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Oakleigh Plate preview

It's a sensational day of racing at Caulfield on Saturday, the real highlight of Melbourne's 'Festival of Racing', formerly known as the autumn carnival. Nine races including three Group 1s, and the 'poorest' race of them all is a Listed race containing the 2016 Melbourne Cup winner.

Joining the ranks this weekend is Jake Henson, @jwhenson_, industry veteran and shrewd punter who tends to spread his bets for a 'decent' win rather than place all his eggs in one basket.

Note for UK & Irish readers - annoyingly, Caulfield races are not shown on AtTheRaces. You'll need to visit racing.com to watch the races live or later on replay. Or pick up the tweets from @racing.

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Ladbrokes Oakleigh Plate
Group 1, 1100m, Open Handicap.
AU$500,000
Caulfield, Saturday 24/2/18
1645 local, 0545 GMT

Cox Plate aside, the Oakleigh Plate has long been my favorite race in Australia. Why? Because it’s so often a great betting race and this years edition looks no different!

1100m at Caulfield from ‘the chute’ is a start that has its nuances and momentum invariably becomes a key factor. For that reason, I normally like to target horses drawn in the mid to wide barriers that can get rolling before the turn. 

Flamberge’s victory in the 2016 Oakleigh Plate is a perfect example!


Sheidel bucked this trend last year when drawing inside, Faatinah drew midfield but both horses went forward to hold off the fast-finishing horses who drew wide. Those horses; Hellbent and Extreme Choice (who I had running for the national debt) both ran enormous and the tactics on the latter after jumping sweetly... well, they left a lot to be desired!


Onto this year's edition of the race, a capacity field of 18 (two emergencies) and a mouthwatering betting contest. No doubt there is a stack of winning chances but we’re here to deliver our opinions and find value so I’ll happily wield the axe on a few.

The forecast looks mostly dry in the lead-up to race day and then some scattered showers on Saturday. It’s a bit of a guessing game but natural irrigation will certainly be better than Jason Kerr and his team having to turn the sprinklers on! Rail out 3m and I’m expecting the track to play near on perfectly! 

The speed map is busy with more pace drawn mid to wide than is toward the inside. Snitty Kitty, Russian Revolution, Sheidel, Prussian Vixen and Booker are among those drawn out who can inject some early pressure into the race.

Currently, of the 18 runners, there is only five that are in single figures. So, let’s start with them!

Russian Revolution goes in as the favourite and as usual, is trialling superbly. Dominant win fresh in Melbourne last prep over the short course sticks in the mind as does his tough win when backed as if unbeatable in The Galaxy (Redzel second) the preparation prior. He’s got the job done on both firm and rain affected ground and has drawn ideally. A deserved favorite for mine but little value at current price. 

Now to the three-year-old fillies Catchy, Booker and She Will Reign. I’m potting all three of them. All nice horses but all priced to a premium in a race of this depth. Catchy faces a tricky map with the Rat Williams on. Booker does too, she won’t have seen pressure like she will get in this race before. She Will Reign can get in the three-wide-line with cover and is the best winning chance of the 3YO filly group but I don’t want to take $6.50 about a horse that fell in against B and C graders (they ran ok time) last start jumping into a hot open class Group 1. 

Snitty Kitty has long been the horse I had been wanting to bet-up on in this race. Perfect 1100m speedy Caulfield type. Like Sheidel was a few years ago! First-up run was only fair at best and as astute trial judge Matty Welsh pointed out to me midweek, Bons Away had the better of her in a recent jump-out:  is she fit enough to absorb the pressure and ping on the turn? I’m not ready to give up on her but I’m certainly not as excited about seeing $9 or $10 as I thought I would be four weeks ago.

Onto that bloke, Bons Away, who has more upside than Derek Kickett following a big preseason (ED. - Wikipedia link provided for non-Aussie Rules fans). He won two BM64’s and a BM70 last prep before beating Brave Smash over 1200m at Caulfield. Can track this speed in and get into the three-wide line with some cover. It’d be a task but if he wins I won’t be losing!

Hellbent is another very interesting runner. His record at Caulfield and over 1100m is a hell of a lot better than his seven starts for one win and no placings suggest. Suited by the map and his closing splits fresh were every bit as good as Merchant Navy and he did perhaps race in not the best part of the track for the day or race shape. I do note that the blinkers have gone back on for this which is signature DK Weir and he’s still not gelded although having now had 21 starts - is this his Group 1 before stud?

While we can be confident that Ellerton & Zahra runner Flamberge will run well. He always bloody does! Track, distance and class boxes; tick, tick, tick! Can make his own luck and win with pressure on or off, carries weight (if you’re a weights man/woman!) has the gun jockey booking and has drawn well. He just must go in your multiplies and quaddies.

Overall for the race my thoughts are this: I’m taking on the inside draws and also the three-year-old fillies. That leaves enough market percentage on my side to back a few overlays in the race to roughly triple my outlay. I won’t be committing more than 2% of bank to the race.

BETTING STRATEGY

Assuming a 100 unit (total punting) bank;

Snitty Kitty 0.5 units @ $10
Hellbent 0.5 units @ $14 
Bons Away 0.25 units @ GOAT SP or Betfair SP
Flamberge 0.25 units @ $16

*Happy to also chop out on Russian Revolution 0.5 units @ GOAT SP or Betfair SP if he’s out toward $5.50-6 on the day.

*GOAT SP is the new Global Tote product, the higher of Global Tote price or official SP.

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