R7: Blue Diamond Stakes – 1200m 2YO Open SW $1,500,000

The Track

The track is currently a Good 3 (Thursday) and should be a Good 3 on race day. The rail is in the TRUE position. The track should play evenly with race pace and talent being the overriding factors on the day.

Speed and Tactics

Blue Diamond’s are traditionally run at a solid pace and notably slower last 600m, with the field slowing considerably over the final 200m. That makes the race a genuine test of talent and the ability to run a quality overall time.

This year is no exception with the most likely early speed drawn wide. Star Turn (10)Highland Beat (12) and Extreme Choice (13) look the main chances to press the action. The stable has expressed a desire to not use too much of Extreme Choice early, so rider Craig Newitt may be happy to let the two inside him press on then look to slot in behind. There will naturally be plenty of other runners kicking up from middle to inside draws trying to hold a position just off the speed, which will make the job for Newitt tricky.

Leading Fillies Samara Dancer (5) and Concealer (6) look drawn ideally, while Flying Artie (17) is unlikely to have any option but to travel back in the field and/or wide with cover. With just one bend from the Caulfield 1200m start to the turn, travelling wide with cover is less than ideal, but still not a major negative. In 2014 we saw Earthquake site 3W with cover from Barrier 15 and easily win the race.

Early Pace Rating: Solid to Fast

Late Pace Rating: Slow to Moderate

Best Suited: 3 to 6.5 lengths off the lead. Travelling wide with cover is okay.

Race Overview

Below are the ratings that recent Blue Diamond winners have run to:

  • 2015 – Pride of Dubai – 101
  • 2014 – Earthquake – 104.5
  • 2013 – Miracles of Life – 104.2
  • 2012 – Samaready – 105.5
  • 2011 – Sepoy – 106.5
  • 2010 – Star Witness – 103.7
  • 2009 – Reward for Effort – 103
  • 2008 – Reaan – 99.5

The average winning mark over the last eight years is 103.5 and so far only Extreme Choice has shown the ability to get close to that mark with consecutive 103 rating performances.

He fits the profile of previous winners like Earthquake, Miracles of Life, Samaready and Sepoy in terms of dominant lead up ratings, but each of those winners had at least one lead up run over 1100m. Extreme Choice has had both of his starts so far over 1000m.

The next best group of contenders come in with career peaks between 98 and 100. The prospect of one or more runners reaching a new career peak in the Blue Diamond is high, so the winning standard is very likely to be at least 101 and potentially up to 103 – 104 if Extreme Choice maintains form and/or other runners explode to a big new career peak.

Focus in assessing the winning chances for this race is on that minimum 101 standard and the prospects each horse presents for reaching that mark.

Runner by Runner Analysis

1. Extreme Choice (13) $2.65 MKT: $3

He’s been dynamic in two career wins over 1000m so far, reaching the 103 rating level both times. It’s very rare to see any 2YO start their career with two consecutive performances at that level. He’s a rare talent and historically that goes a very long way to winning the Blue Diamond. Media attention has focused on the uncertainty about whether Extreme Choice can extend his talent at the same level to 1200m. Analysis of sectional splits from his last start Caulfield win highlights to us that this Colt is far more than just a 1000m horse. He may not be crying out for 1200m, but there are indicators there to suggest he can be just as effective at that distance and with a big edge in exposed talent on this field, he only needs to be as good as his past wins to comfortably win this race. The barrier is somewhat tricky, but the market more than compensates for such factors in the price and talent is a far more overriding factor. At around $3.00 in current markets and potentially better on the Exchange during the day, Extreme Choice represents a very solid betting prospect in this race.

2. Valliano (8) $51 MKT: $26

Comes off a good LS win over 1200m at Caulfield, but his 93.5 rating in that performance lacks substance relative to the better chances in this race and is a long way short of the 101 minimum needed to press for the win.

3. Flying Artie (17) $6.50 MKT: $4.40

Stablemate of Extreme Choice and has attracted plenty of attention via Damien Oliver’s decision to ride him in this race over Extreme Choice. His last start 98 rating win certainly had merit in terms of coping with strong early speed and being able to finish off well relative to the opposition, but it’s worth noting that on the clock it was only a fraction superior to the Fillies division on the day (Samara Dancer) both in terms of overall time and sectionals. So while he may be a progressive horse with upside, he still has plenty to prove and has been done no favours in this race by the barrier draw. He’s definitely among the genuine chances, but media attention around Oliver’s decision to choose him has resulted in a little too much hype in his price. Win or lose, there’s really nothing objective that the market is underestimating about his chances, so it’s hard to consider him as a betting prospect.

4. Star Turn (10) $26 MKT: $13

Did a great job to race outside the solid speed last start, kick in the straight and then hold off all the closers except for Flying Artie, finishing clear of the third horse by 2.3L. His 97.5 rating is in the competitive zone for this race, but he looks faced with the prospect of again being a part of the speed battle, this time over 1200m, not 1100m. The horse’s most likely to run to a big new peak in this race are those that end up with the right run away from the pressure up front and as that is very unlikely to be Star Turn, we have to take a set against him here.

5. Power Trip $201 MKT: $61

Two runs this preparation have only been in the 86-87 rating range. Doesn’t look anywhere near good enough.

6. Highland Beat (12) $201 MKT: $81

He’s already five runs into his preparation so it’s hard to imagine him hitting a big new peak here, especially as one of those likely to be in the speed battle. His last start 89 is nowhere near good enough.

7. Hell Of An Effort (1) $201 MKT: $41

Has a peak of 93.7 two starts ago, but was then eased down from the 300m last start behind Valliano. It’s very hard to imagine him bouncing back from that and then running a +7 point new peak to get in the finish here.

8. Hey Doc (4) $151 MKT: $71

Has a peak rating of 90.5 without any positive indicators to suggest a big new peak could occur in this race.

9. China Dream (14) $101 MKT: $61

Battled on well last start to finish a well beaten third behind Flying Artie and Star Turn. It’s hard to imagine him turning the tables on both of them in this race, let alone then being able to overcome the rest of the opposition.

10. Samara dancer $8 MKT: $6.50

A leading contender here courtesy of her 98.4 rating last start win at Caulfield over 1100m. She showed a nice turn of foot in that race and is drawn here to get a similar type of run where she can conserve early, then start to move forward at the right time to put herself into the race. This is just her third career start and second run from a spell, so she’s certainly capable of improving and pushing towards the 101 mark that will be needed to be a genuine winning chance. There’s no great value in her price, but she’s among the key chances.

11. Concealer (6) $6 MKT: $6.50

She looks one runner well set up to run a super competitive race here. She was very good last start behind Samara Dancer, enjoying a far less favourable trip after missing the start, settling back and then doing plenty of work when the pressure was on to make ground around the outside of the field. Despite that she still finished off strongly to be beaten just 1 length by Samara Dancer. Her 96 rating from that run has plenty of merit in it and screams “improvement” as she steps up to 1200m from a favourable barrier. Furthermore, the quality of her last start performance is supported by a 100.5 strong rating debut win at Flemington back in November. It’s more than reasonable to expect that she could progress from that 96 figure last start towards 100 here and potentially higher. That puts her into this race as a leading contender.

12. Sweet Sherry (16) $101 MKT: $61

Ran okay behind Samara Dancer last start beaten 3.3 lengths, but didn’t appear to do enough to suggest she could firstly make up that difference and then push to an even better level to get into the mix here.

13. Kinetic Dream (16) $301 MKT: $151

Had no luck behind Samara Dancer last start so the 6.7L beaten margin is a little misleading, but her two runs prior to that suggest she’s not up to this.

14. Zamam (7) $31 MKT: $26

Was impressive winning over 1000m at Moonee Valley on debut in a very solid 96 rating and was then just fair behind Samara Dancer last start beaten 3.9L in an 89 rating. That debut run certainly need to be respected and with the Blinkers going on she could easily bounce back to that level in this race or potentially go a little better. She’s a longshot that could potentially run well.

15. Miss Nymeria (3) $41 MKT: $17

She’s drawn very wide in two starts so far, got a mile back, but finished off soundly to hit ratings in the 92-94 range. She looks to have upside, especially from a better barrier in this race. It’s hard to see her winning, but it would not surprise to see her finish third to sixth.

16. Areti (15) $81 MKT: $67

Ran a 92.5 rating winning on debut last start at Moonee Valley but has to go to an entire new level here. The jump in just one run looks far too great.

17. Selenia (E) (18) $151 MKT: $61

As first emergency she’ll only get a run if another runner is scratched and is another that could potentially add to the speed pressure up front. Her two runs so far are around the 93 level, but it’s very hard to see her taking a big step forward in this race from a very wide draw in a high pressure race.

18. Seaburge (E) (2) $81 MKT: $51

Secend emergency. Was very strong late winning a Pakenham Maiden on debut, but that 87 rating, even with plenty of upside is still a long way short of the mark here.

19. Revolving Door (E) (11) $151 MKT: $67

Third Emergency. Ran an 88 rating on debut when 4 lengths behind Flying Artie. Even if he gets a run, he doesn’t look good enough to be competitive.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Extreme Choice – Exchange is likely to offer the best price

 BACK (WIN) Concealer –  If the Exchange price gets out to $7.00 or better

Whatever your preferred outlay on the race, place 70% on Extreme Choice and 30% on Concealer, assuming the target price of $7.00 is reached. Otherwise the full outlay goes on Extreme Choice.

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