The first Saturday of Spring. I always loved Craiglee Stakes day when, for many, interest in the upcoming Carnival kicks in. Sure, the real silk department’s probably from our next visit to HQ for the Turnbull, but this is a meeting where the horses’ coats are coming through and the punters’ overcoats are being discarded. Traditionally, Home and Away footy season habits were redundant and suburban and country leagues were finished. There are no big hats and marquees yet at Flemington, but usually a scattering of end-of-season footy and netball teams flirting on the lawns and some good horseflesh also hoping to score.

Like much of the racing calendar there has been some tinkering with this meeting in recent times. The Ascot Vale Stakes, alas, has moved from this slot to be buried in the G1 avalanche of Derby Day, but the G2 Danehill, whilst not a straight replacement, nevertheless showcases a good standard of the new 3yr olds. The Craiglee, of course, remains the 1600m WFA but has now been rebadged the Makybe Diva and hoiked up to G1 –no news on whether they’ll doctor the track in memoriam to the triple Cup conqueror!

As is the case for the next couple of months, there are good horses and quality races dotted across the formguide and, pleasingly, an 8 race card with a 12.20 start and a 4.50 conclusion at Flemington.

Puissance de Lune will be odds on to win the feature (MR6, G1, WFA, 1600m). His Liston win was outstanding and it is fair to assume he has trained on for this. The mile at Flemington should be just right. It is great for racing to have 2 drawcards plotting alternate paths – exchanging serve if you like. PDL’s position at the head of Cox Plate markets was quickly usurped by Atlantic Jewel last week – now it is his turn to reclaim the hype. Not a lot of his opponents look up to this WFA class though it is worth remembering that we do tend to get some “track specialists” upsetting the applecart here – remember Littorio? As is now customary, we’ll be watching replays to line up the “imports”….they are so far superior to local stayers but some thrive here more so than others. Puissance de Lune is a classic example. On European ratings, Sea Moon could tow him up the straight, but we must wait and see. Sea Moon has had some gallops in recent weeks – he holds his head up and looked a little lost at Caulfield, but that’s not unusual. Again, he should relish the expanses of Flemington. He has serious credentials so must be carefully considered – it is hard not to think back to the Queen Elizabeth in April….It’s a Dundeel had just won both Guineas’ and the Derby by a furlong yet Reliable Man came out and flogged him. Admittedly it was 2nd up and 2000m, which might be a better scenario, but the message is clear that we watch the European form, especially class like his. December Draw burst on to the scene a couple of years ago with a PDL-like impact and it is great to see him back this week. Presumably they are just hoping that he pulls up OK. 8 and 6 in the Quaddy.

Those numbers might, however, be academic if we can’t stab the first leg (MR5, 3yo, G2, 1200m). Arguably the McNeil was a stronger field and Guelph has stayed in Sydney, but this might still become a strong form race. Safeguard (2) keeps finding a way…a real pro. Gregers (17) will also be in the market though she might be starting to look for more ground. Vasil’s The Bowler (7) @33/1 might be one to stand up. Very hard to align the formlines here. Watch betting! 2, maybe 14, 16…throw a dart.

The 3rd Leg is the Bobbie Lewis Quality, a genuinely time-honoured event as detailed last year (MR7, G3, 1200m). This is a very open, old fashioned straight six. I will definitely include Fontelina (5) 1st up @10/1. Any thoughts on British General (12) fresh?

The meeting closes with the Let’s Elope (MR8, Mares, G2, 1400m). Commanding Jewel (4) needed the run at Moonee Valley and will improve. Oasis Bloom (5) has some hope with a soft trail. Too hard basket for me.

Good luck if you are hoping to use the earlier races to build a Quaddy bank!

The opener is a very good 3yo fillies scamper (MR1, 1100m). Several promising types here. The obvious are 2 and 4, the query 1.

A Listed 1400m follows (MR2, 3yo). You had to be impressed by Cauthen (2) at the Valley and he’ll be improved by the run and will love Flemington. He can do things wrong and I wonder where he’ll lob if he stumbles the start from a wide gate confronting the endless turn? There’s plenty of depth in this really interesting field, but I am reluctant to pick against him. If forced, perhaps E/W Lady Lakshmi (6) @33/1.

A modest mile and a quarter (MR3, 2000m) then precedes a really tricky 1400m (MR4, Listed). Dany The Fox (7) was scratched last week for this. My pick. The top two will be well in the market. Garud (16) has been relentlessly unlucky recently, but that might be a trait. Ranked (11) was backed off the map at the city Bendigo meeting in March and failed badly – where there’s smoke? Speed map required.
There’s also a big meeting at Randwick, with feature races across the day. Look at this listing:
SR2- The Edgar Britt!!!!
SR3- Concorde Stakes (G3, 1000m, SW+P)
Hay List returns with 60.5kg. Snowden’s Session (8) is fav. 9 and 10 chances.
SR4- Furious Stakes (G2, 1200m, 3yo fillies)
Guelph returns.
SR5- Ming Dynasty Quality (G3, 1400m, 3yo)
Now, I certainly believe old Ming Dynasty deserves a good race named for him, but who came up with the idea of a 1400m 3yo at Randwick? Go figure! Maybe Hooked (6).
SR6- Tramway (G3, 1400m, SW+P)
Shoot Out (1), Sincero (2), Sacred Falls (3)….and so it goes. Good race. Lloyd’s sent Nick Hall up with Fawkner (8).
SR7- Chelmsford (G2, 1600m, WFA)
2nd rate…Craiglee and next week’s Feehan have skimmed the cream. Maybe Hawkspur (11).
The first and last are nondescript.
As usual, it is not all just about the Stakes races – in fact arguably Australia’s most celebrated meeting is on this weekend miles from the city centres. Birdsville has their legendary 2-Day Carnival starting Friday with the Cup on Saturday. Jock gave us a lead last week with Joe Blow which duly saluted at Betoota. He’s the one to beat giving trainer/jockey David Rewald a prized picture for the poolroom.

Hopeful I can get to study the form later and contradict or confirm this missive!

Any tips/anecdotes etc always welcomed.

Good luck!


  1. Over in Melbourne for a short sojourn at the races as baby sitting duties for Grandies prevail-but alas that’s it at the track it as the bowls season beckons
    (tragedy being old really)
    Great summary as usual Crio-you have set the scene so lets see what the rest of us can contribute
    I ran into David Jolly at the beach and he said-wait till I make the trip to Melbourne with Budriegez (this was the horse that dead-heated with Puissance de Lune in the autumn)
    Jake Stephens saluted with his import in the Balak Cup (Gris Caro- first up too) so I expect to hear more of this one
    Apart form OLearys Value As (e/w) Im open to suggestions as the last month has been woeful

  2. Thought Metal Bender ran well first up off the blistering speed of Rain Affair- good money for him then too! Last time won the George Ryder 2nd up. Happy to be on him in the Chelmsford around the $10 mark.

    Great card at HQ. Don’t normally get ther til around R4 to preserve some funds but really like the first couple of races so will try to be there for the 1st. Just plenty of depth and question marks all day then (hopefully) Oasis Bloom pulls us out of the mire in the last.

  3. Crio great work, Like Snowden’s horse Long John in the 2nd to turn the tables on Cauthen, huge run 1st up and gets 1.5kg off the winner.
    Brigantin first up over 10F with 7kg over the minimum will be very interesting,Pat Carey is a fine horseman,and he might just sneak this one fresh.
    In the last,election day omen, A Time For Julia to turn the tables on Octavia,gets the better gate from the very tricky 7F start at HQ.
    It must be me, but i detest the straight races at Flemington, and hate them being in Quaddy legs. I know since the track resurfacing, there isn’t the inside/ outside split, but horses particularly youngsters, get lost running down the crown.
    But, thats just me bitching, just because the last winner i backed down the Flemington straight was ridden by Ray Setches!

  4. Kick off the day with Phantom Brew in the first at Morphettville – was flattened and finished strongly last start at Morphettville.

  5. Best bet of the season so far is Long John in the 2nd at Flemington. He was a great run 1st up giving weight and a start to Cauthen and this times it’s Cauthen who will be giving a start and a 1.5 Kg weight turn around. I expect LJ to be about 4 back on the outside ready to put the race away at his leisure and think that Weinholt is a chance for a place and some value for trifectas.

    Keep a watch on Eclair Big Bang in the Danehill, its very good. Just fell in first up but it was only 1000 on a wet track and he’s a Savabeel, trainer was also out there in the media saying it was only at about 80%.

    Here’s one for you, Elvis. Mr Moet first up to cause an upset. excellent first up form and form in Melb in the Autumn was great, well up to winning this if they run along a bit.

    I noted that Oasis Bloom was in the last and didn’t have to wait too long for Budge to give it a mention, could be a chance if it isn’t a run short which I think it may be and I’d be keen on Commanding Jewel if it’s 4’s or better. I also noted that Nick Hall is in Syd to ride Faulkner so it must be going pretty well. I’m backing See the World in the Concorde.

    Bays play Port at the bay tomorrow…go Tigers. They broke a 13 game losing streak 2 weeks back beating North who were 3rd (ish) at the time, then got done at Elizabeth. Hoping for a big finish to the year but will still be wooden spooners.

  6. Jock,
    I actually backed Long John last start and it ran exceptionally well considering. Howver, even with the wide barrier, I would expect Cauthen to be too good. 1400m at Flemington should be right up its alley. Ride it like its Atlantic Jewel and it will be too good.
    Also expect Ruud Awakening to show its class in the 1st.
    Love the meeting even though I expect it to be a personal disaster unless all the above come true (that would be a first!!)

  7. Jock.

    Thanks for alerting me to Mr Moet’s presence tomorrow. Wasn’t aware he was in at a first glance. Tough race, but a very good galloper, seemingly over any distance. Good “Blow Out” option for my Trebles.

    Thought Whiskey All Round was half a chance in the 5th. Tony Gollan places his horses very well and has tasted success south before with one of the Boom horses. Goes quick, good form at short quotes as a 2yo and has J McDonald up.

    Budge is a proven judge of potential and I will follow him into Oasis Bloom, without ignoring the scallywags other runner in the race, Lucky Penny.

  8. Crio and Budge.

    Just read an email from Mum telling me that apparently Atlantic Jewel has a pony that goes everywhere with her called Ernie. Pretty cool.

  9. Elvis, Just back from the Pub. I have consulted Lucky Penny (the dog) and she thinks that anything called Schmacko would be a good thing.

    I actually think she is a group 3 horse against a few group 1’rs. Save your $$ for the 3rd up run for Oasis Bloom.

    Ernie the pony, yes cool. Thank god it’s win a good horse and not a 20 start maiden.

  10. David Downer says

    Oasis Bloom – stay the path gentlemen! Should get a nice spot in the box seat with a few charging from the outside and heading forward. Bonaria grows another leg at Flemington at good odds too.

    Temple of Boom – don’t even look at the form – another Almanac fave down his beloved straight six.

    Really interested in having a look at Sea Moon. Shortening up a touch for today, but is one of the best performed/already established WFA Euro horses to ever hit our shores.

    Fluker’s chance to The Bowler in the Danehill.

    Has it just been a long Winter or has the Spring quality en masse kicked off earlier than usual this year?

  11. DD, You can really get stuck in the races when your team misses the finals….. the trap is losing your bank by Guineas Day!

  12. I’ve done an “Oges”.
    On the dog’s beach walk earlier today I ran into a part owner of Stimulatte ( Morph race 3) and he’s very bullish about its chances.

  13. I was thinking i’d have to get a dog but maybe not!

  14. Jock, you are a genius. I know because you told me so.

  15. One of the best named won at Randwick today….
    Decision Time is by Foreplay out of Daunting Thought!!!!!!

  16. Jock, I hope you had a hige day because your mail was top notch.

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