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2022 Makybe Diva Stakes Runner By Runner Preview & Tips

Named in honour of three-time Melbourne Cup winning champion, Makybe Diva, the Makybe Diva Stakes is the second Group 1 of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. Held at Flemington over 1600m, the $1m weight-for-age contest is used traditionally as a lead up race to the Cox Plate, and under Racing Victoria’s new scheme, the winner of this race is eligible for a $1m bonus providing they can also win the Moonee Valley feature in late October.

Last year’s Makybe was taken out by Queensland stayer, Incentivise, with Brett Prebble on board, who then went on to win the Turnbull Stakes, Caulfield Cup and finish a gallant second in the Melbourne Cup behind Verry Elleegant.

Looking at the market for this year’s race, Dabble has the Price/Kent Jnr trained, I’m Thunderstruck, favourite at $2.40, after a slashing return in the Memsie a fortnight ago. Former Queensland galloper, Alligator Blood, is currently on the second line of betting at $4.80, ahead of Cascadian at $6.00. Western Empire is also well in contention after an even first up effort and is currently a $6.50 chance.

However, we know with horse racing that anything can happen and tactics play a major role in these small fields. So, we have dissected each of the horses’ chances for you and provided our horse racing tips! Read on below to find our runner by runner preview of the 2022 Makybe Diva Stakes along with The Shark’s best tips.

1. I’m Thunderstruck (1)

Jockey – Mark Zahra 59kg
Trainer – Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr

Put the writing on the wall first up in the Memsie, where he sprouted wings late to finish second to Snapdancer. Will appreciate the Flemington mile here second up, the same trip he finished second to Zaaki in the All Star Mile earlier this year. The only query will be how much speed is on up front and the inside gate is no advantage for a horse with his racing style. In saying that, he does look the horse they have to hold out.

2. Cascadian (7)
Jockey – Blake Shinn 59kg
Trainer – James Cummings

I’m Thunderstruck was the eye-catcher first up in the Memsie, but this bloke wasn’t far behind in terms of a brilliant return, and his late sectionals backed that up. Although he’s yet to win at Flemington, it’s a track he excels at and is a three-time G1 place getter here over the mile. The wide gate gives jockey, Blake Shinn, the opportunity to see how the first furlong unfolds and it’s hard to see him missing a cheque here.

3. Regal Power (3)
Jockey – Damien Oliver 59kg
Trainer – Danny O’Brien

Former WA heavyweight who resumed with a good effort in the PB Lawrence behind the in-form, Mr Brightside. He’s unbeaten over the mile and usually improves rapidly off his first up run. Gets the services of the GOAT, Damien Oliver, in the saddle and should enjoy a nice trail from the low draw. Don’t dismiss.

4. Alligator Blood (2)
Jockey – Tim Clark 59kg
Trainer – Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott

Stradbroke Handicap winner who had little luck last start in the Memsie. Looks the likely leader here and gets one of the country’s best front running jockeys on his back. He won the G1 Australian Guineas here over the mile as a 3YO and must be respected on his best form.

5. Mo’unga (8)
Jockey – Jamie Kah 59kg
Trainer – Annabel Neasham

Raced in restricted room first up in the Winx Stakes, but nonetheless was a shade disappointing. On a positive note, he did finish second in this race last year behind Incentivise, and will appreciate the bigger track here second up. Not the worst.

6. Nonconformist (6)
Jockey – Jordan Childs 59kg
Trainer – Grahame Begg

Got back and held his ground first up in the Memsie. Will most likely race a bit handier here and like most of these, will appreciate the step up in trip, but I think we can put him on the shelf for one more run and wait until he gets out to 2000m+.

7. Western Empire (5)
Jockey – Damian Lane 59kg
Trainer – Danny O’Brien

Was well supported first up in the Memsie and ran an honest race behind Snapdancer. He was resuming from a long spell there and looked to peak on his run the last furlong. He should have taken a lot of improvement from that run and out to the mile here second up looks a big threat to his rivals. Go close.

8. She’s Ideel (4)
Jockey – Ben Melham 57kg
Trainer – Ciaron Maher & David Eustace

Lone mare of the field who resumes here for the new stable, after formerly being trained by Bjorn Baker in Sydney. Capable of running a good race fresh, but is on a Cups path and may find them a bit slick here first up over the mile.

Final Word

Although this year’s Makybe Diva Stakes is a small field, it certainly doesn’t lack the talent and intrigue of an early spring Group 1 feature.

Tactics are going to play a key role here, as they always do in small fields, and the Waterhouse/Bott trained, Alligator Blood, looks the likely leader. He didn’t have much luck a fortnight ago in the Memsie, but should have no excuses here. If he gets a couple of soft sectionals mid race, he will be hard to run down with master front-running jockey, Tim Clark, on board.

Former WA star, Western Empire, should also roll forward from his middle gate and should have come on a truckload from his first up run. If the race is run at a moderate clip he should have the turn of foot to put away Alligator Blood, and be good enough to hold off the late challenges of I’m Thunderstruck and Cascadian, who will no doubt be charging home the final furlong. At the $6.50 on offer he looks a good each way bet and goes on top in this for mine.

2021/22 WA Horse of the Year, Regal Power, can’t be left out of calculations. He chased hard first up behind Mr Brightside, who we saw destroy his rivals last Saturday and skyrocket to the top-end of Cox Plate betting. He should relish the mile second up and Flemington is a big tick.

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7. Western Empire

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2021 Makybe Diva Stakes Runner By Runner Preview, Odds & Tips

The first Group One of Spring and also the first Group One at HQ, Flemington Racecourse. The 1600m weight-for-age Makybe Diva Stakes has attracted a 13 horse field, with 10 having won at Group One level previously. 

Exciting five-year-old gelding Incentivise, who will have his first run in Melbourne on the path to both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups after an exciting Queensland Winter Carnival, is currently listed as $4.20 favourite (via Sportsbet on Thursday afternoon). However, there are three other main chances all below $7, being Mo’unga, Tofane and Inspirational Girl. 

The final field of 13 horses includes four from the G1 Winx Stakes, five from the G1 Memsie Stakes, three contesting the race first up from a spell and one that had a run five weeks ago before being prepped for this run. Read on below to find out runner by runner preview of the 2021 Makybe Diva Stakes.

1. Sir Dragonet (8) – $27
Jockey – Ben Allen
Trainer – C Maher & D Eustace

The 2020 Cox Plate winner steps out for his first run as a six-year-old and while he won that Cox Plate first up last year, he is priced at $27 for a reason. He has a good first up record, 6:2-2-0, but finished 9th in his only run at 1600m, hasn’t won below 2040m and is 8: 1-1-0 on a good surface, which he will find here. 

2. Fifty Stars (13) – $34
Jockey – John Allen
Trainer – Tom Dabernig

Will only improve from his run in the Memsie, which was quite ordinary to be honest. Has a good second up record, 7: 2-2-1, and a good record at this track/distance, 6: 2-2-0, but the wide draw raises questions once again. Can he afford to go back given there will be no tempo in the race?

3. Keiai Nautique (10) – $13
Jockey – Craig Newitt
Trainer – Matthew Smith

One of the most exciting runs we have seen this season saw Keiai Nautique come from last to finish just 0.37L off Mo’unga in the Winx Stakes. Benefited from a fast pace in that race and won’t get that here while he also has a suspect 6: 0-0-0 second up record. However, he has only ever won at 1600m and he will relish the big track at Flemington. Juicy odds given that. 

4. Imaging (9) – $27
Jockey – Damien Thornton
Trainer – Chris Waller

Was quite plain in the Winx Stakes, despite finishing just 1.76L off Mo’unga in 7th place. Has a good second up record, 7:3-2-0, but has now only won just 1/14 races in Australia and should find a few better here. 

5. Mount Popa (6) – $46
Jockey – Fred Kersley
Trainer – M, W & J Hawkes

He didn’t impress in the Winx Stakes first up but given he has already qualified for the Caulfield Cup, he is just slowly building to that. He improves second up and relishes a good track but needs further at this level.

6. Incentivise (3) – $4
Jockey – Brett Prebble
Trainer – Peter Moody

After opening at $7.50 on Wednesday, the money keeps coming for Incentivise. He is now down to $4 and the clear favourite in the race. He has won six consecutive races, capped off with the G3 2400m Tattersall’s Cup in June, but will he be wound up enough to win first up, giving a fitness edge to some of the other main fancies?

7. Explosive Jack (1) – $46
Jockey – Harry Coffey
Trainer – C Maher & D Eustace

The 2x Derby winner has his first run on a path to continue showing that he can be a top-level stayer. He is 1/1 first up but that was a maiden race in November last year and has only raced against his own age. Will need further to properly compete at G1 level.

8. Johnny Get Angry (2) – $126
Jockey – Lachlan King
Trainer – Denis Pagan

The feel good story of last year’s carnival, giving Denis Pagan a Group One win in the Victoria Derby. He had a bit of a wind up run five weeks ago in the 1200m G3 Aurie’s Star and while this is an extra 400m on that, he will still need further.

9. Aegon (4) – $10
Jockey – Luke Currie
Trainer – M Baker & A Forsman

One of the best runs out of the Memsie Stakes saw Aegon come from last at the 400m to finish just 2.2L off Behemoth in his first go under WFA conditions. Ran the fastest last 600, 400m and 200m of the race, will only be better for the run as he is 2/2 second up and has also won a G1 over 1600m in New Zealand. Won’t have the fast tempo to work off in this but he has proven he has the ability to make a splash at good odds.

10. Mo’unga (11) – $5
Jockey – Jye McNeil
Trainer – Annabel Neasham

Didn’t Mo’unga make a name for himself in the Winx Stakes. Stalking champion mare Verry Elleegant and then out-sprinting her to the line. He had a perfect run there and is challenged with a wide draw again, but similar tactics of pushing forward to be competitive should be expected.

11. Colette (12) – $18
Jockey – Damien Oliver
Trainer – James Cummings

Considering everything was against her in the Memsie, Colette actually had an incredible run. On a good track and drawing the widest barrier, she made very good ground late and showed she could be in with a big carnival. However, she hasn’t won second up and still needs some give in the turf at this level, which she won’t get given how good the drainage is at Flemington.

12. Tofane (7) – $5
Jockey – Craig Williams
Trainer – Michael Moroney

Was beaten as favourite with no luck in the Memsie and now goes above 1400m for the first time in her career. The camp has big hopes for her this prep and given the lack of speed she is expected to go forward. As long as she gets a run in the straight, she has every chance in this.

13. Inspirational Girl (5) – SCRATCHED
Jockey – Damian Lane
Trainer – Danny O’Brien

Had a strong finish in the Memsie but clearly wasn’t up to it. Will only improve though, given it was her first run since December last year. We saw what Superstorm was able to do second up last week and there are expectations that she will be able to deliver Group One success this campaign. Her G1 Railway win was a 1600m on a Good 4, which is ominous for this, especially with a good draw. 

Final Word

Looking at the history of this race, just two of the last 11 favourites have actually gone on to win the race. None of the last five winners have won first up while Fierce Impact, last year’s winner, contested the Winx Stakes first up before coming down and winning here. However, the three winners from 2016-18 all contested the Memsie Stakes first up, without winning, before going on to win this race. 

Those statistics make it look enticing to bet around the favourite, Incentivise, and look for some value elsewhere. The next two horses in line, Mo’unga and Tofane both present themselves as good options while Aegon could very well win this and Fifty Stars is over the odds but we are siding with Mo’unga. The wide draw didn’t impact him in the Winx Stakes and having an extra week off between runs, compared to those coming from the Memsie, should give him a bit of an advantage here. Tofane could take a lot of chasing but Mo’unga has proven that he can chase down and out-sprint some top quality stayers and middle distance horses, even when posted wide. He should find cover in the run and given Sportsbet are offering bonus back up to 4th, you should be safe to either win or get a bonus back as a worst case scenario!

Best Memsie Stakes Tip: Mo’unga – Win ($5)

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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of Sportsbet.