Derby Day is without doubt the premier day of thoroughbred racing on the Australian racing calendar. Four Group 1 races are complimented by another five Group races in what has always been recognised as the day for racing purists. But in recent years Derby Day has become just as popular as a social event, and has evolved into the biggest day of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival and one of the best days of racing anywhere in the world.
After a beautiful week of weather in Melbourne, the forecast says there will be a few clouds about the next couple of days with the possibility of the odd shower or thunderstorm But don’t worry about that, in the last decade it’s hardly rained in Melbourne, and certainly when it rarely does it doesn’t fall on Flemington. Even if there is precipitation it’s unlikely to matter because Flemington is the best surface in the world and will present on race morning a Dead 4 before an upgrade to a Good 3, and that is what we will be assessing the form for.
Race 1 – Inglis Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) Group 3
This race looks ideal for Kidnapped. Was a massive win coming from last off a slow tempo last start and while he may need to produce that again here, he will strip much fitter and the mile at Flemington is perfect for him. The main danger is clearly The Comedian who was super impressive at Geelong last start. This bloke is still untapped and will be up on the pace where as Kidnapped will be nearer to last of a potential slow speed. Barwaardi the next best.
2. The Comedian
Race 2 – The Lexus Stakes (2500m) Group 3
Cannot split Mark Kavanagh’s Shocking and the Queensland visitor Hume. Shocking beat all bar Alcopop in the Herbert Power two starts ago (and you don’t need to be told again how good that horse could be), then last start ran a very good second when dropping back in distance in the Coongy. Hume was probably the run of the race in the Coongy coming from thirteenth on the turn and flashing along the inside. He loves good ground and his only failures have been when the track has been soft. Will probably need luck but has the perfect jockey on board to make that luck in Stathi Katsidis. Light Vision is significantly back in class and is always around the mark in this type of event while it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the legendary Bart Cummings qualify another runner for Tuesday’s cup with Dandaad. Irazu is also a great each way chance who will strip even fitter again.
1. Hume or Shocking
Race 3 – Longines Wakeful Stakes (2000m) Group 2
I can’t overlook the ultra-impressive win last start of Run for Naara at Caulfield. She gave the whole field weight, carried 59kgs and absolutely killed them. Gets her favoured good ground here and has to be the top pick. Faint Perfume is the clear danger coming off a good third from well back in the thousand guineas. Looks a real stayer and will appreciate the extra distance, trainer isn’t in bad form either. Jolie Brise will be on the pace which is a huge plus and Melito is very classy, although I have my reservations on her running a strong 2000. Formalite is a good roughie who will probably lead and just keep whacking away.
1. Run for Naara
2. Faint Perfume
3. Jolie Brise
Race 4 – Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) Group 1
A cracking field and one of the highlights on a great day of racing. Probably the hardest race of the day, with most of the field having legitimate hopes. I love how Wanted has come back as a three year-old. She was not fully wound when first up and was only beaten a length by Black Caviar who would be odds-on in this. Then she went to Moonee Valley and did a stack of work on the speed to be beaten only a length by the older sprinters in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes. Was also good run last start when third to Lucky Secret over 1000m at Caulfield when nothing was going to catch the winner. Damien Oliver goes on and the straight six furlongs at Flemington should be right up his alley. I really like More than Great as a horse and think he will be spot on for this race. Was a good run last start against the older horses and his second to Denman in the Run to the Rose sticks in my head. He should be another perfectly suited by the 1200m down the straight. Irish Lights is a star filly who wouldn’t surprise me at all. Only worry is the drop back in distance from a mile to 1200. Demerit has done nothing wrong and is a top chance but you can’t pick them all! Phelan Ready and Shellscrape would be a big chance if the track was rated slow (which I cannot see happening) and Paprika, Headway or King Pulse wouldn’t shock.
2. More than Great
3. Irish Lights
Race 5 – Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) Group 1
The biggest question mark over this race is whether or not Vigor will run. Either way it doesn’t affect my selection which is Rangirangdoo. Couldn’t help but be impressed with his track-record smashing win last start when the blinkers went on. Despite having his first start at the distance, being by Pentire he should relish the extra trip, and remember trainer Chris Waller was tossing up whether to run him in the Cox Plate last week. Zipping is the biggest danger for mine coming off a second consecutive Cox Plate placing. Is far better suited to the open spaces of Flemington and is always around the mark. Vigor has to be given a great chance should he run. If he runs it is because he needs to win to gain a start in the Melbourne Cup and the trainer Danny O’Brien should always be respected in such a situation. Scenic Shot is underrated and loves this track and distance, will not be far away. Drumbeats has been set for the race while Racing to Win would have to be given a chance on his best form (which can be hard to find these days). Expect Viewed to be steaming home late.
3. Vigor (if scratched, substitute Scenic Shot)
Race 6 – AAMI Victoria Derby (2500m) Group 1
On paper it looks the most open Derby in years and an impossible race to sort out a clear top pick. Make sure if you are going to have a Quaddie that you go very wide in this first leg. Rockferry is a half brother to Mebourne Cup placegetter and NZ Derby Winner Xcellent. He should have won last start at Geelong and of all the horses he is the one who looks most likely to run out the extra distance of the Derby. Shamoline Warrior has done nothing wrong in his preparation, while Monaco Consul won the group one Spring Champion at his fifth start and looks as though the 2500 will be perfect. In an impossible race Our Heir Apparent and Viking Legend have chances while Extra Zero cannot be completely ruled out after having no luck last start. For mine though the best roughies who are definitely worth having something small on are the Patinack Farm pair Onemorenomore and Gathering. Both over-raced in front last start and it took So You Think to run down Gathering the last time he got his own way in front. If Onemorenomore settles and gets the trip he has the ability to just blow them away.
2. Shamoline Warrior
3. Monaco Consul
Race 7 – Myer Classic (1600m) Group 1
This fillies and mares classic is usually won very good mare who is simply the best horse in the race, for example Forensics last year, Divine Madonna the year before, and Lotteria in 2005. This year I feel that mare will be Typhoon Tracy who dead-set annihilated her main rivals for this race last start. Has a wide gate but would need to have absolutely horrendous luck to be any chance of losing this race. She’s my bet of the day. Hot Danish is a very good mare but probably the most overrated horse in Australia. She has never won a group one race and I’m not sure she is at her best over a mile. Neroli will appreciate the extra distance although I couldn’t see her winning unless the heavens opened significantly between now and the race. Gold Water is honest and Zarita is probably the best of the roughies dropping in class and distance.
1. Typhoon Tracy*
3. Hot Danish
Race 8 – Seppelt Salinger Stakes (1200m) Group 2
Have to put First Command on top here. This horse is a winner, and winners generally keep on winning. Has won seven of his last eight and it took one the performances of the spring from All Silent to beat him two starts ago. Turffontein and Eagle Falls both get a kilo off First Command for being beaten 0.8 and 1.5 lengths respectively last start and have to go in as the next best. Olonana is a very good first up mare who has three wins from four first up attempts and has won impressively down the straight before, my worry is that both of her good wins were over 1000m and she may struggle over 1200 down the straight. Secret Flyer and Absolutelyfabulous both will get well back and look to flash home while News Alert and Wasted Emotions are up in class but both very honest.
1. First Command
2. Eagle Falls
Race 9 – AAMI Business Insurance Stakes (1400m) Group 3
The old get-out stakes looks a very tough contest this year with heaps of chances, so hopefully we aren’t relying on it come the end of the day. McClintock should go close on the strength of his last start win at Caulfield. The Flemington 1400 (which is the softest in the country) always suits on-pacers and he should go forward and prove very hard to run down. Walking or Dancing was only just beaten by McClintock last start at Randwick and he has drawn to get the gun run just off the pace. Kiloton and Centennial Park will both put themselves in the race and are both great chances while Snipers Bullet ran second in this race last year to All Silent and should strip much fitter after missing work before his last run. Fist of Fury and Stickpin are non-winners but have a chance while Largo Lad flies fresh and has a great first up record but will need a stack of luck from barrier one. Triple Honour is a Doncaster winner who also has to be given some chance in a really tough race.
1. McClintock or Walking or Dancing
3. Centennial Park
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