IN addition to being one of the great features of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, the $300,000 Geelong Cup also proven to be a fantastic guide to the Melbourne Cup.
This year popular nine-year-old Dandino currently heads the market for punters.
European stayer Quest For More was on the ballot for the Caulfield Cup despite running second behind Big Orange in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup in July, but drawing barrier 16 has put punters off.
There are plenty of other good chances and a great support card to enjoy throughout the day.
Race 1 – B&B Aluminium R64 Handicap (1400m)
The Hayes/Dabernig-trained Kryptonian didn't fire last start at Ballarat, but its form prior included a win and a fair run for fifth at Flemington. The three-year-old by Domesday has drawn nicely in barrier two and its only career win came when second up. It's a very even field, but expect this runner to be somewhere in the mix. Currently $5.50 with bookmakers.
On the same line is Unbreakable. The John O'Shea-trained gelding has had three starts for one win, which came at Pakenham by 0.75 lengths. It wasn't too far behind them last start at Ballarat when facing a similar field and James McDonald has the ride. It will be tough from barrier 10, but expect a brave effort.
Night Wolf has amassed a nice record from its 14 starts. The five-year-old has won twice with six placings, including a last start second. It has placed twice second up and it placed in its only run on the Geelong grass track. The Benicio gelding has drawn awkwardly in barrier 12 which is concerning, but it has been respected in the market at $12.
Race 2 – Roderick Insurance Brokers R70 (1200m)
Greg Eurell lines up We've Got This, which was very unlucky when finishing second at Caulfield on October 3. The four-year-old was well favoured to win at $2.50, but was just pipped on the line. That was a very strong race on paper and this looks a touch easier. Damien Oliver is a great booking and the inside draw will only increase its chances of winning – its paying $3.20 with bookmakers.
Concentrate is a two-win gelding on the second line of betting at $5. The Godolphin four-year-old was last seen finishing third at Kyneton, but it should improve off that run and it has won second up. Its only real failure came two back in the Group 2 Euclase Stakes at Morphettville and it was bumped and held up down the straight. This is much easier and it should prove tough to beat.
The Mick Price-trained Bottle of Smoke has won two from five and both came at this distance. The well-bred Northern Meteor mare won its first two career starts by a combined margin of 4.25 lengths and it followed those wins up with a fourth in the Group 2 Armanasco Stakes at Caulfield. It didn't run well the following start so was sent out for a much needed spell. It resumed with a solid fourth last start and it will be tough to beat if it gets luck from the wide draw. $5.50 with bookmakers.
Race 3 – Wilsons Real Estate R78 Handicap (2400m)
Zanteca is the current $3.50 favourite following a last-start placing in the Pinker Pinker Plate at Cranbourne. The Darren Weir-trained mare is lightly raced for 12 starts and three wins, including a win in this grade five starts back by five lengths. It rises in distance which suits nicely and the form out of the Pinker Pinker should stack up well. Craig Williams rides and it's a good winning hope.
Huffanpuff is a New Zealand runner which has looked good, winning two from three. The Shinko King gelding has only raced on heavy tracks and that's the big concern, but James McDonald has taken the ride which does instill confidence. It produced a good finish to score narrowly over 2100 metres last start and if it can defy its breeding and win on a dry track, it should progress through the grades nicely. It's an outside chance at odds.
The Robert Hickmott-trained Annus Mirabilis took only four starts to get its Australian campaign in winning order. The Montjeu import had been around the mark prior to winning narrowly at Pakenham last time out. It does drop back in distance which isn't ideal, but it has been well supported in the market at $3.70 and it should put in a late challenge.
Bet: Zanteca to win ($3.50) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 4 – Shojun Concrete R70 (1700m)
Lucky Paddy has drifted from $4 to $4.25 which would suggest punters are a little burnt after backing it into $2 last start when it finished second. The Darren Weir-trained gelding looked a good thing at Cranbourne last start, but it couldn't reel in General James, but punters do get a much better price in this. Tough to back from barrier 17 as it will need plenty of luck, but it has some quality about it.
Finda Fitter Filly took awhile to score its second win, but it broke through at Bendigo last start and that form has been well and truly franked since. It scored by 0.75 lengths over Andrioli which has since won on Caulfield Cup day last Saturday. That's a very good form line for a Wednesday at Geelong and it will get an economical trip from barrier one with McDonald riding. Big chance for the win at $4.50 after opening at $4.20.
Von Classic Hero resumed with a handy placing after a spell in the paddock. The Ellerton/Zahra-trained gelding finished second behind Hard Call at Ballarat and the rise in distance will be much appreciated. It has contested races such as the Vobis Gold Reef and that experience should help it here. Looks a solid place chance at $9 in the market.
Bet: Finda Fitter Filly to win ($4.20) at Bet365.com
Race 5 – Winter & Taylor Isuzu R84 (1200m)
John Moloney lines up Act of Valour which finished close in behind We've Got This and Ruettiger at Caulfield. That should be a good form guide for this and it only has to carry 54kg for this run. It is three-win gelding which can either go back and run home, or lead them all the way from in front. Very good winning chance in this at odds of $3.25 after opening as high as $3.80.
Current favourite is Malaguerra at $2.90 after winning back-to-back races. The four-year-old has a great winning strike rate of five wins from 11 starts and two have come at this distance. It likes to go forward and it probably will from the barrier, so expect a strong performance with Ben Melham in the saddle. It opened at $3.50 and has been backed solidly.
Profit Share is coming off a last start fifth in the Bendigo Guineas and this should be much easier. The four-year-old has plenty of class and it defeated a subsequent Group 1 winner in Stratum Star just five starts back at Sandown. It has won and placed fresh up and a very good run is expected here at odds of $3.50. The $1.44 for the place looks like a nice multi-bet inclusion.
Bet: Profit Share to win ($3.50) at WilliamHill.com.au
Race 6 – Geelong Classic (2200m)
Ragnaar was well supported last time out at Caulfield, but the former New Zealand runner was left flat footed in the straight. The Lee and Anthony Freedman-trained gelding kicked off its Australian debut with a win and then it got very unlucky at Moonee Valley in the Group 2 Stutts Stakes. Looks well weighted for this and it currently paying a handy each way price at $4.60.
On the same line of betting is Pay Up Bro which flew home for fourth in the UCI Stakes at Flemington. The John Moloney-trained gelding has progressed nicely and the rise up in distance will suit perfectly. Drawing barrier 19 isn't the greatest, but it will likely drop back from there and flash home late with the in-form Mark Zahra in the saddle.
Macarthur was a strong winner for John O'Shea last start at Ballarat and there is a good each way price available. The son of Medaglia D'oro produced a sustained finish to score by a neck and it's another which should strengthen up over the longer distance. Each way chance at $9 with James McDonald in the saddle.
Race 7 – Best Bets Geelong Cup (2400m)
Quest For More was unlucky to miss a start in the 2015 Caulfield Cup, but it gets its chance to show up the handicappers here. The Roger Charlton-trained gelding won two back by beating Max Dynamite and it finished second behind Big Orange in the Group 2 Goodwood Cup last time out. That's very good international form and even though it has received barrier 16, it should be tough to beat here. Currently $5 available with most bookmakers.
Dandino is a classy customer which finished off well for fourth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes behind Preferment. The Darren Weir-trained horse hasn't won for some time which is concerning, but it loves this distance and its last three runs have all come at group 1 level. It gets in well weights wise at 57.5kg which makes it a prime contender at odds of $3.40.
Guardini has been well backed at $8.50 despite poor recent performances overseas. The Freedman-trained horse was a two-length winner four starts back, but it has since finished last on two occasions and seventh in the other. This isn't the Melbourne Cup, but it has bigger tasks in mind and the distance of 2400 metres should suit nicely. Follow if it continues to drop in the market. Place chance.
Bet: Quest For More to win ($5) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 8 – Rosemont Stud Stakes (1200m)
The Michael Kent-trained Danestroem didn't fire at Caulfield last start, but it has been well backed for the win. The six-win mare placed in its only start at Geelong and it's a three time winner at this distance. It will likely go forward from barrier five and with form around horses such as Kayjay's Joy and Hazard, it looks very well placed in this. $7 available with bookmakers.
Pilly's Wish is the current $6.50 favourite in a very open race. The Mick Price-trained mare is having its first start on this track and it's coming off a strong placing behind Afleet Esprit at Caulfield. It's a very consistent runner having won or placed four times in its last five starts and it has finished out of the money only twice from seven starts. Damien Oliver takes the ride at 55.5kg which makes it a winning chance.
Tahni Dancer is a runners chance at long odds. The Clinton McDonald-trained mare put in a solid finish behind Politeness last start and that race should be a great form guide for this. It hasn't won for some time, but this is the type of race it could show up at big odds. The dry track and weight suits, so consider at odds of $21.
Race 9 – Geelong Australia R78 (1500m)
Distant Rock has an impressive formline, having won or placed in its last five starts, and it looks a great winning chance in this. The Freedman-trained gelding was second in the Listed Adelaide Guineas in May and it has progressed nicely in two runs since. Drops down in weight to 55.5kg and it should be tough to beat at $5.50 in the betting.
Current second favourite is Belorum after finishing second behind Kayjay's Joy at Caulfield last start. The Darren Weir-trained gelding placed in its only run on this track and it is unbeaten in two runs at this distance. It looks a good statistical bet and Rawiller should be able to find some cover from barrier 10. We expect the $4.40 to drop as the race draws closer.
Show A Star raced over 2000 metres last start and it drops back to 1500 metres for this. The Gai Waterhouse-trained gelding is fresh up here and it was a classy 3.75-length winner two back on this track. Its best form comes on dry tracks and dropping down to 56.5kg from 60kg will be a massive plus. Currently $3.40 available with bookmakers.