The Mounting Yard heads back to Caulfield this week for a bumper nine-race winter program.
The feature comes in Race 7, which is the Sir John Monash Stakes at Group 3 level.
The track is currently a Soft 7 and I would expect it to stay around that mark with the weather predicted for the rest of the week. The rail is back in the true position, so it will pay to monitor how the track is playing early in the day.
However, Caulfield is always a track where you favour those who race on the speed. Let’s find some winners!
Two-year-olds, handicap, 1400 metresA wide-open two-year-olds race kicks off the program over 1400 metres. They are going to fly along here, with Gdansk, Confrontational, Wunambul and Narvaez all looking to find the front. I thought Limpet might have been the value here, but I’m not overly confident betting into the race. The Real Impact gelding rocketed home on debut over 1100 metres at Sale before coming to this track last start over 1100 metres again, getting back and running home well to record the fastest last 200 metres of the race. The form has been franked with Savannah Cloud and Yulong Island running good seconds since, and the anticipated hot speed will help his cause.
Efflorescence had excuses behind some very good company in his first two starts before going to the Ballarat Synthetic, leading and winning with ease by 2.5 lengths over this distance. He draws awkwardly (6) but should be able to slot in behind a hot speed and have every chance to run over them.
Gdansk could be the blowout early. The Price-trained gelding was only 0.3 lengths off Wunambul on debut, who is $4.60 here while he is $16, before going to Flemington and running 3.7 lengths off Cherry Tortoni. He can lead from the low draw (2) and prove hard to run down.
Recommended bet: Something small each way on No. 8 Limpet at $12.
Four-year-olds and up, mares, Benchmark 90, handicap, 1100 metres
It looks a race in two here and I had both shorter than the market did. They will go at a moderate clip, with the likes of All Over Bosanova and Sword of Mercy trying to find the front. Our Campana looks a good bet. The former Colin Little-trained Mare, now trained by the great Peter Moody, does something that a few horses don’t in this race: win. I thought she was excellent last preparation when beating the likes of Bam’s on Fire (subsequently Group 1 placed) and Clarice Cliffs who has won multiple city races since. Her first-up record doesn’t read too well, but if you watch some of those races, you will see she was unlucky. She jumped out well leading into this, maps to sit behind the leader and needs only even luck to be winning.
Propelle is the only danger. She was nearly three lengths away from Our Campana last preparation and they meet at the same weights here, but she does have a fitness edge over the marginal favourite. She needs to be ridden positively again here from the good draw (4).
She’s a Thief was a good winner last start and should go into all exotics, but the winner should come from the top two in the market here.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 3 Our Campana at $3.70.
Benchmark 78, handicap, 1400 metres
You won’t find a more open race than this anywhere in Australia on Saturday. A capacity field will generate a hot speed, with the likes Sonaree, Elite Drake and Sondelon sitting in the first few. I’m going to speck a couple here, and one of those is Falls. The Kent-trained Gelding was excellent last preparation, winning two on the trot at Pakenham and Sandown. In those wins he beat Chuck a Luck and Left Hand Man, which seems like a very good form line for this type of a race. He was poor on resumption at Sandown, but I think he can bounce back here with his perfect second-up record (2:2-0-0). He gets in very well with the three-kilo claim and should get a lovely run just off the speed.
Tatunka is going for four in a row here but does seem like a horse on the up. He has gone through his grades very well of late, winning BM58, BM64, and BM70 in his last three starts. His last win at Bendigo when winning by 2.75 lengths was impressive and Dylan Dunn comes to Caulfield for the one ride when he could have had a full book in the country.
Five Kingdom draws awkwardly (19) but fires first up generally, and the form out of the races he competed in last preparation stack up well. Strategic Phil doesn’t win out of turn but maps well today and is rock-hard fit after a few good runs.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on No. 12 Falls at $18 and No. 8 Tatunka at $27.
Handicap, 1400 metres
This is an intriguing race in the middle of the card, and yet again it is wide open. The speed looks only moderate and the likes of Reflectivity, Morrissy and Ballet Master will sit on the speed. I’m backing two again here and one of those is Reflectivity. The Hawkes gelding went fantastically last preparation, winning two out of five, including wins over Condor and Mamzelle Tess. He finished a narrow second to Mushaireb in the Maroubra Handicap in that stretch, which reads well for a race like this. He is well weighted at 56 kilograms and draws ideally (3) to either lead or sit just off the speed.
I want to have something on rank outsider Kasperksy. The nine-year-old brought over fantastic overseas form, beating home Benbatl and running multiple placings in group races before having injury issues once over here. He has changed trainers from Michelle Payne to Lindsey Smith, and his jump-outs leading into this first-up assignment, which he has a fantastic record at (8:5-0-1), have been superb.
Morrissy has been in good form and comes off the back of a strong win at this track a fortnight ago. I think he has been well found in the market, though, at $3.40 considering this race is harder and he has drawn very awkwardly (9).
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 3 Reflectivity at $6 with something small on No. 2 Kaspersky at $34.
Three-year-olds, handicap, 1400 metres
This is by far the most interesting race on the program. The speed looks to be genuine, with the likes of Mystery Shot and Terrace House trying to cross early from their wide barriers. Inspired Sun has been a costly conveyance recently, but he only needs to jump with them to win this race, and I think we are getting a fair price to gamble on that aspect. He was completely luckless at Swan Hill when he arguably would have won with a run at them late before being tailed off at Geelong last preparation before charging home in the best 600 metres, 400 metres, and 200 metres splits of the meeting to finish a neck away from Wicklow Town. He gets a two-kilo weight swing on that galloper and should get an economical run, and the rise to 1400 metres seems ideal.
Scorpius is drawn awkwardly (8), but I think he can run a big race with the three-kilo claim. He was only half a length off Wicklow Town on resumption after bungling the start and was 2.2 lengths off Mystery Shot last start after having to do plenty of work early. He gets a five-kilo weight swing on that horse here.
Reckoning and Leale are the blowout chances. Both can mix their form but are good enough to win this.
Recommended bet: No. 9 Inspired Sun each way at $7.50.
Three-year-olds, handicap, 2000 metres
The pace looks genuine in this staying affair, with Thought of That, Rebel Racer and Trench Warfare taking up the running. I can’t bring myself to take the $2.80 on offer for Right You Are, but I will be backing him if he drifts out to somewhere around $3.60. He is clearly the best horse in the race after winning two on the trot at Werribee and at this track before flashing home late at Flemington to run 0.5 lengths off Persan, who is a subsequent winner. He draws awkwardly (15) and maps poorly, but there is no better man to have steering him than Damien Oliver.
If he stays at that quote, I think Translator represents the best value. The Blackiston gelding’s run last start was too bad to be true and his performances prior have him right in the frame. Two back he was only 1.25 lengths off Right You are and was making ground on him in the last 100 metres after winning two in a row before that. The blinkers go on today and he can be more forward from an ideal gate (6).
Carnamah has shown ability in just the two starts and steps up from 1500 metres to 2000 metres, which should suit based on breeding. Looks the only danger outside of the first two.
Recommended bet: Win bet on No. 2 Right You Are if at $3.50-plus with something each way on No. 5 Translator at $16.
Race 7: John Monash Stakes
Group 3, weight for age, 1100 metres
The feature of the program arrives here, and it’s an interesting race to analyse. The speed will be very quick, with speedsters Jungle Edge and Tavisan taking up the running. I don’t mind the old marvel Jungle Edge here. The rising nine-year-old won the McKay Stakes at start 78 three races ago when giving nothing else a chance before having excuses in his respective runs since. From barrier six he can either lead or sit just off Tavisan, and with a likely Soft 7 predicted I think he can turn the tables on Virdine, who doesn’t go as well down in Melbourne.
Virdine is a clear danger but, as already stated, doesn’t go as well down in Melbourne, winning only the one race from 12 starts. The Godolphin colt is in a rich vein of form, though, and with the booking of Damien Oliver must be considered.
I Am Someone has been good this time in but was poor without many excuses last start down the straight, while Spirit of Aquada is the blowout chance at $51 with the blinkers attached for the first time.
Recommended bet: No. 1 Jungle Edge each-way at $5.
Three-year-olds, fillies, handicap, 1100 metres
Another open race on what is that type of program. The speed in this capacity field will come from the likes of Elderflower, Flostar and Beatrix. I’m going to speck two at a price again here. Elderflower is in excellent form and can overcome her awkward draw (14) here. She was excellent two back when beating Unyielding in a Benchmark 58 at Ballarat synthetic before coming to this track, having to do a ton of work early and rightfully tiring late to finish third and only two lengths off the winner. She gets into this race at 53 kilos, and if Price can pinch a couple of cheap sectionals, she will prove hard to run down.
Knowles is the other I want to be with. The enigmatic filly generally saves her best performances for Caulfield. She flashed home four back to run second and 2.75 lengths off Ancestry before having no luck three back when a length behind Lankan Star. She had a couple of poor performances at Sandown and the Valley but has been freshened up for this, and her jump out at Mornington was superb, which points to her being ready to go.
Sizzlefly has been in terrific form, winning two from four this preparation, which includes a third to the ultra-talented Xilong. She is giving some of her competitor’s significant weight but has the class edge over most of these.
Recommended bet: Each way plays on No. 7 Elderflower at $14 and No. 5 Knowles at $15.
benchmark 84, handicap, 1700 metres
We finish the day with an open race, as is the trend of the program. The bookmakers have it as $6 the field and so do I. The pace looks genuine, with a few of the outsiders wanting to lead. Dogmatic appeals at a double-figure quote. This Gelding went over to Tasmania last preparation and ran well, running third in the Launceston Cup, before running down the track in the Mornington Cup Prelude at the end of his preparation. He resumed in fantastic order over 1440 metres when doing his best work through the line to finish four lengths off Morrissy. He goes well second up and runs well at Caulfield, so therefore ticks the boxes.
Triple Strip brought over good Tasmania form and was very good and slightly unlucky on resumption at Flemington, running a length off Great Duchess when held up in the last 100 metres. She is another who goes well second up, and if Egan can get him some cover, he will run well.
Heavenly Emperor draws the car park (15) but was a good winner last start at this track and this isn’t any harder, while Declares War is always thereabouts and can run a big race.
Recommended bet: No. 11 Dogmatic each-way at $10.
Best bet: Race 2, No. 3 Our Campana
Next best bet: Race 5, No. 9 Inspired Sun
Bet value: Race 3, No. 12 Falls, and Race 8, No. 5 Knowles
R6: 2, 3, 5, 7.
R7: 1, 2, 6.
R8: 1, 2, 4, 5, 7.
R9: 6, 10, 11, 14.