According to punters, this weekend’s feature race at Flemington, the G3 Aurie’s Star, is a two horse race. Only Trust In A Gust, who makes his long awaited return to racing after missing the lucrative winter carnival, and Shiraz, the lightly raced but promising galloper from the Tony McEvoy stable, are under double figure odds at $3.30 and $2.40 respectively. Trust In A Gust will have to lug 60kgs to victory if successful here but his connections can take comfort in remembering that last year’s winner of this race, Tiger Tees, was also a hefty weight with 59.5kgs.
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1. TRUST IN A GUST – B Rawiller (11)
Due to injury, the Darren Weir trained galloper has only had the one start since claiming the G1 Toorak Handicap in October of last year, and that effort resulted in a narrow second to Red Bomber at Caulfield. The 5yo stallion has a great fresh record and won a BM 90 (1200m) at Moonee Valley to kick off last prep however, with a big spring in front of him and top weight of 60kgs which sees him giving the rest of the field 6kgs, he may be a bit just a touch vulnerable here.
2. LE BONSIR – D Dunn (9)
Mick Price’s gelding has had a nine week break since producing a disappointing effort in the Golden Topaz (1200m) at Swan Hill. That effort was the only blot on an otherwise solid record over the last twelve months which includes placing in Listed and Group 3 races. Hasn’t missed a prize-money cheque in four starts at this track/distance and can keep that record intact here.
3. SHIRAZ – D Oliver (1)
A promising galloper from the astute Tony McEvoy yard who returned from a spell with a dominant win in a BM 95 (1100m) before backing that up with an equally impressive victory in a BM 90 (1200m) under 58kgs at his most recent outing. Second from that race, Countryman, has since won well and with two strong wins under his belt, the timing seems to be perfect for the son of Zariz to try his hand at a quality race like this one. Is right in the market and rightly so.
4. DECIRCLES – D Lane (2)
Kicked off this year with a win in the G3 Standish Handicap (1200m) this track/distance on New Year’s Day but in seven subsequent starts at Flemington, has only managed the one placing. Each of his last two starts have seen him finish midfield and although he’ll take up the running here from the inside gate, he’ll need to turn his form off the last month around to be winning here.
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5. PAGO ROCK – M Yeung (3)
Well over a year and fourteen starts now since this Hayes/Dabernig runner last saluted. He chased home the impressive Charmed Harmony last start – this track/distance, when second (2.8 lengths), and with a further drop in weight on that run of 2.5kgs, a case could be made for him but giving his strike rate, that case would be on an each-way basis only.
6. PLAY MASTER – C Newitt (5)
Registered his tenth career win at his most recent start when scoring a long neck win over Lonrockstar in the Listed Vic Sprint here at Flemington last month. That made it two wins from three starts up the Flemington straight for the Peter Smith trained galloper who could further add to that record with Craig Newitt to ride from a draw that should see him place to advantage throughout.
7. LONROCKSTAR – G Boss (8)
Couldn’t quite reel in Play Master last start in the Listed Vic Spring (1200m) and fell a long neck short. That did however continue a good run of form for the Lonhro 6yo who hasn’t finished worse than fifth in his last five starts – the last three of which have been up the Flemington straight. Likes to get back in his races so needs a touch of luck in running but is going well enough to include in selections.
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8. NADEEM LASS – L Currie (7)
Cannot knock this mare for trying however, she does find it hard to win as her 3 wins and 16 placings from thirty-eight starts would attest. She drew wide and settled back in the field when contesting the G3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) last start but finished fifth (6.1 lengths) behind Smokin’ Joey. Her effort prior, a fifth placing up the straight course in the Listed Vic Sprint is a more accurate indication of her chances here. As always, as to rate a place hope.
9. SMACKDOWN – J Mallyon (12)
Did a good job first up off a long break to win on a heavy surface with 59kgs at Geelong (BM 78, 1100m) and back that up a month later with a narrow victory in the Golden Topaz at Swan Hill. The 7yo couldn’t be going any better for his new trainer Trent Pennuto and he did run a close up fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in this race last year behind Tiger Tees. A case can be made for him, especially with some cut in the ground.
10. LIVING ON A PRAYER – D Holland (10)
The well-travelled 7yo gelding is now based at the Flemington stables of Mick Cerchi and has held his ground in two runs back from a spell. He carried 56kgs when finishing sixth (3.2 lengths) to Il Cavallo in a BM 90 (1000m) at Flemington three weeks back.
Although he is down in weights here and generally goes well third run into a prep, it’s still hard to see him figuring in the finish at this level.
11. ZEBRINZ – C Parnham (6)
Really started to come into this own last campaign, winning three straight including a comprehensive victory over Varboss at Caulfield in the Gold Mile. That run was mid-April and we haven’t seen him race or trial since but happy to follow Trainer Leo Corstens willingness to kick him off in a race of this calibre as an indication he is ticking over well. Pay to keep a close eye on come Saturday and then moving forward.
12. AUDINO – P Moloney (4)
Tried his hand at a few Stakes graded races at the end last company but found the company a bit too slick. Spelled for a five and half months before returning with a solid fifth (2.7 lengths) in a BM 78 (1000m) at Caulfield a fortnight ago. The 7yo son of Danerich was always going to find them too slick over the 1000m and at this level, likely to find them too good again over the 1200m.
RACE OVERVIEW –
It is impossible to go past the top two in betting as being the winner of this race but the fitness and weight advantage in favour of Shiraz, sees him getting the nod. Thought the best chances of an upset came from Play Master ($10), Le Bonsir ($19) or Lonrockstar ($10)
2. TRUST IN A GUST
3. PLAY MASTER
4. LE BONSIR