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Zipping Classic preview

Spring is nearly over in Melbourne, the Flemington carnival has been and gone so now we move onto Sandown (one of two remaining Australian metropolitan tracks named after racecourses in England in case you were wondering - Ascot in Perth is the other one). Tasked with the preview is Kieran Fitzgerald, @kjob85, who will be attending Saturday's meeting as a prize winner from Sunday's #auspubquiz, courtesy of Melbourne Racing Club, @MRCTrackNews. Thanks again to the club for putting up the prizes.

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As the final metropolitan meeting of the Spring Racing Carnival, Sandown Guineas Day offers a chance for a more relaxed meeting, providing a change of pace after the Melbourne Cup Carnival. The meet takes place in a more casual setting, while providing fans with some great racing. This includes the Sandown Cup raced over two miles (3200m) including racing up a big hill, and two Group 2 races, both featuring horses having their last chance at glory before the carnival finishes. The first of these is the Zipping Classic, formerly known as the Sandown Classic and renamed after the great Zipping won the race four years on the trot. Last year's winner was the crowd favourite and 2010 Melbourne Cup champion Americain.

Zipping Classic

Mourayan
The early favourite and, on recent form, clearly the horse to beat. Mourayan is from the Lloyd Williams stable – currently the toast of racing circles – and clearly this stable knows how to win this race, as it is named in honour of one of their champion horses. Mourayan is a proven stayer and recently finished a strong seventh in the Melbourne Cup, beating home the likes of Dunaden and Americain. Leading up to that race, he performed strongly in Sydney and at Flemington in the Makybe Diva Stakes. He is proven over this distance, and is carrying the same weight as most of the field.

Precedence
A Bart Cummings horse that returned to the winners' circle earlier this spring after dropping back in class after almost two years without a victory. This is a distance that suits this horse well, although he has trouble breaking through and usually finishes mid-field. Remarkably made the Melbourne Cup field despite frequent lacklustre performances and should find Group 2 beyond his reach.

Tanby
An often-overlooked stayer from the Lloyd Williams stable, Tanby has had strong form of late, with his most recent run being a third place to the freakish Puissance de Lune and Ironstein in the Queen Elizabeth. Tanby can be a frustrating horse, pulling out a string of strong performances before fading away. While this is his eighth run this prep, he should not be counted out and could well be up there on the day.

He's Hot to Trot
South Australian visitor racing in Melbourne for the first time. The markets have him has a long shot and despite performing strongly on his home turf, he has not beaten much of note and this would seem to be above his station.

Garud
Irish-bred gelding who is up in class. A proven performer over this distance and raced strongly on Cup Day to finish second to the classy Verdant over 2800m. Garud is a bit of a wildcard here – his form has been strong over this distance but the question is whether racing at this level will be too much for him. He has either ran ahead of or placed to some decent horses in the past and is well drawn here. Kerrin McEvoy delivered one of the best rides of the spring on Mental in the Patinack and is on board here. At value odds he is worth having a flutter.

Umatic
While Umatic has performed reasonably well over the past 12 months, this should prove too much for him, with his best performances coming against average horses.

Exceptionally
A horse that so often seems to be right up there, but has trouble breaking through. Did well to run third in the Lexus to Kellini (4th in the Melbourne Cup), and while she had a very poor run in the Geelong Cup, that was an odd race that has not shown much in the way of form indicators and was her only poor run this spring. Should finish strongly.

Dame Claire
Has performed well this spring, including a win at Mornington over this distance against decent opposition. Subsequent performances were noteworthy, although whether she can match it at this level is uncertain. Notably ran third to Tanby in the Bart Cummings, and 5th in the Lexus. While she is a strong performer, a place bet would be preferred here.

Rawnaq
Redoute's Choice colt who finished a strong third in the Victoria Derby. Leading up to that race, his performances had been unimpressive in Melbourne so his run in the Derby makes it difficult to predict how he will finish here. He has received some early favouritism in the markets, and one factor going in his favour is that he is carrying just 50.5 kg, a 6.5kg advantage on the next horses in the race and a 5kg drop from the Derby. On that alone he is worth considering, although he may find it harder going against the older horses here.

Suggested Bet
This is a very even affair with most horses paying around the same amount and potentially providing a good return. He's Hot to Trot and Umatic are the only two I would rule out straight away, and I can't take Precedence given his unimpressive record. Mourayan is the favourite, but in this kind of field I would need at least $2.50 to take him. Tanby and Garud offer better value and have every chance of winning. Take Garud for the win and trifecta him with Mourayan and Tanby, boxing in Exceptionally for some insurance.

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