Hobart hosts its biggest meeting of the year on Sunday with a very competitive field set to do battle in the Group 3 $250,000 Sky Racing Hobart Cup. The Listed $100,000 Magic Millions Thomas Lyons will see stablemates Hellova Street and Lord Da Vinci dominate the betting, while mainland filly Pleasuring will try and knock off the Thousand Guineas winner Pateena Arena in the Listed $100,000 Rosevears Hotel Strutt Stakes. The 2yos also contest their first major feature of the year, with unbeaten filly Mystic Journey likely to run favourite in the Listed $100,000 Sky Racing Elwick Stakes.
Race 1 – 13:03 Tasmanian Horse Transport Maiden (1200 METRES)
King Of Saigon and Grave Digger look the speed out wide ahead of Levissi, Speedy Illusion and possibly Pinkeyes Pride. Should be a genuine speed to give them all their chance.
3. Negreanu: Makes his Tasmanian debut for the Scott Brunton stable here after racing in Victoria for Hayes and Dabernig. Debut run at Kilmore over this trip was reasonable and the best of his three runs. Trialled quite well behind Banca Boy, albeit in slow time, leading into this. Finds a very winnable race to kick off in and looks a leading chance.
6. Speedy Illusion: Also has his first Tasmanian run here for Mark Ganderton after racing for Kelvin Bourke in Victoria. Was scratched from a Launceston race last week and is only a month between runs so suggest he will be fit enough and has placed four times in Victoria. Has placed on wet ground and with market support he is right in the mix in this.
7. The Last Godfather: Is another former mainlander and has his first run for the Julie Richards stable, who are fresh off winning the last on Derby Day. Nicely bred staying type who has shown ability at all three NSW runs. Brenton Avdulla is booked for the ride in a positive lead and and he looks to handle wet ground. Will want further in time and doubt he is suited by the inside draw but respect any positive market moves.
10. Levissi: Has been steadily improving and did a good job last time when a narrow 2nd behind The Decider here over 1400m. Ran well over 1100m previously so drop in trip is probably OK and he can take up a forward position. Beaten a long way in both runs on heavy ground so a wet track would concern but he can run a brave race on speed.
2. King Of Saigon: Has battled away alright at both runs this prep when racing near the lead in Launceston. Doubt they have been the strongest maidens but he has race fitness over a number of these. Newitt takes the ride and well drawn if they want to go wide down the back. Limited but might give a sight in front.
Next best Grave Digger (1) (showed a bit more first-up this time in, probably needs a couple more but form from last run might prove alright).
Think the scene is set for one of the newcomers to win. Hard to split Negreanu (3), Speedy Illusion (6) and The Last Godfather (7) so betting may tell the tale.
BACK (E/W) – Negreanu for 1 Unit
Race 2 – 13:37 Tassie Instant Marquees Maiden / Class 1 (1600 METRES)
Paterangi and Kathonious look most likely to look for the front, as would the emergency The Grey Crusader if he gained a start. Lord Derby, Vamarosa, Hot Chisel and Bounce Back can all roll forward so the tempo should be genuine.
4. Westwood: Has found the line very strongly at all three runs this prep and now looks well placed getting to 1600m. Has placed over this trip in the past and looks to be a stronger horse this time in. Always needs luck as he gets well back in the field but with the right run he will be very hard to hold out late.
10. Kathonious: Is racing very consistently and was only beaten right on the line last time over 1350m at Devonport. Goes forward and makes his own luck and gains the services of Brenton Avdulla. Up slightly in grade and while he looks suited getting to the mile for the first time, he is a minor fitness query with a month between runs. Going well and looks one of the better hopes.
3. Sudden Shock: Had a good run last time in BM58 grade but wasn’t suited when held up behind tiring runners and then worked to the line solidly when clear. Probably has to go back from his wider draw this time but building his momentum around runners might be more his go. This looks a bit easier and Maskiell sticks with him. Has definite claims with the right run.
8. Mag Wheels: Continues to improve this prep and ran a very solid second over this trip in Launceston last time behind Lovely Lady. Carr takes the ride here and she won her maiden on her when racing in Victoria. Drawn for a soft run in behind them and only has to go on from her last run to have each way claims again.
9. Jubilance: A well bred filly who is steadily improving and found the line well last time in a handy C1 won by Boltoutoftheblue. Gets to 1600m for the first time but does race like she wants it and Newitt sticks with her. Didn’t handle the wet track when she failed in the Sires Produce as a 2yo so genuinely wet ground would be a query. Ticking over alright and has a hope.
Next best Lord Derby (1) (stayer with a bit of promise starting to get to his right distance range, two runs this time in have been ok, might need one more but capable with the right run).
Westwood (4) and Kathonious (10) are racing well and look the top hopes in a race with many chances. Sudden Shock (3) looks a good hope at longer odds.
BACK (WIN) – Westwood for 2 units
BACK (WIN) – Sudden Shock for 1 unit
Race 3 – 14:12 Great Northern Super Crisp BM62 Hcp (2100 METRES)
No obvious speed here. The on-pacers look to be Super Leane, Fearless Filou and potentially the King Islander Mponeng. Could be a muddling tempo so those landing near the front or taking the initiative may gain an advantage.
5. Kalalo: A Victorian stayer who has his first run in Tasmania here. Has been placed at all three runs this prep in BM58 grade and can handle wet or dry ground. Looks to be steadily improving and finds a reasonably vulnerable race here. Hard to line up the strength of his form but he is racing well so watch betting.
6. Northern Soul: Is ticking over well and wasn’t bad last time when midfield behind Player One. Goes to 2100m for the first time since joining the Keys stable and while he has placed at 2000m earlier in his career it does look a query. Races well on wet ground and comes through stronger form than most. If he runs the trip strongly he will be very hard to hold out.
1. King Manu: Wasn’t bad in the Longford Cup behind runaway winner Vandermeer before finishing near the tail in a strong BM68 fought out by Gallow Gate and Earl Da Vinci last time. Has the blinkers back on this time and gets in reasonably at the weights with Graham’s claim. Has won and placed over this course and will appreciate any softness in the track. Class horse in the field and while he is getting on he is very capable of winning this if he finds his best.
8. Strathalbyn: Is racing well this preparation and ran a narrow second here a fortnight ago over the mile behind Geegees Lillybet in BM58 grade. Failed at his only run over 2100m but that was as a 3yo so better equipped to go over this distance now. Wet or dry doesn’t bother him and Newitt stays in the saddle. Distance query but top chance if he runs it out.
3. Savrajette: Comes down in grade after finishing down the track behind Gallow Gate last start. Should be better for that run over this distance and she has won at this trip earlier in her career. Can mix her form but placed when last on wet ground and her best is very capable in this grade. Has a knockout chance.
Next best Super Leane (4) (handles wet, will run the trip and stable is going well) and Lovely Lady (7) (impressive win last time at 1600m in easier company, only go over longer was plain at Longford and looks a distance risk).
Very tough race with a number of different form lines and many of these having distance queries. Kalalo (5) finds a winnable race but is well found. King Manu (1) and Savrajette (3) drop in grade and may be value at longer odds.
BACK (WIN) – King Manu for 1 unit
BACK (WIN) – Savrajette for 1 unit
Race 4 – 14:47 Kevin Sharkie Open Hcp (1100 METRES)
Good speed here with Gee Gee Red Prince, Gee Gees Jet, Issawi and Apriano all capable of pushing for the lead ahead of Teriki and Super Fun.
1. Gee Gee Red Prince: Drops back in grade here after running third in the WFA Sky Racing Stakes last start. Continues to race consistently and is the class runner of this field. Proven weight carrier but not sure he is at his best on genuinely rain-affected ground. Should be right there on speed as usual and is one of the better chances in an even race.
2. Gee Gees Jet: Has been freshened since appearing to train off after starting his prep with a strong win here over 1100m. Trialled very nicely a fortnight ago and always runs well fresh. Inside gate might not be ideal if the rain hits and anything wetter than just the sting out may be a concern. Proven in this grade and Carr sticks with him so has definite claims.
7. Apriano: Took a while to find his form this prep but has now won his past two and run good time on both occasions. Drawn out could well suit and gets in very light with Voorham’s claim to compensate for the big jump in grade. Did place here in open company last prep behind Step The Pedal and beat home both Issawi and Teriki. Going well enough to make the leap and with the right run he could go right on with the job here.
3. Issawi: Resumes from a spell and has a comfortable trial win under his belt. Ran second in this race last year behind Gee Gees Jet when first up but didn’t show his best from then on. Has problems so some query he can get back to his best now as a 7yo but will appreciate softer ground and is proven in this grade. Watch betting and he can win if fancied.
4. Teriki: A good mare at this level but has developed a nasty habit of bungling the start. Wasn’t far away in the Lady Lynette last time and placed over this course last season on wet ground behind Step The Pedal. Gets in on the minimum weight and is rarely far away so expect her to feature somewhere in the finish again but hasn’t won in her last 14 starts. Each way.
Next best Super Fun (5) (newcomer to Marion Dalco stable, Victorian form for Hayes & Dabernig is alright for this so watch betting) and Naadam (6) (right up to this grade but shifty ground would put an end to his chances.).
Tricky race. Gee Gee Red Prince (1) is the class runner here but has plenty of weight and isn’t at his best if the rain hits. Gee Gees Jet (2) goes very well fresh but also doesn’t want too much rain. Apriano (7) is right up in grade but has no weight and been competitive at this level in the past. Respect any market support for Issawi (3).
BACK (WIN) – Gee Gees Jet for 2 units
BACK (WIN) – Apriano for 2 units
15:22 Sky Racing Elwick Stakes (1100 METRES)
Gee Gee Pengala and Mystic Journey will vie for the lead with Gee Gee Queen Bee who is loaded with speed and drawn the outside. Du Well and Gee Gee Wynett can be right there too so this should be keenly run.
3. Mystic Journey: A professional 2yo who has been very impressive in winning her first two race starts. Has been too good for Gee Gee Secondover in both runs and shows the ability to race on speed and then give a kick when challenged. Might have a bit more pressure to deal with on speed this time but deserves to run favourite.
1. Gee Gee Secondover: Has run very well at all three starts despite jumping awkwardly on all three occasions. Has found Mystic Journey a bit too good for him at his past couple but has the ability to relax off the speed and may be advantaged by a bit more pressure up front in this. Drawn out might suit and he will be strong at the finish. Obvious danger.
5. Call Me Royal: Returns to the state after her debut second when beaten by Gee Gee Pengala at a very short quote. Raced very greenly at her debut but when she finally got going late she hit the line hard and ran a quick last 200m. Not sure how well suited she is drawn 1 but the race experience may see her improve and she could be the one to cause an upset.
7. Du Well: An interesting runner from the Robbie Griffiths yard who finished midfield in the Blue Diamond Preview at her only start. Raced wide behind a hot speed there so her effort to stick on was full of merit. This shapes as an easier race but she does come up against what may be an above-average crop of local 2yos. Showed enough on debut to rate well here.
2. Gee Gee Pengala: A very honest on-pacer who appreciated the application of blinkers last start to score an impressive all the way win. Ran good time there and didn’t do things wrong like he did when beaten on debut. Will be in the firing line on speed and has each way claims.
Next best Gee Gee Queen Bee (6) (comfortably beaten by Gee Gee Secondover at only start when odds-on, won a recent trial by a space but 1100m looks a risk at this stage) and Madam St Clair (9) (unraced filly from Robbie Griffiths yard, watch betting).
Mystic Journey (3) deserves to run favourite but might have to deal with a lot of pressure up front. Maybe Gee Gee Secondover (1) is the one suited sitting behind the speed and can finally turn the tables.
BACK (E/W) – Gee Gee Secondover for 2 units
Race 6 – 15:57 Magic Millions Thomas Lyons (1400 METRES)
Stablemates Hellova Street and Count Da Vinci should take up the running here ahead of the other stablemate Lord Da Vinci and potentially Blaze Forth. Geegees Doublejay can be in the firing line if he begins well but they might try to ride him quiet to get the trip.
4. Lord Da Vinci: Broke through for his first feature race win last start in Launceston when too good for Geegees Doublejay in the Sky Racing Stakes over 1200m. Rarely races over 1400m in this state but ran a nose second behind Hellova Street in this race last season. Looks like getting a great spot just behind the speed and any rain is a definite plus. Whether he is quite at his best at this trip is a minor query but he looks top pick.
2. Count Da Vinci: Last year’s Hobart Cup winner who returned in decent enough fashion over 1200m when fourth in the Sky Racing Stakes. Ran third at Flemington second-up last prep over this trip behind Theanswermyfriend and Mr Sneaky and bolted in second-up in his Cup winning preparation before that. Soft track is fine and should find a good spot near the lead. Should improve on his last effort and is one of the main dangers to his stablemate.
1. Hellova Street: The reigning Horse Of The Year and won this race last year but showed some cracks of a tough preparation when beaten in both the Conquering and Tasmanian Stakes back in December at long odds-on. Has been freshened for this but wasn’t as impressive in his recent trial as he usually is. Tends to lay in towards the rail so if the track has chopped up he may be disadvantaged. Class runner of the field but has a few question marks here.
9. Gee Gees Top Notch: Was quite impressive when too good in the Tasmanian Stakes before stretching out to the Devonport Cup and running a reasonable 4th. Suited by the drop in trip and placed in the Conquering over this trip at WFA. Should get the smother she enjoys from gate 1 and has won on wet ground so if she has luck getting clear at the right time she is the swooper with a genuine hope.
6. Valiant Warrior: Doesn’t have the class of the main hopes these days but is ticking over nicely around this distance range in easier grade. Has won his last two starts over this course in benchmark grade but this is clearly harder. Finished midfield in this race last year and going well enough to have a place chance this time around.
Next best Geegees Doublejay (3) (racing in good form and likes wet ground but failed badly in his only try over this trip in the Conquering so inclined to risk).
Lord Da Vinci (4) looks the safe option here, especially if the track is particularly rain affected. Count Da Vinci (2) can run better at this trip while Hellova Street (1) is potentially a risk if the inside is chopping out. Gee Gees Top Notch (9) appeals as best at odds.
BACK (WIN) – Lord Da Vinci for 6 units
BACK (WIN) – Gee Gees Top Notch for 1 unit
Race 7 – 16:32 Rosevears Hotel Strutt Stakes (2100 METRES)
The Thousand Guineas was run at a very slow tempo and on paper this doesn’t look any different. Gee Gees Queenie, Voices and Fiveandfurther look most likely to settle forward but without any real pressure up front there is nothing stopping any of these from heading to the front with an aggressive ride early. The lack of obvious speed may result in another messy race like the Thousand Guineas.
4. Pleasuring: Brings metropolitan Melbourne form here, with Sandown and Moonee Valley placings either side of her maiden win at Ballarat from her past three runs. Goes to 2100m for the first time but races like she wants it and has the right fitness base with six runs under her belt this preparation. From the dominant Weir stable, she has the form and the trainer to deservedly start a short-priced favourite.
1. Pateena Arena: Won the Thousand Guineas last time when an odds-on favourite but was far from impressive with a number of hard luck stories behind her. Gets to 2100m for the first time but these staying affairs have always been her major target. Has a good turn of foot which will be an advantage off a muddling tempo but she hasn’t got to the level she promised to. Best of the local chances but probably needs to improve to beat the favourite.
3. Casa De Lago: Had good support in the Thousand Guineas but bombed the start and had a torrid run from there on. Found the line reasonably well considering but will want to relax much better to run the 2100m and that might be an issue again if the pace is slow. Has run well on wet ground so lots of rain is probably a plus. Live chance with the right run.
9. Voices: Should have finished closer in the Thousand Guineas when held up back on the inside and had to settle for 4th behind Pateena Arena. Shapes as this trip will suit and should get a very soft run from her inside draw. Getting clear at the right time will be a task if they go slow and bunch up but she looks pretty bomb-proof for those looking for an each way bet.
5. Heaven’s Delight: One of few fillies here to have raced over the 2100m previously, running a nose second behind promising staying mare Wyuna here two runs back. Wasn’t suited by the tempo in the Thousand Guineas but did a good job from back in the field to run fourth. Prove at this trip when not many are and finished close enough last time to say she is a definite hope in this at longer odds.
Next best Gone Girl (7) (coming through different form, beaten older horses last two, first go trip but probably wants it) and Clean Acheeva (6) (arguably should have won the Thousand Guineas so ties in well but looks a major query at 2100m).
With many of these fillies coming through a slowly run Thousand Guineas, the mainlander Pleasuring (4) looks very well placed with solid metropolitan form to her credit. Heaven’s Delight (5) is placed at the trip and appeals as clearly the best at odds.
BACK (WIN) – Pleasuring for 8 units
BACK (WIN) – Heavens Delight for 1 unit
BACK (PLACE) – Heavens Delight for 3 units
Race 8 – 17:08 Sky Racing Hobart Cup (2400 METRES)
Tempo looks only fair here. Expect Pretty Punk to push forward from her outside barrier with Geegees Goldengirl and Dee I Cee setting close to the speed. Earl Da Vinci was ridden quieter last time but may elect to go forward this time with the lack of obvious speed.
1. Dee I Cee: A tough NZ bred stayer from the Waterhouse & Bott stable who is the only runner in the field to be coming off a lead up run over 2400m. Fought on gamely last start to run a narrow 2nd in the Australia Day Cup at Warwick Farm. Draws for a beautiful run on speed for Corey Brown but has top weight of 59kg in a race where the majority are on the minimum. Has only won 3 from 23 but is a proven stayer with each way claims.
2. Pretty Punk: A South Australian mare who brings good Victorian metropolitan form into this. After winning easily at Morphettville she won over 2000m at Flemington and then battled away alright last time behind Night’s Watch. Has a good base to go to 2400m and won over 2500m last prep in Adelaide. Wide draw shouldn’t be an issue with Craig Williams on rolling forward and she looks set to enjoy a good run on speed. Looks a big each way chance.
3. Geegees Goldengirl: Continued her good form this preparation with a game second in the Summer Cup after being left in front a long way from home. Ran fourth in this race last year and second back in 2016. Races near the lead which could be an advantage in this and any rain would be a bonus. The 2400m is about as far as she wants so she might need a soft track to be a genuine winning chance but she is rarely too far away at the finish.
4. Fastnet Dragon: Jumped sharply to the 2200m of the Summer Cup but was most impressive in overcoming the slow tempo to win from last. Ran serious time at the end of his race but may have been flattered on the widest part of the track. Hasn’t been to 2400m and is a slight fitness query coming from a 1600m run and a slowly run 2200m. May be suited by a steady predicted tempo again and with Brenton Avdulla taking the reins he has a genuine winning chance.
5. Up Cups: Won the Cups double back in 2016 and is now starting to get back to something like his best form. Caught the eye from back in the field in the Brighton Cup despite being well beaten and then ran a solid 3rd in the Summer Cup when not really suited by the muddling tempo. Obviously proven at the trip and is reunited with his Cup-winning rider David Pires for the first time since 2016. A fairytale story which certainly isn’t impossible.
6. Brilliant Jet: Hasn’t raced since his dominant win in last month’s Devonport Cup over the 1880m. Has had an unconventional lead up into this race without a run since but blew the cobwebs out with a trial a couple of weeks ago. Goes to 2400m for the first time but has won at Moonee Valley over 2040m and placed at Doomben over 2200m. Against him is the wide draw, the rise in grade and that potential fitness query. Promising horse but will need to go to a new level to win this.
7. Andrea Mantegna: From the all-conquering Darren Weir stable and comes here off a very impressive win at Morphettville over 2250m. The strength of the form behind him there is questionable and his previous runs in benchmark grade in Victoria were honest more than brilliant. Looks ready to go to 2400m now and will appreciate a soft run from his inside draw for Damian Lane. Progressive type who looks set to peak here and is one of the major fancies.
8. Eastender: A very promising local stayer who has already been successful over 2400m in last season’s Tasmanian St Leger. Won his way into the race with a strong staying performance in the Brighton Cup as a short-priced favourite. Kept fresh since looks suitable to keep enough sharpness in his legs and he is unbeaten in four runs at 2100m and above. This is clearly his acid test but any rain will be a plus and is guaranteed to be still coming at the end of 2400m. Big threat and the best local chance.
9. Settler’s Stone: A local proven over this trip with multiple Victorian placings including 3rd placings in the Mornington Cup and Ansett Classic. Finished midfield in this race last year before running a strong 4th in the Launceston Cup. 1600m run two starts ago was promising before being well beaten in the Summer Cup last time when unsuited by the muddling tempo. Wants the 2400m but prefer to see him coming in off a better lead up run. Expect him to be one of the outsiders but with the right run he has a place chance.
10. Speed Force: An improving stayer who has been targeted towards the major Cups for his entire preparation. Was very impressive over a mile two starts back with blinkers on but over raced in the Summer Cup and could only manage a midfield finish. Blinkers come off here which should help him relax but the 2400m trip is a risk until he proves otherwise. Has plenty of talent but prefer him on a place basis.
11. Earl Da Vinci: Owned in the same interests as last year’s Cup winner Count Da Vinci and has had a wrap on him throughout this preparation as a result. Ran third in the Brighton Cup two starts ago but was comfortably held by Eastender. Dropped in grade last start with the visor on and was ridden quieter but was narrowly beaten after enjoying a good run. 2400m looks ideal and may roll forward this time so reluctant to pot entirely but has to run a clear career best to show up in this.
Very even Cup with the entire field worthy of their spot in the race. Going to stick with the local Eastender (8) who continues to step up to the challenges that are put to him and think he can do so again. Andrea Mantegna (7) appeals as a stayer on the up from the Weir stable and looks set to peak here. Pretty Punk (2) and Dee I Cee (1) have proven interstate form and have each way chances, while Fastnet Dragon (4) is the untapped one with the big turn of foot who may cause a boilover at longer odds.
BACK (WIN) – Eastender for 4 units
BACK (WIN) – Andrea Mantegna for 3 units
BACK (WIN) – Fastnet Dragon for 1 unit
Race 9 – 17:45 Southern Cross Television Class 3 Hcp (1200 METRES)
Plenty of speed here in the last with Kuusela, Westerly Haze and Son Of A Fling looking for the lead ahead of any of Kafoo, Il Regalo, By The Pound, Sunday Cider or Kelly’s Diva. Expect a strongly run affair giving them all their chance.
1. By The Pound: Blew the start here first-up but found the line very strongly to finish a close-up fifth behind Boart in this grade. Suited by the slightly longer trip and likes wet ground so any rain is a bonus. Proven in this grade so if he begins better he should get the right run on speed to be a top chance in what is a very even race.
3. Westerly Haze: Stepped up to 1400m last time and battled away alright on speed when fifth behind Cheers Chappy. Looks better suited back to 1200m but interestingly has never raced on this track. Wet ground would be no issue and his wide draw may be an advantage by this stage of the meeting. Rarely runs a bad race and well placed to be in the finish again.
6. Toorak Affair: Also comes back in trip after running close-up behind Cheers Chappy last start. Didn’t have much chance the way the race was run last time and has the winkers on for the first time to try and sharpen her up for the shorter trip. Has finished in the first couple in all four 1200m runs and handles wet ground. Always needs luck from back in the field but if the track is suiting the swoopers she is the logical one to take advantage of that pattern.
5. Son Of A Fling: Enjoyed a nice trail first-up when a very solid second behind Boart here over 1100m. Slightly longer trip is no issue and has good form on wet ground so any rain is a bonus. This doesn’t look much harder than last start and his form ties in well with By The Pound so he is another with a genuine hope.
4. Kuusela: Drops in grade after going quick in the Lady Lynette but she was the first horse beaten. Races better with the sting out which she should get this time and this might be run at a slightly slower tempo which can help. Both runs over this course have been good and has run well in better grade than this so sharp improvement wouldn’t surprise.
Next best Il Regalo (7) (only fair last time behind Boart when ran favourite, maybe better suited ridden behind the speed but only run on soft ground was plain).
Hope you are in front by this stage because this is a very tough race to finish on. By The Pound (1) was very good first-up and likes soft ground so he appeals as an obvious chance. Westerly Haze (3) is fit and tough while Toorak Affair (6) appeals as best of the swoopers if the pattern suits.
BACK (WIN) – By The Pound for 3 units
BACK (WIN) – Westerly Haze for 1 unit
BACK (WIN) – Toorak Affair for 1 unit