Friday, 22 February 2013

Futurity Stakes preview

Saturday's card at Caulfield is a cracker, three Group One races and a very good support programme. There's a 2yo feature for big bucks, a fantastic sprint handicap and a weight-for-age contest featuring some of the best in the land. Taking on the wfa contest is Tom Stewart, @tstewcav26, returning after a successful stint in the spring carnival.

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2013 Futurity Stakes

The Futurity Stakes is a Group 1 event over 1400m held under weight-for-age conditions. It is traditionally a springboard for middle-distance horses and staying horses heading to the likes of the Doncaster and the Australian Cup. Some of the all time greats have won this race including the champion Manikato who was able to win this race three years in a row along with other greats such as Vo Rogue and in recent times it was won by perhaps the greatest horse we have ever seen, Black Caviar. This year we will see the highly talented three year old All too hard taking on the older horses here as the race favourite. It will be interesting to see how the race plays out as the field is comprised of a majority of staying horses resuming including last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon.

#1 Green Moon (1)- We all know the ability that this horse has and despite this race being run over an unsuitable distance it would not surprise me one bit if he was able to run over the top of them here. In hindsight it was silly of everyone to doubt him in the Melbourne cup, in a race where there was likely to be no speed and from the handy barrier Brett Prebble was able to be positive and when the sprint was on the horse with the best turn of the foot put them away comfortably. From barrier one I think Prebble will look to sit handy maybe fourth on the rail with cover and bide his time until the straight when the sprint is on. If he has returned from this spell with the same turn of foot we saw in the Melbourne Cup Green Moon could be too smart for them here. Slight concern here is the fact that he hasn’t won previously at weight-for-age although he has placed and is a champion horse so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Big threat!

#2 King Mufhasa (7) - Last year’s winner and the horse that will be set the pace in this race. In his first up run in the CF Orr he was put under significant pressure by a few horses trying to lead around him and ultimately set up the race perfectly for All Too Hard to come over the top of them. This race is a different story as there is not a lot of pace in the race and with a few stayers resuming there are not many other horses that will be competing for the lead. Despite drawing wide in barrier seven, Rodd should be able to get across and hold the rail pretty easy here so if he can control the race at a slow tempo then King Mufhasa will be very hard to run down. As an eight year old he might struggle to beat this field but I have no doubt he will be a chance. Slight chance.

#3 Mourayan (6)- Returning from a promising spring with the Australian Cup and later autumn staying races in mind, this race could be a bit out of his reach. Considering the fact that he has never won at this distance and has a poor first up record I cant see him figuring in this race. However he will be an important factor in this race as he can be on speed or handy box seating third or fourth on the rail. How much pressure he puts on the leader will determine the pace in the race. If he box seats and the race is run at a slow tempo he may be able to sneak into the placings but I can’t see him figuring here. Not for me.

#4 Glass Harmonium (9) - Glass Harmonium is an intriguing runner in this race and how he jumps will be pivotal to his chances in the race. Undoubtedly he is better suited when he is able to bowl along on the pace and has won a Group One in the same fashion although he has a tendency to miss the start and this could be an issue first up. From a wide gate Arnold will no doubt be looking for the front if his mount is able to jump on terms with them. If he can jump on terms and share the lead or take the lead from King Mufhasa he will be a big chance in this race as he has won first up and over the 1400m before. This all depends on how he jumps and as I said if he is tardy out of the gates I would completely rule him out of the race because he is a totally different horse when ridden cold as opposed to when he is bowling along in front. If things go his way he could pinch this race but place preferred.

#5 Maluckyday (5)- Another stayer resuming here who will be better suited over a long distance and a bigger track. We all know he is a seriously talented stayer having run a close second to Americain in the 2010 Melbourne cup although he has had some injury setbacks and it may take him a few runs to hit his peak. Coming back from injury Brad Rawiller will be very confident and excited to ride again so he will be giving his mount every chance in this race. He would need almost double this distance, with the Sydney Cup his likely target, to be competitive and I can’t find a spot for him in this race. Can’t see him figuring here.

#6 Niwot (2) – Similar to his stablemate Maluckyday, his race will be further down the road in the autumn with his likely target being the Sydney Cup. As an eight year old they will be too sharp for him here and when the sprint is on in the straight I think Niwot will struggle to keep up. For a horse that generally likes to get back it will be interesting to see how Holland rides him from barrier two. I can see him maybe three pairs back midfield with cover and either staying there or going back when the sprint is on. Look for him to feature in the staying races this autumn but this race is not for him.

#7- Shanghai Warrior (10) - This horse raised some eyebrows in late winter last year when he beat the talented sprinter Golden archer in a Listed race at Flemington. However he has struggled to win a race since then and you can’t help but wonder what happened to this horse. He showed nothing in his first up run finishing last although there was some promise in his second up run, running fourth behind the speedy Adebisi in the Rubiton two weeks ago. From barrier 10 and with Bossy on board, it will be very interesting to see where he is in the running. He is not traditionally a front-running horse although it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Bossy was positive and went forward. Despite everything I don’t believe he is up to this grade and can’t see him figuring in this Group 1 contest.

#8 Lights Of Heaven (8) - By Zabeel this mare is going to be more effective over more ground. However she has a good turn of foot and is competitive first up. On her home track I can see her running an eye-catching run here. From a wide gate I expect Nolen to settle towards the rear and if the pace is on she will be storming home late. Possibly a race like the Ranvet or BMW will be her target this autumn but I wouldn’t be surprised if she ran a big race here. Place chance.

#9 Koonoomoo (3)- After two promising runs back from a spell she looks set for a big race and this distance should suit very well. Her best run was in her only start over 1400m when she showed a devastating turn of foot to put away her rivals in the Herald-Sun last spring. Where she gets from barrier three will be interesting because if she gets smothered and stuck on the rail three or four pairs back Baster may struggle to get her into clear running. She will be banking on a solid tempo in the race and if the pace isn’t on she won’t figure in this race. If things go her way she will run a big race and could run a place.

#10 All Too Hard (4) - The race favourite and understandably so after his impressive first-up win in the CF Orr Stakes over the same distance. Although he would be better suited over a longer distance he will be fitter from his first-up run and extremely hard to beat in this race. His record in Melbourne is outstanding with five starts for four wins and a close second behind the weight-for-age champion Ocean Park. With the lack of speed in this race I think Dunn will be a bit more positive than last start and maybe look to settle midfield from the good barrier and unleash the star colt around the home turn to run over the top of the front runners. This horse is a superstar and should win here and back up and win the Australian guineas next week, he is A Grade! Rates very highly for me.

Betting Strategy:

#10 All Too Hard looks well in here and I see him as the winner in this race, for those big punters out there that want to put a big bet on I suggest taking odds of around $1.60-1.70 now because it won’t last on Saturday.

Alternatively those looking for value may want to consider a standout trifecta in the following order:
1st- #10
2nd- #1, #2
3rd- #1, #2, #8, #9

For a $1 unit, it will cost you $6.

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