This Friday and Saturday in May are traditionally great days at the Scone races and this year is no exception. Gai Waterhouse is sending a strong team to the upper Hunter and she herself will be there for two days supporting her team. She seems to have a good chance in most of the biggest races, but there are several of the state’s biggest trainers chasing the riches so it will be hard work for the Lady Trainer.
Friday, the Scone Cup
Fat Al was good first up without being great. He heads to Scone with a lot of improvement left in him and his class and talent have never been questioned. However 61kg is a huge weight for a one time Group One winner. He has to give the likes of Speediness plenty of weight and it may just pull him up in the straight. He will take improvement out of the run, and expect him to give a good fight.
Speediness has been looking for the mile and this race looks perfect for him. He got too far back at Hawkesbury and got a bit lost but his natural talent took him to third place. He is a star in the making and with even luck he should be flying home here.
Fat Al and Speediness are both close to double figure odds and in a race that has very few stars or even potential stars, these two class runners should put up almighty performances.
Saturday, Denise’s Joy Stakes
No Looking Back is the class runner of this field. This filly has in the past has beaten the likes of Skytrain and Zaratone and as a two-year-old she was clearly one of the best fillies in the land. A wide barrier and a big weight are the only reason we can get $4, because she is the best horse in the race.
Diamond Earth’s last win was this track and distance. That is a sign that the bush air might just spark this speedy filly up a bit. At her last start she sat wide and actually ran on a little. Normally she leads and either kicks or wilts. Her last start indicates she has matured and may even be a little stronger. She looks ideally placed in this race at Scone on Saturday.
No Looking Back has the class but the weight and barrier are the worry, while Diamond Earth has nothing really against her bar one year out of the winners circle.
Luskin Star Stakes
Riva De Lago won this race last year and he has been freshened and looks spot on to defend his title. The gelding gets weight off the top two and despite being up and going since November, this preparation has been his most consistent. Waller and Bowman are in fantastic form plus barrier three is ideal. This boy certainly ticks a lot of boxes.
The Offer is first up for Gai Waterhouse since arriving from Europe. The last few imports Gai has brought over have all run well first up. According to Gai’s website, this boy has been working very well and he appears to be very fit heading into this first up run.
Skytrain and Decision Time have wide barriers and over 60kg, while Riva De Lago has 58.5kg and an inside barrier. He just seems to get the best run and as long as his mind is on the job he should be in the finish.
The Dark Jewel Classic
Miss Stellabelle has been very unlucky this preparation. She finds trouble somehow in all her races and maybe should have at least won two races this time in. 1400m is her best distance and from barrier 5 Nash should be able to get a good position and let her lose late.
Soft Sand is horribly out of form, but a horse does not place in a Group One during Melbourne Cup week if they are no good. $14 indicates we can give her another chance.
Arctic Flight and City Of Song also have a big chance in this race, but there is no doubt Miss Stellabelle is the one to beat. She is so honest and Nash loves her and feels she is flying. All good signs.
Another Gai runner Ashokan is running ok of late without winning. Gai has been on and on about how good this race is, in that it is worth $500,000. When Gai generally targets a race outside of Sydney she is usually pretty close to the mark. It is funny that the Scone Guineas is worth almost twice as much as the Sydney Cup!
Ninth Legion hated the heavy track in Queensland last start; before that, this horse was flying. He is genuine and is trained by the in-form partnership in Australia. Expect him to be running on late.
$500,000 is a huge amount of prize money and there are several horses in this race that are not well performed enough to be running for this kind of money. Therefore the class runners at level weights should be near the top of selections for this magnificent race.
Can Ortensia win the race named after her as Black Caviar did in February? It will not be easy considering she has 62kg. She will be a popular winner should she win, but she sure has a big task ahead of her.
Border Rebel is getting closer to a win and he usually performs well on bush tracks. He gets too much weight in town, and this week with the 55kg, he will be mighty hard to run down.
Emotional Circus runs on at the end of every race she competes in. But she is generally too far back and storms home for a great 4th or 5th. This week from an inside barrier she might just be a little closer and she can definitely match it with the best horses in this race in regards to sectionals. $6.50 is a bit short for a horse that is almost guaranteed to find trouble, but she is talented and will run well.
This race has so much depth; again the top two may be weighted out of the race, but they are very classy animals. Under them (in the weights) it is a very even race. Expect a big finish with hopefully one of the selected two just either holding on or flying home to win.
By Zeb Armstrong