The Sir John Monash Stakes is a listed race run over 1100m at standard weight for age. The race is run almost exactly in the middle of winter and has in the past been won by fit tough sprinters that had been winning leading into the race. It seems in the 19 year history of the race, it has rarely been won by spring horses that were challenging it first up with bigger things in mind. The two favourites Happy Galaxy and Group One winner at this track and trip Miss Onassis are both first up and both looking forward to the spring; so maybe they can be taken on?
Miss Onassis won the Oakleigh Plate three starts ago with just 52.5kg. In the race on Saturday she has 56.5kg. However she has class and is widely regarded as too dour for 1000m, but too brilliant for 1200m. Therefore 1100m is her perfect distance. Yes she is a Group One winner and the best credentialed horse in the field, but maybe she might need the run.
Happy Galaxy is a Group Two winner last preparation and won his last four starts before heading for a spell. He has beaten a good class of horse but has never won at 1100m and never been to Caulfield. Caulfield can wreck a Sydney horse at its first look there. Kingston Town and Pierro are two that come to mind immediately. Happy Galaxy may have a better chance than Miss Onassis but the Caulfield track and the distance stats clearly count against him.
So where to go if the favourites are risked? Pago Rock has won three times over the 1100m and has won two of his last three races, both of which were run over the 1100m. Zamorar was beaten by Pago Rock by an inch his first up this preparation. In this race last year, Zamorar was beaten a length by Platelet, a mare that has since won two Group One races. Elite Elle is a very fit front running filly that will not know herself on the minimum with 56kg considering at four of her last five starts she has carried either 60kg or 60.5kg.
Verdict. The three above listed are all at double figure odds and as such, can all be backed in one way or another.
3rd. No.6 – Pago Rock. Distance specialist and is very fit and in great form.
2nd. No.11 – Elite Elle. This filly has been up and running since March and she is yet to put in a bad run. She is hard, tough and might just sneak away with the race on the minimum weight considering the weights she has been carrying recently.
1st. No.7 – Zamorar. This gelding has so much talent and he will win a big race sooner or later. He has had just one run this time in (after being scratched 5 times!) and it was a bottler. He will be near the lead before the turn and can sprint well off a hot tempo that Elite Elle will no doubt set up.
By Zeb Armstrong