Racing: Liston Stakes day is a matter of weighing up winter-fit runners against the classy ones resuming for spring

PREVIEW:

Mark “Makybe” Freeman writes:

Punters! Forget the arctic blasts and sideways rain – spring has sprung and it’s time to get on.

Already we’ve seen rising star Mic Mac put paid to them in the Aurie’s Star, which also featured “Big El” – Colin Little’s champ El Segundo – rattling home for third.

Tomorrow it’s J.J. Liston Stakes day at the Heath, with the Liston full of stars including early Cox Plate favourite Whobegotyou lining up against Cadbury Guineas winner Heart of Dreams and Peter Moody’s unbeaten mare Typhoon Tracy. There’s plenty of interest in cups contenders in the race, with gallopers like Kiwi Red Ruler and AJC Derby placegetter Predatory Pricer set to kick off their campaigns.

Punting at this time of year is a matter of weighing up the race-fit winter gallopers against their classier – but as yet not wound up – brothers and sisters.

Daff has kindly raided the Monopoly set and is stumping up $100 each week for me to burn … er, punt, and this week we’ve got a couple of our favourite trainers in town, a pair of Billys – Billy Cerchi and Billy Wilde. Bill Cerchi’s Diamonds at Dusk got the nod at 20s for us a fortnight ago and will go around at the same course at big odds again.

So we’re getting on early:

R1 No.9 Fasmoss $20 EW

R5 No.9 Diamonds at Dusk $20 EW

Then to round out the double pineapple we’ll have an all-up on up-and-comer Starspangledbanner into D. I. Dodson’s tough and honest campaigner Bonindi in the last:

All up R3 No1 into R8 No8 $20

Good luck, punters.

Chris Riordan writes:

Neighbours were chatting on the footpath this week. It was approaching 6pm and still light. Winter is fading and the joys of spring can be sensed.

Saturday’s fields reinforce this. It’s by no means a feature card, but the Liston Stakes meeting, for a time a Sandown fixture but now “Classic Caulfield”, heralds the beginning of form analysts’ search for the “ones to follow”.

Race fans know that we need some stars to emerge. Good horses head overseas, boom champs like the Hussler and last year’s Liston winner, Light Fantastic, won’t figure and there seems a dearth of quality weight-for-age protagonists. At  last fortnight’s Caulfield meeting, I am Invincible proved a misnomer and got a puncture at the top of the straight, presenting old Let Go Thommo with a WFA mantle.

Club in-fighting, jumps protesters and whip legislation have dogged the sport.

The tide began to turn last week when the tremendously promising Mic Mac won the Auries Star but the bar at the footy all gasped at El Segundo’s slashing return in the same race. These two have big roles to play.

Several of their contenders will strut on Saturday. Liston runners include Predatory Pricer, Whobegotyou, Typhoon Tracey and Heart of Dreams, all early fancies for the Cox Plate, and Race 5 contains Vigor, a real Flemington horse, and the frustrating Von Costa de Hero.

The whole program is sprinkled with possibilities for a myriad of future flutters. With many local footy sides finishing up, I recommend a reconnaissance to The Heath.

REVIEW:

Mark Makybe Freeman writes:

After the first skirmish we’ve only burned a little over one of Daff’s Monopoly-set pineapples.

Billy Wilde stayed at home with Fasmoss so $40 was returned, and our other big each-wayer, Diamonds At Dusk, put in a gutsy effort to be in the finish 100 from home, but got overrun by the classier beasts in the last little bit. He’ll keep for another day.

Knacker Editor J. Harms’s good thing Starspangledbanner saluted (thanks JTH) but we had it coupled with Bonindi, which was home for all money but overrun late by Miss Maren. We were in the mix but no cigar.

Great runs in the Liston, and from Vigor in earlier race — worth YouTubing if you missed it.

Chris Riordan writes:

Bookies generally got the money today to fightback from last week’s shocker at HQ. There were some well-backed winners, but most punters went home losing but forearmed for the battle ahead.

Starspangledbanner offered a false dawn when, backed to the exclusion of all else, he glided to the front and made it a procession. He’s headed towards the Guineas but the mile is problematic.

The other successful “go” of the afternoon was not until Race 7, where a sustained push for Cat’s Whiskers, triggered by Tom Waterhouse it seems, again resulted in a lead all the way win, this one requiring a bit of pluck to hold off Annesong at the death. Flying Ruby caught the eye with a slashing third, but she does that. There may be a nice race for her at Flemington when the pace is on from the outset.

With AFL Clubs popularising succession plans, it was timely that the best two stories of the day followed that theme. A controversial, dramatic day at Rosehill featured Little Lon, Lonhro’s first son Denman, winning with great authority. A muscular black beast, it will be great to see him in the flesh.

At Caulfield, the feature race glory went to Takeover Target’s half-brother, Predatory Pricer. Easy in the market, he held off the dogged Whobegotyou in a race that will be critical to the spring. Doubles bookies will scrutinise and adjust accordingly, but they are already bleating about the winner, who was specked at $71 for the Caulfield Cup way back before his AJC Derby placing. Now a winner at tricky Caulfield, he deserves favouritism.

The runner-up was excellent and should improve. Trainer Kavanagh, though, speaks with forked tongue and there is also the question of this horse getting to the line. Unquestionably talented, I’ll not be taking the consistent “unders” offered until he rediscovers the winning habit.

Such a lesson should have been heeded by punters in Race 5, when again they plunged on Von Costa de Hero and again left their money in the bag with more excuses than a drunken husband. This horse has only won one race (and about 1.2 mill) and, although his form is great at top class, winning is a learned habit. Stay away.

The Cups lead from this race was certainly Vigor, on whom Ollie got a holiday for interference. I hope readers took my lead from last week and snapped up Betfair’s $36 for the Melbourne Cup … about 20/1 would be it now.

My other Betfair antepost nibble last week, Heart of Dreams for the Cox Plate, is looking good as it ran well for fourth in the Liston.

Orange County, my tip for the Liston, ran very well without any luck, but smarties bet around him and he will need to settle for easier handicaps.

The punt was not great for me but I’m knocking on the door. For weeks now I seem to lay shorties on Betfair that fall over the line. Last night I laid Geelong and then nearly got out by laying Chelsea … pennies were being counted until Drogba’s 92nd minute poach.

Punters will regroup and counter-attack. And bookies will be waiting!

Craig Down writes:

Snuck out to the Heath yesterday for a few races.

Whilst the pro’s were watching and the mugs were wagering, it was a mixture of both for me.

I started with a small double with the Beaver (who, soup cans next to his board, looked tanned, trim and confident in the absence of JTH snapping at his heels) on Starspangledbanner in the Vain into Rostova in the Quezette.
Whilst the first leg was easily in (the Banner cruised to the front with his terrific early speed and never looked like being beaten), Rostova, after a brilliant start to her career, ran poorly. The “excuse” was that she “might have been in season”; I suspect the fact that, as is often the case, too much was asked of her as a two-year-old (cf Black Caviar who, given a much quieter time, will be one of the stories of the spring).

Having thrown the inaugural Beaver ticket of the season in the bin, I saddled up with Von Costa De Hero (racing for the first time outside Group
company) in the fifth over 1200 metres. Whilst his was a slashing late run, there was no collect again.

I decided to take a break from the coalface (being $100 down already) and ponder the future: the major feature doubles board. Being from the Western District originally (and having lucked in with the Wangoom Handicap and Warrnambool Cup double during the May racing carnival at the ‘Bool), I thought I’d have Bill Wilde’s Golden Snake progeny, Hissing Sid, and Danny O’Brien’s Vigor for the Caulfield Cup into El Segundo (its closing sectionals in the Aurie’s Star were beauties: if he’s fit, only Whobegotyou can beat it and it will be a query at the Valley for mine given his racing pattern) for the Cox Plate.

I felt better after laying the doubles. Something to, hopefully, look forward to.

The Liston looked a cracking race. A number a rock hard fit horses up against some very talented resuming four-year-olds. Whilst I’d wavered during the week between one from each camp (Orange County and Whobegotyou), I ended up, having watched it cruise past Here De Angels in a recent Cranbourne trial, having the half-brother to Takeover Target, Predatory Pricer, each way. In a fantastic race (so many good runs), it just got the chocolates from Whobegotyou.

Given the Pricer had got me ahead, I decided it was time to leave the track (but only after throwing a bit back to the books on Romneya in the Cockram):
there would be plenty of opportunities to squander the hard-earned early gain in he coming weeks.

Spring racing is (nearly) here and I cannot wait.

Comments

  1. $20 Starspangledbanner and 50×30 Orange County

  2. johnharms says:

    Lads

    An Almanac contributor (Dene macleod) has an interest in Starspangledbanner. And they are happy with the progress of the Banner. A little concerned about the alley, but note that he settled better last start.

    I reckon (or should I say, my guess is) they’re after this race, as they are unsure whetehr he will get any further ground, and may not be brilliant/speedy enough to cope with the top class sprints.

    Will be keeping an eye on the heath.

    JTH

  3. Peter Flynn says:

    Mark,
    Love the “Makybe”.
    Our holiday shack at Venus Bay has the unofficial name of “Makybe Manor” after a successful (albeit small) 450/1 plonk on the Mummify/Makybe Diva Cups double.

  4. Craig Down says:

    Gents,

    Snuck out to the Heath yesterday for a few races.

    Whilst the pro’s were watching and the mugs were wagering, it was a mixture of both for me.

    I started with a small double with the Beaver (who, soup cans next to his board, looked tanned, trim and confident in the absence of JTH snapping at his heels) on Starspangledbanner in the Vain into Rostova in the Quezette. Whilst the first leg was easily in (the banner cruised to the front with his terrific early speed and never looked like being beaten), Rostova, after a brilliant start to her career, ran poorly. The “excuse” was that she “might have been in season”: I suspect the fact that, as is often the case, too much was asked of her as a 2 year old (cf Black Caviar who, given a much quieter time, will be one of the stories of the spring).

    Having thrown the inaugural Beaver ticket of the season in the bin, I saddled up with Von Costa De Hero (racing for the first time outside Group company) in the fifth over 1200m. Whilst his was a slashing late run, there was no collect again.

    I decided to take a break from the coalface (being $100 down already) and ponder the future: the major feature doubles board. Being from the Western District originally (and having lucked in with the Wangoom Hcp and Warrnambool Cup double during the May racing carnival at the ‘Bool), I thought I’d have Bill Wilde’s Golden Snake progeny, Hissing Sid and Danny O’Brien’s Vigor for the Caulfield Cup into El Segundo (its closing sectionals in the Aurie’s Star were beauties: if he’s fit, only Whobegotyou can beat it and it will be a query at the Valley for mine given his racing pattern) for the Cox Plate.

    I felt better after laying the doubles. Something to, hopefully, look forward to.

    The Liston looked a cracking race. A number a rock hard fit horses up against some very talented resuming 4 year olds. Whilst I’d wavered during the week between one from each camp (Orange County and Whobegotyou), I ended up, having watched it cruise past Here De Angels in a recent Cranbourne trial, having the half brother to Takeover Target, Predatory Pricer, each way. In a fantastic race (so many good runs), it just got the chocolates from Whobegotyou.

    Given the Pricer had got me ahead, I decided it was time to leave the track (but only after throwing a bit back to the books on Romneya in the Cockram): there would be plenty of opportunities to squander the hard-earned early gain in he coming weeks.

    Spring racing is (nearly) here and I cannot wait.

    CD

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