Newmarket Handicap (MR6)
An intriguing Group 1 sprint down the Flemington straight-six opens the quaddie. The Open Handicap over 1200m is full of chances, with nine of the 15 starters $19 or less. Shamexpress, Samaready and Lankan Rupee are all fighting out favouritism. Trainer Mick Price looks to have two big hopes here, saddling-up Samaready and Lankan Rupee. Interesting that after four straight wins on Lankan Rupee, jockey Craig Newitt has preferred Samaready. I’ll cop the tip from ‘Froggy’ and select the mare, who is unbeaten in two starts second-up. Last year’s runner-up Moment Of Change will carry an extra 1.5kg, but has earned it having won two WFA Group 1s since and also run another four placings in elite sprints in Melbourne and Perth. Despite 58kg, Peter Moody’s five-year-old is a definite hope. Of the lightweights, Unpretentious will improve on his fifth in the Lightning Stakes a fortnight ago and looks suited with just 53kg. Last year’s winner Shamexpress is up 4.5kg and is coming off Group 1 seconds either side of a spell.
Selections: Samaready, Moment Of Change, Unpretentious, Shamexpress
Australian Cup (MR7)
The second of the Group 1s at Flemington is the Australian Cup, where many punters have narrowed it down to a match race between Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente and Cox Plate champion Shamus Award. Like most form students, it’s hard to ignore Fiorente’s 5kg weight turnaround from last year’s Cox Plate, and as such, I’ve gone for Gai Waterhouse’s gelding over Danny O’Brien’s quality colt. Backing-up from last week’s Australian Guineas success, Shamus Award will look to dictate from the front again, but may be pestered by Star Rolling which likes to lead. The long Flemington straight will give Fiorente every chance to wear down the leaders. My only concern is the second-up syndrome, particularly over 2000m. Chris Waller’s Foreteller was just getting warmed up over 1800m last start and the extra 200m looks ideal third-up. Third in Victoria Derby in the spring, Thunder Fantasy can be competitive.
Selections: Fiorente, Shamus Award, Foreteller, Thunder Fantasy
Blamey Stakes (MR8)
It is hard to line up the form lines in the Blamey. Robert Hickmott, trainer for Team Williams, has the top and bottom weights (Sea Moon & Foundry) in this Group 2 event over a mile. Irish import, Foundry, was good at his Australian debut, winning an Open Handicap over 1400m on this track, and with some natural improvement, can go on with it here for Hickmott. Stayer, Sertorious, returned to racing with a fantastic second in Group 1 company and has never missed a place second-up. Toppy, Sea Moon, races well fresh and with more than $1.1m in the kitty, doesn’t seem too harshly weighted with 59kg. Peter Moody’s Lidari is another who will improve with racing and was third behind Fiorente second-up last campaign over a mile.
Selections: Foundry, Sertorious, Sea Moon, Lidari
Super Saturday Stakes (MR9)
A super card of racing boasting $3.2m in prizemoney winds-up with the appropriately named Super Saturday Stakes. It’s a tough Open Handicap over 1400m. Team Williams has another European import in The United States. If there’s a push for him in betting, then the four-year-old son of Galileo is a good each-way prospect at his first run down under. Don’t leave Tasmanian raider Banca Mo out of your multiples. He’s back after finishing his last campaign with a five-length victory in the Warrnambool Cup in May and is good fresh. Michael Moroney’s Rythym To Spare is another who goes well early in preparations and was beaten just under two-lengths in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes before a break. Finishing Card is consistent and good value at double figure odds from the inside marble.
Selections: The United States, Banca Mo, Rhythym To Spare, Finishing Card
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