Sal’s Preview – Derby Day: It’s Christmas Day for Punters!





Greetings All,


What gifts will the punting gods lay out for us on Derby Day?


First though a word on the Cox Plate.  From a personal perspective the decision to dismiss the protest was beneficial.  However if that interference was in a mid-week maiden at Geelong reckon it is upheld in a couple of minutes.  With the field eventually reduced to eight runners with clear distinction between the top four and the rest I don’t think letting Keiai Nautique would have detracted from the race.  Despite losing the favourite in the morning, the race was a beauty with outstanding rides from the first two home, reckon Verry Elleegant would have made interesting if she also cut the corner.


Now we plan for the four horse days of the apocalypse and Derby kicks it off in style with 9 Group races and 4 of those at the top level.  The fields are full and chances broad, finding a winner won’t be easy but remember the average winning price over the carnival is over $10 so the rewards are handy if you find ‘em.  The conditions should be perfect, a bit if rain over the preceding couple of days should give every runner a chance.  Makes selections tougher – can’t knock out the mudders and can’t knock out the dry trackers.  Do think the outside draw might be advantageous in the straight races.


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


This looks a good race for Brigantine (1) for GSOB and Godolphin, he drops back from Group races where he has been competitive so should be up for this.  The main challenge will come from the filly Fangirl (11) who won the Reg Allen in blistering style but now also takes on the boys.  Maher-Eustice have thrown Wilsons Prom (5) straight in here off a strong maiden win and this looks the right level for Daily Bugle (2) to be competitive.


Selections – 1-11-5-2


Race 2 – Hotham Stakes (G3, 2500m, HCP)


Usually the final Hail Mary to get a run in the big dance on Tuesday, however this year a few already have their spots (2, 5) due to the reduced number of internationals while others are no longer in the cup (1, 3, 8).  The rest a throwing the Hail Mary!  Reckon Mankayan (7) will get the touchdown!  Significant drop in weight should make him hard to get past if Linda gets him to the front, she should get every chance from the pole.  Otherwise the other Maher-Eustice King’s Charisma (9) has a similar profile with weight relief.  Great House (4) is right on the edge of getting a run in the cup after a terrific run in the Caulfield Cup, gets JMac gets a chance.  This has become a target race for Le Don De Vie (3) if he puts in a similar effort as the Geelong Cup he will be thereabouts.


Selections – 7-9-4-3


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


The traditional lead up to the Oaks with plenty of in-form fillies contesting.  Makes it a tough one – but can’t quite resist the offerings on Kapalua Sunset (10).  She started favourite in the Ethereal but was shuffled back through the field not getting a chance.  Finishing alongside her was Mokolua who romped in on Saturday – Fillies form can be fickle!  There will be more pace and more space here and reckon she can win.  Barb Raider (4) is a winner here and should appreciate the extra 400m metres of this race after an impressive effort in the Thousand Guineas, while El Patroness (3) has been very good mixing it with the boys.  Yearning (1) must rate highly after a winning the Thousand Guineas but has paid the penalty with weight.


Selections – 10-4-3-1


Race 4 – Linlithgow Stakes (G2, 1200m, HCP)


The full brother to Exceedence might not be far off him in Oxley Road (7).  He is drawn well, has won down the straight and gets in on the limit weight.  Kemilpasa (2) is a beauty down the straight – leave him out at your peril, the same for Kementari (1) who won the Gilgai over this journey.  The poor Flemington record makes me hesitant on Brooklyn Hustle (4) but her best will be very competitive.


Selections – 7-2-1-4


Race 5 – Empire Rose Stakes (G1, 1600m, Fillies and Mares WFA)


The Group Ones open with a magnificent renewal of the Empire Rose, afficionados have been salivating over this contest for weeks.  We have the collision of good form from both Sydney and Melbourne, we have seen them crossover in the couple of weeks.  I do not have Collette (1) in my numbers here, however if by chance we get a soft track or worse she is almost the top pick.  The top pick is Mystic Journey (2) and it has been a journey for her not having won for over a year.  All her lead up form has been very good and with just the one race in mind – it’s her grand Final and she just might be a Demon.  The price on offer for Sierra Sue (4) is extraordinary for a mare that took out a Group One race two starts ago, it is indicative of the quality of this field – she is right up to them at her best.  Mike Moroney has been working Tofane (3) up to the mile, she was sensational in the Toorak so must be a massive chance here.  The Tesio is not quite at this level but it was hard not to be impressed by the win of Flying Mascot (13).  That turn of foot could blow them away.


Selections – 2-4-3-13


Race 6 – Victoria Derby (G1, 2500m, 3YO SW)


The formlines of Forgot You (1) and Gunstock (4) have enough commonality to understand why they are favourites.  They have been proven superior over most of these – there may be a Rebel Raider among them but more concerned about other form lines.  In particular the Spring Champion Stakes – if Profundo was here he would be a clear favourite, GSOB’s Allegron (3) finished 3rd to him in that race and with some improvement should there when the whips are cracking.  Then there is Hitotsu (9) coming through Guineas form – beat Commander Harry (8) two starts back and it took the whole straight for Forgot You (1) to get past Harry last week. Tutukaka (2) must be considered after winning the Geelong Classic and looks a genuine stayer.


Selections – 1-4-3-9


Race 7 – Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1, 1200m, 3YO SW)


It’s the sprinter’s turn in the Coolmore and another race with many chances.  With a winner down the straight here at a price in Ranch Hand (8) handy combination in Waller/Prebble gets an outside alley, worth consideration.  We then look to the more favoured runners and Extreme Warrior (9) was extremely impressive in the Blue Sapphire.  The form of Ingratiating (3) is perplexing but am buoyed by the placing in the Manikato and has form down the straight.  The big question is Artorius (2) third in the Guineas is good but coming back to 1200?  According to the Freedman clan he will be trained as a run on sprinter, keen to see how he goes here.  I ripping race with the chances not exhausted here.


Selections – 8-9-3-2


Race 8 – Cantala Stakes (G1, 1600m, HCP)


We close out the big ones with the time-honoured Cantala, with Riodini (4) and Buffalo River (5) in the race we should get a solid tempo.  Interestingly there are a couple of mares in this race who would have been real chances in the Empire Rose and going with one of them as the top selection in Challiot (11).  She has a booming finish so with the pace on reckon she can bomb them late.  Mr Brightside (14) has been killing them through the benchmark races and gets his chance at the top level, has a great chance down in the weights.  Superstorm (3) is only 3 from 17 but is super consistent and only keeps the best of company, suspect this has been his target right through spring.  Can’t leave out old mate King Magnus (15) a monumental effort last start behind Buffalo River (5) – gets back down in the weights and turns up every time.  Plenty more worthy of discussion – great renewal!


Selections – 11-14-3-15


Race 9 – Furphy Sprint (G3, 1100m, Mares SWP)


The girls take us into quarter time with the dash for the cash.  A tough close but that is carnival week.  The final race also for Linda Meech before having an enforced break, she is on Rainbiel (11) who gets a great chance from an outside alley.  September Run (1) drops back in grade, to mares company and back down the straight.  Her best wins just not sure if she is there. Marboosha (6) also loves it down the straight and Minhaaj (5) gets JMac was terrific in the Nivision and also has form at Flemington.


Selections – 11-1-6-5




No sugar coating this is a tough one so percentages will be small, but with such a big pool we might get a nice dividend if we can nail it.  Going a bit wider in the Derby than the two favourites and could stretch further but for openness of some of the other legs.  Especially the Coolmore where we have half the field and still could miss, taking the risk in the Cantala down to only three and coming home relatively skinny also.  May the lord give it strength!


Leg 1 – 1, 2, 3, 4, 9

Leg 2 – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Leg 3 – 3, 11, 14, 15

Leg 4 – 1, 5, 6, 11


It’s Derby Day so we will loosen the wallet a touch and spend $50.  640 Combinations, $50 investment could return 7.8% of the dividend!


Riding off into the Kapalua Sunset!


Cheers Sal


We’ll do our best to publish two books in the lead-up to Christmas 2021. The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020  and the 2021 edition to celebrate the Dees’ magnificent premiership season(title is up for discussion at the moment!). These books will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers and Demons season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from these two Covid winters. Enquiries HERE


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  1. Derby Day is Christmas Day for Adults

    Best day racing in Australia
    Sadly low numbers in some races which is a pattern nowadays in Melbourne

    Hotham is low as not as many horses need to qualify for the Cup
    Linlithgow affected by horses staying in Sydney for Everest & Winners, this will affect the VRC Classic.
    Rosehill Cup may have affected some horses for the Hotham
    Golden Eagle has had an affect on Cantala and maybe Empire Rose
    Invitation had an affect on Empire Rose as well

    Still some cracking fields in Empire Rose,Cantala, Derby and Coolmore with plenty of chances.

    The Wakeful looks good to you mentioned four horses but not the two I’m following in Daisies and Glint of Hope, shows the depth and quality.

    Good luck in the Quaddie, it generally pays well except the only day I got it in 2002.

  2. roger lowrey says

    Dearly love your “four horse days of the apocalypse” Sal.

    On a related theme, I seem to remember JTH once observed one year that Flemington the day after Derby Day looked a bit like the Apocalypse. This even moved him to speculate that maybe John wrote the Apocalypse the day after Derby Day.

    At first I just thought he was being cute but after reflecting upon how I have felt over the years looking at my phone account on that Sunday morning coming down – with apologies to Kris Kristofferson – I think JTH may have been on to something.


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