THIS Saturday, the best sprinters in the country will assemble at Flemington with $750,000 on the line.
The Group 1 Lightning Stakes hasn't attracted a big field, but the quality is there with Manikato Stakes winner Chautauqua going up against Exosphere.
Punters have sided with the Godolphin colt ahead of Saturday's big feature and with other top-class action on the card, it promises to be a great day of racing.
WilliamHill.com.au have the full Flemington market available now where they are offering some of the best fixed odds in Australia. They currently have the best price for Exosphere ahead of the big event.
Race 1 – The Curragh Racecourse Trophy (1600m)
The Michael Kent-trained Written scored the major upset win at Caulfield last start and it was a win long overdue. The five-year-old mare hadn't won in a long time, but now that it's broken through, it could continue on with it now. It fires up on dry tracks and with conditions to suit, the $4.80 looks like good value.
All Cerise has found its second wind with three consecutive victories. The Chris Waller-trained mare was having a rough time of it in Sydney after promising plenty as a youngster, but Waller now has the daughter of Redoute's Choice firing on all cylinders. It won by 2.5 lengths in this grade last start and it stays at the same weight. It should be tough to beat at $3.20 after opening at $3.30.
Dig A Pony has drifted from $5.50 to $6 in the betting, but it ran on nicely last start and it has the quality to win this. The Peter Moody-trained runner is twice a winner at Flemington and it loves this distance with six starts for two wins and two placings. It might have to settle a touch closer to win, but it looks a handy each way chance.
Tip: All Cerise to win ($3.20) at Sportsbet.com.au
Race 2 – International Race Clubs Talindert Stakes (1100m)
Robert Smerdon lines up Pearl Congenial which has looked good in two starts. It ran second on debut behind Missrock and third behind Dalradian in the Inglis 2YO last year. Drawing wide in barrier 11 won't be an issue down the Flemington straight and carrying the light weight of 54kg will make it a strong betting proposition at $7.50.
Weatherly has drawn even wider in barrier 16 which should suit after it got stuck on the rails last start. The Paul Messara-trained colt missed the jump in the Blue Diamond Prelude and was left on the rails with nowhere to go. To its credit, it flew home for sixth and that caught punters attention. Craig Williams will ride and it's currently the $3.80 favourite.
Tony McEvoy said that the other horses shouldn't line up as Jackson would beat them all. Those are fighting words and ones punters should take seriously. The two-year-old was a debut winner at Sandown and it made up good ground behind Extreme Choice in the Inglis Nursery. Stepping up to the 1100m distance will suit nicely and it looks a nice place chance at $10 and $3.20.
Race 3 – Auckland Racing Club Trophy (1000m)
Afleet Esprit is fresh up after disappointing for 17th in the G.H Mumm Stakes. The four-year-old mare has won fresh up and it has a good record on this track. It will get a 2kg allowance from Jordan Childs which is needed with the posted 61.5kg, but it has serious pace and could be a threat to the leading chances. $6 available with bookmakers.
The current $2.20 favourite is Estaminet which won at Moonee Valley last start. The two-length victory was extremely easy and it looks about ready to step up to this class. The Godolphin mare gets in with a good weight of 54kg and James McDonald will the ride. Short odds available, but it could drift out to somewhere around the $2.80 mark.
Sweet Emily finished off well behind Estaminet last start and it typically improves with a run under its belt. The seven-time winner has won twice second up and it has won six times at this distance. The short-course specialist hasn't won for a few starts which isn't ideal, but it has pace over this distance and it could get a nice drag into the race from barrier four. Don't discount at $15.
Tip: Sweet Emily to place ($3.50) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 4 – Japan Racing Association Trophy (2000m)
Talented four-year-old Pemberley showed a good turn-of-foot to score the win at Flemington last start. The Peter Moody-trained gelding has now won three from nine and it burst through a gap to record a one-length win on this track. Stackhouse retains the ride at the same weight of 54kg which makes it tough to beat. Current favourite at $2.90.
Falago was also a last start winner and it couldn't have been more impressive. The Fastnet Rock gelding beat a handy field by three lengths and that win should command respect. On the negative front, it rises from 53kg to 57kg with the claim from Harry Coffey, but it still holds winning claims at $6.50.
Golden Mane is another last start winner which has won on this track and twice at this distance. The well-bred son of More Than Ready has now won six from 22 starts and it has been well backed to take this out. The Hayes/Dabernig-trained runner is a $5.50 chance to make it two on end.
Tip: Pemberley to win ($2.90) at WilliamHill.com.au
Race 5 – The Vanity (1400m)
Top quality filly Jameka is fresh up after a campaign which ended with it winning the Group 1 Crown Oaks at Flemington. That came over 2500m which is a big concern as to how it will sprint fresh up, seeing as it has never won in two fresh starts. It has a win and a placing over the 1400m which is pleasing and it has trialed well leading into this. We think it will settle back and run home nicely, but the $4 is a touch short.
Perfect Reflection is looking to stay perfect after five unbeaten runs to date. The former Perth filly, now with Darren Weir, was a group 1 winner at its last start when it defeated the likes of Delicacy at Ascot and it looks to have plenty of potential. It won three times at 1200m, but the quality of those fields weren't great so just how good it can sprint is yet to be known. Inside draw suits and punters have backed it at $2.50.
Don't Doubt Mamma is a value chance at $6. The Tony McEvoy-trained filly is unbeaten in two starts at this distance which bodes well against this field, and the last time it raced over 1400m was a two-length demolishing in the Listed Lexus Hybrid. It faces a strong field here, but it's the only runner that prefers this distance over any other.
Race 6 – C.S Hayes Stakes (1400m)
Ready For Victory was unlucky last start in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes and it has experience against some top quality fields. The Mick Price-trained colt has won only once from nine starts which isn't a fantastic record, but its best efforts have come at Flemington and the bigger track is seemingly right up its alley. With a better ride it should have a strong winning chance at $6.50.
Palentino was also an unlucky runner in the Manfred and its form prior suggested it could have made it three consecutive wins. The Darren Weir-trained colt sat three wide at Flemington two starts back and still managed a 1.25-length win. It has been well backed for much bigger targets than this which bodes well for punters that have taken the money. It opened at $3.80 and has moved down to $3.20.
River Wild has won two straight in Sydney and it finally gets an inside draw to work with. It has drawn barrier one which will suit the three-year-old by Fastnet Rock and it also drops down to a winnable weight. It has carried no less than 58.5kg in its last two wins and it will appreciate the 56kg with Oliver riding. It can beat a field of this quality, but bookmakers have adjusted its price from $5.50 to $6.50.
Tip: Palentino to win ($3.20) at CrownBet.com.au
Race 7 – Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m)
Exosphere has the punters support at $2.45 and many are expecting the good-looking colt to win fresh up at group 1 level. The three-year-old by Lonhro has won five from eight starts with no placings and punters are wanting their money back after it finished fourth in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes as a $1.60 chance. Its form prior was excellent with wins in the Group 1 Golden Rose and Group 2 Roman Consul, so that should be respected and it looks a major winning chance.
Australia's best rated sprinter Chautauqua is on the second line of betting at $2.70 which is the highest price being offering since it finished third in the Group 1 All Aged Stakes as a $3 favourite. The Hawkes-trained gelding has won four from five in a fresh state and it hasn't finished worse than third in six starts at Flemington. The small field should make it easier to come from the back and it remains the biggest danger to Exosphere.
Terravista isn't rated as a win chance by many punters, but it has won 10 from 19 starts and it should be considered on that basis. Joseph Pride knows how to train his sprinters to the minute and it has won five from six when fresh up. It will have to rise to another level to beat the likes of Exosphere and Chautauqua, but it is an outside chance at $8.