It’s Only the Beginning – Derby Day Preview

Happy Derby Day to all,


Grand final week for racing arrives and a card of nine group races leaves little time for pontification on other matters especially as the AFL tries to hog the agenda and release the fixture, but just a couple of matters to open proceedings.  How great was the A-League atmosphere for the Melbourne Derby?  Much talk comparing it to the sanitised atmosphere of the AFL nowadays, but they are different games.  The problem is that the AFL are trying to manufacture the game experience, in the A-League that is left to the fans.

The gnashing of teeth over the Australian test performance against Pakistan has become a touch on the hysterical side.  They weren’t good, but how would the Pakis go over here with only one game for preparation before facing the Aussies.  Whilst there are justifiable questions, the result should not have come as a shock.  Poor preparation and poor performance are closely correlated.

But now it is on to the biggest day of the year for the sport of kings, but not without a critical review of last week’s performance of this pontificator on what was a terrific Cox Plate day.   A good start on Friday night with Lankan Rupee getting a win on the board, but might not be quite back to his brilliant best.  Angelic Light coming second was a nice result for quinella players.  Only one outright winner in Lumosty on the day, but winners got a mention in the summary in all bar one race and the Cox Plate quinella was OK on a tough day.

It is no easier this week with class distributed through the fields in every race. So it is down to business.


Race 1 – Carbine Club Stakes (G3,1600m, 3yo SWP)

Plenty of these are well credentialed, but there are a few that would be a complete surprise.  One that wouldn’t is the ultra-consistent Stratum Star(2) who I think can kick the carnival off well for DK Weir, won his last two and not overly burdened on the scale.  Anyone who backed Azkedellia(15) on Caulfield Cup day will still be shaking their heads at the ride, should have won easily and will be a huge chance here.  Kermadec(7) is CJW’s first foray for the carnival, lightly raced but he only brings his good ‘uns down and Manhattan Avenue(5) has not been that far away from Stratum Star(2) in his last two.  Not the end of the chances and be wary of the sting from AJ Cummings putting D Oliver on Burning Passion (6)

Selections – 2-15-7-5


Race 2 – Wakeful Stakes (G2, 2000m, 3yo Fillies SWP)

The time-honoured prelude to the Oaks may not quite be the pointer it has been historically, but undoubtedly one of these will put themselves right into contention.  Muscovado(5) beat Abduction(3) in their last encounter, but there is a 5½kg swing in the weights for 1.7 lengths.  Happy to make Abduction(3) my top pick ahead of Fontein Ruby(1) who is hard to tip against after her two wins prior to this, just a bit concerned about the weight rise and a wide draw.  Golconda(4) closed well in the Ethereal and might be peaking at the right time and Muscovado(5) has the form to be in this.  Lady Macan(7) disappointed last start but might be better suited at HQ and G Boss on board is handy.

Selections – 3-1-4-7


Race 3 – Yellowglen Stakes (G3, 1400m, HCP)

Hucklebuck(4) is again widely spruiked, is good at Flemington and good second up.  But looks too short for mine and I reckon Generalife(3) is as well set for this race and presents better value.  Smokin’ Joey(1) has plenty of weight to carry but loves the track and showed he was back to his best on this day last year!  Taddei Tondo(11) is very consistent and can fill the holes.  Turquoise King(9) has been well supported lately but not getting home, might be ready to fire and Pornichet(7) could be another international that is too good.

Selections – 3-4-1-11


Race 4 – Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1, 1200m, 3yo SW)

Last year Zoustar was one out of the box against his rivals, this renewal of the Ascot Vale Stakes as it was formerly known is much wider with very few that we can draw a line through.  If we take out Rich Enuff’s(1) creditable second in the Guineas he might look like Zoustar, provided he has freshened up since that run he can win this.  Kuro(8) from the Joe Pride yard looks a very talented horse with a bit of X-Factor, Earthquake(14) at her best is right in this and Rubrick(5) will be up there for a long way but a query on the last 100m.  The chances don’t end there in what will be one of the highlight races of the day.

Selections – 1-8-14-5


Race 5 – The Lexus Stakes (G3, 2500m, HCP)

Ahhh the old Hotham Handicap the last gasp to get into the cup, loved when it was the last on the card but logistics nowadays don’t allow for that.  Going to the well again with Sign Off(9) has been thereabouts all preparation down in weight here, if he can win here he is a real hope on Tuesday with only 50kg.  Marksmanship(10) was only beaten by an outstanding ride in the Geelong Cup and meets Caravan Rolls On(2) much better at the weights, Caravan Rolls On(2) could again get the sweet ride from C Williams and Let’s Make Deal(5) is another looking to get into the cup who ran well in this race last year.  Others of note include Shoreham(4), Big Memory(1), La Amistad(6) and Lord Van Percy(3).

Selections – 9-10-2-5


Race 6 – LKS McKinnon Stakes (G1, 2000m, WFA)

Some discussion during the week that this race should be put back a week and I can see some justification as many of these are attacking it as an afterthought which can make it difficult to assess form.  But it also serves as an entry point into the Melbourne Cup which Amralah(12) can achieve by finishing in the top 3.  I am looking for a good run from Brambles(6) in preparation for Tuesday and he won here recently carrying a big load.  He’s Your Man(9) has been set for this race and there is no better than CJW to have him ready, a slight query about WFA capability but plenty of others have the same question mark.  Criterion(13) will prefer the expanses of the Flemington track and looks well suited.  Not discounting Foreteller(3) who has WFA form and is very consistent, would have had Rising Romance(15) in the picks but this seems like more of an afterthought.

Selection – 6-8-13-3


Race 7 – The VRC Derby (G1, 2500m, 3yo SW)

Gai has been spruiking Hampton Court(1) ever since his impressive win in the Spring Champion and he has a price to match the spruiking.  However none of the vanquished in his last two wins have made it to the field here and he is not likely to get the ridiculous speed that was set in the Spring Champion.  On top of that favourites do not have a great record in this event.  Preferment(13) ran a great race in the Geelong Classic coming from a long way back to just miss Nozomi(7).  Go Indy Go was the eye catcher from the Vase last week, but right behind her and going just well was Bondeiger(9) who looks like he will appreciate Flemington.  Moonovermanhattan(2) was very tough to do it at both ends of that race,  then there is Firehouse Rock(4), Magicool(5), Atmosphere(11) and others who have good claims.

Selections – 13-9-2-1


Race 8 – The Myer Classic (G1, 1600m, Mares WFA)

I might be accused of being anti-Gai or homophobic here but I am going against her well fancied Sweet Idea(1).  Looking for mares that are proven over the distance and she does have Diamond Drille(3) engaged here who has a G1 victory but does not appear at her best.  So I am going again with Catkins(2) who is going well hasn’t quite got the job done this preparation but this is the ultimate target.  Plenty of other good mares who could bob up though.  Star Fashion(13) looks in solid form and a last start winner over the distance, Politeness(14) hasn’t travelled the journey but looks like she can handle it and Neena Rock(16) was an impressive winner last start in Sydney.  But the hopes don’t end there with quality mares right through the field.

Selections – 2-13-14-16


Race 9 – Stakes (G2, 1200m, HCP)

Some pretty well performed sprinters here with good records up the straight, but not sure any of them will be able to match the undefeated Hawkes runner Deep Field(6).  They are keeping him away from Chautauqua and he gets in here with a nice weight.  Great to see Bel Sprinter(1) come back after injury, big weight but has the class.  Adamantium(10) has run them off their legs over this trip and In Cahoots(4) is in fine form.  But Deep Field(6) just might be a Superstar!

Selections – 6-1-10-4


Quaddie Time

Another tripod last after going wider in the first leg after the scratching of Trust in a Gust.  This week looks as tough again, but Deep Field in the last leg might give us some extras in the first three.  Strategy is all important as we could easily see the dividend not covering the outlay if favourites win the first three legs, so I will be taking a range of Quaddies to increase the percentage if the favourites are soluting.


Leg 1 – 3,6,8,13,15

Leg 2 – 1,2,4,5,9,11,13

Leg 3 – 1,2,4,13,14,16

Leg 4 – 6

This is 210 combinations so a $30 outlay will get 14% of the dividend.


Hammer Time

On to sports of other sorts this Hammer fan never got to watch but what joy to see a defeat of Manchester City!  They are heady times with the Claret & Blue sitting in fourth position, off to Stoke this week to cement the spot – perhaps getting a little too heady here as well!


Have great carnival, Go Hammers,

Cheers, Sal




  1. Best Derby Day in 30 years, outstanding fields and with a few absentees aside a day not to be missed, The Coolmore could well be the best 3yr old race assembled – really only missing Hallowed Crown and STWIN and you’d have it. Sal you have summed things up very nicely. Good luck good punting

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