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Makybe Diva Stakes preview

First official meeting of the Melbourne spring today and what a fantastic card to bet on! The stars are out en masse, with plenty of rising stars and plenty of thoroughbreds born on foreign shores in action. Welcome back to the blog Tom Stewart, @tstewcav26, with his look at the feature race of the day, the Makybe Diva Stakes, honouring the greatest staying mare Australia has ever seen.

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Makybe Diva Stakes

The Makybe Diva Stakes is a standard weight for age race run over 1600m at Flemington. Formerly a Group Two race, it has proved a springboard for many of the topline horses heading towards the spring feature races, which has seen it elevated to Group One status.

Southern Speed, Shocking, Weekend Hussler and Northerly are just a few horses that have won this race on route to spring features such as the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. This year’s edition will see the Melbourne Cup favourite, Puissance De Lune, attempt to prove his worth against an array of classy stayers and progressive weight for age horses.

1 – Manighar (4): Failed to capture the same form last preparation that saw him win the BMW last year. As an eight year old I question whether he has the same turn of foot that saw him win first-up over this distance early last year. With his campaign likely to culminate with a Melbourne Cup start; this is more likely to be a barrier trial for prize money than a winning race for him. However if anyone is able to get a horse to fire first up it is the premier trainer Peter Moody. I couldn’t back him and I can’t see him being competitive here.

2 – Mourayan (2): Similarly to Manighar, Mourayan will be more at home over longer distances and will no doubt be set for the first Tuesday of November again. It’s no secret that he is a one-paced horse and when the other horses are producing their sprint at the top of the straight he will be flat-footed and unable to pick them up. He will be long odds in this race and that will be telling when he is most likely tailing off in the last 400. Not for me.

3 – Mr Moet (14): Perth galloper who has returned with two barrier trial wins over 1450m. Last preparation he ran an eye-catching third against champion three year old All Too Hard first up over 1400m. His first-up record suggests that he will be competitive here, with three wins from five starts. From the wide barrier I expect him to tail off and be steaming home late towards the finish. Has been backed early in the pre-post markets. Place chance.

4 – Ethiopia (11): Talented galloper who raised eyebrows with an outstanding performance to claim the Australian Derby last year. Since then he has failed to repeat that performance and has no doubt been a frustrating horse for punters to follow. His poor record at Flemington and first-up record suggests that he won't be overly competitive in this race. From the wide draw he will most likely go back and finish late. Not this race.

5 – Foreteller (9): A horse with plenty of ability and on his day has a devastating turn of foot. He showed this when he ran down Fiveandahalfstar to win the Ranvet during the autumn and has shown it to win over 1400m first up. His first up run in the Warwick stakes was enormous, considering that he is a horse that likes to wind up on bigger tracks. Has only won second up once, however, I’ve learnt never to doubt Chris Waller and I think he will be very competitive here. From barrier nine I expect him to settle mid field and be amongst the placegetters at the end. Good chance.

6 – Sea Moon (3): Former British galloper now with Robert Hickmott at Macedon Lodge. A two-time Group Two winner, Sea Moon has serious ability and will be one to watch from the Lloyd Williams team this spring. He has won over the mile before and boasts an impressive first up record (5:3-1-0). From barrier 3 with Craig Williams on board I expect that he will be positive and have this horse somewhere close to the speed. Recent exhibition gallops suggest that he will be forward enough to be competitive here and I see him being right there in the finish. Good chance.

7 – December Draw (12): Group One winner with a lot of ability. Looked to be a staying type two years ago when he was installed as the Caulfield Cup favourite, however, over recent times his better performances have been over middle distances. Mark Kavanagh has made amendments to the way he has trained this horse and stated that he will be aimed at races between 1600-2000m. The addition of blinkers for the first time suggests to me that they are trying to sharpen him up and he will be ready to fire for this first up tilt. The wide barrier poses a threat to his chances but with Scobie breasley medal winner, Michael Rodd, aboard I’m sure he will give him every chance. Maybe a place.

8 – Puissance De Lune (5): The Melbourne Cup favourite and rightly so. He is a star in the making and Glen Boss isn’t shy when talking about this horse. His first up win over 1400m at Caulfield was outstanding and suggests that he will only get better as he gets over more ground. The mile and big track at Flemington will suit this horse perfectly and Glen Boss has the flexibility to either sit handy or go back and charge late with this horse. I’m very confident about this horse's chances and I think he will be winning and winning comfortably. The one to beat.

9 – Tuscan Fire (1): Progressive staying type who is stepping up in grade dramatically here. His recent form suggests that he is flying and his record at Flemington is very good. With the Caulfield Cup in his sights I would expect that he might run a cheeky race here, but is obviously outclassed by this field. I can’t see him being a threat, However, Dan O’Sullivan has a big opinion of the horse so he could be in with a rough chance. Not up to this class.

10 – Masked Marvel (13): Group One winning international who is a new addition to the Hickmott stable. Although he has won over the mile, his breeding suggests that he will be suited over longer distances. Fires first up having won two of his four first-up runs. I would expect from the wide barrier he will get back and be left flat-footed when the faster horses are sprinting. Not this race.

11 – Waldpark (8): Another international runner first up for a new stable. Won the German Derby as a three year old and has been competitive in Group One company since. With the Caulfield Cup as his likely target this spring I don’t think he will have the sprint to win here first up. Has a decent first up record, however, he has never won below 1800m. From barrier eight I expect him to settle midfield and hit the line late. Anthony Freedman may have injected some speed into his legs but I can’t see him winning here. Not for me.

13 – Moudre (6): Looked to be a promising stayer when he ran second behind Melbourne cup winner, Americain, in the 2010 geelong cup. However, he has only managed to win one race since then and has dropped off quite a bit since. First up record suggests he may run well and he has won at this distance before. Looks to be punching well above his weight here. Outclassed.

14 – Bit of Hell (15): International galloper who is now in his second preparation with Mick Price. His first up run he looked flat and perhaps the Caulfield track didn’t suit him. Second up at Flemington I think he will be ready for improvement but I cant see him being competitive with these horses. The wide draw will most likely see him get back and I think he will stay in the back half of the field. Not this race.

15 – Let’s Make Adeal (7): Scored impressively first up against the well fancied Castzleberg. Looks to be a mare on the rise and Nigel Blackiston obviously has a fair opinion of her, running her second up in a group one. From a decent draw and with in form hoop Damian Lane on board I think she will run a very honest race. If there were such things as first five’s, she would be my fifth selection. Maybe a place.

Summary:

Puissance De Lune is a genuine star in the making and I expect him to win his first group one this Saturday comfortably and I expect it wont be his last. Foreteller will be finishing hard but won’t be able to match it with Puissance De Lune. Lookout for Sea Moon and Mr Moet who will also be finishing strong and no doubt have races later in the spring on there agenda.

Betting Strategy:

I’m not usually one to take short odds but Puissance De Lune looks like a good thing for me. For those that bet big I suggest you load up, For others that are looking for value I suggest you take a trifecta or first four and stand out the favourite and box Foreteller, Sea Moon and Mr Moet.

1-Puissance De Lune
2-Foreteller
3-Sea Moon
4-Mr Moet

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