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Derby Day - Coolmore Stakes and Myer Stakes previews

The best day of racing in the entire world ahead of us on Saturday at Flemington (NB I may possess a slight amount of bias towards Melbourne, but it is all class, and it's not self-defined as a World Championship with a largely local bunch of entries as we see in America). To mark the occasion, I've drafted in several talented writers, some of whom are new to my blog, to cover this magnificent meeting in detail. I'll be taking a back seat for Derby Day, and focusing my analysis on Tuesday's Melbourne Cup.

First up, please welcome back Michael Courts, @mtcourts, to preview two of the Group 1s.


Saturday at Flemington presents racing purists with the finest day of action on the Australian racing calendar. Headlined by the eponymous race for three year olds, Victoria Derby day also features three other Group 1 races, two Group 2s and three Group 3s to round off what looks to be a sensational day of racing.

This preview will focus on two of the Group 1 features: the Coolmore Stud Stakes for three year old sprinters, and the Myer Classic, a wfa mile race for fillies and mares.

Race 4 – Coolmore Stud Stakes, 1200m
Haven’t we been treated to a vintage year for three year olds? Pierro and All Too Hard were outstanding in the Cox Plate last week after their thrilling Caulfield Guineas duel, and this race for the sprinting types is no exception when it comes to quality. I have a pretty good feeling that Queensland visitor #1 Sizzling will be right there in the finish. The colt has been set for the race from a long way out, and was excellent in his debut Victorian run when fourth at Caulfield last month, making up a stack of ground in an on-pace dominated race. Big race jockey Chris Munce will give him the right run from barrier five and provided he handles the straight track, $5+ is overs for a star colt like him.

In an open betting race, it might be good to save on a relative roughie in the field. Sydney trainer John O’Shea came mightily close to pulling off a massive upset in this race last year with his star colt Foxwedge nearly running down the great Sepoy. In this year’s renewal he saddles up four-start maiden #8 Knight Exemplar (owned in the same interests as Foxwedge, coincidentally), who has gone close without winning so far in his short career. I think this race will be won by a raider one way or another, and the booking of Nash Rawiller – who, note carefully, jumps off last week’s impressive Moonee Valley winner Hidden Warrior to ride – is a big plus. He is definitely worth an each-way go.

Two of the three fillies in the race occupy the top spots in betting, and while I’m respecting #9 Snitzerland – who has been bombproof this campaign, stringing together four wins on end – she has been up for a while, and I’m looking to fresher horses for this race. Current race favourite #10 Nechita has been backed heavily since an impressive jump-out down the straight on Tuesday, but I think she’s poison odds for a horse that is unproven outside of Sydney and coming off a poor run in a high pressure Group 1 last time. She has been freshened with this race in mind so you can’t dismiss her completely, but I’m going around her here.

Selections: 1 Sizzling – 8 Knight Exemplar – 9 Snitzerland – 5 Lankan Rupee

Race 7 – Myer Classic, 1600m
We’ve also been blessed recently with the quality of mares going around in Australian races – More Joyous, Mosheen, Atlantic Jewel, to name but a few. While none of those three are lining up here unfortunately, this year’s renewal of the Myer Classic still presents us with a crack field.

My money will be firmly with one of my favourite horses, #3 Yosei. She can be pretty difficult to catch at times but she is just ticking all the boxes here after a last start third in the Toorak Handicap where she had to duck and weave for a run a number of times in the straight. Renowned big race rider Glen Boss stays aboard, and she gets barrier one, where she has won two of her three Group One races from, not to mention her brilliant third to More Joyous in the Doncaster Handicap in the autumn. With $8+ available currently she screams value and is ready to win – go girl!

One who I like for the multiples is #5 Skyerush for Guy Walter and Blake Shinn, returning for her second crack at this race. She was a very unlucky fourth in this race last year, and while she may appear to be Walter’s second stringer – he also has current race favourite #1 Streama in the race – she shouldn’t be discounted because of this and ticks plenty of boxes. Last time in she won the Group 2 Emancipation Stakes in Sydney off a seven day back-up when fourth up, and gets almost exactly the same conditions after a creditable fourth when struggling to make up ground in an on-pace dominated race last week at Moonee Valley. Can this history repeat itself? At a quote of $21 currently, let’s hope so.

Selections: 3 Yosei – 5 Skyerush – 6 Pear Tart – 1 Streama

That’s all from me. Good luck and happy punting!


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Melbourne Cup preview

I was going to pen a lengthy analytical preview for the Race That Stops The Nation but that was rendered futile when I got the email notification for this magnificent piece of work - Andrew Hawkins' Complete Guide to the 2017 Melbourne Cup. For all the background, all the detail, video links, back stories (read the one about Tiberian especially), go there, you won't find a better analysis anywhere.

So instead I'll keep it short and sharp, which based on the lack of sleep I've had in the past week, can only be a good thing!

AU$6 million
Group 1 Handicap, 3200m
1500 local, 0400 GMT

1. HARTNELL - third last year when looked poised to win at top of straight. Has been 'running more like a two-miler' this prep according to trainer, but hasn't run beyond 2000m either. History isn't kind to horses coming back a second time to win (actually it's his third attempt) especially high in the weights. No.

2. ALMANDIN - defending champ an…