ability to kick on in the straight.
Originally published as Melbourne preview: Moonee Valley 26/8/16
Source: sports dailytelegraph