Bren O’Brien



The Flemington Report – September 10

Bren O'Brien previews the Makybe Diva Stakes card at Headquarters, which also features several progressive three-year-olds bound for the spring classics.

Rail: True

Track: (Friday am): Soft 6

Weather: Saturday: 80% chance of rain, Possible rainfall: 2 to 4 mm, Max Temperature: 16

Spring Blooms For Three-Year-Olds

It may be a Group 1 raceday, but it is a trio of three-year-old stakes races, not the feature Makybe Diva Stakes, which provide the most intrigue at Flemington this Saturday, especially as pointers to the rest of the spring.

Australia’s weight-for-age ranks are undoubtedly thin in the spring of 2022, hence why the feature race has attracted just eight runners. However the depth of emerging three-year-olds across the rest of the card looks to be a highlight.

The Listed Cap D’Antibes for the fillies is packed with talent – more on that later – while ruling favourite for the Coolmore Stud Stakes, Doull, resumes in the opening race the Listed Poseidon Stakes. He still holds a nomination for the Golden Rose with genuine hopes among the Rosemont Stud-led Victorian Alliance that he can make himself a stallion this spring.

Emerging staying prospects Berkeley Square and Cadazio are high up in markets for the VRC Derby and clash in the card-concluding Listed Exford Plate, which is set to be another key pointer for the rest of the spring. 

Where Do You Need To Be?

In the past 12 months, when the rail has been in the true position 48 per cent of Flemington winners settled on the pace. Last year’s Makybe Diva Stakes meeting had an even more pronounced bias, with seven of the nine winners settling inside the top four. Given those stats expect horses on-pace to be advantaged.

The Race Of The Day

The Listed Cap D’Antibes (Race 3) wins box office status for this week due to the strength and depth of the field. There are 10 last-start winners in the race, five of them coming in with unbeaten records in Get In The Spirit, Hell Hound, Bubble Palace, Clarity and C’est Magique.  

Race favourite Ghanaati resumes with a first and a second to her name and looks a potential star while Godolphin filly Ojai comes off a fast-finishing second in the Quezette Stakes.


Ojai was denied by Bound For Home in the Quezette. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

It's A Big Day For

Mark Zahra, who rides three early market favourites on the day in Doull, I’m Thunderstruck and Kissonallforcheeks. It looms as an opportune time for Zahra to find some touch, having ridden just one Saturday winner since August 6.

The Stat

Damien Thornton has had 89 rides at Flemington in the past 12 months without a win. His last win at the track came aboard The Astrologist in August 2021. He has two rides on Saturday. 

Track Specialist

Foxy Frida will line up in the G2 Let’s Elope Stakes (Race 7) and has won three times from four starts at Flemington, including two wins over the 1400 metres course of this race.

The Main Event

The Makybe Diva Stakes has its smallest field since eight ran in 2007. The race has been a bounty for on-pace runners in recent years and that may not work in the favour of I’m Thunderstruck, who is the clear favourite as he looks to emulate his own sire Shocking, who won the race in 2010. This meeting produced seven on-pace winners from nine races last year. 

I'm Thunderstruck is the popular elect in the G1 Makybe Diva. (Pat Scala/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

From The Trials

Get In The Spirit and English Riviera both contest Race 3, the Cap D’Antibes, and both are coming into the race off impressive jumpout wins. Get In The Spirit has not raced since winning the Maribyrnong Trial in dominant fashion at this track last October but has had three recent jumpouts, the latest a comfortable win at Cranbourne.

English Riviera was beaten less than two lengths in the G1 Blue Diamond and returned with a 10-length maiden win at Ballarat last month. She tuned up for this win with another dominant performance in a trial at Ballarat on August 23, spacing her rivals in what was easily the fasted 1000-metre heat of the morning.


Mo’unga – Needs to bounce back quickly off a sub-par effort in the Winx Stakes.

Foujita San – Big wraps on him ahead of the spring and his first-up effort was inconclusive.

Lightsaber – Uncharacteristic uncompetitive effort first up in the Memsie, drops in class looking for his first win in nearly 12 months. 

Media Award – Group 1 winner having her first run in over 10 months, only had two runs last spring.

Rich Hips – Beaten a big margin first-up and the breeding barn beckons should she not improve significantly here.  

Notable Gear Changes

Through Irish Eyes – Blinkers off

Steinem – Tongue Tie on

Foujita San – Winkers first time



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