This really does appear to be Mintha's race to lose and although she's been a beaten favourite at her past two starts in town, I think punters can give her one more chance here and feel confident she can repay the faith.
She got too far off the lead at Flemington two starts back when running home well into third, before she looked home in running at The Valley. That midweek meeting was a couple of weeks back; she was a bit one-paced under a big weight, plus I'm not convinced she really appreciated the slow surface. Casa De Lago, meanwhile, got a lovely run through the field and grabbed her on the inside late.
Mintha now meets that filly 2 ½ kilos better off and, importantly, she should get a pretty firm surface here. I'm certain that's a much better scenario for her. She's short enough, but there isn't much depth and she can kick off the day in style.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
I've got plenty of time for this filly and although she's still eligible for easier races than what she's been accepted for here, she's an improving type that gets in with a light weight. I can see her winning this and lifting that rating of hers very quickly.
Forget about her first-up run. Second up, she went much better when flashing up late behind two pretty handy older mares in Vienna Romance and Zonk. In a few more strides she wins the race and she was back in trip there, which was to her disadvantage.
Back against her own age here, even if it is the males as well, she steps up to the 1400 metres and gets onto a spacious circuit in Randwick. Those are all big ticks for me. Tim Clark is probably going to have to ride her back from that wide gate but I can see her proving too much for her rivals late.
Now this is a smart colt in the making. He's far from a finished product as far as racing manner and maturity level goes, but Mount Kilcoy has well above average ability. That may be enough to see him win this in what would be a perfect race to get under the belt, while also boosting his ratings to begin to entertain any Spring prospects.
Mount Kilcoy arguably could be unbeaten. He flashed home on debut after being held up to just miss the leader who'd enjoyed a nice time of it in front, before comfortably winning his maiden at his second start. Then, when well up in class and a big drifter in betting, the son of High Chaparral again had issues getting clear; he then clipped heels at the 200m and hung in, but powered late to be beaten a length and was very strong through the line.
I don't really mind where Dean Yendall puts him in the run, but I want two things: that he gets him to settle and race generously, and that when he wants to pull the trigger that he's got clear room to do so. If that happens, then his talent can do the rest.
I'm expecting big improvement here third up from Morton's Fork and I want to be with him in the Winter Championship Final, even though he's up against a pretty decent field.
He's looked in need of his two runs back, plus circumstances in each race have made it too difficult for him to really figure in the finish of either event; mainly the fact that both have been leader dominated affairs.
He now should be ready to peak as he drops a couple of kilos in weight from both those events. With the big field engaged and some more genuine on-speed types up to a mile, you'd think there'll be a little more pressure up front. The other factor is he draws well here, and that should hopefully mean Jamie Mott can find a good spot for him one off the fence, no worse than midfield. Morton's Fork is definitely good enough to win this and I'll be surprised if he's not right in the thick of it late.
OVER THE ODDS
He's a bit of enigma, Veladero. He was a horse who was pretty promising early in his career, winning a Gloaming Stakes and running a close up fourth in a Spring Champion, but he hasn't really gone on with it, winning just once since.
But I thought he was pretty good the other day behind smart stablemate, But I'm Serious, and with Dark Eyes unlikely to get a run here as second emergency, I can see Veladero doing the same as he did there and attempt to dictate proceedings up front. If he's allowed to, and the track stays in the soft to heavy range, he's going to prove difficult to run down and the double figure quote appeals big time.
Leg 1 - 5,12
Leg 2 - 1,3,4,5,8
Leg 3 - 4,6,9,10
Leg 4 - 3,4,8,9
($100 = 62.5%)
Leg 1 - 1,3,4,6,10
Leg 2 - 1
Leg 3 - 1,7,8,16
Leg 4 - 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,11
($100 = 62.5%)