Mystic Journey fans would like what they see regarding the most successful path to Makybe Diva Stakes victory in the 1990s and 2000s.
Form Focus reveals that of the 18 editions from 1993 to 2010, 11 winners had their previous start in the Lawrence Stakes, including eight of the nine from 1993 to 2001 who were second-up after contesting the Lawrence.
That is how Mystic Journey hits this year’s race, having resumed with Lawrence victory on August 17.
But today’s spring calendar is different to what it was in those days. From 1993-2001 the Lawrence – or Liston Stakes as it was known then – was run a week later than it is now and the Makybe Diva (nee Craiglee) Stakes a week earlier.
So, after being a fortnight apart then, there are now four weeks between the races. That means horses who go from the Lawrence to the Makybe Diva are likely to have a run in between, such as the past two winners, Humidor and Grunt.
They both won the Makybe Diva after resuming in the Lawrence but contested the Memsie Stakes in between.
In four of the five years since the Makybe Diva switched places with the Feehan Stakes, the winner has had its previous start in the Memsie.
The exception was Fawkner (2015), who joined Confectioner (2005) and Littorio (2011) as recent first-up winners. They are the only horses in the past 30 years to win it with a longer gap between runs than the 28 days Mystic Journey takes in this year.
Humidor and Grunt were both unplaced in their Caulfield lead-up runs, as was 2016 winner Palentino, who ran fourth in the Regal Roller Stakes before a fifth placing in the Memsie Stakes.
Scales Of Justice, Hartnell, Oohood and Humidor are those in this year’s field who came via the Memsie, with all but the winner of that event, Scales Of Justice, having been unplaced.
Scales Of Justice is striving to join Weekend Hussler and Dissident as the only horses to complete the Memsie-Makybe Diva double in since 1962, although only four others have tried in the past 30 years.
Many more Lawrence Stakes winners have contested the Makybe Diva (14) since 1989, but also only two horses have completed the double; Pompeii Ruler (2006) and Mahogany (1994).
The moderate lead-up form of some recent Makybe Diva winners has resulted in some big prices, but that is not restricted to the present timeslot. Four of the last five winners before the date change were at $8.50 or longer, contributing to an average winner’s price of just under $15 in that time.
Dissident ($2.70) is the last favourite to score, while Weekend Hussler ($1.85) in 2008 joined Mahogany ($1.40) as the only odds-on winners in the past 30 years.
Looking to the majors, Northerly, who won the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate in 2002, is the most recent horse to win either of those majors following Makybe Diva success, while Rain Lover (1969) is the most recent of the two horses to complete the Makybe Diva/Melbourne Cup double.
The Verdict: HARTNELL comes through the right races – third in the Lawrence, fourth in the Memsie – and, as a $12 chance, profiles well price-wise. Looks a nice each-way play.