Plenty of potential stars of the Spring put their cases forward on Saturday.
While Victorian eyes were firmly fixed on headquarters, Sydney racing headed back down the highway to Kembla Grange.
A few star performances, a few suspect runs and a few more we can safely sack going forward.
Incentivise (Melb Race 8)
The win of the day on a day where there were some seriously impressive winners. Sent a strong message out to his Spring cups rivals. He had plenty of residual fitness on his side coming out of a middle distance prep which went through to the latter part of the Brisbane winter, and he needed to be fairly screwed down for this Group 1 to elevate him up the order of entry for the cups. Whether they back off him now and just keep him ticking along until then or whether he improves even further as he picks off races through his Spring campaign is anyone’s guess but the latter is certainly a scary thought given the way he won, first time going the Melbourne way, in just his second start in stakes grade. $4.60 fav for the Caulfield Cup.
Giannis (Syd Race 5)
A reward for the trial spies here with Ranch Hand who was hard held when runner up to this big Flying Artie colt in a recent trial saluting down the straight just twenty minutes prior at juicy odds meaning we had plenty to play with and take the punt on this bloke first up. He was ridden out in that trial in order to run down his stable mate and there were cause for some trepidation when the dual acceptor opted for the 1500m first up of the Listed Dulcify. But he is another who is coming off a Brisbane winter prep. And whilst he had some maturity issues with the starting stalls and tractability up there, the trip north seems to have done him the world of good, and he has now rocketed into calculation for the 3yo classics. $6 favourite for the G1 Spring Champion.
Ballistic Boy (Bris Race 6)
Most will think I’m mad for not highlighting Anamoe here, but blind Freddy would have had him in their black book after his Autumn and he was unmissable first up in the Run to the Rose. But with the focus so firmly fixed on the southern states, there is a chance this bloke may have slipped under you guard. He had a couple of hiccups there late last prep but those two blow out runs aside, he has barely put a foot wrong and continues to impress. Strong finish to score second up, then looked an absolute certainty on the corner before striking trouble down the running second up. Had no right to win but has an amazing desire to attack the line this horse and he arrived in time again. I really like him. Hard to gauge whether he really stays at top level given what he beat in the Gunsynd and Rough Habit haven’t exactly trained on. And he was scratched at the gates and missed a crucial hit out and was forced to step from the 1800m to the mile and half at the end of his last prep and was carved up that day. I’m inclined to think he is worth a crack down south over a trip and a race like The Metropolitan looks ideal for him. One to follow.
Stay Inside (Syd Race 8)
Plenty of opinions flying around about this bloke so I won’t say too much only to highlight a few key points why I don’t think he should be sacked yet. The map of the route for Spring 3yo sprinters has changed complexion once again. Particularly if The Everest is your target race. Yes Yes Yes resumed in this race, not the traditional San Domenico, and was beaten 2L, then got within 0.2L of Bivouac next start in the Golden Rose, then took out The Everest. This fellow was beaten 2.5L Saturday and after seeing the extremely negative tactics on him first up, I’ve been convinced he has just one race in mind this Spring. Absolutely no need for McEvoy to sit at In the Congo’s neck and he raced like a horse that was a run short. He is yet to draw a marble and been ridden in two vastly contrasting styles, neither of which are his ideal racing pattern. And his best form is with the cut out of the ground. The jury is definitely out, and I think he’s a risk again stepping to 1400m for the Golden Rose, but he is going to have to show marked improvement there to justify his spot in The Everest and I expect we will see that, particularly with give in the ground which may be the case with at least this week looking very damp. $15 The Everest.
Nimalee (Syd Race 7)
Was almost certain I was going to be writing up Icebath here on first look, but Nimalee ran the better run of the two no doubt. First up and whilst she has plenty of quality about her with her handy record and a Group 2 victory, she didn’t map as a betting prospect but I want to be on her next start. Whilst Icebath is waiting for the right track, this girl seems adept in all going and looks to have come back in great order. The group 1 Empire Rose over the mile for the fillies and mares at Flemington is a pet race of the stable, and she is currently $26.
Hilal (Melb Race 2)
Just given a tiny squeeze out of the machine to take up a positive role with the hot fave drawn outside him and probably got him a bit keen. Ended up too close and going too fierce. That’s not his go given how well he raced when coming with a withering run in a couple of 2yo Group 1s. As the race panned out, I think he would have gathered them up if ridden cold. The Spring Champion looks a nice target but I wouldn’t discount a Caulfield Guineas appearance with Artorius disappointing and Sydney the lure for the gun 3yo’s. $21 the Caulfield Guineas.
Artorius (Melb Race 2)
Got asked to go deep into the well first up and I thought he was always a risk here, but I think he had his chance. Like most I thought he would relish the seven furlongs to a mile at 3yo, but I don’t think he was able to sustain his dash down the testing run at Flemington and might be a hold up six furlongs horse.
Ayrton (Melb Race 5)
Couple of excuses I suppose but he’s bombed a couple of times now and is nowhere near as good as they think. Waste of a trip if they come to Sydney.
Remarque (Syd Race 8)
I’ve seen some markets where they have got it wrong a bit lately but I haven’t seen one this off tilt in some time. Sure, he was murdered first up, but he drew bad here and was up against the Slipper winner, the Sires Produce Winner, the J.J. Atkins winner, and the winner of the San Domenico and his only win to date was a 2yo Hcp and he started $3 favourite. He was a double figure pop at least but that said he raced quite well, but is not match for the winner.