It’s been a long winter, but spring is nearly upon us and the first Group 1 of the season, the Winx Stakes (1400m) looks an absolute cracker, with 9 individual Group 1 winners lining up.
1 – Dreamforce
This honest galloper has a very good first up record and the capacity to take out top tier races, as evidenced with his win in the George Ryder in autumn. Drawing the car park isn’t in his favour, but he should get across from the wide gate and be in this for a long way.
2 – The Bostonian
Ticks a lot of boxes here. Loves the slop and has an outstanding first up record, and has drawn well enough to get a sit behind the speed on the rail. With luck in transit, he’ll be one of the main contenders at a good enough price.
3 – Avilius
It’s not often you get $31 about a horse the class of Avilius, but his autumn left a lot to be desired. He ran the best last 600m sectional in this race last year when flashing home fourth, and I could see him doing similar again. I haven’t given up on Avilius, but I think the 1400m first up will be a little sharp for the seven-year-old.
4 – Fierce Impact
Tries his heart out and is often overlooked, but rarely runs a bad race. Doesn’t have the brilliance of some of these types, and I’d be looking at him over the mile with a run or two under his belt rather than here.
5 – Kolding
Hasn’t had much luck since winning the Golden Eagle last year, and has drawn the outside gate, which means he’ll be covering a lot of ground. Usually needs a run or two to hit his stride, looking to others here.
6 – Imaging
This guy ran on really well first up in the Group 2 Missile Stakes, clocking the best last 800m sectional even with interference in the straight. He’s a 1400m specialist and relishes the wet, and looks overs at the $19 quote. Must include in your numbers.
7 – Master Of Wine
Is this the best horse in the country? The Caulfield Cup favourite still has to prove it, and takes the first step in his cups journey here. Will obviously be better over longer than the 1400m and has his eyes on bigger prizes, but jockey Tommy Berry and the camp say he is forward enough to give this a crack. Big watch.
8 – Niccanova
The son of Nicconi has five places in a row and went down in heartbreaking circumstances last start after making a stack of ground after being bumped. He’s drawn well, loves the wet, loves the distance, and has a fitness edge over many of them. Must include in your numbers at the big price and could be a show if he puts it all together on the day.
9 – Star Of The Seas
If the track is a Heavy on the day, I’d definitely be looking at Star Of The Seas to give this a genuine shake. The Waller runner finished second in the Doncaster with huge run, loves the slop, and comes to hand quickly first up. Will be settling back so will need luck, but there should be a good enough tempo to bring swoopers into this.
10 – Quackerjack
Likes the cut in the ground and generally runs well fresh, and will certainly be getting to the front here and leading the way. If the track is favouring leaders then it’ll do him a big favour, but I can’t see him replicating Samadoubt’s performance from last year.
11 – Brandenburg
Another very honest Group level performer, who put in a big effort to place in the Doncaster. Won’t have the luxury of carrying just 50.5kg as he did on that day under these weight-for-age conditions, and will need to show improvement. He’s a big price in the market and you could include in a wide quaddie if that’s your preference.
12 – Verry Elleegant
I’m a big fan of Verry Elleegant, who bounced back with an impressive autumn prep, making a mess of her opposition in the Tancred and only losing to star import Addeybb, which is no disgrace. I may have egg on my face after the race, but I’m happy to risk her here first up over the 1400m, with the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup her Grand Finals.
13 – Melody Belle
Happy to forgive her first up run, ridden cold over the 1200m with no real intent in a glorified barrier trial. She’s won 10 Group 1s and you have to respect her, will love the wet deck and will only be better with added fitness and the step up in distance. Have to include at the double figure price.
14 – Con Te Partiro
The Coolmore Legacy winner has had two trials and should be hitting this one in good condition, and will be making her own luck breathing down the leaders necks. Has to prove it under weight-for-age conditions against the boys, but if on-pace or rails in run patterns are suited on the day, she’s a massive show here.
15 – Flit
Ran home really strongly to finish behind Eduardo in the Group 2 Missile Stakes, clocking the best last 400m sectional and striking some interference in the run. The Thousand Guineas winner has to prove it under weight-for-age conditions, and her racing style won’t help if she gets too far back.
16 – Funstar
17e – Wolfe
Has never had success in the wet, and looks totally outclassed here. Will get forward and set a pace, but will be a speed bump come crunch time.
18e – Zebrowski
Very nice run behind Quick Thinker in the Australia Derby, and will be looking for longer than the 1400m if he gets a run.
Roughies to include in exotics: 6-8-9