THE Melbourne Spring carnival has arrived and the 2015 Caulfield Cup gets the ball rolling this Saturday.
The $3 million Group 1 is one of the biggest races around the world and it has attracted horses from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Asia.
The full field of 22 runners includes the likes of 2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist and a dual Hong Kong threat of Fame Game and Hokko Brave.
We have the form, odds and tips for all 10 races on the Caulfield Cup card this Saturday which kicks off with the Yellowglen Fillies Plate at 12:50pm.
Race 1 – Yellowglen Fillies Plate (1400m)
John O'Shea lines up Italy which has been disappointing in Sydney, but it finds a much easier field for its first run in Melbourne. The Domesday three-year-old produced a nice finish in behind Speak Fondly two back and a similar run would take it close in this. James McDonald rides at a nice weight of 55kg and it rates as a good winning chance at $4.80.
Silent Sedition has finished third and second in two starts to date and the punters have climbed in. The Andrew Noblet-trained filly opened at $4.80 and it has already been punted into $4.50. That's a big shift in the market for a filly that has had only two starts to date, but the second placing behind Invincible Heart last start was a good form guide. Wouldn't mind an each way price, but it's a winning hope.
Mihalic was a good debut winner at Flemington in the Listed Maribyrnong Trail Stakes and after running a poor race second up, it improved well enough for fifth last time out. It does have to carry top weight of 58kg which does make it tough, but the $10 represents good each way value.
Race 2 – Polytrack Gothic Stakes (1400m)
Santa Ana Lane is an impressive son of Lope de Vega which has easily won its first two career starts. The Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained gelding won on debut by 2.75 lengths before handling a rating 64 field at Geelong last start. It drops in weight to 55kg which helps here, but it is facing a significant rise in class. It opened at $3 and has stayed steady at that price.
Takedown has yet to win a race this campaign, but it hasn't been far behind two classy runners. The Gary Moore-trained gelding finished third behind Counterattack at Randwick before boxing on well in behind Exosphere in the Group 2 Roman Consul last start. It has the ability to sit on the pace and kick strongly, so this distance and race could be right up its alley. Steady in the market at $3.80.
Holler is another classy runner from Sydney which was considered good enough to run in the Group 1 Golden Rose. The Godolphin colt finished last in that race, but it rebounded well with a second placing behind Sure And Fast last start. It has plenty of ability and the inside draw with James McDonald in the saddle is a big assist. $4 available with bookmakers.
Race 3 – Dilmah Teas Caulfield Sprint (1000m)
The Peter Moody-trained Kinglike bypassed the Blue Sapphire Stakes on Wednesday and will line up against a hot field here. The Exceed And Excel colt was an impressive winner in the Group 2 Danehill last start and it has plenty of obvious talent. Glen Boss sticks with it and since its scratching on Wednesday, its price has been cut from $7.50 to $4.60 on the back of solid support.
Ball Of Muscle has also been well supported after finishing second behind Buffering in the Group 1 Moir Stakes at Moonee Valley. The Joseph Pride-trained sprinter has been around the mark in all three runs this preparation and this field is a step down in class from what it has been facing recently. It has never finished out of the money in five starts over this distance and punters have taken note. It opened short at $3.30 and has come into $3.20. Expect that price to continue to drop as the race draws nearer.
Lumosty is a four-win mare for Robert Smerdon which was favourite for the Crown Oaks last spring. The four-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock put back-to-back wins together following its sixth in the Oaks and it wasn't far behind Srikandi in the Group 1 Tatt's Tiara last start. It has won once when fresh with two placings so consider here at odds of $3.50.
Race 4 – New Zealand Bloodstock Ethereal Stakes (2000m)
John O'Shea lines up Ambience which was a very impressive 2.5-length winner at Randwick last start. The Street Cry filly put away a very good field which featured Wudang Mountain and it looks to be heading in the right direction. The increase in distance is ideal and it will likely get a good trip in transit from barrier two. It opened up at $2.30 and has been specked into $2.20. Very good winning chance.
Honesta has some very good form lines running through it with a placing behind Pearls in the Group 2 Tea Rose and a last start second behind Speak Fondly in the Group 1 Flight Stakes. The John Thompson-trained filly looks set to contest high profile staying races in the future and it could easily take this out. Craig Williams takes over the riding duties and punters can get $3.20 at most bookmakers.
Dawn Of Hope has been well supported with bookmakers. The Hayes/Dabernig-trained filly opened at $9 and currently sits at $7.50 after an impressive 2.75-length win at Ballarat last time. This is a massive rise in class and it rises in weight to 55kg, so we're prepared to risk it at that price.
Race 5 – Ladbrokes Caulfield Classic (2000m)
Lizard Island produced an eye-catching run for second in the Caulfield Guineas last Saturday, but it's never easy to back that up a week later. The Pat Hyland-trained colt was only 1.75 lengths behind Press Statement which is great form for this and the rise up in distance will likely suit. It has drawn wide so it will need some luck, but consider for this at odds of $4.80.
Sacred Eye opened up as the $4 favourite after finishing second behind Badawiya in the Edward Manifold Stakes at Group 2 level last start. The talented daughter of High Chaparral has been getting too far back in its races and has left its run too late. From barrier nine it should get closer to them and the step up to 2000 metres will only increase its chances of winning. The $4 available looks like a handy each way price.
Tivaci was a 2.25-length debut winner at Echuca before running second behind Badawiya at Pakenham second up. The Michael Moroney-trained colt was close when contesting the Listed UCI Stakes last start at Flemington and it's another runner which will appreciate the rise in distance. Looks a chance at $6.
Race 6 – David Jones Cup (2000m)
Stratum Star is backing up after finishing third in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap and whilst it might be a touch on the tired side, it is facing an easier field. The Darren Weir-trained runner opened as the $2.80 favourite, but punters haven't been entirely keen about backing it at such short odds. It now sits at $3.20 as support comes for other runners, but based on class, it has a great chance of winning.
Sadler's Lake finished ninth in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap behind Winx, but it didn't get much luck in the running. The Chris Waller-trained gelding was a back-to-back winner prior to that and its best efforts have come when it rolls forward and dictates the pace. At a weight of 55kg it has a very good chance of winning and bookmakers are keeping it very safe at $4.20.
Fenway was a good winner at Moonee Valley and it will get better over longer distances. The four-year-old by High Chaparral scored narrowly over May's Dream last start and it has form around some very good horses. It managed to beat First Seal in the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes at Randwick in March and it could be the underrated horse in the field. Punters aren't letting it out of their sights at $4.50.
Race 7 – Moonga Stakes (1400m)
Vashka was a good last start winner for John O'Shea which has been well backed in the market. The five-year-old opened at $7.50 and has since been backed into $6.50 after winning the Group 2 Shannon Stakes last start. It has a good winning record of seven wins from 15 starts and James McDonald takes the ride. Plenty to like about its chances here.
Under The Louvre has been so close in its last two starts and we're still convinced it will win a big race this spring. The Robert Smerdon-trained horse finished third in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke behind Stratum Star last start and it looked like it was going to win. It's best runs come when it has one last shot at them and drawing barrier 12 means it will have to drop back. It is the current $2.70 favourite and we think it's a great winning chance at those odds.
Worthy Cause has come in from $10 to $8 on the back of a strong performance at Flemington. The Queenslander defeated the highly touted New Zealand runner Turn Me Loose by a nose and punters are keeping it in check for this. It has a good winning record of five from 15 and replacing Luke Dittman with Craig Williams is a big assist. Value chance.
Race 8 – Schweppes Tristarc Stakes (1400m)
Despite running very averagely at Rosehill last start, the Chris Waller-trained Catkins has been well supported for this. It opened at $3.40 and has dropped to $3, but it will need to bounce back after a performance that left punters scratching their heads. It finished fifth as a $1.75 favourite, but it has won and placed in two starts at Caulfield and Damien Oliver replaces the suspended Hugh Bowman. Chance here, but wouldn't want those odds to shorten.
Sabatini was a strong winner at handicap level last start at Caulfield and it absolutely loves this track. The Lee and Shannon Hope-trained mare has won four from seven on this track and once at this distance, but it will have to take further improvement to win this. It goes up in weight to 57.5kg which isn't great for a small-framed mare, but it is unbeaten in two starts second up so include it in your selections.
Gregers has been very disappointing this campaign, but it hasn't really drawn a good barrier. The Hayes/Dabernig-trained mare gets a better draw here and it was able to run on well enough behind Stratum Star in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke last start. It likes this track and the $10 available represents good each way value.
Race 9 – BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m)
Mongolian Khan has prepared beautifully for the Caulfield Cup after finishing an unlucky third in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes last start. The Murray Baker-trained horse won the ATC Derby at Randwick in April and it has progressed well with every run since. The four-year-old drops down in weight to 55kg which is a positive and punters can get $4.20 with bookmakers. Very good winning chance here.
Hauraki sits on the second line of betting at $8 and it has form lines running through the ATC Derby and the Group 1 George Main Stakes. The John O'Shea-trained gelding has won three from 10, but it has always run better over the longer distances and the 2400 metres is perfect. It will need some early luck from barrier 14, but James McDonald has the aggressiveness to get in from there and give Hauraki a winning chance.
Royal Descent is a value chance at $21. The Chris Waller-trained mare finished second in the 2013 Caulfield Cup where it was paying $7 and despite being in much better form now, its odds have tripled. It does have to jump from barrier 22 which is a big negative, but over such a long distance it is easier to find a spot with cover. Gets in at a nice weight and Glen Boss loves riding in staying races. Don't let the odds put you off.
Race 10 – Crown Golden Ale Alinghi Stakes (1100m)
Tuscan Sling is a speedy mare for Darren Weir which sprinted home well to score at Moonee Valley last start. The five-year-old has never finished out of the money in five starts and stepping up in distance shouldn't worry it. It might have to cover some ground early from the barrier, but expect it to drop back and have the last run at them late. Currently paying $7.50 with bookmakers after opening at $7.
Fontiton must be respected after winning both the Blue Diamond Preview and Prelude last season. The Robert Smerdon-trained filly has put in two ordinary efforts since which is concerning, but Smerdon wouldn't race it if it wasn't in fit order. It likes Caulfield and punters should leave it out at their peril. Solid $7 chance with bookmakers.
Vezalay wasn't disgraced at Group 3 level last start when fourth behind Politeness. The four-year-old has been well favoured in all four runs since resuming from a spell and punters finally get a price they can sink their teeth into. The daughter of Shamardal is currently paying $5.50 which is a better price than you usually get with this runner. Winning chance.