Stakes or Family Day has traditionally been a relaxed and low-key end to what is quite a hectic four day Flemington Carnival. However, in recent years the small Stakes Day crowds have grown to the point that this year Stakes Day could overtake Oaks Day in attendance.
On the track the feature Group 1 Emirates Stakes takes a back seat this year as all attention turns to the highly anticipated sprint clash between Hay List and Black Caviar in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic. This race alone is reason enough to head to Flemington on Saturday and with the best weather forecast of the carnival so far it is shaping as the best of the four days yet.
RACE 5 – GROUP 1 PATINACK FARM CLASSIC (1200m)
The 150th Melbourne Cup aside, this is clearly the race of the carnival and the most anticipated sprint clash since Miss Andretti beat Gold Edition in this race a few years ago. It’s the hulking brute of a sprinter in Hay List versus the speed queen Black Caviar with the winner being able to lay claim to not only the best sprinter in Australia but probably the world. I can’t split the two and am happy to just sit back and enjoy one of those great races that makes racing so great.
Star Witness couldn’t have been more impressive on Saturday and with the weight advantage is the obvious danger while Ortensia is an extremely classy sprinter who trialled exceptionally last week down the straight and could cause an upset if something went wrong up front.
- 1. Black Caviar/Hay List
- 3. Star Witness
RACE 6 – GROUP 1 EMIRATES HANDICAP (1600m)
I’m going for value in the feature race with Dao Dao who has an outstanding record at the mile. He ran second to Typhoon Tracy in this year’s Futurity Stakes at Caulfield and has also run third in the Hong Kong Champion’s Mile over the distance. He easily accounted for both Sniper’s Bullet and Black Piranha in the George Ryder during the autumn on a slow track and meets both far better off at the weights here.
Palacio De Cristal looks the perfect Emirates Stakes horse if she can get a Dead 4 rated track or firmer. Forget that Gold Salute went around last start. He is beginning to test the patience of his fans but a repeat of his effort in last year’s Emirates, where he ran third behind All American and So You Think when carrying 56kg after missing the start, would just about win this.
Trusting, Captain Sonador, and Wall Street are all much better placed back to a handicap, however it is a big ask to peak twice in a preparation and I am happy to take them on.
Demerit has been set for this race all along and while he may struggle to get a run (2nd emergency) if he does he is my top selection.
- 1. Demerit (2nd Emergency)
- 2. Dao Dao
- 3. Palacio De Cristal (Needs Dry)
- 4. Gold Salute (Each Way)
RACE 1 – GROUP 3 MARIBRYNONG PLATE (1000m)
A mix of both unraced and wet track form amongst this lot of two year olds means I’m not even going to try and give a tip.
- No selections
RACE 2 – MASTERFOODS CONDIMENTS PLATE (1600m)
Launay looks a great bet up to the mile here after winning over 1400m in the last race on Melbourne Cup Day. He’s adept in all conditions and as long as he can handle the backup I expect him to prove too good and stamp himself as a real horse of the future. Trader will obviously be hard to beat if he doesn’t gain a start in the Emirates Handicap however he does have to lump 59kgs here. No Jurisdiction and Eraset are the next best but they both need the track dry.
- 1. Launay
- 2. Trader
- 3. No Jurisdiction
RACE 3 – 7MATE HANDICAP (2000m)
Form has continually proven to mean very little over the carnival so far, however I cannot go past Red Colossus after his fifth behind So You Think over this track and distance at his last start. He handles all conditions, has drawn the perfect gate and should just win.
Laristan is the obvious query while I’m Imposing drops 6kgs on his win over this distance on Thousand Guineas Day at Caulfield. Galizani is a promising young horse on the way up while Playwright is honest and will no doubt be around the mark despite being poorly in at the weights.
- 1. Red Colossus
- 2. I’m Imposing
- 3. Galizani
RACE 4 – LISTED HILTON HOTELS STAKES (1400m)
This is a really tough race to sort out and not one that I’m keen to get involved in. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the win of Bigelow at Moonee Valley last start and he gets significant weight off the top two here. Territory and That’s Not It obviously have strong claims while Chasse and Yorkshire Lad are others with good hopes in a tough race.
- 1. Bigelow
- 2. That’s Not It
- 3. Territory
RACE 7 – GROUP 2 MATRIARCH STAKES (2000m)
In an extremely open race Purple can reward her loyal fans by registering her first win since this race last year. In a real sense of déjà vu, both of the placegetters from last year’s close three way finish, Moment In Time and Lady Lynette, are also back and in similar form and a repeat of last year’s result would hardly surprise.
New Zealand mare Keep The Peace is the obvious danger, however the Kiwi form hasn’t really held up this spring while Marheta and Zantelagh can both improve up to the ten furlongs.
Music Review looks extremely well in with just 54kgs. Platinum Passion and River Bypass are great lightweight hopes in an open race.
- 1. Purple
- 2. Moment In Time
- 3. Music Review
RACE 8 – GROUP 3 QUEENS CUP (2600m)
While it is hardly a consolation for missing out on a start in the Melbourne Cup, Moudre’s form has been impeccable and he is a deserved favourite here. Exceptionally didn’t have a lot of luck in the straight when third behind him in the Geelong Cup and she certainly can win. Dream Pedlar was outstanding in the Bendigo Cup after being trapped wide early and lay claim to be being the apple isle’s number one horse. Not sure what to make of the Internationals but of the two, Eastern Aria looks the better hope. Mr Charlie is the next best while Faint Perfume, Above Average, and Capecover all have claims.
- 1. Moudre
- 2. Exceptionally
- 3. Dream Pedlar
RACE 9 – EMIRATES AIRLINE HANDICAP (1400m)
Track conditions are the key here with the three top chances all needing it dry. If it’s wet it’s an absolute lottery that I’m not keen to get involved in.
- 1. We’re Gonna Rock
- 2. Ahdashim
- 3. Berringama
Click here for Ben’s Beginner’s Guide to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.