Last year’s Darley Classic was billed as a three-way showdown between Lankan Rupee, Terravista and Chautauqua. Terravista claimed the prize on that occasion but this year it would appear as almost given that Chautauqua will get his turn in the spotlight with the flying grey $1.50 for Saturday’s first of two Group 1’s. He has been blistering in three wins this campaign from as many starts and a return to Flemington where he has produced some of his strongest wins, has seen him backed to the exclusion of the other nine runners. Another previous winner of this race is Buffering who at $15.00, looks an attractive option for his fans as he has only finished outside of the top four once in eight Flemington straight course races.
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1. BUFFERING – D Browne (7)
Sensational effort to win the Group 1 Moir Stakes first up off a ten month spell, leading all the way to defeat Ball Of Muscle and Angelic Light. He then applied the same tactics in an attempt to make it a Group 1 double when contesting the Manikato Stakes, but was kept honest in front by Rich Enuff and tired late to run fifth (3.55 lengths) behind Chautauqua. Won this race two years ago after winning the Manikato, and ran fourth in last year’s edition after finishing a close up seventh (0.6 lengths) to Lankan Rupee in the 2014 Manikato Stakes. He finished further off the winner again in this year’s Manikato but is too consistent to leave out.
2. CHAUTAUQUA – D Dunn (4)
The Encosta De Lago gelding has recorded three impressive victories from as many starts this campaign, overcoming difficulties in the first two runs. The most recent effort saw him drop back to last from the inside gate when contesting the Manikato Stakes (1200m) as the $2.45 favourite, before he rounded up a quality field of sprinters with his fantastic acceleration to win by a comfortable two lengths on the line. Has won three at this track/trip and finished second twice – both in Group 1 events, but likely to break through at that level on Saturday given his current form. Hard to see how he gets beat.
3. BOBAN – G Schofield (8)
Has found his best form the past six months and has claimed two Group 1’s from his past four starts – the Doomben 10,000 (1350m) and Memsie Stakes (1400m) but given he is yet to place at this distance from seven attempts, somewhat of a surprise to see him entered here against a crack field of specialist sprinters. The 6yo’s most recent start was six weeks ago when finishing a fourth, beaten half a length, behind Fawkner int the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes over a mile. Races well fresh, his 10,000 win was off a similar break to this one and obviously been set for this race. Will be giving them a good start and expect him to run well however, may not be able to mow them all down over the 1200m.
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4. TERRAVISTA – H Bowman (1)
Returned from a spell to claim the G2 Premiere Stakes in professional style, defeating Rebel Dane by a neck. Three weeks later he travelled to Moonee Valley for the G1 Manikato Stakes and was rated the biggest danger to hot favourite Chautauqua. As he has also done here, he drew the inside gate and from the 600m, never found the gap required from behind the leading group going to the line untested, finishing seventh (4.6 lengths). He beat Chautauqua in this race last year but in four subsequent meetings, has finished behind the grey horse. Only needs a touch of luck from the inside, where the track has been favouring runners all week, to be involved in the finish.
5. TIGER TEES – C Newitt (5)
Returned from a long spell and poor form in the G2 Premiere Stakes (1200m) early last month to run a credible fifth (1.7 lengths) behind stable-mate Terravista. He then drew wide in the Manikato Stakes and was caught three deep throughout, just off the pace, a position from which he wasn’t able to improve on, holding his ground in the straight to run sixth (4.5 lengths). Should find a nice spot here from five but has missed a place his last four attempts at this grade and would be waiting until he proves himself back at this level.
6. FLAMBERGE – V Duric (6)
Made it back-to-back victories when travelling to Adelaide claiming the Listed Durbridge Stakes (1200m) three weeks ago – his previous success in Adelaide was the G1 Goodwood Handicap three starts earlier. In between he has finished second to Chautauqua in the WFA McEwan Stakes (1000m) and sixth (1.8 lengths) to Buffering in the Moir Stakes (1000m). The 6yo is going as well as ever however this race is stronger again this past couple, and under the WFA conditions would think a place is his best result.
7. DELECTATION – J McDonald (9)
Good two starts back chasing home Chautauqua in the Group 2 Gilgai Stakes and then raced with no luck at a crucial stage in Saturday’s tab.com.au Stakes (1200m) when fourth (1.1 lengths) to Eclair Choice. With a bit of space last at the right time last weekend, he could be coming into this race as a last start winner. Only the one place from three starts this Grade, that was in last year’s Coolmore Classic for 3yo’s, and has been well accounted for in each of the two others – both in open company. Will have to give them a start from gate nine and from that position, hard to see him winning this race from there.
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8. SRIKANDI – K McEvoy (2)
Rounded out last campaign with a Group 1 double in Queensland – the Stradbroke Handicap and Tatt’s Tiara, before returning to racing off a five month spell in the Manikato Stakes a fortnight ago. She drew the widest gate in a field of ten and settled midfield, three wide with cover. The daughter of Dubawi then had to show her hand from the 500m, circling the field and joining the leaders at the top of the straight before hitting the lead at the 100m. She was no match for Chautauqua’s finishing burst late though, finishing second (2 lengths). Will get the right run on pace here from two in the part of the track that a majority of this week’s winners have come from. Would expect her to be in this for a long way.
9. BRING ME THE MAID – G Boss (3)
Ran third (2.4 lengths) to subsequent Group 1 Myer Classic winner Politeness two runs back, before settling in behind eventual winner Eclair Choice in last Saturday’s tab.com.au Stakes, a position she was unable to capitalise on. The Peter Moody trained mare finished eighth (4.3 lengths) and off of that effort, it’s hard to see her worrying several of the leading hopes on Saturday – unless there’s plenty of rain which then makes her a place chance.
10. LUMOSTY – B Shinn (10)
Just had to wait what proved to be, a few vital strides before getting into clear space and charging at the line in the G2 Caulfield Sprint. The judge couldn’t split Lumosty and Eclair Choice and for the second year running in that particular race, a dead-heat was declared. Eclair Choice has proven the from by winner on Saturday and Lumosty will only be better for that run given last start was her first in seventeen weeks. Started the favourite for the Stradbroke earlier this year (she finished tenth behind Srikandi) and has always indicated she’d measure up to this grade. Track hasn’t favoured horses this week with her get-back racing pattern however, wouldn’t be inclined to leave her out of the placings.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Buffering, Tiger Tees, Srikandi all push forward and set a good tempo. Impossible to go past Chautauqua here, his three wins to date have been rippers and a return to the straight course at Flemington, where he has a sensational record, should only see him improve again. Srikandi’s run in the Manikato was fantastic for mine and she’ll be among the places and will be inclined to throw Boban into the placings as well. Really going well of late for Waller and he’ll have him primed for this.