VRC St Leger: Again, it’s copped some bad press due to the rating of the stayers it has attracted, but it rightfully retains its position as the highest-profile race on the Victoria Racing Club’s traditional fixture.
We’re never going to see another Phar Lap or Tulloch or even Gurner’s Lane come through the 2800m event that now carries $200,000 in prizemoney, but it provides an important pathway for staying prospects who either aren’t good enough to challenge in any of the Group 1 Derbies or need further than 12 furlongs to show their best.
Anzac Day Stakes: While the St Leger has slipped in recent years, this $120,000 Listed event has gone the other way. Two years ago Long John won it before going on to win the Caulfield Guineas, while last year’s trifecta was Spring Racing Carnival Listed winner Merion, VRC Derby hard-luck story Light Up Manhattanand spruik colt Divan.
The trick on Saturday is trying to determine who has the most upside – just two of the 15 have had more than two starts – but with plenty of major stables represented it’d be surprising if a few of this year’s field don’t have an impact at this year’s Spring Carnival.
Interesting Imports: The presence of Stipulate and Gris Caro, who have already achieved good things in Australia, ensured this 1700m event was a strong one but the appearance of a couple of others who started their careers overseas are of even more interest.
Chance To Dance will become the latest Northern Hemisphere recruit to step out for Macedon Lodge, while the well-backed favourite is Chris Waller’s French-bred grey Silverball ($4.50 to $3.30), who has had three runs in Australia for a second and two wins, including a last-start Flemington victory.
Prince Harada/Boomwaa rematch: Only a short-half-head separated these two when they were both first-up, at Caulfield on 4 April, and they will resume hostilities in the straight-track event that rounds out the Flemington card.
Prince Harada had the edge that day, but Boomwaa meets him 1.5kg better this time around. Adding further intrigue is the injection of the more-than-capable Consorting, who was placed at Listed level up the straight on Oaks Day.
Normally, Flemington is the lone feature meeting on Anzac Day, but with this year falling on a Saturday we’ve got feature action at a couple of tracks interstate.
The Queensland carnival lifts a cog with the Hollindale Stakes and Victory Stakes, both Group 2 events, headlining the Gold Coast’s biggest day of the year outside Magic Millions Raceday, while the build-up to the SA Derby continues with the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes at Morphettville.
BETTING PICTURE (as of 2.30pm Friday)
Hot Favourite – We’ve Got This: Indicated he was in for a profitable campaign with a fast-finishing second at this track two weeks ago and has been crunched from opening quote of $3.80 into $2.35.
Not-so-roughie – Miss Clooney: Lot to like about the way she finished off at Caulfield on 4 April, when sixth to Caro Kann, and there were some excited people when she went up $41 for the Anzac Day Stakes. Into $21.
Shakespearean Lass: Was outstanding when pushing Supido to within a length at Sandown first-up – she beat the third horse by six lengths – but still went up $7 for the opener. Didn’t last long. Now $4.80.
Let Her Rip: Miss Clooney might have been the best-backed at a big price in Race 2, but there’s also been good money for Kiwi visitor Let Her Rip, who has been $13 into $6.50.
General Zabeel: Coming off a Goulburn maiden win, but has more than halved his quote – $10 into $4.80.
WATCH: Racing.com’s weekend preview