Damien Oliver will be a hoping a return to form from Flemington specialist Fawkner will secure him his third Mackinnon Stakes in the past five years. Oliver won on Glass Harmonium (2011) and again on Happy Trials last year both of whom, like Fawkner will be, where backing up from the Cox Plate the previous week. In fact, five of the last six Mackinnon Stakes winners have come out of the Cox Plate, with only one of them, So You Think, having won or been placed in the Weight For Age Championship. Fawkner is $10.00 in what is a wide open market, with early favourite being Magic Hurricane at $5.50 and his stable-mate Contributor also well in contention at $8.00. Chris Waller’s sensational spring looks set to continue with Flamingo Star who comes of an unlucky fourth placing in the Toorak Handicap. He too is rated an $8.00 chance. Waller’s previous best int he Mackinnon Stakes was when Rangirangdoo ran second to Scenic Shot as the odds-on favourite in 2009.
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1.FAWKNER – D Oliver (15)
Disappointed in the G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) when sixth of eight (6.2 lengths) before drawing wide in last week’s Cox Plate and finishing a well beaten sixth (10.6 lengths). Settled well back in the field last weekend and the bias of the day made it hard for him to make ground and in he hasn’t drawn well here either. He is a quality galloper though and has an outstanding record at Flemington, winning six and placing four of his thirteen starts. At double figure odds in early better, it could be easy to forgive him his last couple.
2. HAPPY TRAILS – D Dunn (6)
Raced with limited luck in several of his races earlier this campaign before producing a strong second (half a length) to Criterion in the Caulfield Stakes (2000m). His only run since saw him settle back in last weekend’s Cox Plate, a position he made no impact from, crossing the line in tenth spot and over thirteen lengths from Winx. Drawn more favourable here compared to last weekend and has a strong record over this course, including victory in this race last year, which coincidentally was his last win. A sharp improvement wouldn’t surprise.
3. EXTRA ZERO – M Walker (10)
After an encouraging third in the G1 Turnbull Stakes behind Preferment and Royal Descent, the 9yo was sent out the 3/1 favourite for Listed Cranbourne Cup in what looked a very winnable race for him. He settled in the second half of the field and was the widest running turning from home but was unable to improve his position, battling in the straight and finishing second to last. Has a Group 1 WFA placing over this track/dist to his name but started 100/1 that day and likely to start a big price again.
4. PORNICHET – J Cassidy (4)
Form in Sydney was strong before coming to Melbourne for the Caulfield Stakes where he wasn’t the only fancied runner in that race to disappoint, finishing last of eight. The Gai Waterhouse runner then lined up in the Cox Plate where he settled back in the field before taking the shortest way home, and in what proved to be the right part of the track, to run fourth (9.1 lengths) behind Winx. He’ll settled much closer to the speed here from a better draw than last weekend but will have to be at the very top of his game to defy the challengers who’ll be coming fast late.
5. CONTRIBUTER – J McDonald (7)
Big things were expected from the Godolphin runner this spring after a back-to-back Group 1 wins in the Autumn but from three starts this campaign, fair to say he hasn’t lived up to those expectations. He secured a nice run in his latest outing, the Caulfield Stakes (2000m), but only battled in the straight to run fifth (5.4 lengths) behind Criterion. Maps well here too but just not going strongly enough at the moment to be able to take him with any confi-dence.
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6. WEARY – G Schofield (13)
Produced some good finishing earlier this spring to finish close-up in both the G1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Makybe Diva (1600m). Given a freshen-up after finishing last of fifteen in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) where he uncharacteristically took up the running. Best to forgive him his last couple which didn’t pan out in his favour but this race may. He’ll settle back here and appreciate the good speed that this race should produce and be finishing well.
7. GAILO CHOP – B Melham (5)
Imported galloper that made his Australian debut in last weekend’s Cox Plate where he finished eighth (12.7 lengths) behind Winx. He has run well in Europe behind the likes of Solow and finished fourth behind Adelaide prior to Adelaide’s victory in last year’s Cox Plate, so he certainly has the ability but his two most recent victories come on heavy surfaces and when able to lead small fields. Drawn well here and would expect him to push forward but on last week’s effort, could only give him a hope if there was some rain about.
8. INDEXED LINKED – B Shinn (11)
Finished well in a leader dominated race to run third (1.2 lengths) in the Listed Cranbourne Cup (2025m) at his most recent start, his first outing for near on a month. Must have pleased trainer Chris Waller since for him to back up the 8yo gelding in a race of this quality, a level he attempts for the first time. Will settled back form his draw and hard to see him at this grade and weight scale, being up to pick these up in the straight.
9. MAGIC HURRICANE – O Bosson (1)
Looked all over the winner when he headed stable-mate Complacent in the G2 Hill Stakes (2000m) two runs back, before feeling the pinch late with the 59kgs and running a close second. The 6yo made amends at this following start though, comfortably taking out the G1 Metropolitan Stakes (2400m) from Beaten Up, when dropping back to 55.5kgs. Gets a nice run here form the inside gate and could not have been more impressive last time out. Is that form strong enough for him to be winning at WFA back to 2000m, not sure I’ll be finding out at $5.50, but will run well.
10. ECUADOR – T Berry (3)
The High Chaparral gelding has fought on tenaciously in each of his past two starts, running fourth and then second int he G3 Cameron Handicap and Epsom Handicap respectively. The second to Winx reads exceptionally well after her feats last week and he has drawn to take up his fa-voured on pace position however, he goes up 3kgs on that run and has been unplaced his previous two attempts at this distances, each of which were in much easier company than this.
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11. MAGIC ARTIST – B Avdulla (2)
This will be the first time we see this 5yo stallion who is prepared by last year’s Melbourne Cup winning trainer, Adreas Wohler and raced by the same connections. His the winner of three of his fifteen starts, the most recent of which was a narrow victory over four rivals in a 2000m Group 3 race in Italy. Hasn’t raced for fourteen weeks but should pay to be very respectful of his chances but has been an early drifter in betting – $11’s out to $15’s.
12. FLAMINGO STAR – J Bowman (9)
Probably should’ve placed in the G1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) at his most recent outing where he found plenty of traffic in the straight and finished hard late when clear. Gives the impression the 2000m, the first time he’s raced over the trip in six Australian starts, will suit despite his previous record over the trip in Europe suggesting otherwise. Stepping up to the WFA conditions is also a factor to consider but stable and Jockey appear to be able to produce anything together at the moment and would expect him to run well.
13. STRATUM STAR – C Williams (14)
Enhanced his already fantastic record with a strong win in the G3 David Jones Cup (2000m) a fortnight ago, winning by 2 lengths from Awesome Rock. Got the perfect run on that occasion but will have to work harder here from a poor draw. Record can’t be knocked and he’ll give his all but at WFA over 2000m, combined with the speed map, sug-gest he may have to improve again to be winning here.
14. RISING ROMANCE – D Lane (12)
Had to push forward from the widest gate when contesting the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) two runs back, where she tired late to run twelfth (3.5 lengths) to Preferment. Was given a legitimate chance in the G1 Caulfield Cup after drawing an inside gate. She settled in a lovely spot during the run and was produce in the straight in enough time to finishing better then the 7.3 length thir-teenth than she did. Draw wide here and needed to see a bit more from her last time to be sticking with her here.
15. SET SQAURE – L Currie (8)
Took up the runner from a wider gate in the G1 Caulfield Cup, where she started 8/1, but struggled early in the straight to maintain that position before falling back through the field and finishing sixteenth. From prior to that was solid and included a third (0.9 length) to Preferment in the G1 Turnbull Stakes. She was 20/1 on that occasion and got a lovely run throughout. Might get another good run here a couple of pairs back but still hard to see her holding some of these out late.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Speed should be good here with the likes of Rising Romance, Fawkner, Stratum Star – who have all drawn wider out, likely to push forward, whilst Ecuador, Set Square, Pornichet and Gailo Chop also keen to take advantage of their gates and find a forward position. Opened shorter than expected, but like the way Flamingo Star is building up. As expected, he ran a good race last time out at a big price and the 2000m plus a strong tempo will suit him even further. The map of the race also sees Happy Trials get his chance. He loves the Flemington 2000m and happy to forgive him last weekend’s effort given his previous form was very solid. Magic Hurricane will run well but is short enough whilst Pornichet can box-seat from the jump.