Chautauqua on straight course to fourth Group 1. It’s hard to recall a more dominate galloper of Flemignton’s famous straight course races in recent times, than Chautauqua. He chalked up his fourth win and second Group 1 victory from seven starts at Flemington three weeks ago when producing an astonishing effort to win the Lightning Stakes. The times he hasn’t won at Flemington – he has finished second, by the narrowest of margins – all at Group 1 level. With a record like that, he seems a lock to register Group 1 win number four when he steps out the strong favourite for Saturday’s Newmarket Handicap. His biggest danger appears to come from Chris Waller’s trio of runners – Counterattack, Japonisme and Delectation – the only horse in the race to have registered a win over Chautauqua. Since the turn of the century, seven 3yo’s have taken out the Newmarket – only two of them over 10/1, which fits the profile of Japonisme – who finished third to Chautauqua in the Lightning Stakes, very well.
1. CHAUTAUQUA – D Dunn (11)
Came from a seemingly hopeless position 100m out to score a scintillating win first up in the Lightning Stakes (1000m). That was his fourth win down the Flemington Straight from seven starts – he’s finished second on the three other occasions, and just can’t see that recorded being tarnished come Saturday. Drawing out wide would have to be considered an advantage and is the one to beat.
2. DELECTATION – D Oliver (10)
Got the right trail behind Japonisme, in the right part of the Flemington straight, when resuming in the Lightning Stakes off of a fifteen week spell however, was under pressure inside the 400m and battled on for fifth (2 lengths) behind Chautauqua. Not a too dissimilar run to his first up effort last time in when contesting the G2 The Shorts (1100m), which he followed up with a second (1 lengths) to Chautauqua in the Gilgai Stakes (1200m). Caused an upset in the G1 Darley Classic this track/dist during the spring when, as a $14 chance he defeated Chautauqua narrowly. Not to be dismissed.
3. TIGER TEES – B Melham (7)
The 8yo has been raced sparingly since his last victory, which came in August of 2014 (Warwick Stakes, 1400m) and hard to see how any of those efforts, he wins this WFA G1. Drew the inside when resuming off a spell in the G2 Expressway Stakes and sat on the speed, but only battled from that position in running fourth of six (4.4 lengths). Freshened up again since, the Expressway was six weeks ago, and has had a trial since but more than a few in this field, too slick.
4. BLACK HEART BART – D Lane (2)
Western Australian galloper stepping out for the first time for his new trainer, Darren Weir. He hasn’t raced since setting the pace in last December’s G2 Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot, where he battled on gamely for second (1.5 lengths) to outstanding mare Delicacy. Started favourite in last year’s G1 Goodwood Handicap (finished fourth), so he is a very versatile galloper, but happy to see what he produces here.
5. CHARMED HARMONY – K Mallyon (1)
Speedy gelding who resumed in an Open class 1400m at Flemington off a fourteen week break last month. He took up his customary position on the speed, but the combination of 59.5kgs, first up over 1400m, and a firm track, saw him unable to produce another effort when required and he finished ninth and seven lengths from the winner, Dan Zephyr. Did run fourth (1.4 length) in his only other attempt at a Group 1 – the Rupert Clark Stakes (1400m), but not sure he’ll be able to equal or better that result over the six furlong trip.
6. JAPONISME – C Williams (8)
Great return in the Lightning Stakes, crossing the line locked with Chautauqua and Terravista when third (head). That was his first run since winning the Group 1 Coolmore Classic last October on VRC Derby and has seemed to improved again over the break. The 3yo gets in with a light-weight – meeting Chautauqua 2.5kgs better than last start, and last three runs in this grade have been outstanding – sure to be in the finish.
7. CHURCHILL DANCER – M Dee (6)
Good run seven weeks back, his most recent outing, when running second (1 lengths) to Holler, who won last weekend’s Group 1 Canterbury Stakes, in the G2 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley. Has a win over Under The Louvre (Lucky Hussler, fourth) in the G2 Bobbie Lewis (this track and trip) to his name and was just on two lengths behind Chautauqua and Delectation in the Gilgai last spring as well. Capable of a cheeky run with what maps as a nice run from six.
8. THE QUARTERBACK – C Newitt (9)
As usual, he was doing his best work late when closing from last to run sixth (2 lengths) to Flamberge in the G1 Oakleigh Plate last start – his first run for a month. Only missed a place once from six starts this track/trip and whilst he’s unplaced in his two G1 attempts, would think this is his best chance to possibly break that record.
9. KEEN ARRAY – P Moloney (4)
Unlucky behind Japonisme in last October’s Group 1 Coolmore Classic before a spell and returning in the Oakleigh Plate where the David Hayes/Tom Dabernig runners started a well supported $4.40. Unfortunately the son of Bel Esprit couldn’t maintain his good position as the field turned for home and weakened badly to run fifteenth (7.9 lengths). Vetted post race and no abnormalities were found. Gets a nice run here from four you would imagine and at $15.00, considering the Coolmore Classic run, worth forgiving the Oakleigh run?
10. COUNTERATTACK – G Boss (3)
Good finishing effort first up from a spell to run third (2.8 lengths) behind Spill The Bean and subsequent Randwick Guineas winner, Le Romain, in the Eskimo Prince. Freshened up since that run which was six weeks again – and looked good in winning a barrier trials a fortnight ago at Rosehill where he bettered Catkins and Our Boy Malachi. Ran third (2.3 lengths) behind Japonisme and Keen Array in the Coolmore Last spring, and a similar effort here would see him finish in the first half dozen.
11. SECRET AGENDA – J McNeil (5)
Very speedy filly who was only caught in the shadows of the post by Almighty Girl in the G3 Typhoon Tracy a fortnight ago. She was shooting for four wins from seven starts and although she fell a long neck short in doing so, wouldn’t have lost any admirers. Drops 7.5kg and will make the most of her featherweight but that still may not be enough at this stage of her career to hold of the calibre of some of these challengers.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Tiger Tees, Charmed Harmony and Secret Agenda – all drawn toward the rail, set the pace with Keen Array and Churchill Dancer camped behind them. Could through either of the latter into an exotic if looking for a bit of value but just keep coming back to the top-weight and Chautauqua. Imposing record overall, even more so at Flemington, and last start victory had to be seen to be believed. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a improved run here from Delectation who’ll enjoy the 1200m much more and the solid tempo out front. Both should bide their time at the back of the field, and come with big finishes.
4. CHURCHILL DANCER