Autumn racing is officially upon us with attention firmly fixed on the season's opening meetings at Flemington and Randwick.
Here is the pick the weekend's runners as provided by tab.com.au
This appears to be an extremely suitable race for Hear The Chant to notch up her first win in almost a year as she tackles this restricted fillies and mares race on what is a tough program at Flemington.
The Lindsay Park four-year-old is already a stakes winner as a spring three-year-old when she prevailed in the Thoroughbred Club Cup at group three level at Caulfield. She has been relatively lightly raced since then, with this just being her 12th career start, but that, along with a few other performances in that period, have convinced me she is a genuine black type performer, albeit certainly not a group one mare.
She had just the two starts last spring, and her performance first up is of huge significance to this race here. A gallant second behind Fragonard, who is the current favourite for this, Hear The Chant gave the Godolphin mare two and a half kilos after Ben Thompson's claim; Fragonard had the drop on her in the run that day and it played right into her hands late.
But there are a couple of factors which I believe swing this one in Hear The Chant's favour, namely the weight swing and the fact this is over 1100 metres, rather than the 1200 metres when she came home behind Fragonard.
As I eluded to earlier, Hear The Chant just looks so well graded for this and the way I think the race is going to be run should play right into her hands.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
I've been highly impressed by what Holbien has done in his two wins since a spell and I'm of the firm belief that Steve Richards has a group class galloper on his hands here with the son of Pierro.
Holbien easily disposed of a bunch of maidens first up at Yarra Valley before coming to a midweek meeting at Sandown where he tackled what was an above-average field for a Wednesday. Holbien was pushed a bit to take a position outside the leader where they went a good slip up front; when asked in the straight he responded and as a couple of rivals challenged late, he displayed a great will to win to hold them off. Holbien did the job at both ends and I walked away thinking that was the win of a very smart galloper.
This is another step up, but I've got no concerns about him running out a strong seven furlongs; he's drawn well and should be able to take a sit here, be in or outside the lead, and he's only got a kilo above the limit. Holbien can definitely take this out and perhaps a Sydney sojourn isn't out of the question.
After a spring prep that was littered with issues, Egg Tart returns for what will hopefully be an autumn campaign where she can get the chance to show her true colours and bounce back to her three-year-old form.
If she's close to her best, she is certainly capable of taking out a race like the Liverpool City Cup first up and I'm glad they've left her in this as opposed to the mares race later in the program, because she wouldn't have been the price she was here in that. I have a lot of time for the warm favourite here in Care To Think, but he looks a ridiculously short quote at around $2.20 as I write this - he can obviously win, but he's drawn awkwardly and this is really his toughest test to date. Sting out of the ground will help Egg Tart and whilst still fresh she's capable of racing midfield or slightly worse here - there should be good speed up front with the likes of Arbeitsam, Burning Passion and Oxford Poet in the race, so let's hope she can get to the outside and be the Egg Tart we know she can be.
OVER THE ODDS
I can understand why he's a double figure chance in a five furlong dash but Cannyescent has the ability and the speed in his legs to win this, especially up the Flemington straight where he's shown he can thrive.
I have to forgive his first-up run in the Rubiton; he half missed the kick, was trapped wide and Damien Oliver attempted to go forward and somehow try and find an in. But he was really caught in no man's land throughout, yet was still there with 200m to go before the run took its toll late and he faded into sixth only beaten a little more than two lengths.
It was a good effort really and although he comes back to the 1000 metres here, his second up the straight behind Hey Doc -- who went on to win a group one sprint three starts later -- at this track over the six furlongs, reads very well for this.
If Cannyescent can stay in touch early and not get run of his feet he'll be very strong late and will be difficult to hold out at a very attractive price.
AUSTRALIAN GUINEAS TIP
I cannot get over Peaceful State's first-up effort and the manner in which he beat a handy field of older horses. He did burn me in the CS Hayes, but I think it was a very forgivable effort in hindsight and I have to stick with him for the Guineas.
A couple of genuine excuses out of that last start seventh; the track was probably a touch too firm for him, I don't think he really handled a 10-day back up after such a huge win, and he raced like he wants a mile already.
I'm not concerned about his ability to win this race or whether he has the class to do so. He is a top tier three-year-old, but as we learn more about him, a few idiosyncrasies are evident. He just needs to put it all together here and he'll go close at a great price.
Leg 1 - 7
Leg 2 - 1, 2
Leg 3 - 3,4,5,6,7,8,9
Leg 4 - 3, 8 , 10, 13, 15
($100 = 142.86%)
Leg 1 - 1,3,4,7,8,11
Leg 2 - 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16
Leg 3 - 2, 3, 5
Leg 4 - 7
($100 = 50.5%)