Almanac Racing: Lightning Puzzle
After Sydney last weekend endured an intense heatwave, the Winx show was pushed back to Monday. That enabled the Caulfield meeting to have all the attention on Saturday, where Catchy firmed as Blue Diamond favourite with her triumph in the fillies Prelude. Black Heart Bart continued his love affair with the 1400-metres trip, notching up a third group one win in the C.F. Orr Stakes.
The group one Black Caviar Lightning Stakes is this Saturday’s feature at Flemington. With a newly-injured shoulder preventing me from playing cricket, I’m going to try and get there for the last few races.
Before that there’s a number of good, even races that will be difficult for punters to pick a winner from. The forecast for Saturday at this stage is for calm conditions and the track shouldn’t be even, given that Flemington last hosted a meeting in late January.
Pure Pride is my pick in the first race, a benchmark-84 over 1400 metres for fillies and mares. She resumes from a break, which was well-deserved after finishing less than a length off I Am a Star in the Myer Classic, its most recent start. Ma Jones could be a good value bet: she meets Diamond Baroness, the favourite in early markets, with a better weight advantage than last time, when she was a close second to the Baroness.
Hopefully you were able to take the short odds offered for Duke of Brunswick at Caulfield last week, because after he saluted in fashion the Duke will start very skinny odds in the second race at Flemington. I can’t see any reason why it won’t win again.
Churchill Dancer stands out in the third race, boasting big performances in top quality races in the past. He was a length away from The Quarterback’s stirring win in the Newmarket last year. However, I will be eager to back Smart Dart if it remains at each-way odds. He has been in great form over the summer and drops to a more suitable distance here.
Two-year-olds contest the fourth race, making it very hard to read. Ducimus looks to be a good each-way chance, as does Groundbreak, which comes down from Sydney after finishing second to a very impressive colt.
Cases can be made for several horses in the fifth race, which is for the three-year-old fillies again over 1400 metres. I’m excited to see Nurse Kitchen return from its spell because its last start was a spectacular win on Cox Plate day when it flew past I Am a Star in the last 100 metres to record an impressive victory. Legless Veuve won the classy three-year-olds race last week, beating the likes of Hey Doc and Morton’s Fork.
Those two will be prominent in the first leg of the quaddie, as well as Seaburge who returns after twice coming second at group one level during the spring. Hey Doc was good enough first-up last week to suggest he can go on with it and win, however there is a fair bit of depth to this field. I was keen on Wazzenme at odds last week and I’m happy to stick with it as a loose chance again.
Robert Hickmott’s stable is becoming a formidable force in staying races, and they will saddle up Crocodile Rock as a red-hot favourite in the seventh race. I think it’s beatable though, with Post D’france and Skulduggery both representing good value given their recent form against a similar class of horse.
The Lightning is the next event, and what a field it is this year. The star three-year-olds, Star Turn and Flying Artie, head the early markets after both recorded staggeringly good wins last spring. Heatherly is a freak over the 1000 metres and is proven down the straight. She could be over the odds. Having said that, Terravista and The Quarterback are both group one winners at Flemington, and Spieth was a lip away from beating Malaguerra in the Darley Classic. Supido is yet to be proven in this company but hasn’t lost at the track. You can see why this race is a tough one to split!
Flying Artie impressed me hugely when it won the Coolmore Stakes on Derby Day and it’s my top selection in this.
The final race will be a marginal let-down compared to the exceptional nature of the Lightning, but it looks to be just as competitive from a betting perspective. It will be interesting to see where the money goes, because at time of writing there is no stand-out favourite. As a result, there’s plenty of value to be had for those who can be confident with their selection. Adriondack has had his runs well-spaced recently, but he backs up after a third behind Duke of Brunswick and Smart Dart at the beginning of the month. From barrier two and with Dwayne Dunn electing to remain as its jockey, I can see Adriondack being an outside winner.
Tomorrow Moonee Valley will again host a friendly night meeting, and this week there will be some nice races. I’ve picked out Barthelona and Chance to Dance as the best two winning chances. Barthelona had a dismal run when rated as a good chance in the Inglis Dash at Flemington, in better company than it finds itself among here at The Valley. I was confident that Chance to Dance would win last start and it did (not by very much!), and is basically up against the same field here. Should get it done again. My speculative tip is Sullivan’s Paddock in race seven, a horse that has won four mediocre races in a row but may have the potential to surprise in the city.