The feature race on the last day of the Melbourne Cup carnival is the Group 1 Emirates Stakes over 1600m. The Flemington track was rated a Dead 4 on Thursday and with showers forecast for the next 2 days, the track should remain in the Dead range on race day.
The Emirates Stakes (Melbourne Race 6, 1600m) consists of a field of high class milers including horses that quinella the Doncaster Handicap, the Toorak winner and last year’s Epsom winner. The top weight, Fat Al, is a class miler being the reigning Doncaster winner. But since the Emirates Stakes is a quality handicap, Fat Al has been allotted 58kg and has to give weight to some very good horses. It could be a task beyond him. The Toorak winner Solzhenitsyn had an unlucky run at Mooney Valley last start. He copped interference at 1000m and again at 100m, not to mention he got blocked for a run in the straight. The spacious Flemington would suit him much better and I expect Solzhenitsyn to run on strongly. Fresh from winning the Melbourne Cup, the Lloyd Williams and Robert Hickmott team can go on to claim another Group 1 race. They have Fawkner engaged in the Emirates. Fawkner has been unbeaten since resuming from a spell winning 3 out of 3. He shown a brilliant turn of foot to win here at Flemington last Saturday. From barrier 3, Nick Hall will park him along the fence mid-field and unleash his acceleration in the straight. Fawkner and Solzhenitsyn look a good quinella bet to me.
The other Group 1 race of the meeting, the Patinack Farm Classic (Melbourne Race 5, 1200m) has been robbed of some gloss with the scratching of the Patinack owned filly, Nechita. But the race is still quality galore. Race favourite Sea Siren has come back even better than last preparation according to trainer John O’Shea. Her 1st up win in the Manikato was outstanding. But this is the first time Sea Siren will race down the Flemington straight, having said that, if she can handle the straight track racing then she will be in the finish. The top weight, Buffering, will definitely have no problem with the straight six. He has been placed 4 out of 5 at this track and distance. Buffering wasn’t suited by the tight turning Mooney Valley last start and will be better suited back to Flemington. He ran 2nd to Black Caviar in this race last year and there will be no Black Caviar on Saturday, I expect Buffering to go one better this year. Mental is the dark horse here. This Peter Snowden trained gelding is full of quality and his fast finishing 2nd in the Manikato was very impressive. Currently at $5.50 fixed odds, Buffering is my pick for the Patinack Classic.
The Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Melbourne Race 8, 2600) is usually the consolation prize for the horses that couldn’t get into the Melbourne Cup. The grey import, Puissance de Lune, was impressive winning the Bendigo Cup by 8 lengths. Trainer Darren Weir said this year is too soon to aim Puissance de Lune for the Melbourne Cup but he will target the horse for the Cup next year. But I believe his current odds of $2.80 for the Queen Elizabeth is under the odds. I like the Cummings trained Dare to Dream. He was very unlucky not to have won the Lexus Stakes last Saturday and made the Cup field after being blocked for a run in the straight and lost all momentum. The 2600m will really suit him and he’s on the limit at 54.5kg. Currently at $7.50, he represents a great each-way bet.
By Owens Wong, Editor