Betfair Insider Racing Preview

The Betfair Insider is the resident Exchange expert and the go-to for your weekly racing tips. He provides commentary, opinion and educates on all things Thoroughbred racing. Check out the Betfair Hub and the Betfair Exchange for the latest odds.

Caulfield track managers need to take a bow, the surface has performed brilliantly. The rail has moved to the traditional 6m mark for the Cup. I expect it to play again on a Good 3 but some people have forecasted that the rail will be off in the straight, but I want to see it before believing it.

Caulfield R8 | G1 Caulfield Cup 2400m | 4:40pm

Looks a simple race to asses here with two genuine WFA form lines that really stand head and shoulders above the rest.

The Cliffsofmoher made a huge impression last week in the Caulfield Stakes. Ridden cold by Mark Zahra, but really found the line after Benbatl and Blair House put a space on the field. The horse proved himself on the backup at Ascot in June and all reports from Werribee are that he’s taken no harm from Saturday’s run.

He’s a mature WFA galloper with 56.5 kg and historically high weights in this event have less impact on the outcome as opposed to a race like the Melbourne Cup looking at recent history.

The challenger without doubt is Youngstar. Winx form is brilliant and I didn’t like her set up 1500m to 2000m last time in. She came again on the line in the Turnbull Stakes and 2400m looks ideal. Like The Cliffsofmoher, she’s drawn a great barrier.

The only question is whether she can rise to become a Group 1 WFA Star. Waller, like Aidan O’Brien is a master at peaking horses so it’s likely she can make the transition.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK – The Cliffsofmoher for 2 units

 BACK – Youngstar for 1 unit

The forecast for Sydney is bleak after rain for over a week with another 3-6mm on Saturday with the track little to no chance for the track to recover from a heavy surface. The rail at the time of print is a at the true position. By race seven I’m extremely worried the fence will be a major concern.

Randwick R7 | The Everest WFA 1200m | 16:15

For the circus its been in the build-up, they’ve assembled a quality contest worthy of G1 status. The lone international presence of US Navy Flag only is a positive for Australian Punters and on a heavy track I can’t completely put the line through him for a horse that’s won three of four starts on soft rated tracks in Europe. Coolmore have said otherwise but I’ve found dismissing trainer and owner comments is more profitable over the journey.

Redzel had his colours lowered by Santa Ana Lane last time and despite being trained by the Snowden’s there isn’t much in his sectional profile to indicate a sharp return to form. They can race a horse short of a run, but I’d lean towards not going as well as last time, although heavy is a positive and the market probably finds him to well to be any value for mine.

Santa Ana Lane has been a new horse in his past two preparations, Anthony Freedman has figured him out and he races well with sting out. It will be a strong tempo so he’s a major player from a great barrier in nine.

Le Romain is the most exposed wet tracker. Drawn well and off a nice four week freshen, his form carrying topweight in lead up makes him an appealing option at 20/1 in WFA conditions here. Glyn Schofield knows him and he’s the winner if most fail in the conditions.

Trapeze Artist won a Golden Rose off a similar ‘fail’ so I’m wary to dismiss him. He handles the wet better than most will give him credit. Still lightly raced with a good gate, of the short three favourites he’d be the one I’d like to lay the least.

Vega Magic has had the perfect preparation but I’m confident he doesn’t want heavy. The only saving grace is the win over Brave Smash in the listed Regal Roller a year ago. He’s much more effective on dry ground despite being bred to swim.

Brave Smash looks ready to peak here. Placed in this race last year and his performance behind Vega Magic in the Regal Roller was impressive at his first start in Australia. Since then he’s won a Group 1 Futurity at 1400m and improved at each start this time in. He wasn’t suited at Moonee Valley behind Viddora back to 1000m. He appears to be a stronger horse now and I’m confident he’s looking for a wet track.

In Her Time was an Impressive winner of the Sydney Stakes on this day last year. She’s a fresh horse so no knock whatsoever second up her. Will get through the wet ground, has a great barrier and a jockey that tends to pinch these big feature races. Hard to discount.

Shoals is a versatile mare that can generate winning splits from on or off the speed. Like her stablemate Santa Ana Lane the team have finally found the key to getting her to peak performance. Barrier two is the biggest negative so she needs Tim Clark’s best ride to win.

Viddora is drawn perfectly in barrier 12 but how much start can she give class horses around her? Unfashionable jockey and coming off what looked to be a career peak run. What’s left in the tank with her and wary it’s a throw at the stumps. Likely to drift in the market.

Graff dominated the field in the San Domenico, was run of the race in the Run To The Rose and gallant in defeat behind the rising star The Autumn Sun when stretched out to 1400m. He’s now rock hard fit, adept on wet ground, has a great rider, barrier and open to improvement being from an elite stable.

Osborne Bulls is the last to join the field but could SP the biggest outsider and be first past the post. Was set up awfully in the G1 Sir Rupert Clark last time off a setback. Drawn well in barrier five and if he’s not dead last has a powerful finish and will relish 1200m in the wet conditions especially at a track like Randwick with plenty of time to balance up. Tommy Berry rides him for the first time and suits him.

In summary, I want to be backing horses at 10/1 or longer as I can see six chances outside the market. The simplest way to approach the race is to lay the two I feel are least likely to peak.

Bet Recommendation

LAY – Vega Magic & Redzel for 5 units

Flemington will be bathed in sunlight for the 48 hours leading into the meeting with minimal wind. I expect the surface to stay closer to a Good 4 with irrigation to be applied to ‘keep the track from drying out in the heat’.

I’m not saying this will be done for Winx but given the warm temperatures in the lead up. Rail +9m shouldn’t be an issue but off fence as the day wears on is logical with horses to attack the outside fence in straight races.

Flemington R6 | G2 Gilgai Stakes 1200m | 15:40

The Brisbane winter carnival can be the making of some horses. Chris Waller has proven that and looking at the Gilgai Stakes there’s a 4yo that could be ready to take the next step in Group company that may eventuate to a G1 win soon.

Perast put in three great performances at the winter carnival with the latest defeat to the in-form sprinter Santa Ana Lane in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap. Beaten only 2.2 lengths on that occasion on an unsuitable wet track at his sixth start for his preparation!

His latest trial can be viewed here. The most pleasing thing is how he’s relaxing in his work/racing, early in his career he tended to over race and fight his riders. The scratching of Osborne Bulls has left the race wide open.

The biggest negative is Stephen Baster who may find some confidence on Friday night at Moonee Valley which is much needed…

Bet Recommendation

 BACK (WIN) – Perast for 2.5 units

Betfair is a low margin exchange, just like Airbnb. We create markets for punters to take on punters. And we want winners.

Previous Meetings

Randwick has 3-8mm forecast Saturday afternoon but luckily the midweek rain was missed. Expecting a Soft 5 with the rail +3m I expect the track to play relatively fair.

Randwick R5 | G2 Premiere Stakes 1200m | 14:50

Keen to take on Redzel as $3.00 favourite here in a race with five genuine dangers with genuine improvement and at better prices!

Trapeze Artist was huge first up in the Theo Marks with 61kgs on a heavy track. He’ll improve out of sight here and he needs too. Small concern his major target is The Everest but he’s not alone there!

In Her Time is ultra-consistent and whilst only been in the care of Kris Lees for a matter of weeks it’s a positive change. Santa Ana Lane has been a new horse since his last prep. His last four starts all strong picking up two Group 1s along the way. He’ll get back and run on with Stablemate Shoals who was swept off her feet last time at the Valley in the unsuitable McEwen won by Nature Strip.

Invincible Star will cause the favourite headaches in front ensuring the speed will be on. Most of Gai’s improve into their preparation and she must be considered as a knockout at the price.

Bet Recommendation

 LAY (WIN) – Redzel for 5 units

Randwick R7 | G1 Epsom Handicap 1600m | 16:05

Strong renewal of the Epsom handicap. The slow track adds further intrigue and we’ll know the effect of the rain by this stage. The market has installed three runners clear of the main pack and I think the market is close to right.

Firstly D’Argento, Drawn barrier one to get a suck run on the fence midfield. Was an OK second behind Home Of The Brave over 1300m in the Theo Marks stakes but what worries me was that Trapeze Artist was first up that day giving him 5kgs start. There was only a length between them and to my eye D’Argento is racing like a horse that wants 2000m. I’d even argue he’d be better placed in the Underwood Stakes and on a Caulfield Cup path. Waller missed with him in the Doncaster Mile in Autumn when he had the derby at his mercy. Punters were howling when he opted for the shorter course trip.

Unforgotten was enormous in the Chelmsford Stakes. Spotted the leaders 10 lengths then found trouble in the straight but when clear careered away from them. Small concern over the quality of her opposition that day but the way she won hard to overlook. Barrier three looks a major concern, I’d prefer between 7-15 for her with some saying the fence may chop out late. Kerrin McEvoy needs clear air for her and if it comes she’s fresh enough at 1600m with a month between runs!

Pierata has gained the most from the barrier draw, can sit two, three or four pairs in front of the above mentioned from barrier four. Had a virus so missed work and was six weeks between runs when narrowly defeated in the Bill Ritchie Handicap after sitting 3w throughout running. Drops 3.5kg from that and importantly will tighten up from a fitness perspective. Had his colours lowered to Kementari twice in the Autumn in the Hobartville and Randwick Guineas but reversed the result in the Missile stakes first up. I’m confident he’s gone to another level this preparation and as good as Unforgotten is and might be, she’ll be spotting him many lengths at the 400m with a huge likelihood of being stuck in traffic.

Bet Recommendation

 BACK (WIN) – Pierata for 2 units

Flemington is fine and clear on a Good 3-4. Little wind around with the rail +14m, it’s all fresh ground so I expect a relatively even track. Horses buried fence and well back could have problems which isn’t surprising.

Flemington R4 | Martini-henry BM 64 1420m | 14:45

Keen to bet around the favourite Vinland here although it’s likely to improve fitness wise and out to 1400m. Chris Caserta (Negative jockey change), needs to be positive from barrier two or it could get messy. Concede he’s gone close in some big races but would prefer to back it third up out to a mile.

Thought the value in the race was Aberro who sneaks into the field after scratching’s. Loved his trial at Cranbourne when pushing forward and going to the line strongly. Has always competed at much stronger grades since his debut at Pakenham behind Merchant Navy who needs zero introduction.

Matt Laurie may have taken him out of his comfort zone at 1800m+ and deep into a preparation last time in. Although 326 days appears as a negative, it tells me, based off the trials that he’s back to a level that’s good enough to warrant a big run fresh here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Aberro for 2.5 units

The forecast for Sydney is clear with a Good 3-4 expected. Rail +3m should ensure the track plays evenly.

Rosehill R7 | Group 1 Golden Rose 1400m | 15:50

Fascinating contest here back to a ‘Good’ rated surface. Jonker holds the fence with Danawi kicking up out wide to slide across. Assume Zousain finds Jonker’s back or a pair back at worst, I’m expecting a strong run to the 600m mark. Graff will be with cover midfield, The Autumn Sun back in the running line saved for one big swooping run with Seabrook to his inside.

Graff disappointed as BSP favourite in the traditional lead up and was gallant in defeat after tracking wide. A saloon passage for Lean Mean Machine the difference, I find it hard to see that runner beating home Graff this time in.

Respecting Chris Waller changing course with The Autumn Sun dropping back from 1500m in the Stan Fox and applying blinkers. He was a certainty beaten in that race following a severe check at the 350m mark. Was he flattered in his finish by the wet track? Can he settle in blinkers? Does he already want further? Three great questions, but he could be the standout colt of his era and he’ll eat up a strong 1400m having proven himself over 1500m & 1600m.

Seabrook appears to be right on track for the Thousand Guineas back in Melbourne. Expecting her to finish a strong 3rd or 4th after here first up eye catcher in the McNeil Stakes.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) The Autumn Sun for 1.5 units

Melbourne looks clear with the Caulfield rail +9m. I’m expecting it to favour leaders ever so slightly with tempo a bigger factor than bias.

Caulfield R8 | Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke 1400m | 16:50

One of the great handicap races of the season. In the past four years no horse has won this race with more than 54.5kg. Stratum Star carried that weight to victory in 2015. The only horse to place with a big weight in that time was Dissident with 58kg behind Trust In A Gust with 52kg in 2014.

Land of Plenty was a standout selection until he drew barrier 15. Osborne Bulls missed a with a virus so there’s a slight chink in his armour also. Ask me three weeks ago and they were standouts for this. I’m still confident both can win but will need luck from worse than midfield.

Peaceful State was hard to miss at Moonee Valley behind Land Of Plenty. There was more merit in LOPs run and like most other I feel Peaceful State may be snagged right back here with a view for the Toorak which it has at its mercy.

Home Of The Brave has 57kg and come off a heavy track. Maps well and can kick off a strong tempo, will look the winner for a long way.  The Knockout runner drawn barrier three is Sovereign Nation. Meets Land Of Plenty 5kg better since then last met over 1400m in early May. If Beau Mertens can be positive from barrier one, he can figure fresh against the profile and win this race first up being from the strong Hayes/Dabernig Yard.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Land Of Plenty 1 unit

 BACK (WIN) Sovereign Nation for 0.5 units

Flemington R2 | Cap D’Antibes Stakes – 1100 METRES | 1:05PM

Keen on SA filly Music Bay in this after a recent trial at Gawler suggests she has come back nicely. She showed plenty of promise last prep with a win on debut before a luckless run in the Dequetteville Stakes where she still managed to get second.

Scratched from the Atlantic Jewel Stakes, where stablemate Assertive Play looked a moral beat after getting caught up on the inside, Phillip Stokes commented on the similar ability of the two and has Music Bay a bigger striding filly.  This should suit the Flemington straight.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Music Bay for 2 units

Flemington R7 | Makybe Diva Stakes -1600 METRES | 4:10PM

Happy to be with Humidor here in the feature. Looking to go back-to-back in a race that he dominated last year. An argument could be made he is going better this time around with a solid performance fresh before taking out the Grp1 Memsie in an upset win over 1400m.

Out to the mile at Flemington will only enhance his chances and with the stable declaring him their top seed ahead of Kings Will Dream, my confidence has only buoyed.

We learnt this week that Weir’s high-class galloper has been allocated top weight in the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, this is with good reason, he is exactly that, high-class and he doesn’t have to face the handicapper on Saturday.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Humidor for 2 units

The forecast for Sydney is bleak with 8-20mm forecast on Friday afternoon. A better day follows Saturday with a top of 18 and slight winds. Rosehill is rated a Soft 6 early but could deteriorate to a Soft 7 if the rain hits in Parramatta.

Rosehill R5 | Group 2 Theo Marks Quality 1300 METRES | 2:35pm

Great contest here under given the ‘Quality’ weight conditions with Trapeze Artist forced to carry 61kgs first up against a class field. Trapeze Artist opened favourite with the corporates but is drifting on the exchange with D’Argento now favoured.

Siege Of Quebec was exceptional first up beaten 1.3 lengths behind Kementari when up and on the speed. With an 8kg advantage on Trapeze Artist I expect Tommy Berry to lead and beat that runner home. Home Of The Brave was solid against Voodoo Lad in Melbourne and profiles well here with a soft run in behind the speed. 4 weeks between runs and second up ideal for him. D’Argento gets 5kg off Trapeze artist and returned well behind Winx.

Three weeks between runs is ideal dropping back in distance and this run will top him off nicely for the Epsom. Shillelagh excels on soft ground but faces a steep jump in class, that said she was airborne in Queensland and will have residual fitness from that campaign.

With three genuine winning chances and a knockout in Shillelagh the safest way is to lay Trapeze Artist who will be peaking in a month’s time in the Everest

Betting Strategy

 LAY (WIN) Trapeze Artist for 5 units

Possible showers but likely to remain a Good 4. Expect a relatively even track with all runners getting there chance dependant on race pace. The best going in the straight will be from 1 -5 horses wide. Rail out 6m entire circuit.

Caulfield R6 | McNeil Stakes 1200 METRES | 3:30PM

Positive trials and a big push from Mick Price suggest that Seabrook is flying and ready to win here first up. The last time she raced on her home track (Caulfield), she ran a luckless 3rd to Enbihaar and Oohood in the Prelude, both placed behind Written By in the Blue Diamond. Seabrook was unfortunate to miss her spot in the race but subsequently went to Sydney and proved her outstanding ability.

I like where she’s drawn here in barrier 10 as I expect that she’ll get back slightly worse than midfield, find cover and peel out in the straight. There appears to be a fair bit of speed in the race which should work in her favour.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Seabrook for 2 units

Caulfield R8 | Moniek and Susanne Sambor Heath 1100 METRES | 4:50PM

Keen on the Everest bound Brave Smash in The Heath. He’s never been unplaced here and with a great draw he’s likely to race just off the speed. Back from a 19 week spell he usually takes a few runs to hit his straps, but after a some promising trials and a positive interview from Jarrod McLean this week I’m encouraged that he will be forward enough to be right in this first up.

Dangers include in-form stablemate Voodoo Lad. He also loves Caulfield but with everything needing to go right for him this field may be a little hot.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Brave Smash for 2 units

No rain forecast between now and raceday so expect the track to be a good 4 with light wind. Anticipate the track to play fairly with the rail out 4 metres.

Moonee Valley R1 | Back Yourself Handicap 1200 METRES | 12:25PM

Interesting race to kick off the day with a number of runners first up from a spell and some needing further in distance. Merriest should have a fitness edge over most and is coming off a complete forgive run when first up at Caulfield on 28/07. She carried the top weight, drew the widest gate, failed to settle in the run, went forward 3 wide without cover with a fast tempo where the leaders were mowed down late.

Expect to see further improvement 2nd up where she’s down in the weights and maps well from barrier 2. Should settle midfield on the fence, peel out and be strong to the line. Has a reasonable record at the Valley where she won the Atlantic Jewel and placed in a group 3. She was well backed when first up and expect the money to come for it again. May go to a new level this prep.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Merriest for 2 units

Moonee Valley Race 7 | McMahon’s Dairy McKenzie Stakes 1200 METRES | 4:05PM

Keen on Brutal here, who was exactly that when racing clear of his rivals in only start at Caulfield in impressive time. Humma Humma who ran 5.5L 3rd that day has since gone down narrowly to Sunlight in the QUEZETTE. 5 weeks between runs, an encouraging jump out should have tightened him up nicely. The previous start and jump out suggest he will go forward and I can’t see any reason for them to change tactics even from the wide gate. Hard to beat.

I don’t think Brutal has too many dangers but former NZ colt Tavisan was very impressive in his Australian debut leading all the way to win at Cranbourne, pedigree suggests he might want further but if he shows the gate speed he did on debut he can give plenty of cheek at a big price the place.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Brutal for 3 units

 BACK (PLACE) Tavison for 1 unit

The forecast for Caulfield is minimal rain with a 70% of rain but only 1-4mm.  I’ll be working to a Good 4 track most likely.

Caulfield R5 | Group 3 Vain Stakes 3yo C & G 1100m | 14:40

Always a class field with the past two winners being Jukebox and Russian Revolution.  It looks a genuine tempo upfront with early speed from Tony Nicconi and Rock Hard. Tony Nicconi looks extremely short at $2.50 in early markets.

The form line I’m happy to side with is The August from the Brent Stanley yard. Strong win on debut at Donald then backed it up a month later at Flemington over 1100m (heavily backed) with Good ‘n’ Fast finishing second. That horse went on to win twice before spelling. The August over raced on that occasion but still knuckled down to tough out the win.

Looking at his trial it’s clear that his race manners have improved dramatically, and I love him off 70 days compared to others off 100+ day spells. If connections are confident with him, settling leaders back is a big possibility.  Concede the jump out of Long Leaf was strong behind Oohood but barrier two and Stable Hayes worries me greatly.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) The August for 2 units ($5 or better)

The early rating for Flemington is a Good 3. Little to no rain forecast until Saturday with 3-10mm between the morning and afternoon. Hard to imagine anything worse than a Soft 5 but hail is also a small chance so watch BOM Melbourne for updates.

Flemington R4 |VRC Member Rhonda Sexton BM84 | 14:00

Harmattan resumes here at 1400m which looks a suitable distance. Came to the end of her preparation in Autumn when failing in the Group 3 Schweppervesence Stakes at Morhphettville. Prior to that she roared through her grades smartly and has done enough to warrant a bet against a field of mares passed their prime or with minimal upside. The two big question marks are fitness and where she gets to from barrier 13.

If She’s here to win and Dwayne Dunn get cover she may SP favourite. Damien Lane (Bellaria) will try hold her out and Michael Dee (Marquita) can take a sit on harmattan. Both mares are rock hard fit and can expose any chinks in her armour. I’ll be watching the market closely and the best price will be at BSP.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Harmattan for 1 unit

Flemington R5 | VRC Member James Hibberd BM70 1200m | 14:35

Gold Mag has found a nice race here and has the figures to win if he’s right. Bolted in on debut then put in a scintillating performance at Sandown Lakeside winning by 5 lengths with 59.5kg.

There’s a handful of dangers with Illumicon, Choisborder, Tahi and Tardis the best of them. In saying that they have more negatives than Gold Mag who’s only major concern is his month gap between races. Mark Zahra offsets barrier 12 for mine and despite being rock bottom odds at $2.00 in early betting I think he can drift and win.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Gold Mag for 3 units

A few showers with a brief thunderstorm Friday but mostly fine Saturday will keep The Valley in the Good 4 rating. With the rail true most runners should get their chance depending on tempo.

Moonee Valley R6 | Mortimer Petroleum BM78 2500m | 15:10

Loved the return of the European Import Streetcar To Stars at Sandown a few weeks ago. He raced fresh which is understandable being an 8yo off a 1424day break. There’s some risk he might race flat second up given his age, but he’ll go forward in fitness. He’s drawn barrier 3 which allows a forward position for Ben Melham and I think he can turn the table on Pioneertown who is now fifth up.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Streetcar To Stars for 1 unit

Moonee Valley R7 |Open Handicap 1600m | 15:50

Looks a race with multiple winning chances here so keen to lay the early market favourite in Another Coldie. As short as $3.80 early on the exchange with his last two starts the perfect setups and coming away with only one win. This time he drops back in distance, Gets Dean Yendall after having Ethan Brown and Damien Lane prior to that. Barrier 8 could find him three-wide with Call Me Handsome the likely leader from barrier one and be very hard to run down.

If Call Me Handsome becomes the hunted and they go breakneck speed early the best closer in top form is Malaise. Malaise gets Craig Williams back in the saddle and there’s few better Moonee Valley riders than Craig, drawn barrier 14 things may pan out very well for him.

Betting Strategy

 LAY (WIN) Another Coldie for 5 units

The forecast for Caulfield is minimum rain. Fog and lack of wind will help keep it in the Good 4 – Soft 5 range and with plenty of outrage across social media expect it to stay away from a Good 3 given it’s the last Saturday of July….

Caulfield R4 | 3yo + Fillies & Mares Open Hcp 1200m | 13:45

Confident here with 1200m specialist Just Hifalutin on top. Returned in terrific order at Flemington three weeks ago against the males at listed level over the same distance. Ethan Brown claims 1.5kg dropping her weight to 57kg and she’s drawn off the fence. The concern is how the track will play but hoping her fitness edge and liking for 1200m can overcome any bias if that presents. I think she’s improved this time in but will wait to take BSP odds with $3.30 appearing too short in early betting.

Merriest and Princess Of Queens come here fresh, but both might be better second up and out to 1400m. The danger to the favourite for mine is Modern Wonder who draws in and can lead at her second start for Darren Weir. Closed nicely at this track and distance behind Sharpness and Rillito so any notification from connections to ride her forward will result in a big market move from $7.00 early.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Just Hifalutin for 4 units

 BACK (WIN) Modern Wonder for 1 unit

The forecast for the second week running is Fog with minimum wind so the track will race Good 3-4 at Flemington. Small amount of rain Friday 1-4mm will be ideal and the track should play fairly with the rail +3m.

Flemington R5 | 2yo Open 1800m | 14:15

On first look it appears a tough race with a handful of chances but I’m confident Darren Weir holds the key to this race with Lift. Jumped with them on debut at Ballarat which is promising now he has gate five here meaning he can sit closer than he did on that occasion. To my eye it appears Dean Yendall was teaching him how to switch off with winning a lower priority, with the benefit of hindsight this stands out as his target race and that debut performance stamped my opinion of his quality. Darren Weir runners improve with racing and the only key negative I can find with this runner is returning to a Good rated surface off the heavy. I’m very confident that the open spaces of Flemington will suit him and hopefully Ben Allen can keep him out of trouble ‘in running’ allowing him galloping room.

Visao looks progressive but 1400m to 1800m appears an awkward step especially to Flemington. Fun Fact will look the winner leading on his own terms but again I’m confident Lift can real him in. So You Swing may be posted wide and is another in the mix but is very well found at $4.00 early.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Lift for 3 units

The forecast for Melbourne is Fog and minimum wind so the track will race Good 4 at Caulfield which is great for mid-July.  The rail is at 11m and I expect it to race fair with tempo to determine which runners are too advantage rather than any bias.

Caulfield R4 | BM78 1400m | 13:35

Competitive race here and keen to take on the Chris Waller trained The Avenger. Lacks the early speed to hold position here from barrier three and if he’s forced to be hunted early it may also tell late. Remains in a similar rating category but drops back to 1400m with the only ben Melham replacing Tye Angland the genuine positive I can find. Outside carnival times it concerns me when Waller switches horses from Sydney to Melbourne and I’d prefer three weeks between runs here to freshen this horse up. $4.00 or less appears rock bottom odds and keen to lay.

Demolition savaged the line at Moonee Valley. I thought Craig Williams was unfairly criticised for his ride that day and furthermore he’s one of the better ‘valley’ riders. This looks a better set up with two foundation runs at 1200m as he appears to be a horse than is looking for 1400m. The biggest concern is whether he gains a start as first emergency.

Betting Strategy

 LAY (WIN) The Avenger for 4 units

 BACK (WIN) Demolition for 3 units (if starting)

The forecast for Melbourne is bleak. Possible hail with 2-6mm of rain in the morning/afternoon. The track is a Good 3 with some light rain in the lead up. Expect the track to fall no worse than a Good 4 with a close watch on the forecast hail. Rail will be True.

Flemington R2 | VRC – CRV Cup Tour Trophy Open Hcp 2000m | 12:25

Keen on Sixties Groove who returns on the 7-day back up following a strong second placing against Pacodali who was primed to win at Caulfield.

Sixties Groove raced a touch fresh last week and went for home early looking the winner 300m out. His condition and perhaps a lack of turn of foot his undoing which won’t be the case here with most of this field unlikely to be able to sprint with him from a midfield position for his new rider Craig Williams.

Grand Dreamer appears the obvious danger, has measured up at listed level in the Ballarat Cup and no knock his performance in the Swan Hill cup at his latest start. I feel he needs slow/heavy conditions to show his best which won’t be the case here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Sixties Groove for 4 units

The forecast for Caloundra (Sunshine Coast) is clear skies with wind no factor. The rail is true, but the current rating is a heavy 8 which will be an issue for any horses under done or runners that don’t prefer cut in the ground.

Sunshine Coast R4 | Oxlade Stakes 1200m| 2:37pm

Keen on the favourite Granny Red Shoes here after two strong foundation runs that will have the Not A Single Doubt filly rock hard fit for a testing 1200m at Sunshine Coast. Already a winner at the venue and bred to handle the damp track despite failing on debut in Sydney on the heavy.

Will spot the leaders a big start from barrier 15 but think she can zip down the crown of the track and reel the leaders in.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – 9. Granny Red Shoes BSP for 4 units.

Sunshine Coast R6 | Lightning Qlty 1000m | 3:57pm

Interesting betting race to unfold with class mare tumbler resuming off a 300-day spell on a heavy track. Had the benefit of a Deagon barrier trial here when she was under a strong hold throughout on a chopped out soft 5.

Liked the way she went about it for a 6yo mare, looks good speed here and despite barrier two she’s a 1000m specialist primed for this.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Tumbler to Win BSP for 1.5 units.

The forecast for Brisbane is clear until Saturday with light winds only and partly cloudy conditions. Not ideal drying weather but the hardest thing mentally to get passed in how chopped out the track was in the last half on Oaks day. Therefore, I’ll be only suggesting 1unit plays for Saturday with the rail True and the track to fall in the Soft 6-7 range.

Doomben R5 | G1 Stradbroke Handicap 1350m | 2:15pm

Difficult renewal with Champagne Cuddles installed as $5.00 favourite with a 50kg impost. Has the perfect foundation now 3rd up here and provided she can sit in the first half of the field with the fence on in running I’m saying she can win this. Fence on she’ll stay hard in the market but if they are sinking in running on fence she could balloon in price. Big market watch.

Impending meets her 3.5kg worse with 57.5kg. Impossible to knock at his past six starts and is drawn to get a run to win this. Danon Liberty is first emergency and is proven on wet ground, no knock barrier six and there’s plenty of punters on him at monster prices.

Santa Ana Lane is racing in career best form, has the perfect set up here fourth up to 1350m. He won his first G1 handicap over 1400m at Caulfield. He savaged the line in the Goodwood and the only knock is barrier three if that’s an issue by this stage of the day? $14 looks over the odds for mine with Ben Melham not far away from the best rider in the field. I’m also happy to be on a horse that’s raced on better surfaces than backing up on Doomben again…

Other dangers include; Shillelagh, Crack Me up, Moss ‘n’ Dale.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Santa Ana Lane for 1 unit.

Doomben R7 | G1 Queensland Derby 2200m | 3:35pm

Exceptional race this with a handful of genuine chances. Dark Dream concerns me greatly with Synthetic Hoof Filler First Time. Big chance he’s missed some work and now very deep into his prep I’m keen to look for fresh blood. Will be laying this runner.

Live And Free looks a stayer in the making, by Savabeel with two very soft wins at his last two starts, love that fact he’s coming from Randwick 2000m still subscribing to the theory of being slightly against horses that raced on that shifty Doomben track in their leads ups for this.

Lucky For All proved himself on heavy and slow surfaces and keeps raising the bar each time he steps out. Was something beaten at Sandown when had no luck in the straight for Ethan Brown. No gets Lane on and barrier 18 over this trip and by this stage of the day might be a positive. His effort to put a gap on Furrion two starts ago at Caulfield stamped himself as a derby contender in my eyes so I’m using that as the reference point.

Betting Strategy

 LAY – Dark Dream 5 units

 BACK – Live And Free 1 unit

 BACK – Lucky For All unit

The forecast for Ipswich is fine but the early track rating is a soft 5. Little wind around so it may land in the Good 4 range. Rail is true with the fence expected to be off slightly.


Typically, a strong profile race with most runners winning up in the weights, drawn off the fence and rarely producing a first up winner. Ipswich generally favours horses that can take up a position on the speed or in the first few pairs. That augers well for Moss ‘n’ Dale who I suggested was a knockout runner in the Stradbroke Hcp last week. He failed to get a start on that occasion but has 56kg here and is drawn barrier four. He should get run of the race off the fence with Privlaka inside him. I’m A Rippa will find the fence to lead with Religify parked outside it. Lean-to Moss ‘n’ Dale with the race fitness.

Religify looks set up for it with two trials, but comes off a 230+ day spell, the positive is that it meets Lucky Hussler 2kg better off from their clash in the G2 Crystal Mile (Religify’s last start). He’s a class runner at his top and will be hard to run down on speed.


 BACK – Moss ‘n’ Dale for 2 units.

 BACK – Religify for 0.5 units.

The forecast for Brisbane is fine with the track likely to fall in the Good 4 range. I’m expecting most runners to get their chance in races with genuine tempo with the rail in the +3.5 position.


Deep race with multiple chances so keen to look outside the market with two class mares that are dropping back from competing against the males in the Stradbroke handicap.

Invincible Gem had a torrid run in transit in her lead up for this. Was wide then in the ruck with traffic all around her, when clear late she picked up and when you go through her last half a dozen starts it’s apparent she’s been in the deep end with Winx, Happy Clapper, Le Romain etc etc. Almost a G1 Randwick Guineas winner which stamps her class if you’re still not convinced. $13 is fair odds here and this looks a high-pressure race which will suit her from a mid draw.

Shillelagh is the other forgive from the Stradbroke, was primed there but found an unsuitable heavy track and connections flirted with the idea of scratching her pre-race on a wet track. She’s obviously flying and needed that hit out, back to a good track now from another suitable mid draw for a proven G1 winner against the mares makes her a bet for me again at the $13 mark.

Prompt Response on speed have be a big chance. Super Cash is racing extremely well as is Moss Trip, but both have very wide draws and will every bit of luck.


 BACK – Invincible Gem 1 unit.

 BACK – Shillelagh 1 unit.

The forecast for the Sunshine Coast is relatively clear with a 50% chance of showers on Saturday morning or lunchtime. The rail is true with a Heavy 8-9 the expected going. Monster fields and high turnover to be expected.


Very deep race but after close to 21mm of rain on Thursday I expect the track to race with the fence off by this time of the afternoon with not enough wind around to dry the track. It’s an extremely even field and many star riders have either taken holidays or returned home.

The horse drawn in the right part of the track and one that will relish a bog track is the Rob Heathcote trained Privlaka, who is rock hard fit here sixth up. He’s been a model of consistency this preparation and his figures don’t really prove how good he’s going so the early odds setters may have missed him. 1400m may be a query on a real heavy track but at $16 he’s a good gamble.

Respecting Jamaican Rain with winners coming from her last start performance at Moonee Valley. If she can improve off that run the residual fitness and liking for wet tracks will make her hard to hold out with Tegan Harrison a perfect fit for her. Hoping the market risks her and $5.00 plus is bet but with Niccanova a likely scratching on rain on heavy surface that may be wishful thinking.


 BACK (WIN) Jamaican Rain for 1.5 unit

 BACK (WIN) Privlaka for 1 unit

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