Perhaps the best day of the Melbourne 'autumn' carnival tomorrow with a day full of black ptype races, including three Group 1s. The richest race of the day is Melbourne's juvenile jewel, the Blue Diamond Stakes for 2yo. There have been some superstars win this over the years, such as Sepoy, Alinghi, Bel Esprit, Redoute's Choice, Lady Jakeo, Zeditave, Bounding Away, Rancher and Manikato.
How does this year's field compare? Let's ask new contributor Bill Janetschek, @billyjtweets. You can read more of his work on his site - Third Dividend.
Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes
Group 1, 2yo, 1200m, $1.5m
Caulfield 1645 local, 0545 GMT
Having a look at the line up, Extreme Choice is one of the three horses that Mick Price has in the race, two of which lead the market, Extreme Choice and Flying Artie. Extreme Choice is drawn out in barrier 12 while Flying Artie jumps from barrier 16. Not surprising here is the fact that both favourites have drifted out with the barriers. When you look at these sort of races, sometimes the over-reaction is that horses in the outside barriers tend to drift, while horses in the inside barriers tend to firm. And that's been the case here because the punters have just shied away a little bit from the Price pair and have wanted to be on Concealer and Samara Dancer since the barrier draw. But the market still has Extreme Choice as the favourite at $2.80 fixed TAB and Flying Artie $5.00 fixed TAB. Concealer and Samara Dancer are both currently $6.50 chances. Then, a decent jump for Star Turn at $11.00 and another good jump to Miss Nymeria at $23.00, then $26.00 for Zamzam and longer the rest.
The quality of this race is outstanding. The times that these horses have been running have been super. The temperature will be around 26c with fine weather leading up the the Blue Diamond. The track should be in perfect order and I think the way the race will be run, it will be tempo-related so I'm not looking for any bias. I think it'll play rather fair and there's certainly a lot of quality.
Looking at the speedmap, I think that Extreme Choice will come across and lead from barrier 12. Hell Of An Effort is another on-pace runner that will be close to the fence along with Star Turn and Areti. Selenia is drawn wide in barrier 17 and should be on-pace, followed by Samara Dancer, Valliano and Highland Beat.
In the Blue Diamond Prelude-Fillies at Caulfield on 13/02/16, Samara Dancer beat Concealer by a length, with Miss Nymeria running third, Selenia fourth. Samara Dancer had a beautiful run in this race. She didn't have to travel too wide and once she got clear in the straight, she really picked up nicely and won fairly well. She will need a little bit of luck here because I think she will be back off the speed and will have to extricate getting into position but you had to like this performance.
I don't think that Concealer will have to get back as far as she did in the Prelude. She did over race a bit when she was in the back of the tail of the field so I think with the genuine tempo this race is going to be run at, I think Concealer with the position that she's drawn, can get into a mid-field spot, and if she does, she can unleash a pretty strong finish, and the 1200m is going to suit her a lot better than what the 1100m did.
Miss Nymeria has been getting back in her races but she has been drawing wide gates. I don't think she'll have the speed from barrier 2 to get herself in a mid-field spot. If she does, it remains to be seen wheter she can finish off well but her two recent runs have been excellent from back in the field to produce some pretty slick times, in regards to the day.
I thought Selenia stuck on really well in the Prelude and showed a lot of speed. If she gets a run, she can go well here and be right up there. The other horse that I liked in that event was Zamzam. She was held up for a short time but I think there will be a lot of improvement with this horse and the 1200m will be much better for her. I think she will run a good race. Something to note, Sweet Sherry didn't have a lot of luck in the Prelude.
Flying Artie overcame quite a few hurdles in the Blue Diamond Prelude-C&G, particularly around the home turn where he got bumped by the runner on his inside on several occasions, but got up and ran down Star Turn. There's no doubt that Flying Artie can be much closer than what he was on this day, he's drawn out rather wide again, and again, he hasn't got the favours with the wide barrier. It was clear that he didn't want to be in the spot that he was on the day but to actually pick up and sprint well from where he was and close off the way he did in this race, I thought it was an excellent performance. As I said, no favours with the barrier on Saturday, which is the big worry. So what does Damien Oliver do? I think if he jumps well (this time), and he gets away, Oliver can have him in the first 6, because he has shown speed. There's no doubt that Flying Artie is a force to be reckoned with in this race.
I think you also have to like Star Turn here because it's one of the horses that can show early speed. It looks like the tempo & speed is going to be out wide so if he can just sit off the tempo and get a drag off the horses in front of him, then I think he could show a pretty good finish because he has a lot of ability. And at the moment, I think that Star Turn represents pretty good odds ($10.00/$3.00 fixed TAB).
China Dream had no luck on speed. Flying Artie got the drag behind China Dream so that run was full of merit. Power Trip also made up some ground and looks overs at $61.00/$14.33 fixed TAB.
Now on to the favourite, Extreme Choice. He really showed his ability in his first go in Sydney with Glyn Schofield onboard. Lots of speed, pulled away and then at Caulfield, he continued to roll forward for Damien Oliver. Granted it was a small field and he really didn't get pressured that much up on the speed and he didn't get away as well as he could have but he picked up well between the 800m-600m and then backed off between the 600m-400m. Keep in mind that the rail was out 9m. The rail on Saturday will be in the True position and as such, I don't think that he will have it as easy as he did last time. My feeling is that Extreme Choice is a false favourite ($2.80/$1.40 fixed TAB) which is too short for mine anyway, I think he is vulnerable.
In conclusion, I think that Concealer and Samara Dancer will be the main two in the Blue Diamond. I really like Concealer ($6.50/$2.22) and think she will be really hard to beat, from Samara Dancer ($6.50/$2.22), Star Turn ($10.00/$3.00), and Flying Artie ($5.50/$2.00), My Long Shot is Areti ($61.00/$14.33).