The Caulfield Report – September 17
Bren O'Brien takes a look at a nine-race Caulfield card highlighted by the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, a Group 1 handicap featuring a capacity field and some key hopes sweating on a run.
Rail: Out 6m
Track: Soft 5
Weather: Possible rainfall, 4mm – 6mm, 90% chance of rain, Max Temperature: 15
The Lure Of The Handicap
Group 1 handicaps, a fabric of Australia’s racing past, may not be in fashion with racing administrators these days, but you just have to look at the capacity-plus field in Saturday’s Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes to see how important they are to trainers and owners.
Such is the competition that two of the top four in the betting market, I Wish I Win and Dragon Leap, aren’t guaranteed starts, and while the spread in weights isn’t what it once may have been in these types of races – it’s 5kg from top to bottom – the opportunity for a Group 1 on the resume is hard to resist for those with emerging talents.
Among the 20 acceptors this year, just three are previous winners at Group 1 level, and just one of those, Graceful Girl, in Australia.
It’s a race which has unearthed some top-liners over the years. Santa Ana Lane won the first of his five Group 1s in this race, while further back future Champion stallions Encosta De Lago and Exceed And Excel won this race as three-year-olds.
Where Do You Need To Be?
This track played very fairly at the last meeting on August 27, with winners coming from on and off the pace across the nine races. The rail was true on that occasion but goes out 6 metres here. The last time it was in that position was the July 23 meeting where there was a slight advantage to those on pace. It was also at the 6 metres for this meeting last year, which played fairly, with run-on horses to the fore later in the meeting.
The Race Of The Day
The Sir Rupert Clarke has deserved top billing given how open it is. The ruling favourite I Wish I Win is second emergency but looks a rising star off his four-length win at his first Australian start here three weeks ago. Ayrton resumes and loves this track (more on that later) while others in single figures in early markets include Showmanship, Tuvalu and Dragon Leap.
There are just two horses listed at longer that $26, indicating there is unlikely to be much between the field as they cross the line. It will make it a hard race to bet with confidence in, but it does shape as a fascinating watch.
It's A Big Day For
Kah has an enviable book of seven rides, including two major chances for Godolphin and James Cummings early in the day, Lascars and Aft Cabin. She is booked to ride the favourite in the main race, I Wish I Win, but has a back-up of Graceful Girl if the current market leader does not secure a run. She also rides unbeaten mare and favourite Chain Of Lightning in the How Now Stakes.
Kah has ridden 16 winners at a 25 per cent strike at Caulfield in the past 12 months, but her record in stakes races this season is less emphatic with one win from 19 rides.