Craig Williams rides Demonstrate to victory at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
Race 8 - TAB Australian Cup
NIC: Turn it up! That was an ugly race to watch. Harlem loves a fast run 2000m and that’s what he got today. But gee there was some carnage for Almandin backers and there were plenty of them. Think the sectionals will tell the story here, looked brutal. Poor Gailo Chop, he’s gone enormous.
BEN: It looked a case of everyone wanting to get the run Harlem did. Almandin probably should’ve won, Gailo Chop has run an enormous race considering the early pressure and nothing has made ground coming wide all day so the efforts of The Taj Mahal and Single Gaze were probably much better than they look on paper.
Race 6 - Lexus Newmarket Handicap
NIC: When they give weight away and beat them it’s hard not to stand back and applaud. Well done Redkirk Warrior. He is now the first horse to win the Newmarket-Lightning-Newmarket. Brave Smash was strong and the three-year-old Merchant Navy lost no admirers. Redzel still wins the TJ Smith for mine.
BEN: The question on Redkirk Warrior was the fact he hadn’t backed up his good performances in his previous two preparations but what an emphatic way to answer that query! He’s just a very good horse, as is Brave Smash who probably heads to Sydney and can be competitive at the highest level as long as he doesn’t bump into Winx. I must admit that in the run I thought Merchant Navy was going to win the race. He’s run the fastest last 800, 600 and 400m sectionals but Brave Smash ran by him in the final 200 suggesting that he might have peaked on his run or he might have needed something to chase down as he seemed to float over the concluding stages and then was very strong past the post. I’d still take him to Royal Ascot as I think he’d be very competitive.
Race 9 - Incognitus Stakes
NIC: Money was on and didn’t disappoint - She’s So High sends punters home on a winning note after a difficult day. The horses on the outside rail were simply never in it. Does that make Redkirk’s Newmarket win even better?
BEN: It could well do! Speaking after the win in the last Damien Oliver described the inside section of the track as a “monorail” and She’s So High got the right run. That said, she completely brained her rivals and is the only horse I want to follow out of the race looking towards Sydney. I’d be forgiving of the three horses that came down the outside.
Race 7 - Schweppervescence Trophy
NIC: This is a serious mare Ben, Spanish Reef recorded very strong figures first up, was entitled to go flat here but she was too good. The only horse I want to follow going forward and I’d speck her at the $34 for the Coolmore next week if she goes.
BEN: Gee that’s a big call. I thought Samovare was unlucky not to beat her as Damien Oliver seemed hyper conscious to try and stay close to the rail in the run as it has been the place to be today. Shillelagh was the big disappointment, even though the pattern was against her she appears as though she hasn’t come up this preparation.
Race 5 - TAB Kewney Stakes
NIC: Credit to Bella Martini who was unlucky last start and atoned here. Palazzo Vecchio the horse to follow... again. She’s going to win a big race this prep, maybe an Oaks or maybe she’s too brilliant for that even.
BEN: Palazzo Vecchio just needed a bit more room in the straight didn’t she? 1600m next time looks ideal for her. On a day where nothing has really made ground out wide from the rear of the field and in a race where the trifecta all stuck to the inside on the turn I thought the run of Seannie was very good.
Race 4 - MSS Security Sires' Produce Stakes
NIC: The winner was well backed over the past 24hrs and yet again produced proving the slick sectionals it posted last start was no fluke. Can anything go to Sydney and be competitive?
BEN: I’m not sure but I'm not overly enthusiastic that they can. Maybe the winner or runner-up could be competitive in races like the Sires Produce or Champagne. Perhaps Seberate being scratched from that lead-up race at Caulfield, the race in which the winner Not A Single Cent came through, ultimately cost him over the last 100m? He did have to do a bit of work early too so I thought his run was just as good as the winner.
Race 3 - The Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy
NIC: Gap job. King’s Command just pummelled them and clearly this is a horse that’s starting to put it altogether after proving costly in the last. Portman looked hot before the race and after being trapped wide, did nothing. Not much else to say.
BEN: Portman enjoyed no luck in transit but I dare say it wouldn’t have mattered anyway as I doubt he’d have beaten Kings Command. That is an early contender for ride of the day from Ben Thompson. He went forward and made the race a genuine test which exposed the weaknesses of the opposition who were either not as fit or at a tactical disadvantage. I think that dominant victory strengthens that Australian Guineas form too in a roundabout way as Kings Command had beaten Salsamor who then finished ninth beaten more than five lengths in the Guineas.
Race 2 - Club Stand Handicap
NIC: He’s done it again - Kings Will Dream surely becomes a force in the spring. He relaxes well and has a lovely turn of foot. Could we be looking at a Caulfield Cup chance?
BEN: He’s certainly going the right way about things. He’s improving every time he goes to the races and should be even better next preparation. Riyadh caught the eye flashing home for a similar grade of race and I’d completely ignore the run of Wheal Leisure who had a very tough run. She could surprise at odds over 2000m in the right race next start.
Race 1 - The Melbourne Cup Carnival On Sale Handicap
NIC: I think the first race has given us a glimpse of what we could expect for the Newmarket Hcp, Ben? Aside from the early entree, I guess Craig Williams will be happy to ride a winner for his wife! The couch stays free.
BEN: It certainly was interesting that the winner came through the field in the middle of the track, rather the down the outside as has been the place to be down the straight in recent months. From a Newmarket point of view, it could be a positive for those drawn towards the inside like Brave Smash, Booker, Merchant Navy and Rich Charm. Demonstrate was the best horse on the day but Concealer is the one I want to follow out of the race. She didn’t have an ideal run in transit but was only narrowly beaten and should strip fitter for the run.