Sport Racing Can Waller do it again? Emirates Stakes Day preview and tips
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Can Waller do it again? Emirates Stakes Day preview and tips

turn me loose horse
Turn Me Loose won the 2015 edition of the famous race. Photo: Getty
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Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival is coming to an end.

We’ve seen it all this year: superstar mare Winx, unruly crowds, Almandin’s Melbourne Cup glory, the rise of trainer Ciaron Maher, Usain Bolt, and a 138-1 (yes, that’s right) winner of the Crown Oaks.

But there’s still one big day left, as the $2 million Emirates Stakes gets its chance as the new showpiece race of the carnival’s final day.

The Emirates Stakes is essentially the old Mackinnon Stakes, the 2000m weight-for-age race that used to run on Derby Day.

It is an excellent race and with more money on offer this year, five of the beaten Cox Plate brigade feature as the Group 1 race’s revamp was designed to do.

Among the trainers to take on Winx and Chris Waller in the Cox Plate at the Valley was Darren Weir with Black Heart Bart, but his only horse on Saturday will be Palentino, who is looking to return to form.

The master trainer wasn’t exuding confidence with the Australian Guineas winner on Thursday, but said the horse had come through his last-start 11th in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes on Derby Day well enough.

black heart bart horse
Jockey Mark Zahra will hope for another win on Black Heart Bart. Photo: Getty

“He’s come through [the Cantala Stakes run] well, but we’re just hoping,” Weir told The New Daily.

It is Waller who Weir should be most wary of, with Endless Drama – who has not ran in Australia before – looming as a major threat.

Endless Drama won a trial by eight lengths last month, while Tivaci, at big odds, The United States and Awesome Rock should all be in the mix.

Runner-by-runner analysis

happytrails1 – Happy Trails (Barrier – 8, Form – 75×850)
Trainer: Paul Beshara, Jockey: Dwayne Dunn

Old warhorse, but best is behind him.

hauraki2 – Hauraki (1, 2×1218)
John O’Shea, James McDonald

He won a 1600m Group 1 two starts back. Was only four-and-a-half lengths off Hartnell in Cox Plate.

theunitedstates3 – The United States (11, 12×614)
Robert Hickmott, Kerrin McEvoy

Had Hauraki’s measure in a 2000m weight-for-age Group 1 in the autumn, and was a huge effort to run fourth in the Cantala Stakes.

happyclapper4 – Happy Clapper (13, 3×5646)
Patrick Webster, Brenton Avdulla

Was only three lengths off Hartnell in the Cox Plate, and also ran well in the 2000m Queen Elizabeth Stakes in the autumn.

vadamos5 – Vadamos (7, 41214)
Andre Fabre, Damien Oliver

Led the Cox Plate field out, and was game to the line considering. Fitter for it.

awesomerock6 – Awesome Rock (9, 01555)
Leon and Troy Corstens, Stephen Baster

Also battled on well in the Cox Plate, and returns to the same track/trip conditions of his infamous Australian Cup run.

endlessdrama8 – Endless Drama (4, 2x3915x)
Chris Waller, Craig Williams

Hyped import comes into a strong stable. He could be anything first-up in Australia.

palentino9 – Palentino (5, 45100)
Darren Weir, Mark Zahra

The Australian Guineas winner has been out of luck at his past two, but can atone here.

vanbrugh10 – Vanbrugh (10, 9×5491)
Chris Waller, Ben Melham

A last-start winner over 2000m, but steps up in class here.

tivaci11 – Tivaci (12, 1×2633)
Mike Moroney, Patrick Moloney

Weight-for-age conditions don’t suit, but Moroney seems to have figured him out. Blowout chance.

goodstanding12 – Good Standing (3, 95371)
James Cummings, Chad Schofield

The Caulfield Classic winner bypassed VRC Derby for this.

seaburge13 – Seaburge (2, 45428)
David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig, Dean Yendall

Caulfield Guineas runner-up taking on the older horses again, after not much luck in the Cantala Stakes.

Luke Sheehan’s Emirates Stakes tips:

1. Endless Drama
2. Tivaci
3. The United States
4. Awesome Rock

Other Saturday selections:

Darley Classic: The Quarterback
Maribyrnong Plate: Aspect
Queen Elizabeth Stakes: De Little Engine
Matriarch Stakes: Amarela

Luke Sheehan is a journalist at racing.com

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