DERBY DAY BEST
His father won it, his Father's Father won it, even his Father's Father's Father won it, and now I expect Zousain to keep up the family tradition and win the Coolmore Stud Stakes and finally get the Group I he so truly deserves.
He's been runner-up at his only two starts at this level, on both occasions beaten by a deadset freakish talent in stablemate The Autumn Sun; I'd strongly argue that in both those starts the race was run more to suit his fellow Chris Waller-trained colt.
In the JJ Atkins back in June, Zousain was wide most of the trip and The Autumn Sun was able to track him into the race and get the last crack at him. Then, in his last start in the Golden Rose, Zousain enjoyed a lovely run behind a hot speed, but he hit the front a fair way from home and because they had gone quickly up front, it allowed the best backmarker to run on and The Autumn Sun nailed him in the last stride.
Take nothing away from the winner at either of those, as I said he could be anything, and he proved that with one of the most dominant Caulfield Guineas wins of all time. Not only that, it just franked that Golden Rose form, and that was doubled down when Graff, who ran third behind them, ran an absolute cracker in The Everest.
I have always thought that, in his truest form, Zousain is a get-back sprinter with a devastating finish on him; he's very much in the mould of his sire, Zoustar. I think J-Mac rides him fairly quietly here and unleashes that turn of foot in the last 400m. It will prove too much for his rivals to stave off.
DERBY DAY SPECIALS
I was disappointed when Sixties Groove suffered a setback after back-to-back Flemington wins in July and missed his opportunity to be aimed towards the Caulfield Cup, a race I'd nabbed massive odds for him in and was confident he could be a major player down in the weights.
But who knows? Perhaps it runs out to be a blessing in disguise, because Darren Weir was able to get the UK import back on track for a backdoor tilt at getting into the Melbourne Cup, and I reckon he can at least get him a spot in next Tuesday's big one by winning the Hotham on Saturday.
Unlike a large number of imported stayers, Sixties Groove has a genuine turn of foot and it was on full display in that pair of wins at this track. In the second of those, he accounted for Trap For Fools who has proven to be a more than handy type, placing in last weekend's Moonee Valley Gold Cup.
Sixties Groove hasn't been over this sort of trip yet in Australia, but back home, during his three-year-old season, he won twice over 2200m. He was also very stiff in a high-rating handicap at Ascot over 2400m when coming from last to run fourth having been held up for part of the straight; plus he ran a close second to Poet's Word, who would go on to prove himself as one of the best mile-and-a-half horses in Europe as an older type.
He's ready to tackle this trip now, and if Craig Williams gets him to settle and conserve energy midrace Sixties Groove has the sprint to put this field away.
Plain and simple, Thinkin' Big is the best horse lining up in this year's Derby. It's not just class wise either, but also in terms of staying potential, and that combo should be enough to see him take out the Blue Ribband.
The one concern I have is that, for some unforeseen reason, he gets attacked multiple times in the run; that is if he leads, or he doesn't lead and the race is a messy affair where he gets in an awkward position. I think they'll lead, and it would only be suicide for something to try and take the Tulloch Lodge colt on.
It's been widely said now, but he really does have a lot of Nothin' Leica Dane about him, and I'd love to see him comprehensively win the Derby and add huge intrigue to the Melbourne Cup by becoming the first three-year-old since Arena in 1998, to line up in Tuesday's big one.
In both starts this prep, Snitty Kitty has been racing against some premium level sprinting talent. Running a brave fourth in the Moir first up behind Viddora, she then just couldn't maintain the effort after going pretty hard early behind Ball Of Muscle and subsequent Manikato runner-up Spirit Of Valour.
The daughter of Snitzel now comes back to Group III mares grade, under the very suitable set weights and penalties conditions. There's some promising types here, who are in career best form, but none possess the proven quality that Snitty Kitty does.
As with a lot of straight races with big fields, being drawn in the right spot is always key. So hopefully gate 13 is going to be okay; if it is, and she handles the straight in amazingly her first go at it, I think she'll shine back against her own sex.
OVER THE ODDS
After flashing ability as a juvenile without winning a race, I love what I've seen from Zoutori in two starts as a three-year-old. I feel confident he's set to really come of age now that he gets to a mile on a big track, which is exactly what will happen on Saturday in the Carbine Club.
His maiden win at Kyneton first up was impressive. Settling well back and wide, he got some cover and a bit of a cart into the race, then let down nicely to run down Jawwaal, who franked that form with a stylish all-the-way win during the week at Bendigo.
Zoutori then went straight into listed grade taking on several rivals that he'll face again here. He certainly looked comfortable against that sort of class, only being beaten a length into fourth, and he was hampered late in the piece by the riderless horse Bricktop; Damian Lane had to be careful and couldn't really push out Zoutori. So he really should have run third at least.
From that middle draw, I'd expect Lane, who sticks, to try and settle the Ellerton/Zahra trained gelding midfield, one off. As long as there is some semblance of speed on up front, I think Zoutori will be very strong late at fantastic odds.
Leg 1 - 3,5,6,8,9,13,14,15
Leg 2 - 1,2
Leg 3 - 1,2,3,4,16
Leg 4 - 2,4,6
($100 = 41.67%)