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.

Track will most likely be a Good 4 with sunny conditions today and tomorrow. Expect a relatively even track with all runners getting their chance dependent on race pace. Rail Position is out 6 metres the entire circuit.

Ascot R8 | G1 Kingston Town Classic 1800m | 7:50pm AEDST

This year’s Kingston Town Classic has all the makings of a stellar edition, with leading WA owner-breeder Bob Peters engaging a quartet of runners in the states biggest race. Headlined by top market chances boom filly Arcadia Queen $2.40 and Railway Stakes winner Galaxy Star $5.2 at first look the The Cerise & White seem to have a stranglehold on the race.

The main competition from the East at least from a market point of view, lies with the Jarrod McLean trained G1 Mackinnon Stakes winner Trap For Fools. I can see the appeal at the price $8.60 and with the in-form Damien Oliver in the saddle he shapes up as a big chance, but the wide draw in a race that has plenty of speed is a concern and whilst he wouldn’t surprise i’m happy to leave out.

I think the value in the race from the locals lies with Perfect Jewel. She came into this race last year with a similar boom to that of Arcadia Queen and she didn’t disappoint, when held up for a short distance on straightening before running a nice 4th.

She comes off what I think was the run of the race in the Railway. Last on the corner, she runs the fastest 400-200m split before being blocked for a run at a critical moment, only to rally and hit the line hard for 4th along the rail.

Watch below (cerise & white with blue cap)


Galaxy Star got the honors courtesy of a William Pike peach but I’m happy to take Perfect Jewel this time around given the price and the draw.

Another one who i’m backing here is Holy Snow, a runner with untapped ability which has flown under the radar for most.

The Weir team obviously have a high opinion of this horse which has been targeted for this race a long way out. Its run behind Fifty Stars at Sandown last start was excellent and it was very strong through the line. It’s shown every sign that it will appreciate the extra distance.

Blinkers again is a big plus as shown by its photo second to Unforgotten in the G2 Phar Lap the last time they were applied. It’s big overs in my opinion and happy to have something on it.

The obvious danger is Arcadia Queen. She’s chasing a hat-trick, last run odds-on favourite she was ultra impressive winning the G2 WA Guineas by 3L. Stepping up against a quality field, she has just come in too short for me and I’m happy to look elsewhere at $2.40.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Perfect Jewel for 1 Unit

 BACK – Holy Snow for 1 unit

A likely Good 4 with mostly sunny conditions predicted on the radar in Perth. Expect a relatively even track with all runners getting their chance dependent on race pace. Rail Position is out 3 metres the entire circuit.

Ascot R7 | G1 Winterbottom Stakes 1200m | 7:50pm EDST

Group 1 racing in Perth continues this Saturday with the 2018 edition of the Winterbottom Stakes over 1200m under WFA conditions. South Australian mare Viddora is back to defend her title and with a bit of luck from a good draw looks incredibly hard to beat.

A clear-cut favourite to win, she’s certainly been well found, but the support is warranted. Coming off a dominate performance in the Group 1 Moir and a forget run in the Everest, she presents as the class horse in the race.

Already well proven as a traveler, she seems to have settled in well, judging by the stable tweet on Tuesday morning.

You can watch it here:

Trainer Lloyd Kennewell buoyed my confidence this week. Talking on radio, he claimed very little had changed in comparison to last year. Coming off a similar prep and running comparable times in her work, he has the defending champ in very good order.

Can listen to full interview here:

The main danger appears to be exciting local mare Enticing Star out of the Peters camp. The one blemish in her otherwise perfect record (9:8-0-0) came in the Group 2 Waroa-Lee Steere Stakes, where the trainer advised Stewards she was showing signs of being in season.

She has since bounced back with an impressive trial win. A back-marker by nature, I doubt drawing 13 has changed any tactics but I feel the task of rounding up this field may be out of her reach.


 BACK – Viddora for 4 Units $3.00

A Good 4 early with a clear radar at Perth for the G1 Railway Stakes meeting meaning it can improve to a Good 3. The rail is at the inside position and horses sitting forward of midfield should have a slight advantage.

Ascot R8 | G1 Railway Stakes 1600m | 8:00pm EDST

The Perth carnival hits top gear with the Railway stakes shaping as a race full of intrigue. Galaxy Star heads the market with William Pike engaged. The 6yo mare will be hard to displace as favourite following her last start win in the Group 3 Asian Beau stakes over 1400m given the authority in her win.

The race profile historically favours the Lee Steere stakes or horses coming from the Flemington carnival. The last five winners all carried 53.5kg or less to victory so it’s clear that progressive horses are somewhat favoured or targeted with precision to this G1 event.

I’m not prepared to back or lay Galaxy Star at the price and think she will drift slightly from $3.60 in early betting. The market order looks close to right, but the inside draws of the two favourites (including Peaceful State) are of great concern.

Craig Williams takes the ride of Iconoclasm from Jye McNeil which is a monster switch. Barrier 12 might be considered a negative, but I anticipate that Darren Weir will want the horse ridden forward as opposed to being ‘snicked’ last start from his wide draw in the Kennedy Mile three weeks ago.

Watching his run closely he was buffeted after leaving the gates and didn’t have a clear passage in the run home to the post where his stablemate Peaceful State and others leaned all over him. His best asset is his ability to be used up twice in a race, firstly to take up a forward position and secondly to kick off a strong tempo. I’ve marked him shorter than $9.50 and any notice in change of tactics to ride the horse closer should see his price collapse.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Iconoclasm for 2 Units

An improving Good 4 with the rail true and most likely to settle on a Good 3 surface. Wind looks no issue and all horses should get their chance to win depending on tempo.

Sandown R4 | G3 Eclipse Stakes 1800m | 14:10pm

Weak renewal of the Eclipse and keen to side with the Tony McEvoy trained Bring Me The Roses. Despite only one win in 15 starts she gets a chance to break through as early market favourite.

Chased strongly behind Shoko at Moonee Valley in a G3 and then backed up that performance with a somewhat unlucky second behind Shillelagh in the G1 Empire Rose Stakes again at 1600m. Some would argue that she wasn’t overly strong through the line on that occasion but third up staying to the mile could explain that.

Importantly she’s drawn barrier nine away from the rail with Damien Oliver and can take a sit on Kiwia who will cart her into the race. Ran second to Pinot in the 2017 VRC Oaks so no issue stepping up to 1800m.

Black On Gold has returned to form but will be buried on the fence, Muraaqeb could be the big improver back to dry, his effort in the Toorak Handicap better than it looked and prior to that ran well in the G1 Epsom Handicap. If kept fresh enough Mask Of Time appears a knockout, but at $4.20 represents no value.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Bring me Roses for 3 Units

A Good 4 with rail plus 8m most likely. Expecting the middle to outside fence provide the most winners again. Amazing effort from track staff all week so a big congratulations to track manager Liam O’Keefe and his team.

Flemington R7 | G1 VRC Sprint Classic 1200m | 16:10pm

Impressive field and some will argue that it’s every bit as good as The Everest with only a fraction of the prizemoney. It’s clearly an afterthought for most but the horse that sets up best is Kementari. I’ve long thought that he was an elite 1200m horse, yet team Godolphin continued to persist with him out the 1600m.

The best closer in the Manikato running into third behind Brave Smash and Spirit Of Valor when unsuited from barrier 12 on that tight turning circuit. Gets a nice switch here back to Flemington which allows him six furlongs to let down that giant sprint of his. We saw what Osborne Bulls did with 59kg last Saturday and this runner is likely to mimic that result for a stable that is in white hot form.

The other runner I’m keen to be with is US Navy Flag. He impressed in the July Cup at Newmarket in the six-furlong Group 1 race in Europe but hasn’t fired a shot in his two attempts here. I’m willing to forgive his flop on the Heavy in The Everest and Moonee Valley was never going to be a track that suited given its tight turning layout.

Easy to make a case for most runners. Spirit Of Valor was gallant in defeat behind Brave Smash. Pierata running faster time in the Sydney Stakes on Everest Day. Redzel aiming to win the race Back-To-Back. Santa Ana Lane and improver back to dry. Spright a winner up the straight and in career best form. Fleet Review has improved at both Australian starts. Invincible Star probably the best roughie had she not drawn barrier one.

Deep race but happy to be with Kementari strongly, now he’s being trained as a sprinter!

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Kementari for 4 Units

 BACK– US Navy Flag for 1 Unit

A drying Soft 6 with wind around Wednesday afternoon and little rain means when could get to a Soft 5 or even Good 4. I expect most runners to get their chance to win with the rail +5m.

Flemington R8 | G1 Crown Oaks 2500m | 5:00pm

Darren Weir holds the key to this race with two dominant favourites in the early market. It’s a bold throw at the stumps with Amphitrite stepping up from 1600m to 2500m off a forgive run in the Empire Rose Stakes (formerly Myer Classic) against the older mares.

Class can carry these young fillies along way and perhaps three runs at the mile is enough foundation for her to get away with not having a 2000m lead up like four of the past five oaks winners.

The Vase and The Ethereal have been the more successful lead ups in recent times with the outlier 100/1 chance Lasqueti Spirit’s shock win in 2016 after a bold Brenton Avdulla front running ride.

Verry Elleegant won The Ethereal in fine style. After racing too fresh and it looked as if they were trying to teach her to settle in the Wakeful with a negative ride again. She wouldn’t be suited racing fresh with “three weeks” between runs so that gallop would have topped her off nicely. Weir has also added the nose roll as a grand final gear change which could be the key to her settling.

From a speed perspective Greysful Glamour and Sizzleme should make this a genuine gallop. Aristia and Verry Elleegant map perfectly and both will sit forward off midfield and take beating. The best roughie and closer looks to be Collectable.

Still a maiden but has closed off nicely at Caulfield behind Very Elleegant off a horror draw (barrier 18). Drawn better in 11 this time and gets James McDonald with Craig Williams committed to Amphitrite.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Verry Elleegant for 2.5 Units

 BACK– Collectable for 0.5 Units

Flemington, Tuesday 6th November 2018

Track – Soft 5, Rail 2m

Weather Forecast

Monday 6th – 27 degrees with 5-15mm rain, Tuesday 7th – 20 degrees with 5-15mm rain


Speed Map

Profiling the race we learn the following:

  • 3 of past 5 winners 5 or 6yo Horses
  • 5 of past 5 winners have carried 56.5kg or less, 4 of past 5 winners 55kg or less
  • 4 of past 5 winners have had a lead-up run of 2000m or further in Australia
  • 2 of past 5 winners SP favourites

Previous race winners & Lead up result:

2017– Rail True, Good 3

  • 1st – Rekindling 4 yo Horse – SP $15
  • 51.5kg BR 4 – 7th up, 52 days 4th St Ledger G1 2921m Doncaster

2016 – Rail True, Good 3

  • 1st – Almandin 7 yo Gelding – SP $11
  • 52kg BR 175th up, 30 days 1st Bart Cummings 2500m Flemington

2015 – Rail +2m, Good 3

  • 1st – Prince of Penzance 6 yo Horse – SP $101
  • 53kg BR 1 – 6th up, 10 days 2nd Moonee Valley Gold Cup G2 2500 Moonee Valley

 2014 – Rail True, Good 3

  • 1st – Protectionist 5 yo Horse – SP $8
  • 56.5kg BR 10 – 2nd up, 3 weeks 4th Herbert Power G2 2400m Caulfield

 2013 Rail True, Good 3

  • 1st – Fiorente 6 yo Horse – SP $7 fav
  • 55kg BR 14 – 5th up, 10 days 3rd Cox Plate G1 2040m Moonee Valley

The Field

#1 Best Solution: Caulfield Cup winner who fought off Homesman doggedly to win the famous Group 1 at his pet distance. Must carry 57.5 which is a difficult task and there must be a slight query over him running out 3200m.

#2 The Cliffsofmoher: Appeared to ‘blow out’ when loomed up to win the Caulfield Cup in his lead up. Looking back through his tapes there’s an argument to say he’s somewhat of a pack chaser. Flemington will suit him better than Caulfield and Ryan Moore takes over from Hugh Bowman. If he was my horse he’d be running over 2000m.

#3 Magic Circle: Bolted in at his two lead up starts in lower grade firstly in the Chester Cup over 3750m then over 3265m in the G3 Henry II Stakes. Looks weighted up to his best with Corey Brown likely him just in behind the speed. With a soft run in transit he’s likely to be in the finish.

#4 Chestnut Coat: If you can forgive his Caulfield Cup performance you can make a case to back the Japanese raider at 50/1. Ran 5th beaten only two lengths in the G1 Tenno Sho back in April with 58kg. Probably wants a good rated track though.

#5 Muntahaa: Ebor winner with 61kgs and comes here fresh off a 71-day break. Similar profile to a horse like Heartbreak City who was narrowly beaten by Almandin in an epic Cup in 2016. Rider Jim Crowley is now familiar with race riding in Australia and has come up with barrier 13 which is ideal. Will sit in the sweet spot and I’ve marked him on top.

#6 Sound Check: Forgive run in the Caulfield Cup when tempo against and didn’t have much luck. Excels on wet ground and measured up nicely at Group level in Germany. Is a winner over 2800 and 3200m and looks good value at 33/1 but will spot them all a big start.

#7 Who Shot Thebarman: Racing in great heart for a 10yo but I can’t have. Honest though.

#8 Ace High: Caved in too badly for mine in the Caulfield Cup off a soft tempo upfront. Has failed to take the next step required to win this.

#9 Marmelo: Coming in fresh off 77 days after a solid performance in the G2 Prix Kergolay. Weighted to win with Hugh Bowman and will have supporters around 15/1 from barrier 10.

#10 Avilius: Like the pathway Godolphin chose here competing in the Cox Plate after his win in the Bart Cummings 2500m at Flemington. Horse obviously thriving and definite winning chance after a faultless preparation.

#11 Yucatan: Market favourite with plenty of hype around him. James McDonald gave him an 11/10 ride and eased him down over the final 100m at his Australian debut in the Herbert Power. That race is a great pathway for this race and reports from Werribee are very positive. Gate 23 is a worry, but a slow rated surface may provide a bigger headache.

#12 Auvray: No

#13 Finche: Lightly raced stayer who needed the run at Geelong as he’d been behind in his work since arriving in Australia. Zac Purton is as good as any, but this race may have come to soon for him.

#14 Red Cardinal: Not going well enough.

#15 Venguer Masque: Racing well but just lacks a touch of class. Will get a soft run in transit but would be a ‘Prince Of Penzance’ type story if he won.

#16 Ventura Storm: A much better horse since his wind operation.  Had the perfect run in the Moonee Valley Cup and can run into the placings.

#17 A Prince Of Arran: Michael Walker looked after him on Saturday in the Lexus Stakes and he held out Brimham rocks soundly. Query at 3200m but wouldn’t totally shock.

#18 Nakeeta: Not going well enough.

#19 Sir Charles Road:Don’t think the Bendigo Cup form is strong enough to make him a winning chance but will stay 3200m and likes wet.

#20 Zacada: Can improve dramatically from the Geelong Cup and has now built a great fitness platform. Can see him running top 10.

#21 Runaway: Will have more pressure than when he did in winning the Geelong Cup. Hard to see him winning.

#22 Youngstar: Best of the closers in the Caulfield Cup when tempo was against. Likes Flemington which was evident in her run behind Winx in the Turnbull stakes. Drawn barrier 8, Craig Williams suits her, and Chris Waller rarely pushes a 4yo mare far into the deep end. Major player.

#23 Cross Counter: Lightly raced stayer for the all-conquering Charlie Appleby yard and Kerrin McEvoy is a significant booking. Early reports from Werribee were that he didn’t travel as well as others. Betting will tell the story late on Betfair and must be respected.

#24 Rostropovich: Not suited at Moonee Valley so expect big improvement stepping out to 3200m here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Muntahaa for 2 Units

 BACK– Youngstar for 1 Unit

*Speed Maps courtesy of Racing & Sports.

Good Luck Backing & Laying!

A Good 3 is likely with a 30-degree day with only 1-5mm forecast with the cool change hitting Melbourne.  The track was watered after Tuesday’s gallops but there’s a big worry about the wind in the lead up drying the track out for Derby and Cup day. Will race hard and fast!

Flemington R3 | G2 1200m Hcp | 1:00pm

Looks a genuine tempo here with Runson, Casino Wizard, Winter Bride and The Monstar all pushing forward. In that scenario it’s hard not to side with the star closers in Osborne Bulls and Missrock.

I’ve been waiting months for Osborne Bulls to get to the 1200m at Flemington. An uninterrupted run in a straight line could result in something very special. He’s probably every bit as good as Kementari over 1200m and we saw a monster performance by that runner in last week’s Manikato Stakes.

Osborne Bulls wasn’t out of place in The Everest placing third behind Redzel and Trapeze Artist. I think he’s more effective on a Good track and if the outside fence is the place to be he could space his rivals in this.

The only possible danger appears to be Missrock. Beaten only a length in this race last year to Rich Charm. She arrives here freshen this time with a solid placing behind Ball Of Muscle three weeks ago at Caulfield.

 BACK – Osborne Bulls 5 Units

 BACK– Missrock 1 Unit

Flemington R7 | G1 Victoria Derby 2500m WFA| 3:50pm

Thinkin’ Big won’t get away with a soft tempo here. The Weir stable will push forward on Savoie from a wide barrier and it will be a tempo more like the pace in the Spring Champion or Vase which was run around 7-8 lengths faster than benchmark looking at Punting Form’s figures.

Aramayo is likely to improve back onto a bigger track. Extra Brut raced too freshen and flat last time, wary the Weir stable backed off him in the lead up to the Caulfield Classic, so wouldn’t be shocked to see a big form reversal.

Star Of Carrum, Savoie, Mickey Blue Eyes and Savvy Oak all did enough in the Vase and could be suited on the 7-day back-up. Not convinced Home Ground & Farooq is the right form line from the Geelong Classic but it’s interesting Hugh Bowman has got off Savvy Oak.

Chapada looks to have improvement out to 2500m. He chased gamely behind Thinkin’ Big and I’m surprised he’s $16 in the market with James McDonald now replacing Patrick Moloney.

Will be interesting to see who the market comes for on the day but I’m going to go against media hype which has been at record level, laying the Gai Waterhouse trained Thinkin’ Big at anything less than $5.

LAY – Thinkin’ Big 5 Units

A Good 3-4 with the rail should make for great racing. The track generally plays fairly for the night meeting but tomorrow for the Cox plate meeting it’s likely that the fence will be off.

Moonee Valley R9 | G1 Cox Plate 2040m WFA| 5:00pm

Winx looking for her fourth consecutive win in the race and it’s hard to make a case against her but I’ll try nonetheless.

She’s drawn barrier six which is normally ideal but how often do you see a horse trapped three-wide in a small field. This could happen and if I were bowman I’d be pushing forward to sit 2nd at the girth of Benbatl or just off his hindquarter, that would rule out being trapped three-wide the entire.

Her jockey Hugh Bowman isn’t in career best form. His last start ride could be described as arrogant, patient or average. He mentioned that he’d be in lockdown for the final two days which I found a little odd also. Rides on runners outside Winx have well below par and he’s lucky to have avoided suspension on Rainer at Flemington on Turnbull stakes day. If he’s not confident Saturday he could be dictated too, be forced to sit three wide or be boxed in with stop start tactics with seven other jockeys aware that she stands between them and victory.

Winx is at her top and three weeks between her Turnbull win is ideal. Benbatl has landed, will be leading and is impossible to deny as a big danger. The media hype around his credentials must be ignored, but he’s raced in the world’s best company as oppose to Winx picking off our best talent.

Humidor has the best chance of upsetting her. Drawn barrier 7 to take up a position directly behind her. He won the Memsie stakes second up and has flown under the radar since then. Last year Humidor ran Winx to half a length off an unsuitable step back from the Caulfield Cup on the 7-day backup. This year, he’s fresher with blinkers back on for the first time this preparation, meaning he can stalk her and capitalize on any hiccup that she or Hugh Bowman might make.  $23 on the Exchange appeals if you’re looking to on the aging champion mare.

 BACK – Humidor 1 Unit

A Good 3-4 with the rail should make for great racing. The track generally plays fairly for the night meeting but tomorrow for the Cox plate meeting it’s likely that the fence will be off.

Moonee Valley R7 | G1 Manikato Stakes 1200m WFA| 9:30pm

Very difficult race to access with so many colliding formlines with two very good horses coming off a heavy track run in the Everest. You could spend over an hour on this race and still make a complete mess of it.

The simplest way I’ve chosen to approach it is looking at the market favourite Sunlight. A 3yo filly taking on the older horses at G1 WFA level, she’s an on-speed runner and plenty of fillies with similar profiles have tried this and failed. She Will Reign was an exception winning the G1 Moir Stakes off a two-length victory in the Golden Slipper. She dropped out near last and the perfect scenario unfolded with pressure up front enabling her to make a swooping run late.

Tonight, the likely leading tempo will be back up to 8-10 lengths above benchmark to the 600m mark. That’s 11-13 lengths faster than Sunlight travelled early last start. The chasing pack are proven WFA horses and with the world’s best onboard.

Kementari has always looked star sprinter, finally he’s back to a suitable trip, whilst I’d prefer him at Randwick or Flemington it’s hard to say he can’t win here off a freshen. US Navy Flag & Brave Smash are big improvers back to dry and 1200m. Houtzen maps perfectly, didn’t have much luck in the Moir and looks suited to 1200m.

Spirit Of Valor has drawn wide but only needs to find a trail into the race to win, his effort behind Ball Of Muscle was OK as a lead up to this. He’s still a query at genuine G1 level. Spright is another that falls in the same category, looked great in the Moir behind Viddora fresh after winning a weak renewal of the G3 WJ Healy Stakes in Brisbane.

 LAY – Sunlight to lose 5 Units

 BACK – Spright 0.5 Units the Win & 1 Unit the Place

A soft 5 that may improve into the Good 4 zone but that will depend on Tuesday’s thunderstorms and with some wind around it further complicates matters. The forecast is less windy Wednesday and much less wind.

Geelong Cup R7 | G3 Geelong Cup 2400m | 4:00pm

Looks genuine tempo with Northwest Passage and Runaway pressing forward. Hugh Bowman is likely to push forward on Finche (GB) from barrier four. His form reads strongest of the internationals, but the early betting market is all one way for Withhold. May have acclimatized poorly or missed work because of travel sickness?

Kerrin McEvoy takes the ride on Withhold, $4 into $3.00 since markets opened and the spruik from Werribee is that it’s flying.  Appears to be hammered in Melbourne Cup markets which is a good lead or maybe says more about his ownership? Tony Bloom is the single owner listed. Google him, the story of his life is incredible.

Withhold got the better of A Prince Of Arran on the Synthetic last start at Newcastle, UK. The start prior spaced them on a Good rated 3621m $421k Stakes race. If he stays hard in the market he’s a moral? I expect him to drift back to $4.00.

Yogi, huge behind Avilius in the Bart Cummings and must be infuriating to back and own. I thought 2500m would be up his alley at Flemington last start but maybe he wants every bit of the 3200m. He’ll get back and storm home, but his ungenerous racing style makes him a dangerous betting option. I’d like to bet him in a ‘First Australian’ past the post novelty market at big odds if he made the Melbourne Cup.

Midterm has the turn of foot to win if the leading pack over do it. Almononqith won this race off the metropolitan with a kilogram more. He’s drawn a great gate for Ben Melham who I’m clearly a fan of and the only negative I can find is the 62nd in ballot entry for the Melbourne Cup.  Will he have a quiet run for the Lexus in 10 days’ time? I hope not!

The only concern with Withhold is 58kg. The last winners to carry that weight in this race is Americain 2011 and Dunaden in 2012, who both went on to win the Melbourne Cup. If you like Withhold to follow this trend back him in this race, then all up closer to then event. He’s unlikely to start $5 in the cup which makes the current multiplier of $3 into $5 = $15 fixed odds futures mass unders. Back him closer to BSP for both races.

 BACK – Midterm BSP 1 unit

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

Caulfield R6 | G1 Futurity Stakes 1400m WFA | 3:25pm

Brave Smash looked primed here off an unlucky run last time in the CF Orr. Understand there were plenty in the smash boat as him but as an entire this is the G1 Stallion stamping race for him and looking at his preparation probably the race he’s been set for all along.

Danger appears to be Showtime after a trip away to Sydney and hit the line hard behind Trapeze Artist. That 3yo colt form always seems to measure up against the older horses at WFA level around these distances in Melbourne. Barrier 10 is a little query, where does it land on the map?

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Brave Smash for 3 units

 BACK (WIN) Showtime for 1 unit

Flemington R7 | G3 CS Hayes 1400m SWP | 4:00pm

Peaceful State. Huge win against the pattern fresh at Sandown in a BM70 that had depth. Stable indicated there’s improvement to come with this runner but he’s raw, with plenty of upside. Flemington is a big positive with his racing pattern of ‘get back and run on’.

Would prefer a wider draw than Barrier 3 with the rail likely to be a no go zone. The other issue is Team Weir going soft on him here for a big spike in the Australian Guineas. Either way he looks the real deal and will be hard to beat if he’s there to win.

Cliff’s Edge was tough fresh but that run may have been a redline performance. Set for 1600-2000m this preparation so may sprout and be further improved third up.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Peaceful State for 1 unit

Caulfield R8 | G1 CF Orr Stakes 1400m WFA| 4:45pm

Deep edition of the CF Orr stakes and going out on a limb saying that Mr Sneaky can take the step from handicapper to WFA. Looking at the Punting Form feature race reports the Australia Stakes is a clear profile race and I thought Mr Sneaky had the perfect lead up run looking to this 1400m event.

He posted strong figures at this track and distance in spring and even posted strong numbers at Flemington over 1400m. I’m not convinced 1600m is a distance that suits so this looks to be his ‘Grand Final’ with other key chances possibly vulnerable first up. Kerrin McEvoy take the ride and Barrier 13 is awkward but with other speed drawn wide he can come across with them and sit three pairs back in the running line. His best asset is a booming finish so clear air is what he needs for 400m.

Beyond Mr Sneaky I can make a case for half a dozen runners. Interested to see where Shillelagh maps in running and that mare could be an In-Play betting option if she’s not a mile back buried on the fence.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Mr Sneaky for 1 Unit

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