Feature Form – 14 October 2023
Described by many as “the best raceday in history”, we are certainly going into Saturday with some lofty expectations. Racing for the riches of The Everest, the prestige of the Caulfield Guineas, and the honour of being a stakes winner, there is so much at stake for participants this weekend, across an incredible offering of action. With fifteen races contained in Feature Form, there’s a lot to look forward to in this edition.
Caulfield Race 3, Herbert Power Stakes. 2400m.
Plenty of importance is placed on this race, with the winner scrambling their way into the Caulfield Cup field at the eleventh hour. This race has some pretty strong form north of the Murray, and following The Metropolitan is the way I’m keen to tackle this race. Both Kalapour and Military Mission were left behind by Just Fine and Spirit Ridge in the historic Group 1, but they face a more suitable assignment here. Both look suitable betting propositions here, with a slight lean to Kalapour, on the account of a more suitable map. He was good through the line at the end of the trip, and started comfortably ahead of Military Mission SP wise in the Newcastle Cup. Of the Victorian form, Carini stands out as the obvious, having savaged the line over 1700 metres last start. Does come into this four weeks between runs and sharply up in trip, which is a slightly unconventional approach to a golden ticket race, but he does have an element of progressiveness to him. Brayden Star was dominant over 2100 metres last start, and hit the line like the extra distance shouldn’t be an issue.
Randwick Race 3, Reginald Allen Quality. 1400m.
Opening the ledger in Sydney (a leger-less ledger, if you will) with a race for the three year old fillies, the Reginald Allen looks to have a number of progressive types in action. Even in defeat, there was plenty to like about the return of Joliestar, who found the line at Warwick Farm with a real flashing light attached to her head. She has a (narrow) victory over the favourite already in her column, and from barrier eight James McDonald should have plenty of options at his disposal. With the extra trip on offer here, she can find the line strongly and run a competitive race. The aforementioned favourite is Arctic Glamour, who won in dominant fashion on a Wednesday meeting at Rosehill to break her maiden. It was certainly hard to miss, and there’s been long term hype bestowed on her off the back of that performance. Getting the 1400 metres shouldn’t be an issue, and she is a deserved market elect. Aditi looks to have a future as well, potentially not consistently at this level, but she has a racing pattern that keeps her in a lot of races. The barrier for her does make things a shade awkward, but the form behind Ghaanati is good enough to be competitive here. The two year old form of Kundalini is pretty impressive, and despite being beaten first up, she had excuses there. Wouldn’t be jumping off her on the back of that run.
Caulfield Race 4, Northwood Plume Stakes. 1200m.
Another race for the girls, the Northwood Plume offers an opportunity for some speedy mares to beef up their page. Competing against Imperatriz and Giga Kick was always going to be a tall order for Seradess, who never factored in the McEwan, before turning in a stronger effort against her own sex last start. Strikes a similar race condition and competition wise here, and has a key engagement in the form of Blake Shinn. From a low draw, she should be able to position just behind a hot speed, and be the first to issue a challenge. The amount of money for Red Card last start was rather extraordinary, starting $1.40 against both Seradess and Cardigan Queen, only to be handled by both. She has plenty of talent, but if the plan is still to push forward she may have to do a fair bit of work from that barrier. Will make things hard, but she has the talent to bounce back. Grey River has speed to burn as well, and demonstrated her strength with a strong win last time out in South Australia. This is a shade harder, but she is underrated and can bob up here. Things probably didn’t go to plan for She Dances at Caulfield first up, and with a more suitable race shape she can bounce back sharply at a nice price.
Randwick Race 4, Gloaming Stakes. 1800m.
Edging closer to the Spring Champion, the Gloaming Stakes offers us a final look at the more well credentialed three year olds, on their way to a longer trip. Almost all of the form out of this race follows on from the Dulcify Stakes, with this group all likely to progress on again in two weeks time. Even though he was beaten into fourth, I think Raf Attack is getting closer to a win, and this might be his opportunity to pinch one. With many of the key fancies drawn wide, Regan Bayliss should end up either leading or box seating, and even though this horse may not have a wicked turn of foot, there’s an element of toughness in his locker. Hopefully he’s ridden prominently, and at his price I think he presents as a nice each way chance. Tom Kitten may have been a shade costly for his loyalists as of late, with the colt going under at $3.80 and $2.00 at both of his last two starts. Getting up in distance is suitable, and from his barrier there’s potential Nash Rawiller can get him closer. If that happens, he could end up being simply too good. There has always been a nice horse in Ganbare, who proved his talent with a tough win in the Dulcify. Crossing the face of the field here and being strong at the end of 1800 metres are two elements of difficulty he’ll have to handle, but it pays to be respectful of horses in this stable when they’re up and going. The original Feature Form selection for the Dulcify, Tannhauser gave that a pass and attacks this fresh. It’s a bit of an odd set up, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on him with a view to potentially follow up in the Spring Champion.
Selection: Raf Attack
Caulfield Race 5, Schillaci Stakes. 1100m.
Only a small field for this edition of the Schillaci, but it looks to be a ripping battle. The Moir Stakes form looks to be well fancied, with Asfoora and Uncommon James sharing favouritism. It’s hard to knock either, Asfoora looked for a fleeting moment as if she was going to pinch it from Imperatriz, while Uncommon James was rock solid in behind them. The former looks a likely contester for the lead, although she may encounter some objections from the likes of Home Rule, Lombardo and Chain Of Lightning. She can absolutely win this, but there will be plenty hunting her. As for Uncommon James, he probably ends up in the second half of the field, and will likely end up charting the widest path in the straight. With slight concerns around both, I’m prepared to push one a bit outside the square, in the form of Ingratiating. He was only beaten a shade over a length by Asfoora first up, and has gone back to the trials to tick over in between. Blake Shinn attempting to hold a spot from the low barrier is crucial, and if he does there’s an opportunity for backers in an eight horse field to go each way. Key Largo ended the Autumn as a Group 1 placegetter behind Vilana, and can run a nice race fresh.
Caulfield Race 6, Weekend Hussler Stakes. 1400m.
One of the forgotten races of the Guineas meeting, the Weekend Hussler is a great chance for horses to pinch some black type under handicap conditions. While you could never accuse Regardsmaree of being an easy watch, this is a really nice race for a horse that is going really well without winning. Continually hitting the line well from a long way back, striking a race with Buffalo River and Vreneli will almost certainly afford him a genuine tempo to run on from. Just needs the right horse to take him into it, and if that eventuates he can run a nice race. Aryton never quite became the next Secretariat that many seemed to have him lined up as, but he is a Caulfield maestro and should get every opportunity with the speed in this race. This may end up being his best opportunity to claim a win this campaign. Buffalo River managed to cling on last start, denying Savannah Cloud in a thrilling finish to the Testa Rossa. This is his hitting zone, although he probably isn’t that well suited by the conditions of the race. The import Welwal strikes this race fresh, and his best form around the likes of Tamerlane and Bandersnatch being good enough to turn in a competitive performance here.
Morphettville Race 6, Hill Smith Stakes. 1800m.
Just the one deviation from the Melbourne/Sydney high speed rail of racing, a quick trip to South Australia for the running of a middle distance race for three year olds. The Matt Cumani stable look to have a strong hand in this, with both Ruminate and Thorny Path making the trip across. I’m leaning towards the latter, who was 150/1 in the Derby Preview, got out the back and was never a factor. He broke his maiden over a mile when going forward, and I really hope they try that again here. If Callan Murray is able to end up either leading or breezing, this colt has an element of toughness that can keep him in it for a long way. Ruminate was a dominant synthetic winner at long odds on, before running a solid race at Moonee Valley behind Fistsoffury. With a nice run in transit, he can bounce back to winning form, and the trip shouldn’t worry him. Sentimental Flame is a clear top pick for the locals off exposed form, running through the line strongly over 1550 metres, and looking like she will relish getting over more ground. The horse she beat that day, Diamond’s Choice, possesses a key tactical advantage with her ability to go forward, and if left alone she can be rather cumbersome to catch.
Selection: Thorny Path
Randwick Race 6: Sydney Stakes. 1200m.
Such is the evolution of modern racing, that a Group 3 is playing “consolation prize” to a non-blackype weight for age race. Getting up in time for an Everest tilt didn’t quite eventuate for Vilana, but the talented son of Hallowed Crown has struck a perfect race for him to get his campaign off to a cracking start. A noted fresh performer, drawing barrier seven in a big field is a big positive for him and jockey Zac Lloyd, with the pair ideally kicking up to hold a spot and get a nice cart into the race. If he turns up ready to fire here, his best is good enough to have him right in the finish. You have to feel for Bella Nipotina, surely only narrowly missing out on an Everest slot while being in flying form. If the barrier is negotiable, she can run a big race here, and be right on track for a defence of the Manikato. Another mare with an ordinary barrier draw, Zapateo was expected to go slightly better than she did last start, but she will benefit greatly from the booking of Zac Purton. Wouldn’t be ruling a line through her solely off the basis of the last effort. He’ll have to leap up a notch or two in order to mix it with these, but Airman is absolutely humming at the moment for the Hawkes camp. Gets a nice barrier and the services of Hugh Bowman, which should afford him every chance of making the grade.
Caulfield Race 7, Might And Power Stakes. 2000m.
Group 1 racing gets into gear with the running of the Might And Power, a tribute to one of the greatest horses to grace our turf in the last 30 years. In terms of racing pattern, Duais may not have a lot in common with “Mighty”, although she does possess a boatload of ability. Her run in the Underwood was excellent, zipping up the rail to grab third. That form has been franked with the run of Soulcombe in the Turnbull, and getting up to 2000 metres for run number four of the campaign looks a well timed set up. From a wide barrier, she should be able to hitch onto a back, and be making good ground in the final furlong. It’s incredibly difficult to knock a horse with the tractability of Alligator Blood, who in many ways shares plenty with the namesake of this race. From his barrier, finding the rail shouldn’t be an issue, but how will he cope with the potential irritation of Just Fine and Deny Knowledge over 2000 metres? It’d be foolish to say he can’t, but being terrorised by rivals at distances further than a mile has generally been where any vulnerability can present. Dropping back to this distance and leaping up to weight for age probably isn’t the best set up for Just Fine, but he is absolutely flying since calling Australia home, and another success would be no shock whatsoever. Potentially the runner that could get under the guard is Nonconformist, who was solid in the Undwerwood behind Duais and Alligator Blood, and getting over further should afford him the chance to improve again.
Randwick Race 7, The Everest. 1200m.
All the talk and anticipation is almost over, with Everest VI firmly on the horizon. But who will join Redzel, Yes Yes Yes, Classique Legend, Nature Strip and Giga Kick at the top of the mountain? Well unlike previous editions, this race has set up perfectly for a horse that can control the tempo with little objections, and Overpass should be able to find the top with little resistance. Western Australians are all too familiar with how hard he can be to run down when finding the top, and there was nothing wrong with his fresh run when only narrowly denied. Josh Parr rates this horse to perfection just about every time he’s legged up, and if there’s not a lot of pressure on him, they’ll have to be strong late to catch him. The drift on Buenos Noches has certainly caught me by surprise, as he’s been absolutely flying this Spring, and getting up to 1200 metres is perfect for him. He’d be wanting a bit of pressure to be applied up front, and if that happens look for him screaming down the outside. Private Eye has really developed into a fully fledged sprinter, and finds a winnable Everest. Drawing out in the second half of the field probably boosts his chances, with little danger of getting badly strung up in traffic at a crucial stage. Stablemate Think About It stole a late gap and outlasted Hawaii Five Oh on the way through to their target. It’s hard to knock either, but with the improvement to come on the former, he’d have to be the one to follow out of that form reference. And what of the long term favourite, I Wish I Win? Drawing barrier one in a six furlong sprint where they may not end up going all that hard is going to be tricky, and if he doesn’t jump well he may find himself in all sorts of trouble. Seering $6 or more around the place is a bit of a surprise though, and if you like him I wouldn’t be talking you out of him.
Caulfield Race 8, Caulfield Vase. 1600m.
Our first clump of mares races may have been about four pages ago, but we return to a set sex event, this time over the mile. In a race of little to no change, Papillon Club had about as much hope as I did of beating Amelia’s Jewel in the Stocks Stakes, so it’s a result that can be ignored in the wider context of her work. The run in the Let’s Elope the start prior would be competitive in this, and I really hope they can find her a more prominent spot than where she has been landing so far this preparation. Worth one more chance. Nunthorpe is going superbly for the Moody & Coleman team, handling Frigid with relative ease last start at Caulfield. She returns to the scene of that triumph, and despite drawing out she should still have the tactical speed to find a prominent position. Wishlor Lass was dominant in benchmark grade last start, dealing with Brazen Lady at Sandown with ease. Theoretically this is going to be harder, but in terms of exposed form this isn’t a historically strong Group 3. Damian Lane will likely boot forward to find a handy position, and if she can find further improvement then she may be able to make the leap in grade with an aura of comfortability. With the light weight, Barbie’s Fox put in a super run in the Epsom, and if she had’ve drawn a bit better I would have made a strong case for her. No question she can win, but an electric turn of foot from the corner will be needed to find the winning post with her head in front.
Selection: Papillon Club
Caulfield Race 9, Caulfield Guineas. 1600m.
Steeped in history, both on the racing and bloodstock wings of this sport, the Caulfield Guineas this year has been spoken of as a race between two. In many ways, the Militarize and Steparty headlines have been the embodiment of what makes this game so great. One is trained by a titan, owned by big players in the bloodstock game, and ridden by one of the best riders to ever be legged onto a horse. The other is part owned by a cult hero commentator, trained by a regional Victorian horseman, and ridden by a former Irish jumps jockey. Romance aside, there’s a race to be run here, and I think there’s more than this to just the two fancies. Chief among the rest is Southport Tycoon, who was heavily backed last start in the Guineas prelude, and for a fleeting moment looked like he might deny Steparty. Off the way he ran there, getting to a mile will be suitable, and the barrier draw should allow Harry Coffey to find a nice spot and not be left relying on a white hot speed. At 20/1, there’s a strong case for him to be made as one of the better each way propositions of the day. Militarize and Steparty certainly have the runs on the board in terms of performances and figures, with the former continually stepping out and running big races at the elite level. He was probably always going to go back to the final third of the field anyway so I’m not sure the draw is a massive knock, and he is a favourite that deserves plenty of respect. Steparty has done nothing wrong, and the way he powered to the line last start indicates he’s looking for the mile. Plenty of reasons to like him, both from a form and narrative perspective. King Colorado is probably ticking over slightly under the radar, and like Southport Tycoon, there’s been a bit of ignorance of his ability directed towards him. He’ll probably land in front of Militarize, and if he’s building nice and early, it would be no surprise to see him get the job done.
Selection: Southport Tycoon
Randwick Race 9, King Charles III Stakes. 1600m.
Another rich race on one of the biggest days on the racing calendar, the newly re-christened King Charles III Stakes offers some of the best milers in the country a shot at a $5 million race. Chief among the chances here is Mr Brightside, who has delivered a flawless preparation so far, and looks very well placed to go on with it here. It would be a very short list of “horses better than him in the country right now”, and with the way he’s been running as of late, it is no surprise to see a short quote on offer. There’s not extensive amounts of juice in the price, but this horse is a genuine superstar, and while it’s above that odds on mark, I can make the case there’s value in selecting him. The upside to such a commanding runner is, if you’re prepared to take him on, there’s plenty of opportunity to do so. Light Infantry (Man) has been a long awaited returner to Australia, having arrived for the first time last Spring. Performing well at the mile won’t be an immediate issue for him, nor will the likely genuine tempo set in this race. On the topic of genuine tempo, Zaaki may no longer be at the absolute pinnacle of his powers, but he does possess plenty of toughness, which can carry him a long way into a race of this nature. Wouldn’t want to be back in the field if he is getting an absolute picnic up front. Fangirl has been able to reap the rewards of a thinning elite level weight for age stock, although she may have gone out of the Anamoe frying pan into the Mr Brightside fire. James McDonald is good enough to navigate what could be an awkward inside draw.
Selection: Mr Brightside
Caulfield Race 10, Toorak Handicap. 1600m.
Another classic Group 1, the Toorak is one of the great handicaps of Australian racing, and this edition looks to be a fantastic race. First and foremost, the sparkle of the sport, Amelia’s Jewel, makes her first attempt at attaining Group 1 glory on the Eastern seaboard. This barrier is marginally better than what she’s been confronted with in her first two runs this campaign, and she does look to benefit from a genuinely run race. Such is her following and equine presence that you’ll almost never get a “good” price for her, but I do think the current compensation on offer for her this time around is about right. Doubt you get better than the $2.20 or so currently floating around on raceday. Away from her, Antino presents as the most pressing danger, having atoned for a horror show first up with a professional win at Sandown. Only getting 1.5 kilograms off Amelia’s Jewel in a handicap probably isn’t ideal, but he is an absolute winning machine and it is well established how good Blake Shinn is at getting the job done. Beyond the two more obvious, there is a pair of runners that I can make cases for based on the speed map and past performances around Amelia’s Jewel. Pride Of Jenni can taper off as she gets deeper into a preparation, but her run last start was excellent, giving the superstar mare something to chase. With the weight swing, she is very much in the game. Ironclad barged to the front of the Balaklava Cup and was too tough late (albeit on a massively leader biased day), nine months on from finishing second in the Group 1 Northerly Stakes. The booking of Linda Meech and the draw of barrier one infer a bold set of tactics, and he could upset the apple cart at a big price.
Selection: Amelia’s Jewel
Randwick Race 10, Angst Stakes. 1600m.
You didn’t really think we were done with the mares races, did you? Closing off a long edition of Feature Form (well done if you’ve made it this far) with a Group 3 over a mile, a massive field has poured in to contest for some black type. Against her own sex, in easier grade, Soul Choice was a really nice winner last start, and this looks like a great opportunity for her to progress on and add another trophy to accompany her Tasmanian Oaks silverware. From a low draw, expect the in form Rachel King to press for a position, with the best form of this mare historically being when dictating. Although an Oaks winner, a mile presents as a comfortable distance profile for her, with a forward showing looming on the horizon. More Secrets was a pass mark first up in the Golden Pendant, and drops back a grade to contest this. If she can replicate that performance here, she can be right in this at a respectable price for her followers. Renaissance Woman has always been somewhat of a market darling, and she is the one that has been met with early support for this. Staying at a mile off a run where she looks like she wanted further is the query, although the way Bjorn Baker is going at the moment I’m not going to start offering him advice on placement. If the camp say she’s ready, she is. Frumos leaps sharply in trip to find the mile, coming out of a good form race behind the likes of Airman. Deserves respect in this field and is a reliable pick for multiples.
Selection: Soul Choice
by Jesse Dart