And now for the important bit! I hope you've read the rest of the preview, otherwise it feels like I've wasted a lot of time...
Viewing from inside the course after about 500m, still well short of the first turn.
Expecting a solid early pace where they string out passing the post the first time, no notable interference and any horse who wants to get in, can. The above graphic probably gets stretched even further if there is genuine competition for the lead. But pace maps are hard enough to nail in a six-horse race let alone a 24-runner handicap worth Steve Austin (the original). Last year's map was all based around early speed and then Kingfisher got smashed out of the gates and it all went tits up, chaos theory reigned and a 100/1 shot got the chocolates.
There are enough out & out stayers in this field to want a war of attrition. And whether it's deemed team tactics or not, when you have a big hand from Godolphin and Lloyd Williams, they will ride to set up a contest for the best horse to prevail.
Two horses get into this race 'light' - Hartnell and Oceanographer, meaning if the handicapper had another go at setting their weights now, they'd both go up two to four kilos. Both possess the sprint to catch the leaders off a solid pace, if they avoid those falling off the pace from the 800m and are in position to unwind as they straighten. Oceanographer unleashed a ridiculous 56.81 for the last 1000m on Saturday, that'd win decent quality sprint races but this field is much stronger. Hartnell has been set for this race and will be much better suited in the wide open spaces of Flemington rather than the wet camber of the Valley.
The Japanese horse will get them running along, he has no interest in the Australian sit-sprint style, or the European gradual build-up of the speed. Tommy Berry knows if he can run them off their legs, most of them will lose their acceleration when it counts. But, if he happens to miss the start, it could mess the speed hypothesis up completely.
Ratings, in predicted finishing order
Who Shot The Barman
Sir John Hawkwood
Rose of Virginia
which leaves a trifecta something like this:
$72 for 50%
Work out your own win and place bets around the top few. Best of luck everyone!