Shaftesbury Avenue Handicap (MR6)
With a number of stayers resuming and handy milers probably in need of a run, I think Peter Moody’s Strawberry Boy can win this fresh. The five-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice is a veteran of just 12 lifetime starts, having won three from four first-up. He’s one for one at Flemington and is very consistent over the 1400m. Before going out, Strawberry Boy ran a close second to Boban and that’s solid form for this event. Tony McEvoy’s Mouro is good early in his campaigns and boasts Melbourne Carnival form. Look out for stayer Bel Thor second-up after his handy return in the Hareeba Stakes. Dany The Fox is another who performs well early in his preps.
Selections: Strawberry Boy, Mouro, Bel Thor, Dany The Fox
Australian Guineas (MR7)
The Group 1 Australian Guineas is the highlight and TattsBet has a juicy $150,000 carry-over jackpot on this race. I’m tipping astute South Australian trainer Phillip Stokes has Hucklebuck primed to progress to elite class against his own age group (3yo). The son of Elvstroem has never missed a place in seven career starts, winning five and placing on the other two occasions. He was a last-start comfortable winner at Flemington and should’ve won the Carbine Club Stakes over this course and distance in the spring, instead of finishing a close second to Paximadia. From a widish barrier, jockey Dom Tourneur can ill afford an ordinary ride, similar to his effort in the Carbine. The Quarterback is at double figure odds and has a good chance to run into the placings. Cox Plate winner, Shamus Award, and Eurozone from Team Cummings, are too classy to leave out. However, both are second-up after placing behind Moment Of Change in the Orr Stakes. That form was franked when Moment Of Change won at weight for age again last week. However, I reckon they might be one run short for the tough Flemington mile.
Selections: Hucklebuck, The Quarterback, Eurozone, Shamus Award
Bob Hoysted Handicap (MR8)
Race 8 is a mad-scamper down the Flemington straight over 1000m. After finishing 2.2 lengths behind Snitzerland in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes at weight for age two weeks ago, Pago Rock drops back to listed class and looks hard to beat, despite his 60kg impost. The David Hayes’ galloper does have a second over this distance to Unpretentious in the Schillachi and is the winner of 10 races. Last year’s Blue Diamond winner, Miracles Of Life, loves the five-furlong dash (three wins from three starts) and if you can forgive this talented three-year-old filly her last campaign, which was plain, she’s a chance with Corey Brown in the saddle. Lloyd Kennewell’s El Magico is a good sprinter and can sit just off the expected high speed in this from barrier three. Jockey Steven Arnold will suit this under-rated galloper. Look for Peter Moody’s youngster Office Bearer to run boldly first-up.
Selections: Pago Rock, Miracles Of Life, El Magico, Office Bearer
Open Handicap (MR9)
This is a tough way to finish the quaddie, with half the field either first-up or second- up over 2000m. By a process of elimination, I have settled for Desert Jeuney, which is unbeaten beyond 1400m. Nigel Blackiston’s son of Desert King is third-up after two 1400m runs and did win at his third run in last campaign, starting off a hat-trick of success. A winner of four of his eight starts and one additional placing, I’m hoping this four-year-old can continue to convert his staying promise into more victories. Darren Weir has a strong chance in Akzar, which is going for three in a row. Tread cautiously here though, at his three previous runs in another stable, Akzar’s combined losing was margin 24.7 lengths (vale Darren Weir!). He’s an enigma with over $1m in the kitty and a tipster’s nightmare, but I’ll put Extra Zero (4w & 12p from 57 starts) in for third. David Hayes’s other representative, Whisper Downs, goes in for fourth, even though he’s run just one placing from his last nine outings.
Selections: Desert Jeuney, Akzar, Extra Zero, Whisper Down
Click here for all racing markets
Click here for Weekend Jackpot Information