16 runners have been confirmed for the 1600-metre feature and there's plenty of international interest with the likes of Arod, Turn Me Loose, Bow Creek and Magic Artist all lining up.
With quality Australian hopes in Lucky Hussler, Disposition and Politeness, the locals look to have a strong winning chance to score the final Group 1 of the carnival.
There's plenty of other action on the day with the Group 1 Darley Classic which features some of Australia's best sprinters, and quite possibly the best short-course runner in the world.
The Hawkes-trained Chautauqua is the odds-on favourite to take out the $1 million sprint and it's the usual contenders trying to dethrone it. Buffering, Boban, Srikandi and Terravista are out to spoil the party and the soggy conditions might make for exciting racing.
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Race 1 – Racing.com Maribyrnong Plate (1000m)
We liked Dalradian last start and it got the job done nicely. The Darren Weir-trained colt opened that race at $11 and got hammered into the $6 favourite. This time around, the two-year-old is at $5.50 and facing a field that has very little racing experience. It has drawn in barrier nine which should suit down the Flemington straight and it looks a strong winning hope again.
Gloriette is the current $4 favourite after winning a trial to prepare. The John O'Shea-trained filly has been confidently backed, but it does have the inside draw which isn't always the best down the straight at Flemington. The in-form James McDonald rides which is a positive and it gets a weight advantage on most of the field. Look for a market push with this runner.
Missrock wasn't disgraced when third behind Concealer on Tuesday and punters are getting a much better price this time around. The Robbie Laing-trained filly is currently at $7 and it did well just to finish third considering the inside track bias at Flemington on Cup day. Its win on debut was very impressive and it has a good chance at each way odds in this. $2.35 for the place.
Race 1 tip: Dalradian to win ($5.50) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 2 – Starlight Children's Foundation Plate (2000m)
Co-trainer David Hayes was bullish about Velox's chances last start and it ran on well for fifth behind Stratum Star. The imported six-year-old likes to settle back and run on, so having its first start around Flemington should be ideal. It has twice-placed at this distance and despite rising up in weight, it should have a winning chance. It opened at $4.60, drifted out to $5 and has since been backed into $4.60 again.
Divan was extremely impressive when finishing second behind The Offer in the Bendigo Cup last start and it warrants attention in this grade. The Robert Hickmott-trained gelding is by Zabeel and dropping back in distance probably isn't ideal, but it has a big following and the punters have climbed aboard. It opened at $3.20 and it currently the clear favourite at $2.70. Looks a good winning hope.
Crime Fighter had its chance at Moonee Valley last start, but it was swamped late in the running. The five-year-old stays at the same distance where it has won twice and although it has never won or placed at Flemington, it could go forward from the barrier draw and be tough to catch. Looks a place chance at odds of $14 for the win.
Race 2 tip: Velox to win ($4.60) at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 3 – Queen's Cup (2600m)
Secret Number was nominated for the Melbourne Cup, but couldn't make the field. The Saeed Bin Suroor-trained horse has won four from 11 in Europe, including its last start in the Listed Stand Cup. It has had only three runs in two years which is a major concern, but the punters appear unperturbed. They have backed it in from $2.80 to $2.60 and its price is expected to drop further. It has class, but could be worth risking at that price.
Dandino is a professional thoroughbred which was missed in the Melbourne Cup, but it gets a chance to atone in this. The Darren Weir-trained horse is now a nine-year-old and it showed good spirit when running second behind Almoonqith in the Group 3 Geelong Cup. It has a chance in almost all of its starts and a win wouldn't surprise anyone in this. It opened up as the equal favourite at $2.60 and it has since drifted out a touch to $2.70.
Beaten Up doesn't have the best win strike rate and it hasn't won for awhile now, but it continues to run solid races. The Chris Waller-trained gelding ran second behind Magic Hurricane in the Group 1 Metropolitan at Randwick two starts back and a repeat effort would see it go close. The inside draw over this distance will help and even though it's facing some tough horses, it should run well.
Race 3 tip: Dandino to win ($2.70) at Bet365.com.au
Race 4 – Hilton Hotels & Resorts Stakes (1400m)
Secret Prophet was a stylish winner by 2.5 lengths at Randwick last start and all three career starts have come on rain-affected ground. The Hawkes-trained colt won on debut by three lengths before running sixth behind Lucky Paddy at Pakenham. It rebounded well last start and it looks to have a decent future ahead of it. Not without a chance in this at $5 in the betting.
Debut winner Ngarimu opened as the $3.50 favourite, but it has since drifted out to $3.70. The Peter Moody runner won at Seymour by 1.5 lengths and it had to carry 58kg to do so. It drops to 54kg for this and Glen Boss takes over the riding duties now. It is very well bred by Savabeel x Glamour Puss and it should run very well in this.
Many of Darren Weir's runners are being well backed and Palentino is another example. The three-year-old opened at $7 and has quickly dropped to $6 on the back of solid support. It won well at Stawell last start and its maiden effort at Ballarat came behind a nice horse, but we think the current price is a touch short. Payne takes the ride which has likely shortened the price as well, but we're risking it on form alone.
Race 4 tip: Ngarimu to win ($3.70) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 5 – Antler Luggage R96 Handicap (1600m)
Trade Commissioner has been backed at very big odds in this after producing a lacklustre effort last start. The Ciaron Maher-trained gelding opened at $34 and it has been specked into $26 after getting out to as much as $51 earlier in the betting. It's an eight-year-old now which does concern, but it has won twice at this distance and a soft track wouldn't lessen its chances. Each way chance.
Defiant Angel is a six-year-old gelding which has won seven from 23 starts. The Philip Stokes-trained gelding has won three at this distance and it looked good winning last start at Morphettville by a length. Punters have taken note and its opening price of $6.50 has been backed into $6. It looks a winning chance from the good barrier draw.
Petrology has two placings to its name on a soft track and it has been backed accordingly since it started raining on Wednesday. The four-year-old opened at $10 and is now paying $8.50 despite running last in the Group 1 Rupert Clarke last start. This is much easier and it has won on this track so consider at the price and include it in multiples.
Race 5 tip: Defiant Angel to win ($6) at WilliamHill.com.au
Race 6 – Darley Classic (1200m)
Like most hot favourites throughout the Spring Carnival, Chautauqua is drifting in the market which is likely due to the track conditions. The Hawkes-trained gelding was an impressive last start winner in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes and it's hard to see it getting beaten in this. It has won three times down the Flemington straight and even though it placed in its only run on a heavy track, it has won and placed on the slow and that should give punters confidence. Opened at $1.50 and is now $1.65.
Buffering opened at a great price of $15 and savvy punters have latched on. It's now paying $14 and given its wet-track form, it should start in single figures. The Robert Heathcote-trained gelding has had 10 starts in the wet for three wins and five placings. It did fade late in the Manikato, but it didn't have the easiest of runs and it could run a few of these of their feet in the wet conditions. We're not saying it'll win, but the value is there at that price.
Terravista didn't have much luck in the Manikato when finishing seventh, but it likes Flemington and it has won three times on rain-affected tracks. The Joe Pride-trained gelding has drawn barrier one which might not play in its favour down the straight, but it's a classy thoroughbred and the Hugh Bowman takes the ride. It opened at $8.50 and has stayed steady at that price all week.
Race 6 tip: Chautauqua to win ($1.65) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 7 – Emirates Stakes (1600m)
Magic Artist was the real eye-catcher in the Group 1 Mackinnon where it stormed home to finish a very unlucky fourth behind Gailo Chop. The Andreas Wohler-trained horse was a Group 3 winner in Europe and dropping down in the weights to 54kg makes it a good winning prospect. It has good second up form of one win and two placings from three starts and it has been backed accordingly. It opened at $5, but quickly drifted out to $7 later in the week. Punters saw that and snapped the price up and now it's currently paying $6.
Disposition hasn't done anything to deter punters and they're getting a very good price. The Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained gelding opened at $9 and has since dropped to $8 on the back of a strong win on this track last time out. The four-year-old beat a handy field in the Group 3 Chatham Stakes and although it wasn't near this class, it still has winning credentials. It hasn't finished out of the money in three starts at Flemington and it's at a dangerous weight for this. Good winning chance.
Bow Creek defied a big betting drift by running second behind Turn Me Loose in the Group 2 Crystal Mile last start. The John O'Shea-trained import was well backed earlier in the betting, but drifted significantly come post time and it ran very well despite that. It won back-to-back Group 2 races in Europe and that should be good form for this. The wet track is of no concern and the distance suits. Currently $5 in the betting.
Race 8 – Presto Matriarch Stakes (2000m)
Lucia Valentina has been one of the most disappointing horses this year, but punters are unfazed by this and have backed it into solo-favouritism. The Kris Lees-trained mare finished fourth in the George Main out of nine runners and that has been the best of its runs this campaign. It does love wet tracks and is unbeaten in the heavy, which is why we think the punters have climbed aboard. $5 available after opening at $6.
Pondarosa Miss is a New Zealand-trained mare which has had its fair share of problems, but it comes into this race with strong form. It finished second at Listed level last start and having its fifth start this campaign will only help. It has won three times on a soft track with two placings and that's its biggest asset coming into this. Has been supported well enough into $10.
Ballet Suite opened as the $4.40 favourite, but it has since drifted out to $5. The Chris Waller-trained mare hasn't won for some time now and punters are getting slightly impatient. It did finish off strongly for fourth last start at Group 3 level and it has form on wet tracks. Hugh Bowman rides which should instill confidence and it's worth including in multiple bets.
Race 8 tip: Lucia Valentina to win ($5) at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 9 – Emirates Airline Handicap (1400m)
Malaguerra was an impressive winner on Melbourne Cup day and it's on the quick back-up. The Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained gelding drops down in weight to 54kg and that track experience last start will suit it here. It has won six from 16 so its strike rate is good and it deserves attention in the betting at $4.80.
The Peter Moody-trained Mirage has won five from 10 and it produced a nice run behind Fast ‘n' Rocking last time out at Caulfield. The lightly-tried six-year-old has a nice record in the wet and if it can get some early luck from the wide barrier draw, it should be a top contender. It opened at $6.50 in the betting, drifted out to $8 and now it currently stands as a $7.50 chance.
Reldas was a very good winner at Moonee Valley last start, but it has become a track specialist their and hasn't done much racing anywhere else. It has had one start on this track for one failure, but it beat a very handy field last start and that should count for something in this. Opened at $5.50 and it has stayed around that price throughout the week.
Race 9 tip: Mirage to win ($7.50) at CrownBet.com.au