After the running of the Epsom Handicap and the Metropolitan at Randwick last Saturday, the show moves on to Caulfield for the Caulfield Guineas. The Caulfield track was rated a Dead 5 at acceptance time and with showers predicted on Friday, the Caulfield track will be bordering on a Slow 6.
The main feature of the meeting is the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas for 3 year olds (Melbourne Race 7, 1600m). Gai Waterhouse trained star colt Pierro is the raging favourite at $1.30 and deservedly so at such short odds. Last start in the Bill Stutt Stakes, it was Pierro’s first run in the Melbourne way of going and he was tracking Mooney Valley like a veteran. On Tuesday, Pierro put in a dazzling display at Flemington track work. He worked in blinkers over 1200m coming home in 33.88 secs for the last 600m and 21.35 secs for the last 400m. Pierro is all set to win the Caulfield Guineas and make it 9 straight wins. Trainer John Hawkes said that he would adopt a gear change in the hope that it would switch All Too Hard on. Hawkes indicated a barrier blanket would be used on All Too Hard while he is loading into the barrier, a trait which was used successfully in his last trial when he jumped on term with the field.
The Caulfield Stakes (Melbourne Race 5, 2000m) is the final lead-up for some Cox Plate horses. Some gloss has been taken off the race with the late withdrawal of one time Cox Plate favourite, Manighar, through injury. That left us with only 2 true weight-for-age horses in the race, Ocean Park and Sincero. The Stephen Farley trained Sincero won the Memsie Stakes first up at 1400m. But he looked a little flat in his last start in the Underwood Stakes 1800m finishing 5th and 3.2 length from the winner, Ocean Park. In the Underwood Stakes, Ocean Park shown us with a brilliant turn of foot in the last 200m, turning defeat into victory. That acceleration is the signature of a high class weight-for-age horse. He won the NZ Derby earlier this year so the 2000m will not present any problem. Ocean Park looks hard to beat.
The other Group 1 race of the meeting, the Toorak Handicap (Melbourne Race 6, 1600m) features another Gai’s star galloper More Joyous. Since resuming from a spell, More Joyous is 2 from 2 winning the Sheraco Stakes and the Golden Pendant. However she does have 60kg to contend with in the Toorak. It is extremely difficult for a mare to carry that weight to win in open handicap. There is no doubt More Joyous is the best horse in the race but weight can stop a train. At $2.50, that could be too big a risk to take. The Queensland visitor, Solzenitsyn, could well be the horse to upset the top weight. Solzenitsyn had won 1st up this preparation and his last start 3rd in the Group 1 Rupert Clark Stakes, beaten only 2.8 lengths, was full of merit. He has a great record over the mile winning 2 out of 3 over the distance and at 52kg, he would be receiving 8kg from More Joyous. Currently at $6.00 fixed odds, Solzenitsyn is my pick for the Toorak.
By Owens Wong, Editor