The time-honoured Newmarket Handicap and Australian Cup hold centre stage at Flemington on Saturday and what an intriguing clash we have at Randwick with the best filly in the land taking on the best colt when The Autumn Sun and Nakeeta Jane clash in the Randwick Guineas.
With the Magic Millions win for the Godolphin filly Exhilarates not counting toward qualification for The Golden Slipper, the daughter of Snitzel will need to win or run second in the Reisling to gain a start in the big won to be run on March 23.
On our figures the Magic Millions win for Exhilarates is one the top two rating performance by any two-year-old this season in a year where there hasn’t been an outstanding juvenile, the other being Lyre in the Blue Diamond.
Exhilarates hasn’t raced since Magic Millions Day but her trial at Canterbury on February 25 was good. Reckon she races right into Golden Slipper calculations by winning the Reisling.
The tip: (1) Exhilarates ($3.10)
Although a beaten favourite in the Expressway Stakes resuming at Rosehill on February 2, two recent trial wins for the Gerald Ryan-trained Trapeze Artist suggest the four-year-old is back to his best and if that’s the case he is the horse to beat in the Canterbury Stakes.
He hasn’t won a race in close to a year since winning the T.J. Smith and All Aged Stakes in successive races during the 2018 Autumn Carnival but his four subsequent runs including a runner-up finish in the Everest were all solid.
Also worth noting three of the four runs were on wet tracks and there is little doubt he is at his explosive best on top of the ground. If the track remains dry on Saturday, Trapeze Artist looks set to return to the winner’s list.
The tip: (1) Trapeze Artist ($2.90)
Readers of this column know the respect we have for the Mark Newnham-trained Nakeeta Jane, we reckon she is the heir apparent to the best girl in the land title with Winx likely to retire this year and she has been very good to us winning both runs time in when tipped at good odds.
But she certainly faces a task taking on the horse who may well be the best male horse in the land or at the very least without a doubt the best three-year-old in The Autumn Sun. His Caulfield Guineas win was explosive, and it was a huge effort to run down Vegadaze in the Hobartville resuming last start.
We can’t tip against him although we will say $1.60 as a place bet with Sportsbet for Nakeeta Jane may well be a better investment option than a win bet on The Autumn Sun at $1.55.
The tip: (1) The Autumn Sun ($1.55)
What an outstanding field of sprinters will line up in the Newmarket Handicap with Osborne Bulls the popular elect in early Sportsbet markets at $3.90 with a big gap to the second line of betting shared by Eduardo and Graff but there are at least 10 winning chances and probably more.
We have gone looking for value and will be having something on the Godolphin three-year-old Encryption. A winner of the Danehill Stakes at the track and distance during the Spring, Encryption has hit the line strongly in his two runs this time in including a runner finish in the Oakleigh Plate at Caulfield last start. He is unbeaten in two third-up runs and $23 looks exceptional value for mine.
The tip: (19) Encryption ($23.00)
The return of two former Melbourne Cup winners in Almandin and Rekindling adds plenty of interest to the Australian Cup, but they will need to be right at their best to defeat Avilius who has won six of his eight starts since coming to Australia as part of the Godolphin operation with the only losses coming in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
Avilius has been impressive winning the Group III TS Carlyon Cup and Group II Peter Young Stakes in his two runs this time in and looks set to register his first Group I win.
The tip: (7) Avilius ($1.95)