Orr Stakes Caulfield - February 8

Blue Diamond Prelude Fillies (MR5)

The female babies of the turf step-up to 1100m here as they round-off preparations for the Blue Diamond in a fortnight. One of the big guns in the Diamond is first-up and going the Melbourne way for the first time. But Earthquake is a serious filly from the Peter Snowden stable. The daughter of Exceed And Excel was ultra-impressive in its race debut at Randwick in November and was sharpened up with a close second in an 800m barrier trial at Cranbourne on January 30. With Kerrin McEvoy sidelined, Queensland-based jockey Damien Browne takes the ride and should guide this dynamite Darley runner home. The unbeaten Eloping is speedy and will be in it for a long way. Robert Smerdon’s Lumosity was good on debut behind Eloping and will again be running on. With a clean getaway, Top Dolly from the Tommy Hughes yard will be competitive with form behind Oakleigh Girl.

Selections: Earthquake, Eloping, Lumosity, Top Dolly

Blue Diamond Prelude C&Gs (MR6)

In the boys’ division of the Diamond Prelude, another Sydney visitor which created a big impression on debut, faces the tricky Caulfield track for the first time. Gerald Ryan’s Rubick puts his credentials on the line against some handy locals. A $460,000 yearling, the son of Encosta De Lago has drawn perfectly in gate 2 and Brenton Avdulla should sit just off the pace before letting rip in the straight. Darely’s Mohave is improving and looks a definite threat. Wide gates have dented the chances of logical dangers Nostradamus and Chilvalry, so it might pay to include Gai Waterhouse’s Francesco in multiples. Don’t leave out Darley second-stringer Orugo either.

Selections: Rubick, Mohave, Francesco, Orugo

Rubiton Stakes (MR7) 

It is hard to go past Queensland sprinter Better Than Ready in this Group 2 1100m scamper. Kelly Schweida’s sprinter has two from two over this distance and goes really well fresh. The four-year-old is having its first start after a 77-day ease-up and had Brisbane Winter Carnival form in the three major sprints. The gelding will get back, but with speed on, Rick McMahon knows exactly when to push the button on the winner of eight races from 15 starts. Mick Price’s two representatives, Lankan Rupee and Lion Of Belfort, will go well. Lankan Rupee surprised last campaign winning at weight for age and was impressive in a recent barrier trial. Lion Of Belfort is an emerging three-year-old who was put out after running third behind Zoustar in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at the Flemington Spring Carnival. He might need the run and also keep in mind this colt did get beaten at its first ever start over 1000m on the Geelong synthetic just on 18 months ago. Tony McEvoy’s Iconic can improve, especially if there’s a little rain about.

Selections: Better Than Ready, Lankan Rupee, Lion Of Belfort, Iconic

C.F. Orr Stakes (MR8)

Just seven starters for the first Group 1 of 2014, the C.F. Orr Stakes. Perth visitor Playing God was scratched early. There are interesting form lines, with a handful of stayers resuming and two very good three-year-olds also beginning new preparations. Though beaten last start in a very winnable race, it might pay to forgive Peter Moody’s Moment Of Change. Caught wide in the Australia Day Stakes, the five-year-old couldn’t reel in Richie’s Vibe at Moonee Valley over 1200m. It’s now 1400m and Luke Nolen takes over from Linda Meech. Moment Of Change has won two-from-two at this track and distance, including the Group 1 Rupert Clarke Stakes in September 2012. While it looks suited, this enigmatic gelding hasn’t won since. Cox Plate winner Shamus Award looks primed to run well first-up and appears to have the class edge over another three-year-old Eurozone, from the Bart and James Cummings stable. Though looking for further, Hawkspur might just pull off a bold run fresh.

Selections: Moment Of Change, Shamus Award, Eurozone, Hawkspur


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