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Toorak Handicap preview

Caulfield's great day of racing doesn't stop with the 'stallion maker' race, the Toorak Handicap is one of Melbourne's great races. A traditionally tough mile race under handicap conditions. Providing the preview for this great contest is Melbourne form expert Racetrack Ralphy Horowitz, @rtralphy, whose work can be found on his iPhone app, or now via his website which offers a lot more premium content - Racetrack Ralphy.

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Toorak Handicap G1 1600m

1. Linton $12 Was a monster-looking run first-up here last start when fifth after covering ground near the speed over 1400, and notionally should be improved second up over the mile. That race wasn't overly quick early, and for mine covering ground for him as a strong fresh horse wasn't a disadvantage. As such second-up and still under the big weight, he'll need all the breaks to go his way.

2. Solzhenitsyn $5 Just didn't get a chance to roll with his usual strength and momentum last start after a monster first-up chasing effort behind Riva de Lago when serving it up to the high-balling Rain Affair. He should leap and peak here third-up off that, and despite 6kgs more than last year, is up to it as a proven strong weight carrier.

3. Luckygray Was strong late last start when closing hard in traffic. His WA form is best at this distance, and he looks to be set for this in his first prep for Smerdon. A chance with all the breaks for the big-race specialist at this track in Dunn.

4. December Draw Finished OK last start here over 1400 at $51 and should be better suited here over the mile. Rodd will probably bowl him forward and make it a staying test suiting his 2000 ability.

5. Ferlax May have peaked when second to Atlantic Jewel two starts back and even with some Ollie magic steering, has to leap in performance from his last run AND overcome the poor barrier. His Australian Guineas win was in fast time over this distance.

6. Speediness $12 Was a monster closing run in the Rupert Clark over 1400 and notionally should be suited by the extra distance here. However the barrier and his racing style almost commits him to right back and looping the field and that is a tough ask.

7. Budriguez Is bulldog tough when out in front and happy, having won an amazing 12 races through his career, but he hasn't finished close enough at either start this time in to follow here.

8. Yosei Is a spiker who generally puts in one monster run per prep. However she last won in June 2011, and that is the profile of an animal I avoid.

9. Lord of Brazil $12 Is a monster closing animal who didn't get the race shape to suit second up behind Blackie under 60kgs without market love. Baster needs to find the right back, and if the leaders are slowing, he could be hard to hold out with luck.

10. Mouro $10 Trialled like a bomb leading into his first-up run here over 1400 on a wet deck when unfortunately the luck just didn't come from his inside alley on a fence off day. He was super last prep beating Beaten Up prior to that galloper winning a Qld Group 1, before being picked off by Speediness. Bossy rides and still on the up with minimum weight. Has to be a strong chance.

11 Centennial Park $15 Was acceptable two starts back when stuck near the cooking Rain Affair speed, before looming without the killer punch behind Rain Drum last start with 59kgs. He should get a cheap run and carries the minimum weight which is rare for this horse. Obviously a chance in a wide race.

12. Trevieres Has good French handicap form but who knows how that lines up here? Will market weight but hope it gets beaten due to lack of exposed data and vision.

13. Dany The Fox Had every possible chance last start when 2.7L tenth as as such it's hard to see where the improvement comes from.

14. Mutual Trust Was negatively ridden last start and put in a good late surge when the race was over. Has some good quality Northern Hemisphere runs on his CV so can he leap forward off that last run? He is entitled to be good odds.

15. Blackie Is back racing well after a "lost" couple of years. Put in a strong mid-race surge to run away with a 1500m handicap at the Valley when in the right spot. This is much tougher and the race shape is unlikely to be as kind, so will be risking.

16. Transporter $12 Could be the sleeper here and particularly so if he can jump cleanly which he often doesn't. He's won eight races in Qld with four of them (and another four placings) from nine starts this distance. His winter form holds up with both Solzhenitsyn (beaten a head at level weights when a well-backed second favourite) and Foreteller (third to his second with a nose between them at 1800 Group 2 level) and significantly both of these runs were under 59kgs at WFA. His Randwick and Rosehill starts have both been acceptable with 57kgs in strong races.

17.Bass Strait $10 Has stepped it up a serious level this prep, starting off with two super closing efforts with the second a monsterand unlucky finish behind Fiorente when 1.0L fifth. He followed it up in a contrasting high pressure race here over 1700 when able to hang on best late in a comfortable win in a terrific overall time. If he springs rather than gets flattened off that, he can win.

Speed Map



Summary
As you'd expect from a 17 horse handicap mile, this is an open race! SOLZHENITSYN looks set to peak for back-to-back wins and for mine is entitled to be favourite. Outside of that it's really open. MOURO also looks set to peak and ticks every box from a jockey, trainer, barrier, distance, weight, form and fitness perspective and that's a fair start! BASS STRAIT is shaping great this time in and is the one I'm worried about running naked for me. SPEEDINESS for mine is overbet due to his hard-charging run last start as he gets McDonald (poor Melbourne stats) and a poor barrier, and LINTON also looks a bit short due to his wide run last start. For mine the best roughies are TRANSPORTER who lines up well with the favourite and CENTENNIAL PARK who gets a cheap run with monster weight relief and strong Sydney data.

SUGGESTED BET: 5 win units SOLZHENITSYN. 2 win units MOURO and TRANSPORTER. 1 win unit CENTENNIAL PARK. And hope!

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