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Saturday's nine-race Flemington card is headlined by the G1 Turnbull Stakes, but it is the G2 Danehill Stakes for three-year-olds that creates the most intrigue.
Rail: Out 9m
Track: Soft 5 (Friday)
Weather: (Raceday) Possible rainfall: 0 to 0.4mm; 30% chance of rain; Max Temperature: 19
The Turnbull Stakes has very much been a ‘good horse’s’ race in the past six years, won by Winx (twice), Hartnell and subsequent Caulfield Cup winners Incentivise and Verry Elleegant. This year’s edition however does look to lack star power.
The dearth of quality when it comes to the weight for age ranks – granted this is a set weight and penalties race – is a bit of a concern. Put simply, there are just too many Group 1 races for the number of horses that are suited to competing at the elite level at the moment.
Of this year’s contenders, Duais rightly ranks among the best horses in the land, but beyond her there are a few question marks. Gold Trip will contest favouritism with Duais but has just one win from 12 starts and has been placed at Group 3 level and lower in two starts since arriving in Australia. Whether Inspirational Girl measures up to Group 1 level on the Eastern seaboard is yet to be proven, while Profondo is winless in nearly 12 months but does get back on a dry track for the first time since his Spring Champion Stakes win.
The 9m-11m position is the most favourable of any for horses positioned up front with 44.4 percent of winners sitting on-pace since 2019. Last year’s Turnbull Stakes meeting saw five of the nine winners come from on-pace positions, including the main race winner, Incentivise.
Danehill Stakes (Race 5)
The VRC moved this race to this day last year as a clear lead-up to the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes in four weeks’ time and they would be well-pleased with the quality they have attracted.
Unbeaten Giga Kick brings the star factor and is rightly a clear favourite. However, Buenos Noches is coming off a win (on protest) in the Listed Poseiden Stakes at this track three weeks ago, and finished very well on that occasion, a race which featured several of his rivals here in Zou Sensation, Doull, Brereton and Stupendo.
Swiss Exile comes down from Sydney, giving a good comparison to the best colts between the two big cities, while General Barca, Great Barrier Reef and Sunzou all step up off strong maiden wins.
Parr doesn’t travel to Flemington very often (unless it’s to ‘trial’ subsequent Everest aspirants in hit and run missions!) but the Sydney-based hoop did guide Duais to a Group 1 win in this year’s Australian Cup. He links up again with that mare over the same course and distance and also rides Private Eye, who is first-up in the Gilgai Stakes (Race 8). Early in the day Parr takes the ride on the promising Emirates Park filly Tajneed in the Edward Manifold Stakes.
The number of days since Tony and Calvin McEvoy have had a winner at Flemington. Their run of outs in that time stretches to 57 races. The father-son training duo have three horses in on Saturday in Mount Olympus (Race 1 No.4), Winning Partner (Race 2 No.8) and Silent Sovereign (Race 4 No.2).
Kemalpasa (Race 8 No.5) loves the Flemington ‘straight six’, with two wins, a second and two third in five attempts over the 1200 metres. He has been third in this race the past two years, while he has won the G2 Linlithgow, traditionally held on VRC Derby day, on two occasions.
Race 1 No.10 Charm Stone – Top-priced filly ($1.55 million) from the Magic Millions who has had a couple of jump-outs ahead of her debut here. In both of them she was asked to do very little and finished close-up in a sign that she has much improvement to come on race day.
Race 2 No.3 Riddle Me That – Has not been seen at the races since last November, but did trial very well at Cranbourne, powering over the top of his rivals late to win by a widening 2.5 lengths. His subsequent Mornington jump-out was very solid against some quality opposition.
Race 4 No.6 Odeum – First-up after a 12-month spell and hasn’t won a race since her victory in the 2020 G1 Thousand Guineas.
Race 7 No.4 Profondo – Gets his preferred dry track, so no excuses for him not to show his best.
Race 7 No.15 Maximal – As above, this is a horse that needs dry ground to realise his best, but he has just one win from 14 starts. Time to deliver.
Race 3 No. 1 She’s Licketysplit – Blinkers First Time
Race 3 No.8 Typhoon Titmus – Winkers First Time
Race 5 No.7 Stupendo – Blinkers First Time
Race 5 No.8 Doull – Cross-Over Nose Band Off First Time
Race 5 No.9 Zou Sensation – Tongue Tie First Time
Race 7 No.4 Profondo – Bubble Cheeker (Off Side) First Time
Race 7 No.14 Luncies – Blinkers Off First Time, Visors First Time
Race 8 No.13 Swats That – Cross-Over Nose Band Off First Time
Race 9 No.2 Major Beel – Winkers First Time
Race 9 No.11 Cadazio – Cross-Over Nose Band First Time, Ear Muffs (Pre-Race Only) First Time
Race 9 No.12 Berardino – Tongue Tie First Time
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