Boban has opened up the $4.20 favourite for Flemington’s feature race this Saturday, the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stake (1600m). Trainer Chris Waller appears to have the 6yo back to his best after some indifferent performance earlier this year, and he heads into this event with two wins and a second – all at Group 1 level – from his past three starts. The Makybe Diva has been a mixed bag for punters in recent times thought with Dissident (2014), Southern Speed (2012) and Weekend Hussler (2008) all saluting as popular elects however, during the same period of time, winners such as Littorio ($41), Shocking ($18) and Foreteller ($15) – also trained by Waller, have been able to cause upsets. Alpine Eagle ($7.00) and last year’s runner-up Fawkner ($6.50) are the only other runners in the capacity field under double figure odds in early markets.
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1. FAWKNER – D Oliver (14) 59kgs
Had his return to racing postponed when scratched from the Memsie two weeks after drawing barrier 18 but unfortunately for the Caulfield Cup winner, he hasn’t fared any better here, coming up with 14. Drew barrier three when running a nose second to Dissident in this race last year when also first up from a spell but may find it a bit harder this time around off a much longer break and from such an awkward draw.
2. HAPPY TRIALS – G Boss (3)
In need of the run first up when unplaced over 1200m in Adelaide before finishing twelfth but only 3.3 lengths off Boban in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) at his next start. Didn’t have a great deal of luck from the second half of the field last start and could’ve finished closer again. Drawn to take up a more forward position here and does enjoy racing at Flemington.
3. BOBAN – G Schofield (4)
He scored his second Group 1 win from his past three starts with victory in the G1 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield a fortnight back. Drew well, get a nice run in transit and stuck to the fence to narrowly defeat Entirely Platinum. That was his first run in ten weeks so will be better for it and is going as well however, over the mile distance, he has missed a place at each of past three attempts including when fifth in this race last year.
4. DANDINO – B Melham (10)
Followed the eventual winner Boban along the fence as the field turned for home in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) but being a stayer resuming from a year’s break, not surprisingly he struggled to maintain that position and finish last of fifteen (5.7 lengths). Likely to need this run as well and would wait until his races get beyond 2000m.
5. SMOKIN’ JOEY – C Parnham (8)
After consecutive wins in the Listed Eye Liner Stakes and G3 Bletchingly Stakes – both in impressive fashion, he was sent out the 13/4 favourite for the G2 P B Lawrence Stakes but punters were left disappointed with the 8yo finishing an unexpected last of nine. Given a month off since that run and happy to forgive him for it given his prior form however, still only the one win form eighteen Group 1 starts and that was under handicap conditions.
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6. WEARY – C Newitt (13)
Finished strongly first up but was shaded on the line by Burbero in the G2 Missile Stakes and then although fourth (1.5 lengths) at his next start – the Memsie Stakes, run was better again for mine. He settled back, circled the field on the turn and made good ground late in a race that favoured those close to the speed and fence. Going very well of late and will be right in the mix here.
7. PRINCE OF PENZANCE – M Payne (9)
Despite going out a 100/1 chance, connections would have been delighted with his first up run in the Memsie Stakes a fortnight ago. He trailed Weary, who finished fourth, into the turn and that horse never really got away from him, crossing the line in eighth spot (2.3 lengths) behind Boban. Excellent first up for mine and will only be better suited stepping up to a mile at Flemington.
8. OUR IVANHOWE – (11)
We’ve only seen this well-performed European galloper race once in Australia and that resulted in him finishing seventh (3 lengths) in the G3 R A Steere Stakes (1600m). Will be set for all the big features later in the spring and would think the mile, first up off a four and half month break, he’ll be only warming up late.
9. ENTIRELY PLATINUM – D Dunn (15)
The Hawkes Racing runner retuned with a narrow second to Boban in the G1 Memsie Stakes after securing a nice run in front from a handy draw. A different scenario here however with him drawing gate 15 over the mile at Flemington – a big difference to the 1400m at Caulfield. Happy to pass him over with here despite the pleasing return considering the above factors.
10. MONGOLIAN KHAN – O Bosson (7)
A highly promising Kiwi galloper that will make his return to racing after a stellar three year old season that saw him claim the ATC and NZ Derby double. Has all the credentials required to go on and establish himself in open company and despite this being a stiff test first up off a break, he’ll still be expected to run well.
11. VOLKSTOCK’N’BARRELL – C William (16)
Just worse than midfield when and between runners when making his return to racing in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago, easing out a couple of time in the straight before he was able to find clear room and finishing strongly to run seventh (1.7 lengths) behind Boban. Has comparable form to Mongolian Khan and the first up run – which was a good one – will serve him well. What won’t however is gate sixteen which could see him settle well back in the run or in need of plenty of luck during the run to find a position.
12. MAGICOOL – J Winks (2)
The Queensland Derby winner returned to racing in the Memsie Stakes (1400m) and finished thirteenth, 4.6 lengths from winner Boban. He was last into the straight but warmed up nicely over the final stages and would think Trainer Mark Kavanagh would be pleased with the effort. He still has plenty of ground to make up here however on those who finished in front of him last start and best to wait until he gets beyond 2000m
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13. HI WORLD – K McEvoy (17)
Met with good support in betting when making his return to racing in the G1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) a fortnight ago where, from a perfect draw, he found himself in the box seat turning for home, just behind the pace. He was able to quicken though when they straightened and had to fight with two runners on his immediate outside to keep his position in the run home, crossing the line fifth (1.5 lengths). Drawn the car-park here and that’ll require plenty of work to negotiate. If he’s to be given a chance, think we’ll need to see rain.
14. ALPINE EAGLE –
An exciting galloper with high expectations placed upon him leading into the spring after a very promising 3yo season was capped off with a second placing to Wandjina in the G1 Australia Guineas – Kermadec finished fourth in the race. Closed strongly first up from his spell in the Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville three weeks back on a soft rated track. He was the odds-on favourite and expected to win but happy to not rule him too harshly on the effort. Expected to improve sharply here but at this level – he’ll need to.
15. RISING ROMANCE – D Lane (1)
Exciting return to racing from this high-class galloper who was having her first start for Trainers Hayes/Dabernig in the Memsie Stakes a fortnight ago. She was in the centre of the field turning for home and found a bit of traffic at the top of the straight, before getting clear room in plenty of time to wind up nicely over the final 150m and finish sixth (1.7 lengths). Strips much fitter for the run and from the inside draw, might position up closer to the speed. A bit of luck top of the straight should see her run well.
16. GUST OF WIND – B Shinn (5)
Connections would’ve been pleased with the return effort of their ATC Oaks winner when running ninth (4.3 lengths) behind Royal Descent and Pornichet in the G2 Warwick Stakes. Settled near last in the run but was winding up nicely inside the last furlong over the 1400m trip. Step up to a Flemington mile ideal second up and would think that her trainer’s decision (John Sargent) to enter her as opposed to staying in Sydney where she was also nominate, as a positive sign that she has come on well for the first up outing.
17. AWESOME ROCK – M Walker (6)
Excellent return from a spell when third (2 lengths) behind the in-from Charmed Harmony a fortnight go at Caulfield. Drew well, find a nice spot and chased strongly in the run home to finish two lengths from the winner. Will be only fitter for that run but steps up to the highest level here, and WFA for the first time, and find it hard to see him holding out the challengers late.
Great race and with a big field to contest, expect a genuine tempo with Entirely Platinum and Hi World – both drawn deep, pushing forward to set the pace. Sticking with Waller and his pair – Weary and Boban. Thought Weary’s run in the Memsie was just as good as his stable-mates and with only 1.5 lengths separating them on the line in that race, he was the more attractive option here at $11.00. Happy Trails’ best distance now is 1800 – 2000m but from his draw, could position up well here. Run in the Memsie wasn’t bad and he loves Flemington. Worth a nibble at the $12.00.
3. HAPPY TRIALS
4. ALPINE EAGLE