It’s the first of the Spring Racing Carnival’s three major races (the others being the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup), the Group 1 Caulfield Cup and the world’s richest 2400 metre handicap to boot. In just the last 20 years the Caulfield Cup honour roll has included names such as Might and Power, Northerly, Elvstroem, Mummify, Let’s Elope, Mannerism, Doriemus and Ethereal who join a list that includes some the turf’s greatest names like Poseidon, Amounis, Rising Fast, Tulloch, Galilee and Tobin Bronze.
Usually you could expect around 50,000 people crammed into Caulfield race course, however with this year’s bleak weather forecast and expected heavy track, the crowd will likely be significantly less. Here’ s how I see the main event.
RACE 8 – GROUP 1 BMW CAULFIELD CUP (2400m)
Before the barrier draw and the arrival of the big wet, I was extremely keen on the chances of last spring’s rags to riches story Alcopop who ran a great race last weekend behind the spring’s boom horse, So You Think. While the extreme outside barrier may not prove to be as bad as initially thought with the field likely to get right off the fence in the home straight, the heavy track is a big unknown. Notably though Alcopop does have one win from one slow track run in which he also finished well ahead of Shocking in the JRA Cup at Moonee Valley last spring. He then went on to comfortably beat this year’s cup topweight again over this track and distance in the Herbert Power Stakes and considering he meets Shocking 5.5kgs better off for that victory he cannot be ruled out completely. With the likely heavy track it is hard to go past Shocking who has a win and a very unlucky second from two heavy track efforts. Despite the 57kgs he actually isn’t that badly treated and wouldn’t surprise me if he proves to be significantly the best stayer in the race. With six Caulfield Cups to his name you can never rule out Bart Cummings and the best of his two chances on the heavy ground looks to be Faint Perfume. With only 52kgs she looks primed to run a great race. Herculian Prince is suited by the heavy conditions, however I still have reservations over his class while Metal Bender is a classy galloper and wouldn’t surprise however he is still unproven at the staying trips for mine. Despite all the hype over the Internationals their form doesn’t look strong enough to make up for the fact that it is extremely hard to go overseas and win. Monaco Consul looks the best of the real roughies.
- Faint Perfume
Here are my selections for the day’s other races:
RACE 1 – D’URBAN PLATE (1400m)
Tough little race for the fillies to start the day and don’t stress if you miss this one scheduled for the extremely early 11.30AM kick off! The lightly-raced Canconi has raced well on a slow track and is bred to handle worse. Topweight Enzed Girl has won on heavy and will be hard to beat while Alotta Spur has performed well on the heavy before. Ain’tnofallenstar was scratched from the Group 1 Thousand Guineas on Wednesday, however if it was because of the track condition then she is likely to find it no better here.
- Alotta Spur
- Enzed Girl
RACE 2 – LISTED HOYTS FOOD-SPICES STAKES (1400m)
I’m pretty keen on the chances of Skilled who was originally aimed at the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas before an elevated temperature ruled him out. He’s one from one on slow ground and despite having never started on heavy there aren’t many sons of Commands who don’t handle it. Of the others Territory looks the main danger while Goldstone can improve. Multahem or Mr Chard both wouldn’t shock.
RACE 3 – LISTED SPORTINGBET STAKES (2000m)
This race is the first time any of these fillies have raced over 2000 metres and when you throw in the likelihood of an extremely heavy track it makes picking the winner virtually impossible. Your guess is as good as mine. Our Pride and Joy and Speed of Dark at least have decent heavy track form while Placement has some slow track form and looks as though she has been crying out for the extra trip. You’re probably just as well served by getting out the darts in this one!
- Our Pride and Joy
- Speed of Dark
RACE 4 – GROUP 3 NORMAN ROBINSON STAKES (2000m)
The first of the Derby lead ups and it’s hard to go past Rekindled Interest who just continues to find bad luck due to his get-back racing pattern. Over the extra distance he may be able to sit closer to the speed and he seemed to handle the heavy going at Flemington last month. Retrieve is proven at the trip and is also one from one on heavy ground which makes him extremely hard to beat. Altius has run well on wet ground before and is looking for the extra distance and if breeding is anything to go by being a half brother to Makybe Diva, Shadowofexcellence should handle a wet track. Of the others Mackadoo, Digital Fortress and Yulalona all have some chance in a tough race.
- Rekindled Interest
RACE 5 – GROUP 2 CAULFIELD SPRINT (1100m)
Going with the horse I think is the superior wet tracker here and that looks to be the promising three year old Soul. A son of gun wet track sire Commands, he’s two from two on heavy tracks including a win in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes at Flemington last start. Dubleanny is a very smart mare who handles all conditions and can race both on and off the speed. There has already been a stack of money for Set for Fame first up from a spell. General Truce ran the race of his life last start behind Black Caviar and is both fit and honest while Definitely Ready cannot be ruled out on wet ground on his breeding alone. If Eagle Falls handles the track (unknown) he probably goes close while Dissolved who is also unknown on wet ground isn’t without a hope.
- General Truce
RACE 6 – GROUP 3 BETFAIR STAKES (1400m)
Looks a great race on paper and one that probably won’t be completely spoiled by the wet track. Dao Dao ran well first up and isn’t worried by the heaviest of tracks. He looks perfectly suited over 1400m second up. Demerit is one from one on slow ground and ran a cracker first up in the same race as Dao Dao. Obviously a query in the heavy going but he’s a big chance if he gets through it. All Silent doesn’t really like it heavy, but he gets through it and is too good to leave out. McClintock, Gathering and Jungle Ruler are on pacers that love wet tracks and could run a place while Snipers Bullet and Woorim are capable of showing up.
- Dao Dao
- All Silent
RACE 7 – GROUP 3 DAVID JONES CUP (2000m)
There appear to be two clear stand outs here, in the topweight C’est La Guerre and Purple. The track conditions are clearly the key factor with both gallopers. Purple (yet another of the Snowden trained Commands progeny) has two wins and a third from 3 heavy tracks runs, including a group one victory over this distance. C’est La Guerre actually beat Purple last start in what was his first Australian victory and his first win for two and a half years since the G1 New Zealand Derby. He did however run third in the 2008 Melbourne Cup and does need a rain affected track to show his best which goes part the way to explaining the long time between drinks. Rainbow Styling is in career best form and gets through heavy ground without excelling in it while a form reversal from last start for Empires Choice would hardly shock. Playwright is another in career best form that isn’t hopeless in the wet and could run a cheeky race while Zoomin is a mudlark whose fitness and love of the wet could make up for an extreme gulf in class.
- C’est La Guerre
- Rainbow Styling
RACE 9 – GROUP 2 HARROLDS TRISTARC STAKES (1400m)
I have a feeling this field will look nothing like it does now come race time with both of the favourites Hot Danish and Palacio De Cristal unlikely to run on a heavy track. No Evidence Needed is a very good mare in terrific form and did win well on a borderline heavy surface at Flemington last month. Live in Sin ran well in the same Flemington race before continuing her good form at her next two starts. Montana Flyer is not one of my horses but she grows a leg on wet ground while Believe ‘n Achieve is another that ran well in the aforementioned Flemington race and has some wet track form and wouldn’t surprise at all here. Culminate, I’m a Hussy and Aloha have all won on heavy surfaces and have some hope in a race that you probably want to wait until after the morning scratchings before taking a price.
- No Evidence Needed
- Live in Sin
- Montana Flyer
RACE 10 – CARLTON DRAUGHT PLATE (1100m)
Finally, the last race on what is a very long day at Caulfield! By this time of the day after three race meetings and 26 races in a week the track could resemble closer to a swamp than a grass racecourse. To really make things even more difficult most of these mares have absolutely no heavy track form. I’m going to go with the old ‘Commands in the wet rule’ again today for the fourth time and put the lightly raced promising Misty Blue as my top pick. I’m really only guessing but I’ll put the classy Miss Octopussy in for second and the last of the emergencies Varenna Miss for third.
- Misty Blue
- Miss Octopussy
- Varenna Miss
Ben Asgari is a second-year student at La Trobe University who blogs at http://benasgariracing.wordpress.com/ where this article is also posted. Follow Ben on Twitter at www.twitter.com/benasgariracing
Click here for Ben’s Beginner’s Guide to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.