The Spring Racing Carnival draws to a close for yet another year this Saturday at Sandown and all the attention will be on whether Zipping can win a record fourth straight Sandown Classic. With the ever fickle Melbourne weather threatening Derby Day-style rain, it will hopefully hold off long enough to complete what, weather permitting, would be a fantastic card of racing.
Sandown Classic day is far more relaxed than the recently completed Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington as suits, heels and marquees are replaced by shorts, thongs and eskies (it’s usually warm and sunny by the middle of November!). So here’s how I see the day unfolding.
RACE 1 – LISTED MERSON COOPER STAKES (1000m)
Unraced two year olds, no thanks.
1. No Selections
RACE 2 – LISTED RACE-TECH STAKES (1400m)
Not sure how you could possibly overlook Palomares who romped home by 5 lengths at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day. That was on a slow track and her breeding suggest that she should handle any kind of ground. Riverina’s Girl looks a nice filly in the making, Candy Stripes and Wonderful Lass were very good behind Curtana on Oaks Day while Potions was OK in the Group 1 Coolmore, should handle wet ground and should improve with the extra 200 metres. Booklet and Zelsnitz were both good behind Palomares at Flemington and can place again while Jalsah and Frenetica are others that could run in the first three if the track isn’t too wet.
2. Riverina’s Girl
RACE 3 – SANDOWN CUP (3200m)
A brand new race and the weather (as with most of the races) is going to play a massive role in my selections. “The wetter the better” were the exact words of Steve Richards during the week and if the rain does arrive then Irazu looks a fantastic each way bet. I think he needs it significantly wet though to turn the tables on Macedonian who was impressive last start. If the track is dead or better then Above Average probably deserves to be on top from Persian Star and Capecover who all have significant winning claims.
1. Irazu (Each way if wet)
3. Above Average
RACE 4 – LISTED KEVIN HEFFERNAN STAKES (1300m)
Of all the races on the card this race is probably the most affected by whether or not the downpour has hit Sandown. All Silent appears to be finally getting back towards something near his best after a very good closing fourth behind Black Caviar at the Flemington. The key to him is a good track and if he can get that then he has to be the one to beat under the weight for age conditions. Perturbo and Gold In Dubai also need a dry track to show their best. If the track is slow or worse then Dubleanny goes on top. First Command is a chance in any conditions however I have a little bit of a reservation over him running out the 1300 metres.
1. All Silent (Needs Dry)
3. First Command
RACE 5 – GROUP 3 ZAIDEE’S RAINBOW FOUNDATION STAKES (1500m)
I tipped Demerit on top in last week’s Group 1 Emirates Handicap so I have to have him on top here. He handles all conditions and this looks a perfect consolation. Set For Fame is a very good mare that premier trainer Peter Moody has a massive opinion of. She similarly handles all conditions however she is giving Demerit 2kgs under the race conditions. Luen Yat Forever was very good in both the Emirates and the Toorak and has an undeniable chance here despite the 58kgs. Quick Peek is a lightly raced horse that wouldn’t completely shock while Amaethon was good behind the smart Launay on cup day.
2. Set For Fame
3. Luen Yat Forever
RACE 6 – GROUP 2 BETFAIR SANDOWN GUINEAS (1600m)
If the track is wet then this race becomes almost impossible with most of the field having no exposure to slow or heavy ground. If the track is still dead or better then it looks a match race between Group 1 winner Pressday and the ever so impressive last start winner Bigelow. How you split them I don’t know and I will probably wait to see the respective prices before leaning either way. Pressday reared in the air as the gates opened first up in the Coolmore and probably has to be given another chance as he looked potentially a very good horse on the strength of his three straight wins in Queensland during the winter. Bigelow won like only a very good horse can as he sprouted wings over the last 200 metres to charge over the top of his rivals at Flemington. Yorkshire Lad has been arguably as good as Bigelow at his last two runs without any luck. I have my slight concerns over him at the mile however If you like Bigelow then you have to like him. Belissimo comes into the race if the track is heavy while Goldstone should have finished much closer last start and is a progressive type. Condelago, Chasse, Territory, and Dance Of The Ocean can all finish in the minor placings.
RACE 7 – GROUP 2 SANDOWN CLASSIC (2400m)
If the track is still a slow or better by this stage then Zipping just wins. He is in the form of his career and his last start in the Melbourne Cup was the best of his four previous cup efforts. To read more of my thoughts of this marvellous old galloper go here . Of those who might quinella the event, Exceptionally was probably ridden upside down last start but was still very good while Manighar ran great races in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and seemingly handles all conditions. Kidnapped can improve and is a must for all multiples.
2. Exceptionally (Needs dry)
RACE 8 – GROUP 3 BETFAIR ECLIPSE STAKES (1800m)
Niblick is a nice young horse on the way up. This isn’t the strongest Eclipse in recent years and he add to his impressive record by winning here. Eraset simpy needs a dry track. He won a pretty moderate Sale Cup before running well behind the impressive Launay on Stakes Day. If the track is dry he’ll get back and hit the line hard. Tagus was outstanding on cup day however I’m not sure what to make of the race. There’s a good chance if he can repeat that effort that he’ll go very close here. The Big Steel and Viking Hero were good on Oaks Day and are others with some claims.
2. Eraset (Needs dry)
RACE 9 – LISTED SUMMONED STAKES (1500m)
Quite happy to admit that I have absolutely no clue here. Jersey Lily and Happy Hippy were both very good on cup day. Believe ‘N Achieve is unbeaten on the dry however a dry track at this stage is very unlikely. Flying Tessie, Aloha and Dysphonia would all hardly surprise however with a likley lack of tempo Shannara might just get a soft run in front and get away with the race. Simply Put is the first emergency but has a great chance if she can gain a start.
1. Shannara (guessing)
2. Believe ‘N Achieve (needs dry)
3. Happy Hippy
Click here for Ben’s Beginner’s Guide to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.