One of the great days of the Australian season is Super Saturday at Flemington with the running of the G1 Australian Cup and the G1 Newmarket Handicap.
The Cup pits the Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente against the Cox Plate winner Shamus Award with the added spice of the previous Melbourne Cup hero Green Moon as well. The big sprint has last year’s quinella back as well as the Oakleigh Plate trifecta and other noted G1 performers for good measure.
In NSW, Saturday racing returns to Warwick Farm for one of the few times a year and it is a sensational meeting. The only G1 race conducted there is the Chipping Norton Stakes won the last two years by Shoot Out. The Chipping Norton has seen some sparkling performances including Shane Dye’s great ride on Octagonal when he took off 800m out and made it a staying test in 1997. Tie The Knot also was a legend of this race having won it four times in a row which is a record for G1s in Australia.
This week sees a potential Golden Slipper shaping Lonhro Plate, a good Liverpool City Cup with EL ROCA able to run this week after his late scratching at Rosehill and a high quality Surround Stakes with so many contenders for both the fillies and open female feature races entered.
The rail is in the true and earlier in the week it was rated a Heavy track. So often that is a very conservative reading however rain, by whatever amount, was predicted each day this week. Working on a track with a little give in it but you would hope it won’t be too bad.
Warwick Farm Race 7 – Group 2 Surround Stakes (1400)
This years rendition of the Group 2 Surround Stakes sees a class field of 3YO fillies clash. Many come through the natural lead-up race, the Light Fingers over 1200m held on February 22. It was there we saw 1 GUELPH start a short price favourite, only to tire late and finish in the second half of the field. 6 CHAMPAGNE CATH led the field up in the Light Fingers and is likely to kick up and do the same here. 2 SWEET IDEA has drawn wide and is likely to work across and settle in the first couple. They should go at a reasonable clip.
Many “experts” were talking up the trial of 1 GUELPH leading into her first-up run but we must have been watching a different trial. While she was not bad, she definitely didn’t go as well as many were spruiking. She subsequently started at a price we were very happy to risk. There was one particular aspect of that trial that cast doubt over how she would go fresh and her below par performance was no surprise. Admittedly, she did have excuses and was the victim of an average ride but she was a little flat. No doubt she can improve here but barrier 13 of 13 is definitely not ideal. No shock to see her go back, find cover and be produced late with a powerful finish.
2 SWEET IDEA was simply too strong and fit for her rivals in that same race and she will be hard to topple again here. Winner of three from three this prep, she is in super form and looks a key player again. No problem with the barrier for her.
We gave a huge wrap to the trials of blackbooker 4 GYPSY DIAMOND leading into that first up run and her performance was sensational, but no surprise in the slightest. Amazingly she started close to triple figures on the exchange and we hope a number of followers collected on her huge price to place. Barring a flat second-up performance, which can happen, she has drawn perfectly in 3 and can run another bottler. Again, suspect she will go around at over her true price.
Chances must be conceded to 7 ARABIAN GOLD and 8 ZANBAGH at big odds also. Both made up a lot of ground in that Light Fingers and are likely to go around at good odds again. While both would probably appreciate further, they both fly in rain affected conditions and look players at good value.
Whilst 2 SWEET IDEA again looks like the one they have to beat here, we definitely feel a couple of these represent value. 4 GYPSY DIAMOND, 7 ARABIAN GOLD and 8 ZANBAGH can definitely figure. A must for exotics and quadrella players. No doubting the talent of 1 GUELPH and she can improve but again leaning to others.
Flemington Race 2 – MSS Security Plate 1100m
They don’t trial much better than 13. SON SENORAS. Leading into her first up demolition at Mornington The Trial Files comment about her Cranbourne trial read:
“SON SENORAS absolutely pinged the lids from a wide stall and pounced on the front. She continued to increase his margin under his own steam and was angled to the outside of the track rounding the home turn. She had a furlong on the other horses and did it all under her own steam. Outstanding trial. 10/10.”
The Clinton McDonald trained filly was heavily backed in pre-post markets leading into her first up run but drifted alarmingly in the last 10 minutes of betting. She jumped well and controlled the race from the outset, never looking in any doubt winning by 2.5L and running solid time in the process. She looks an above average filly who is ready to take the step up in grade here.
13. SON SENORAS will look to lead early along with 14. HARD STRIDE, 5. ANATINA and 12. SHADES OF BELLA. There will be no loading early but often the harder they go down the straight the better chance the leaders have of spacing the field out and hanging on over the concluding stages.
The Smerdon pair of 5. ANATINA and 9. POLITENESS both took our eye in recent trials.
In her most recent trial 5. ANATINA jumped nicely and settled outside the leader, travelling very nicely. She drifted out to the centre of the track on the home turn and was allowed to cruise to the line under he own steam.
9. POLITENESS trialled extremely well on the 11th February at Cranbourne and then was given a noticeably quiet trial on the 24th at the same track. Suspect she is going very well leading into this first up tilt and she will prove the main danger to 13. SON SENORAS.
This is a race we are keen to play in – we will be betting right up on 13. SON SENORAS and 9. POLITENESS. The David Hayes trained 2. GREGERS is a must-include in all multiples getting back to his own age group here after a slashing first up run in the Oakleigh Plate.
Ascot Race 4 – 3yo+ Handicap (1200m)
For our speed map please click here.
Only a small field, but this looks a very interesting affair with a promising three year old taking on the older horses. The top weight 1 FULL CLIP is very consistent having been in the money at 17 of his 26 career starts. His two most recent runs have been good over the 1000m and he looks well placed stepping up to the 1200m. From barrier 1 he should get the suck run behind the leaders and the 3kg claim will definitely assist.
Questions were asked about the ride on 4 VENGABUS last start and rightly so. A horse that usually races very close to the speed was ridden back in the field while the stable mate strolled along in the lead and won easily after being backed $17 to $10 late. With no stable mate engaged and a good barrier draw, he will race on pace today and will be hard to run down.
5 SOARING LAD is likely to sit outside 4 VENGABUS and continue his consistent career. He was solid first up when sticking on behind WAR PRINCE and 4 VENGABUS. He has had two second up starts for a win and a place and you would be a brave man to say he couldn’t finish top three today.
The filly 8 FLYING ZOE was scratched from Wednesday for this and was good last time when finishing strongly behind FIDDLERS ELBOW. She always needs luck in her races with her racing style, but the small field should suit, provided she gets into the clear at the right time.
Vaughn Sigley looks to have picked this race out for 10 HE OR SHE as he has nominated him in at least five races over the past couple of weeks (including three this weekend) and specifically picked this one out. His win on debut was simply stunning for those who saw it. He almost fell at the start, then drove up to settle just back of midfield, then came straight through the middle of the field for any easy win. He should be able to settle just worse than midfield off the fence and in the small field will be hard to hold out.
10 HE OR SHE can go well here, and continue his rise through the grades. 4 VENGABUS is the hardest to beat. The others mentioned look the best multiple chances.
Ascot Race 4 – 10 HE OR SHE (win)
Flemington Race 2 – 13 SON SENORAS and 9 POLITENESS (back both to WIN)
Warwick Farm Race 7 – See Preview for numbers.