The VRC promotes this as Super Saturday, featuring the time-honoured Newmarket Handicap and Australian Cup, but the strength of this weekend’s racing is the combined attractions of Flemington and the equally outstanding Chipping Norton card at Warwick Farm.
The Newmarket, for 140 years, has enticed connections to beat the Handicapper and the feature doubles bookies as well as the capacity field that seemed always to contest the famous Straight Six. The featherweights and “hefty imposts” are no more – with the more compressed weight scale – and doubles betting has lost its lustre, but, despite “only” 15 acceptors, The Newmarket Handicap (MR6, 1200m, G1) remains one of the Autumn’s most sought prizes. I tend to show less regard nowadays for any weight pull and just look for form, especially down the tricky track…no longer do they split, preferring to bunch down the crown of the track. This will be a great betting race. I’m a Samaready man.
The club will also be delighted to be able to promote the Australia Cup (MR7, 2000m, WFA, G1) as a meeting of the Cox Plate winner and the Cup King – and, it seems, both Shamus Award and Fiorente have returned in great order. A ripper race. Gai’s horse, though, looks awesome.
There’s good racing spread across the day.
The Listed 1100m Sprint (MR2) looks especially tough as many of these uncomfortably wore the “promising” tag last prep. Time for the good ‘uns to stand up. 2,7,9.
One of the oldest races on our calendar, the Sires’ Produce (MR3, 1400m, 2yo, G2) has, since 1862, raced under various conditions and status but is, nevertheless, a fixture in March and, with All Too Hard and Shamrocker as recent victors, it may be resurgent. 3 and 7.
The Kewney Stakes (MR5, 1400m, 3yo Fillies, G2) is one that I never seem to “get” – again these don’t look a strong bunch, but invariably a star emerges. Solicit will be short and looks the one. Marianne clearly best of the rest.
Another G2 of varied worth is the Blamey (MR8, 1600m, SW+P), seemingly an attractive option but often lacking depth. This looks a modest edition. Sertorius’ run at Caulfield was extraordinary but I’ll not back up here at a cramped quote.
There’s no reason to exhaust your focus on races like this because, as mentioned, there is also a cracking Sydney card to study.
Warwick Farm hosts a couple of exciting “match races” to help with the promotion.
The Chipping Norton (SR5, 1600m, WFA, G1) attracts quality missing from the Blamey, mostly due to its WFA and G1 status. It’s a Dundeel v Boban will be the point of most discussion here and, to be honest, you couldn’t back Boban again until he “shows up”. Murray Baker’s horse is a star – remember his daring win over Atlantic Jewel in the Underwood? – and this should be a nice kick start for him. Hawkspur adds depth to the field and Moriarty, though better in a Handicap over longer, served notice last week. This might be a tricky sit and sprint on a soft track but the toppy is the real “Deel”.
Another presumed “race in two” is the Surround Stakes (SR7, 1400m, 3yoFillies, SW, G2), again presenting the quandary of a 2013 champ, in this case Guelph, up against a bombproof opponent, with Sweet Idea her emphatic conqueror last start. Again the Snowden filly is (falsely I believe) fav. And, once again, it might not just be between these two as Chateau Lafaite leads a cluster of challengers which might be on the improve.
One of the very best races of the day, inexplicably not a Quaddy leg, is the Wiggle Stakes (SR4, 1400m, Mares, SW+P, G3). Catkins will obviously head the markets but Fire Up Fifi, She’s Clean, Miss Stellabelle, Sharnee Rose and others are all blacktype mares.
The other main challenge for Sydney punters will be in evaluating the effect on El Roca of last week’s controversial withdrawal (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/sport/turf-thoroughbreds/el-roca-could-have-raced-at-flemington-on-saturday-but-not-randwick/story-fnajufri-1226843056405#). Presumably he’s lost no condition from the “lost run” and wins here (SR6, Liverpool City Cup, 1300m, Quality, G3) against a good field including White Sage and Terravista.
Overall a fantastic day for racing fans this Saturday – and, of course, Adelaide Cup Day at Morphettville on Monday for those keen to play “around the grounds”.
As always, tips and observations welcomed.