One of the great races of the Australian Turf, and an honour roll that including likes of Makybe Diva, Lonhro, Northerly (twice), Octagonal, Saintly, Better Loosen Up, Vo Rogue (twice) and Bonecrusher is testament to that fact. High quality horses win, and quite often it is a star from the previous spring that peaks again to win this Autumn Classic.
I am going to single out a few in the race, strongly based on historical factors over the past 12 years. This year hardly appears a vintage rendition of this great race, but having said that the winner might well be a memorable one. Below are the winners going back to 2003, which is as far as I can go back to analyse historical data.
- 2014 Fiorente 6h (5) D.Oliver
- 2013 Super Cool 3c (2) M.Rodd
- 2012 Manighar 6g (5) L.Nolan
- 2011 Shocking 5h (12) C. Brown
- 2010 Zipping 8g (12) N. Hall
- 2009 Niconero 7g (10) C. Williams
- 2008 Sirmione 4g (8) P. Mertens
- 2007 Pompeii Ruler 4g (2) C. Newitt (race staged at Caulfield)
- 2006 Roman Arch 7g (4) C. Newitt
- 2005 Makybe Diva 6m (5) G. Boss
- 2004 Lonhro 5h (5) D.Beadman
- 2003 Northerly 6g (7) P. Payne
A) 12/12 had their last start at Caulfield and 8 of those 12 had their last start at WFA in the Peter Young Stakes (formerly St. George Stakes) 14 days earlier.
B) 9/11 (excluding Pompeii Ruler who won this race at Caulfield) had won or placed in a Group 1 race at Flemington. Roman Arch, an exception, had won a race at Flemington and the other one Manighar had finished 3L behind the winner in the Melbourne Cup the prior Spring
C) 9/12 won or placed last start.
D) 9/12 aged 5 years or over and 7/12 aged 6 & over
E) 9/12 won this second or third up but 7 of those were third up.
F) Good barriers a slight advantage with 8/12 drawing 8 or better.
G) Average price $8.95 but 6/12 won at $5 or less (5 of those 6 at $3.25 or less)
Summing up on a historical basis, we are looking for a horse that last raced at Caulfield, and preferably in the WFA Peter Young Stakes. Won or placed last start and aged 5 years or over. Drawn to advantage, and having their second or third start this preparation would be an asset.
There does appear to be better than average speed here for a 2000m race. Tasmanian horse THE CLEANER will ensure it is a stamina test, with the likes of GREATWOOD, MOURINHO, ENTIRELY PLATINUM & perhaps PUCCINI & AU REVOIR up near the pace, and possibly making sure he doesn’t get too far in front. The race might suit those that race midfield or rearward, and perhaps those that have won at 2400m or more.
Analysis of main chances
1. RED CADEAUX– is 3 times runner up in the Melbourne Cup from 4 attempts at the great race over the 3200m distance. This is his first attempt in Australia at a distance less than that, and once again he has drawn a poor barrier. After having drawn 23,18,15 & 14 in those 4 stars he is out in barrier 14 again today. A fast speed should negate that though, and he races really well first up, including 3 of the Melbourne Cup runs, but more specifically a 2nd to Animal Kingdom at this distance in Dubai in March 2013. That day he was a mile in front of the third horse and had Side Glance (4th), 5L astern. Put simply if he runs up to that he will win this race. The negative is he does run a lot of Group 1 seconds and isn’t a prolific winner. This is the first time an Australian jockey has ridden him since Michael Rodd was aboard, when he looked to have won his first Melbourne Cup. That could be an asset. Not a great historical fit overall but he is a G1 placegetter on 3 occasions at this track and not too many have attempted this race first up. He is the value runner without a doubt.
2. PROTECTIONIST- was quite disappointing in the Peter Young Stakes but jockey Craig Williams did report he wasn’t comfortable at the Caulfield track. In my opinion it was also a pretty poor ride because he needed to be put into the race 800m from home to win, but at that point in the race he was allowed to drift further back. He ran home well enough as a pointer to this race, and his only run here was that a devastating win last Spring in the Melbourne Cup. A repeat of that would win this race, and a fast speed will assist him. Historically he rates highly (except last run), and he has drawn perfectly, so there should be no excuse if he gets beat. If there is one it’s likely to be the distance is too short, but he isn’t a gross type of horse physically, so fitness shouldn’t be the issue.
3. HAPPY TRAILS- is the perfect historical fit and for that reason deserves favouritism. He has had the perfect preparation, this is his distance, and he has drawn well to peak in this race. He has won 3 times at Group 1 level at this track, and 2 of those were at this distance. He can race forward or back and is best suited on dry tracks, which he will get today. Impossible to ‘knock’ in regard to this race, though his overall strike rate hasn’t endeared him to everybody, me included. The one to beat for sure and certain.
4. FORETELLER– Comes here via Sydney which is a negative historically, but he has a Group 1 victory over 1600m at this track, and he ran a good 3rd in this race last year. He has had 7 battles against Happy Trails and trails 2-5. Another one drawn to advantage though, and third up into this race is perfect for him. Not sure the 21 day break is though? Value at twice the price of the favourites.
6. MOURINHO is the most improved horse in the country with the possible exception of The Cleaner. Watching the Peter Young Stakes last start he just looked to be cruising the whole race, and there was little doubt he was going to win on that basis. He ran to the outside in the straight which probably meant he was feeling the firmness of the track. He does prefer a bit of give, which is a large reason for his great form on the Strathayr at Moonee Valley. That is the worry for me today because Flemington can throw up a harder surface than you get elsewhere in Melbourne (debatable?) and its record here isn’t great 0-1/4. Having said that he has never come here in better form, and is going to be ignored in the betting market again. Awkward draw a bit of a negative.
7. THE CLEANER comes direct from Tasmania and is second up for this. His form around Mourinho last spring looks good for this, and he might be better suited at Flemington than that horse. He won second up last preparation at Moonee Valley, and you know he is going to give his backers a thrill here, high balling up front. That can be advantageous at Flemington on occasions at this distance, so he can’t be ignored. Whether he is quite good enough is the question.
10. AKZAR ran a bottler of a race in the Peter Young Stakes finishing off better than any other runner. That would appear to have been the ideal trial for this. His last 2 runs have been good, and he does have a win here at this distance in much lesser class. He has never been a WFA horse, but anything is possible on that score given results at this level over the past couple of years. Has a fitness edge on most here, but that was the case last start too, which might have flattered him a little.
15. SPILLWAY like Protectionist is a 5yo Entire and has to be given some consideration on his excellent last run in the Peter Young when fourth. This is probably his best distance, and he also ran an eye-catching race behind Happy Trails in the Mackinnon here this distance last spring, from a wide barrier. This is a far better preparation for him given he hasn’t raced beyond 2000m this time, and it does seem that 2400m is beyond his capabilities at this level. He has a good enough barrier to take advantage of today, but his 0/10 of good tracks turns me off a bit, and he doesn’t appear quite good enough to win at WFA G1 level.
History says HAPPY TRAILS
The Melbourne Cup run and class suggests PROTECTIONIST
The class runner at value – RED CADEAUX
Recent form – MOURINHO.
Al l things considered I reckon RED CADEAUX is the way to go on an Each Way basis. At better than $4 a place he doesn’t have to win for you to show a 100% profit on investment.