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it's spring time in Melbourne!

There is nothing like the spring racing carnival in Melbourne. It's not just four days at Flemington, it builds up from the first day of September all the way through to Cup Day and a couple of weeks beyond. To help stir up the excitement, Brad Bishop @bradbishop12 from Racing Victoria has given us permission to use his article below.

History says…Makybe Diva Stakes

Horses resuming from a spell haven’t made a habit of winning the Makybe Diva Stakes, but Littorio might prove a trendsetter following his win last year. BRAD BISHOP looks at all the stats that might help you find a winner at Flemington this Saturday.

Those after a reason to oppose high-profile imports Manighar, December Draw or Mawingo in Saturday's Makybe Diva Stakes wouldn't have had to work too hard to build a case without the memories of Littorio's win last year fresh in their minds.

Nigel Blackiston's injury-plagued gelding won the Group 2 at his first start in more than 17 months when he overpowered his rivals for an upset win at $41.

Before Littorio, only Confectioner, in 2005, had been able to win the race first-up in the past 30 years.

The Makybe Diva has not traditionally been the domain of horses resuming from a spell, but evolving training methods have resulted in three-quarters of the 12 runners engaged in Saturday's renewal are yet to commence their spring campaigns.

December Draw hasn't started since last year's BMW Caulfield Cup, in which he was injured as favourite, while Manighar and Mawingo haven't been seen at the races since the Brisbane Winter Carnival.

Melbourne Cup winner Efficient and his Robert Hickmott-trained stablemate Mourayan, South Australian Derby winner Zabeelionaire, crowd favourite Moudre, Ipswich and Caloundra Cup winner Shenzhou Steeds and Dance With Her are the others first-up.

That leaves only Southern Speed, Midas Touch and Second Effort as those engaged in this year's Makybe Diva Stakes that have raced this season.

Those happy to put their trust in history and follow the proven formline when trying to pick the Makybe Diva Stakes winner have an easy decision.

Two-thirds of the Makybe Diva Stakes winners since 1982 have come through the Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield, including 13 of the past 19.

Second Effort, who is backing up after a third placing in last Saturday's Memsie Stakes, won the Lawrence Stakes on 18 August and will become the seventh winner of both races, and first since Pompeii Ruler in 2006, if successful.

Clinton McDonald's reliable six-year-old is the only horse who contested the Lawrence Stakes running on Saturday.

Southern Speed, the pride of South Australia, has a couple of hoodoos to overcome if she is to win. A mare hasn't won the Makybe Diva since Saleous in 1996, while she has the added burden of $3 favouritism in TAB's early market.

Only one Makybe Diva favourite has won in the past eight years – that being an odds-on Weekend Hussler ($1.85) in 2008 – while three winners have been at $18 or longer. Littorio's win was preceded by Shocking at $18 and Hugs Dancer scored at $26 in 2004.

The Makybe Diva Stakes has been a surprisingly poor guide to the Spring majors in the past three decades, in particularly the Cox Plate with only two winners of Australia's weight-for-age championship – Almaarad (1989) and Northerly (2002) – coming through the race in that time.

The Makybe Diva Stakes hasn't been a part of a Melbourne Cup winner's program since Jeune in 1994 but more promising from a Caulfield Cup point of view with eight of the past 30 winners having run there, the latest being Elvstroem in 2004.

But while the main race hasn't been a great guide to the majors, the Makybe Diva Stakes program has been an outstanding springboard to major success in recent years.

In particular, the 2000m Open Handicap, known this year as the $80,000 Sofitel Girls' Day Out Handicap.

Last year's edition saw December Draw defeat Green Moon, with December Draw going on to win the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes and before starting favourite in the Caulfield Cup in which Green Moon finished runner-up.

In 2007, Master O'Reilly won that 2000m race en route to victory in the Caulfield Cup.

There is a strong chance it could have a significant impact on spring with promising stayers Shewan, Sea Galleon and Excluded among this year's field.

Viewed's Melbourne Cup-winning campaign in 2008 included a start in the Listed The Sofitel (1400m), which The Cups King is using this year with German import Illo.

Last year, Pinker Pinker – who also won on Makybe Diva Stakes Day in 2010 – won the Group 2 Let's Elope Stakes (1400m) on the way to Cox Plate success.

Pinker Pinker progressed to last year's Let's Elope via the Cockram Stakes, as did the previous eight winners of the Flemington feature, all but one of which were four-year-olds.

Cockram Stakes winner Lady Melksham, Oasis Bloom and Bonaria are the four-year-olds in Saturday's race who came through the Cockram, while five-year-olds Yosei and Booklet are the others running in the Let's Elope that contested the Cockram Stakes.

The Group 2 Danehill Stakes is Saturday's other feature and while it has only been run in this timeslot since 2006, the past five winners have either run first or second at their final lead-up run.

The original article can be found here.

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