Massive day of racing at Caulfield, quality and class abounds, here’s my thoughts on the three Group 1’s, Blue Diamond Stakes, Futurity and Oakleigh Plate.
Godolphin hold the gun hand in this with three runners, Hartnell, Best Of Days and Alizee.
Not surprisingly Alizee dominates betting on the back of her impressive first-up win in the Expressway Stakes.
Alizee should win, but her two Group 1 wins were against her own sex and she meets a fitter Le Romain and a rock hard Land Of Plenty, so not rushing in to take the shorts.
Land Of Plenty would have beaten Manuel and won the Orr Stakes with any luck and stablemate Best Of Days also wasn’t disgraced in the Orr.
Best: Alizee. Dangers: Land Of Plenty, Best Of Days.
I expect I Am Immortal will be right in the firing line, but the query is whether he can stay there at the pointy end.
The colt is unbeaten in two starts and at his latest he went hard in the Prelude and hung on to win. Jockey Ben Melham’s after race comments, that I Am Immortal was “a bit empty’’ is a concern. However, natural improvement and experience could see I Am Immortal find a bit extra and stave them off and he’s now attractive odds.
With a field of 14 babies running around Caulfield you would rather be on the speed. The backmarkers, Hawker Hurricane, Loving Gaby and Brooklyn Hustle will be advantaged by the expected high tempo, but will also need luck finding runs.
Not the best news going into a Group1 around Loving Gaby. The filly cleared to race after a second inspection by RV vets after showing signs of lameness.
My pick of the fillies is Athiri. She had a tough wide run behind stablemate and winner Lyre. Athiri is smart and with a better run in transit she can turn the tables on Lyre and give Godolphin another feature race win.
Shotmaker made a great debut when third to I Am Immortal, he’s drawn the outside and will probably be ridden for luck, but expect him to finish the race off strongly.
Best: Athiri. Dangers: I Am Immortal, Shotmaker.
The Oakleigh Plate is always a great spectacle and with 18 sprinters zipping along around Caulfield this year is no different.
Favourite Nature Strip boats an imposing record of nine wins from 13 starts and has been marked as a potential group 1 winner, but failed in his only attempt in the Moir before being spelled.
The four-year-old scored an effortless win in the Group 2 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) when resuming. He was entitled too, with two average eight-year-olds Jungle Edge and Thermal Current filling the placings.
There is definitely more quality in this with Viddora, last start winner Bons Away and the under-rated Spright to be included among the chances.
Expecting Encryption to run a big race. He blew out the gate in betting when resuming and wasn’t knocked about behind Bons Away. Craig Williams jumps back aboard Encryption and the double figure odds are too good to pass up.
Best: Encryption (each-way). Dangers: Nature Strip, Spright.