Crio’s Racing: Craiglee Stakes

Craiglee Stakes was always a day to get to Flemington, scour the doubles charts and focus on the weeks ahead. Traditionally the minor round was over and so the rhythm of the footy season was broken. Footy and Netball clubs flirted on the lawns on end of season trips and the sun occasionally made an appearance. The Ascot Vale Stakes – strangely now moved to the overcrowded Derby Day – signalled the re-emergence of the last season’s 2 yr olds and the Craiglee shaped the Group Ones for the month ahead.

Fixturing has changed – even the AFL’s home and away continues with Irrelevant Round – but this is still a worthy meeting, with plenty of space and sunshine out at Headquarters before the barbarians invade for Cup week. In fact, get to this and/or the Turnbull Day if you really want to get around the expanses and see the horses and amenities. The VRC is promoting a Girls’ Day Out and there are some incentives to get in to the Members’ Reserve…check for details.

Punters have the dual obligations of backing winners and spotting future investment opportunities. If you have other earlier commitments, be sure to clear the decks by 2.40 to watch Sepoy in the Gr2 Danehill Stakes, in which he really should be too classy for what is a very good “support cast”. He’s not weighted as well here, but the form is impeccable. Look at how Golden Archer dismissed the Vain runners last week, yet Sepoy would cart him up the straight. He looks the real deal so try to watch his exciting progress…maybe he’ll line up on Black Caviar later in Spring?

The Quaddy begins with another ripper mares’ race (Let’s Elope Stakes, Gr2, 1400m)….these are sure to be a consistent highlight of the season. Once again Mid Summer Music (8) pushes her credentials. She’s kept rising to challenges and been authoritative. Yet once again I’ll risk her and probably also the other equal favs in Parables (7)and Biancon Rose(13,) preferring some great depth and value in this very wide leg. Keep The Peace (4) has drawn a poor gate and would otherwise be my clear pick – J. McDonald will need to live up to the huge wraps to get her prominent. I’m reckoning Dunn will find the lead on Zaira (14), often vital at this gate. Throw in bolter Venus World (15) and second-upper Pinker Pinker (6).

The old Craiglee (Makybe Diva Stakes, Gr2, 1600m) again highlights the dearth of fair dinkum WFA quality, with Lights of Heaven (16) hurtling from Cranbourne restricted racing last time in to be odds on here and expected to stamp her  feature doubles credentials against a field of runners with other ambitions. The fascinating acceptor here is Playing God (14), returning from WA for another crack at Melbourne’s riches, after two excellent placings in Autumn’s Australian Guineas and Australian Cup at this venue. Glass Harmonium (8) races handy and will be prominent “at the distance”, whilst Maluckyday (4) and Once Were Wild (15), admittedly looking for ground later this prep, look to have untapped potential. Lloyd Williams again presents a stack of imports to befuddle form fans, but I’ll be keen to cast an eye over McEvoy’s mount, Don Carlos, as he and Moroney renew the old Brew partnership.  14,16,8

The Gr3 sprint is, pleasingly, still named after legendary hoop and Sport Australia Hall of Famer Bobbie Lewis (check these credentials! ). Most interest here will be in the dynamic and unbeaten gelding Bel Sprinter (12). He’s been authoritative but this is tough and he’s not going to be much value. Dubleanny (14) and Temple of Boom (9) are other tipsters’ nominations, but I’m a bit keen here on another “straight specialist”, Kav’s 1st upper Elusive Touch (11). Plenty of value and questions amongst this lot…Do we try again with Response (4), Budge, or wait a run?

December Draw (R8, No4) needs to win the last, and should. The Valley was a risk a fortnight ago and he ran really well. He’ll be cramped odds here but really does look to be the measuring stick. White Universe (13) is catapulting up in class but Moody’s horses do tend to stay red hot for a few runs. Lakedro (8) is the other obvious tip for exotics.

Warwick Farm also hosts a really good meeting, with multiple Group races, but check the track rating before committing.

The Furious Stakes (SR5, Gr2, 1400m, 3yo fillies) opens the Quaddy. I’m a big Pane In The Glass (2) fan, but this is a very open race. Snowden has three strong chances (3,6,7) and Streama (4) has some hope.

The WFA Chelmsford Stakes is Sydney’s Craiglee alternative and, on Autumn’s form, toppy My Kingdom Of Fife has to be the measuring stick. 9 and, perhaps, 10 (if wet).

The Ming Dynasty (SR7, Listed, 3yo C+G, 1400m) is a modest 3rd Quaddy leg, appealing to me as I follow a contender, Cocky Raider, mostly due to its namesake harness racer from years ago! He’s got the same brave qualities. Funny what draws us to horses.  1 and 8 look likely dangers.

The Gr3 Tramway closes the Sydney card and, although Sincero and Secret Admirer appear to be the logical duo, I’m putting in an absolute bolter for those needing a dramatic get-out. Though drawn shite, Pressday (SR8, No12) is a really good horse with 2nd up form. At the very least, chuck it in to multis.

Whatever your diary for this Saturday, be sure to watch the races or their replays as they will keep you abreast of the build-up to a fantastic subsequent two months.

But, our immediate challenge is to bolster our betting accounts, so please submit any suggestions to grow my punting bank for Spring.



  1. Anyone watching Sydney’s races (relocated to Warwick Farm due to an unsafe Grandstand at Randwick!) should look out for jockey Jaoa Moreira, the Brazilian hoop who is dominating Singapore racing this season. Nathan Tinckler has invited him to ride some of Patinack’s horses, including Trusting and Pane In The Glass. It is a big step but this rider has an awesome reputation.Others before him have failed. Should be interesting.

  2. Andrew Fithall says

    Speaking of unsafe grandstands, at Flemington the old members stand seating area is also off limits. While the facilities inside will be open and accessible, I believe the seating areas have been closed until further notice.

  3. I know blood is thicker than water, etc but can’t believe that the connections of Playing God haven’t taken advantage of W Pike being in Melbourne to put him on board. He is over for the one ride on DREAMAWAY, the WA Oaks & Derby winner. She is real smart and her jockey is even better!
    Elvis – I expect a big WA running double ??

  4. Just for the record. Half-time on Betfair you can get $10 Collingwood and $1.09 Geelong.

  5. also…I meant to mention the Birdsville races this weekend. Anyone been?

  6. Crio,

    As an unabashed Morgan Groupie, I am going to go again with the hurriedly named Queen Of Roses in the first. We’ve got a King Of Roses 3yo about to go to Peter so I am an obvious victim for this one. Not a bad run at the Valley at her second start and you could do worse. Gear addition.

    Race 2 and if it gets a run, the 20 will get some of mine. Zabeelionaire is obviously by the great stallion, has a classic European pedigree and is nominated for the Guineas and the WSCP and struck trouble at it’s first start.

    Race 3: Dreamaway (you know me Budge) Great form, well bred and W.Pike is a freak. Pity she didn’t draw the Grandstand so all could see what a good hoop he is.

    Sepoy. How impressive was he. Drops the head, pricks the ears. All over.

    Race 5: Keep The Peace ids the best each way bet of the day. Trainer pointed out that her previous Aust runs have all been on the back of a NZ campaign. Not this time. Ran a great race at Flemington last season from a wide barrier, goes well fresh and….tell me if I am wrong, but she races in red, gold sleeves, pale blue cap. Lokks like Stanley’s colours worn by Todman, Biscay, Bletchingly, Hamden, etc.

    The WFA and Whilst the fav looks the logical winner, Playing God has a run under his belt,he has shown his class in this calibre of race in the past and has a run under the belt. Good pointer for the future of others.

    The Bobbie Lewis and I am going to try Phelan Ready. Hasnt won for 32 years, but but still has enough ability from the pole to win this. Very difficult race.

    The last and I like My Scotsgrey. Good Derbyish form here a couple of seasons ago. Reckon he’s had problems but they’ve got him right now. Good “Get Out”.

    Good luck

  7. As I said, elvis, I’m worried about Keep The Peace’s gate…the 1400m is on a wheel and he’s an inexperienced hoop here. From inside gate 7 he was a special!
    Hope you win your money early mate…not too confident in the last 2 for ya!
    Track will be pretty hard unless Mick Goodie dumps gallons on it. It has been dry, sunny, windy.

  8. Crio,

    Don’t worry about gates. She gets home like a train. An absolute each way special.

  9. yeah, but those 1400s can be a jog to the 400…is there fair dinkum pressure up front? surely you are not doing speed maps to supplement the “jump off the page” formula?

  10. Crio,

    No. For a tool called a “speed map”, it’s a prolonged process. I use a microwave process. Scan the acceptances, find something, and do the form to talk yourself into it. Doesn’t work all the time, but it’s just how I’m wired.

    She has only drawn 13 of 16, sans scratchings. Every chance she can stay out of trouble and have it work in her favour. If you like em’ you like em’.

  11. O.K.
    What about Bel Sprinter in the time-honoured?
    I’m Elusive Touch but, honestly, probably not punting at all.

  12. David Downer says


    I’ve also backed Keep The Peace, took the $12 on Thursday night. Great betting race in any event.

    More thoughts to follow in morning.


  13. DD,
    I’ve saved on Zaira for fear of no pace.
    This track will be very hard…it is sunny and really windy here in 3031

  14. I reckon I’ve found one in the get-out stakes.
    No. 3 LARISTAN – don’t worry about its first up run. Up to a suitable distance and ran 4 length 6th of 15 in Australian Cup behind Shocking in the Autumn at WFA. Second up form 2 wins from 3.
    $35 in this morning’s market and S Arnold on board. Are you with me??


    R2 DONTMENTIONTHEWAR – enormous run at MV when it was really hard to make ground from the back. Drawn the carpark but will get back anyway. Might just be a class above these.

    R3 BULLBARS – loved his win at Flemington 1400m in the Autumn and this field is no better than that one. Looks perfectly suited. Not sure why K McEvoy is not on? DREAMAWAY the danger if anywhere near ready – big Caulfield Cup show and did I mention W Pike can ride??!

    R4 SEPOY sit and steer job

    R5 DO RA MI – again can’t forget her incredible win in the Autumn here when ridden cold beating a similar class field. Her and KEEP THE PEACE will be storming home and throw in MAJESTIC MUSIC for the trifecta.

    R6 Maybe ONCE WERE WILD each way. other than the bottom 3 these aren’t much good. Worst Craiglee ever?

    R7 real tough race. Whatever beat the favourite probably wins. Other hopes to DUBLEANNY, ELUSIVE TOUCH, TOORAK TOFF and HAPPY TRAILS at big odds.

    R8 – LARISTAN – as mentioned above- each way special at the good odds.


    2winners – Race 4 OBSEQUIOUS and Race 7 DARCI BE GOOD (again)

    Happy punting!

  16. LARISTAN $41 to $26 on IAS (it wasn’t me!)

  17. north gale = outside vrail?…old truism down the straight!

    Sepoy out to 1.25 on the exchange

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