R8: The Darley Classic – 1200m Open G1 WFA


The track is currently a Heavy 8 (Thursday) with further showers forecast for Friday.

It’s unlikely there will be any rain on Saturday, which will help the track start to dry out but it will still be well and truly rain affected, so wet track ability is important.

While we’ve seen the fence heavily favoured on Derby and Melbourne Cup Day, a soft track Oaks Day meeting leading up to this and the prospect of the track chopping out a bit should even up the straight a little… at least we hope so!

That could see them run this race down the middle of the Flemington straight, rather than hard against the fence.


Bufferng (7) will no doubt press forward and look to control the race on his own terms. He’ll have company from the likes of Srikandi (2), Tiger Tees (5) and Flamberge (6), but none of them are likely to apply unnecessary pressure. That should leave the pace up to Damien Browne on Buffering, who has a natural style of somewhere between average and above average pace.

So while Buffering looks a lone lead, the pace is likely to still be genuine enough to give all runners a chance.

Early Pace Rating: Average to Average

Late Pace Rating: Average to Below Average

Best Suited: Neutral


Below are the ratings that recent Darley Classic winners have run to:

  • 2014 – Terravista – 110
  • 2013 – Buffering – 107
  • 2012 – Mental – 109
  • 2011 – Black Caviar – 115
  • 2010 – Black Caviar – 117.5
  • 2009 – All Silent – 107.5
  • 2008 – Swick – 104.5

Away from Black Caviar, the recent history of this race typically falls into the 107 to 110 range and it looks a similar case this year.

That winning mark is however largely driven by the recent form of Chautauqua who is the only one with a recent performance in that range. That always opens up the chance that if he was to underperform, then a number of horses come into the mix as winning prospects, with a lower winning rating, perhaps in the 104-105 range.

Runner by Runner

1. BUFFERING $26 MKT: $15

In the last 12 months his peak is a 103.5 rating, which is unlikely to be good enough to win this even if Chautauqua under-performs. He does have performances up to 106 prior to that, but in order for him to win he firstly needs to suddenly find a near career best as an 8YO and then hope Chautauqua to runs well below his best. Unlikely.

2. CHAUTAUQUA $1.45 MKT: $1.60

He comes off a 107.5 rating last start and has peak ratings of 109.5 and 111 up the Flemington straight. Soft ground is no problem so it’s very easy to forecast him at least running to 107.5 if not higher towards those past peaks. The only horse with any demonstrated ability to get near that level is Terravista (110 in this race last year), but so far that is big one off spike for him, with his next best ratings around the 105.5 level. That presents a scenario where if Chautauqua runs up to his last start, let alone a little better towards his peak then there’s only a very small chance one of the other runners can possibly outperform him. I also have to make some allowance for the fact that he may under-perform and open the race up to others, but even taking a reasonable view of that, I can’t get him much longer than $1.45 here. That suggests he wins this race 6.9 times in 10 and loses 3.1 in 10… which seems to offer a reasonable allowance that he may completely fail. At a 69% win chance he’s hardly a certainty, but the market is sitting around 1.60 and you may sneak better than that on the Exchange during betting. That’s a good enough edge to make betting worthwhile here, at a staking level you feel comfortable with… keeping in mind he’s a 69% winning chance, not 99%.

3. BOBAN $67 MKT: $15

His Memsie Stakes win (1400m) and Makybe Diva 2nd placing (1600m) were both moderate rating races, characterised by a lack of pressure in the middle stages. That won’t be the case here and back to 1200m on a soft track with a 12 month rating peak of 103 is not the profile of a horse I can see as a genuine winning chance in this race.


He ran to a big new peak of 110 to win this race last year, but has since regressed in his ratings with 5 subsequent runs returning a peak of 102.5. That said, I can forgive his run in the Manikato last start and prior to that he ran to a 102.5 winning in Sydney with the prospect of big fitness improvement to come. Optimistically that could see him run to a 105 -106 level here and put the pressure on Chautauqua to be right on his game. Equally though, it’s now been 12 months since he’s run anything better than 102.5, so there has to be some consideration of that. He’s next best in the race, but I can’t back him at the current price.

5. TIGER TEES $81 MKT: $101

His last 4 runs, which cover last preparation and this preparation has a peak of 98.5, which won’t get sighted here. He does get soft ground though which he loves and that could see him break the 100 mark and maybe push towards some old form in the 102-104 range. Even if he does that, it’s hard to see it being good enough to win.

6. FLAMBERGE $151 MKT: $35

His best is in the 102 to 103 range and his recent form is just a shade off that. Not good enough.


He’s been racing consistently and the wet is no problem, but his career peak is 103.5 when 2nd to Brazen Beau in the Coolmore last year and since then his best has been 101 (last start.) The prospect of both Chautauqua failing and him running to a clear new career peak in order to win this seems slim.

8. SRIKANDI $15 MKT: $10

Ran well first up behind Chautauqua in the Manikato (2L second placing) and that performance puts her at a 103 rating for this. She can improve off that here and run towards her 104.5 peak if not a slightly new peak, especially on wet ground which she’s unbeaten on (3 from 3.) That puts her in the mix among the next best chances behind Chautauqua.

9. BRING ME THE MAID $251 MKT: $41

Has a career peak of a 102 rating and a peak in the last 12 months of 99. That’s nowhere near good enough here, even if Chautauqua was to fail.

10. LUMOSTY $15 MKT: $10

She was unlucky not to win first up when she copped a big bump at a vital stage and then had to settle for a dead heat 1st. Her 99.5 rating from that run is well below the standard here, but her two peak performances of 103.5 and most notably 106.5 both came up the Flemington straight and it’s very reasonable to expect that she will improve towards at least that 103.5 mark here, potentially higher. That puts her up there with the next best chances in the race, but still a very unlikely threat to Chautauqua near his best.


There’s really only one horse to back here and that’s Chautauqua. There’s no prizes identifying a $1.60 shot, but given the profile of the chances here, that price does present an edge worth betting.

 BACK (WIN) Chautauqua – Exchange could offer the best price late in betting.

Remember to choose a stake you feel comfortable investing. It’s easy to make the mistake of subconsciously holding inflated expectations about horses in this type of scenario and letting that affect your staking decisions. Even at $1.45, Chautauqua is only a 69% chance of winning, not a 99% chance.

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