The talking point for racing officials and punters in Australia this week has been the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival dates – and, in particular, when the Melbourne Cup, Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate will run.
The Melbourne Racing Club turned the debate on its head when it announced it was seriously considering moving the Caulfield Cup to 28 November to avoid a clash with the AFL finals series. The later date would also give the event the chance of better weather, as well as the prospect of crowds being allowing into the track by that time.
The Victoria Racing Club said the ‘first Tuesday in November’ date for the Melbourne Cup is sacrosanct and it will not be altering the dates of its four-day carnival.
The Moonee Valley Racing Club chief executive, Michael Browell, said he expects the Cox Plate will remain on its 24 October date, which means it will clash with the AFL Grand Final. Browell indicated that he was in discussions with the AFL about the Cox Plate being run during the day and the AFL Grand Final played at night, but there also is the possibility of flipping these options.
It’s an interesting one to watch for anyone placing a futures bet on the exciting colt Russian Camelot for either the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup. His trainer Danny O’Brien told radio RSN on Tuesday that he would consider missing the Melbourne Cup in preference for the Caulfield Cup if the Caulfield Cup is moved to late in November.
This weekend’s racing continues to focus on the warm north, as the abbreviated Brisbane Winter Carnival continues at Doomben racecourse. The key race for punters is the Fred Best Classic (1350m), in which the brilliant colt Dawn Passage will be aiming to make it three wins on end as he heads towards next week’s Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm – he’s currently second favourite in Stradbroke Handicap betting.
The Doomben racecourse track surface was rated a soft 5 on Thursday morning. With no rain predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology for the rest of the week, it should settle in the good range.
In Sydney, the track at Rosehill racecourse was a heavy 9 on Thursday morning. Most of the heavy rain seems to be gone and showers are expected through to Saturday. Punters should be doing their betting homework with the expectation of a soft track at best.
Racing in Melbourne returns to Caulfield racecourse. The rain that made last week’s Flemington track a rare heavy 1 is gone. Caulfield was rated a soft 5 on Thursday morning, but with no rain predicted the surface could improve to a good 4 by Saturday.
Racing at Morphettville racecourse in South Australia is on the inner Parks track on Saturday. The track was a soft 5 on Thursday and should improve into the good range, although rain is predicted for later in the afternoon.
In Perth, the storms are circling the city and punters should be prepared to bet on a wet Belmont racecourse. Up to 50mm will fall on Perth on Thursday and Friday, so a soft to heavy track is likely.
FRED BEST CLASSIC PREVIEW: DAWN PASSAGE WARMS UP FOR THE STRADBROKE
Dawn Passage will get ready for next week’s $400,000 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm by competing against his own age – three-year-olds – in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m), which is Race 8 at Doomben racecourse on Saturday.
Dawn Passage is a friend of the ‘Weekend in Racing’ after winning the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) at Rosehill in Sydney on 25 April, when we declared him the value bet of the day. He saluted at $8 and he followed that with an equally impressive win in the Inglis Guineas over the same course on 16 May.
The Fred Best Classic has attracted a handy field of three-year-olds, with the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas (1200m) as the main lead-up race. The winner of that race, Hightail, has been scratched from the Fred Best Classic, but the runner-up The Odyssey and third-placed Exhilarates are two of the main rivals for Dawn Passage on Saturday.
The Odyssey, who was brave at the Gold Coast, will hunt forward from his wide gate, ensuring a solid tempo in the Fred Best Classic field. This will suit Dawn Passage, who is the class runner. Exhilarates will need to come from well back to win.
Fred Best Classic tips: Top pick is Dawn Passage, but expect The Odyssey to run a cheeky race around the tight Doomben track. Exhilarates is the next best. The outside to run into a place is Scathing, who will track the pace on the fence.
CHAIRMAN’S HANDICAP PREVIEW: ANOTHER WIN, ANOTHER DOLLAR
Normally the Group 3 Chairman’s Handicap (2000m), race 7 at Doomben on Saturday, would be one of the main lead-up races to the Doomben Cup and Brisbane Cup, but neither of those races are being run during this shortened Brisbane Winter Carnival. This year’s race is dominated by Sydney form and trainer Chris Waller, who has eight horses in the Chairman’s Handicap field.
The tight Doomben racecourse can be tricky at the best of times, so it’s important to draw well. In this case, the two main chances, Another Dollar and Ilwendo, have drawn to be right in the finish.
From barrier 1, Another Dollar – trained by Chris Waller and ridden by top local jockey Ryan Maloney – should get the run of the race. Another Dollar comes off a win in the Listed Gosford Cup (2000m, run at Randwick) on 8 May, when he was given a peach of a ride by Glen Boss. Importantly, the ex-Kiwi galloper has a win and five placings from seven starts at Doomben, so the track holds no fears for him.
Ilwendo is an ex-German galloper who has won two of his three starts at Doomben. He led and was game when second behind Another Dollar at Randwick. It was his first run for nearly five weeks and trainer Matthew Smith will have him primed for this race around a track the horse loves.
Two of the main chances in early Chairman’s Handicap betting markets – Dr Drill and Aliferous – were scratched on Wednesday, which allowed two of the emergencies, Lota Creek Gold and A Man To Match, into the field.
Another Dollar’s stablemate Brimham Rocks held his ground when sixth in the Gosford Cup. He will be fitter for two runs from a spell and, although drawn wide, he has the class to run a big race. He only has to run to his 14th in last year’s Caulfield Cup – where he was beaten by only 5.5 lengths – to be right in the finish of this race.
Chairman’s Handicap tips: Three main chances – Another Dollar, Ilwendo and Brimham Rocks. Happy to have a bet on all of them for a profit.
BILL CARTER STAKES PREVIEW: HOW SWEET IS PANNA COTTA
All the early money in the Bill Carter Stakes betting market (race 4 at Doomben) is for local filly Gotta Kiss, who has firmed into the favourite. There’s good reason for this: a summary of the speed map for this race suggests there will be a lot of contested speed, which suits Gotta Kiss’s run-on style of racing.
However, jockey Stephanie Thornton, who has been riding very well in Brisbane, will need to produce a gem to get Gotta Kiss off the rail, as those speed horses tend to fall back.
The Sydney filly Panna Cotta might be the best bet. She’s drawn nicely in three and looks value in early betting markets.
Bill Carter Stakes tips: Panna Cotta looks a tasty bet ahead of Gotta Kiss, who has the class.
CAULFIELD RACES: SCHEDULE AND TIPS
Neds BM78 Handicap (race 3)
14. Mrs O’Malley (trainer Enver Jusufovic)
We liked her at Flemington but she didn’t like it much – she stayed in the gates. Her trainer Enver (EJ) Jusufovic said the addition of a cross-over noseband cause the problem, so it comes off. Mrs O’Malley jumped cleanly from the gates at Cranbourne last Monday. She might be over the odds when she runs on Saturday, as she has a ton of talent.
Vale Kevin O’Brien Handicap (race 8)
6. Pride Range (trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace)
Price Range is an imported galloper having his first run in Australia. He had honest form in France, winning three from nine. Interestingly, the three wins were on the all-weather synthetic tracks. However, he was very impressive in a recent jump-out at Caulfield, where he showed speed, and the money has come for him to run well first time out on his new ‘home’ track.
Neds Toolbox Handicap (race 9)
8. Mahamedeis (trainer Nick Ryan)
Mahamedeis is primed to return to the winning list and he looks a value bet in this race. He’s on his home track, and one of his four runs includes a solid third behind So Si Bon at Caulfield on an unsuitable heavy track on 9 May. After that he charged late for second behind Super Titus at Flemington on 16 May. He meets that horse here on better terms.
ROSEHILL RACES: SCHEDULE AND TIPS
Darley Handicap (race 1)
5. Supremo (trainer John Thompson)
This colt by Written Tycoon and the Australian Oaks winner Dizelle is a half-sister to VRC Oaks winner Pinot. He has trialled very well and is poised to run a big race at odds on his first start – we tipped him to run well last week but the heavy track forced his scratching. This is a harder assignment but at double-figure odds, he’s worth a dip – smaller the win, larger the place.
Schweppes Handicap (race 4)
11. Soldier Of Love (Trainer Bjorn Baker)
There is a distinct lack of speed in this race field, which will suit a fit Soldier Of Love, who will push forward from barrier five. Jockey Rachel King is good on a leader. This looks his race.
BELMONT RACES: SCHEDULE AND TIPS
Gourmet Takeaway Plate (race 3)
1. Dunbar (Trainers Grant and Alana Williams)
This exciting colt is another likely star from the Bob Peters/Grant and Alana Williams production line. He was most impressing winning his first start with William Pike in the saddle and he should win again. In Willie we trust.
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