The shortest priced favoured at Flemington on Derby Day will be Godolphin’s Exosphere in the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes. The Lonhro colt has demolished fellow three year olds in Sydney recently, winning each of his three starts by a collective margin of 7.9 lengths. The worrying sign for his rival is that the most recent of them – the Roman Consul Stakes, which historically has been a great form reference for this event, was the best of them all. He quite rightly dominates the betting at $1.40 with every other runner at double figures.
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1.EXOSPHERE – J McDonald (2)
Winner of each of his three starts this campaign, the most recent an arrogant victory in the G2 Roman Consul Stakes – the same race as the past two winners of the Coolmore – Brazen Beau and Zoustar won prior to the respective victories. Would appear only bad luck prevents him from being beaten.
2. READY FOR VICTORY – D Oliver (4)
Hasn’t been far away in the leading 3yo races this spring but is finding it hard to crack it for a win and finding at least one better than him on the day. Had every chance in the G1 Caulfield Guineas but was no match for Press Statement in the straight, running third (2.1 lengths). Hard for them to come back from a mile for this but will get every chance again here from gate four and is in the mix again.
3. SUPER ONE – J Bowman (10)
Undefeated in four starts in Singapore, the last of which was an impressive five length win in a G3 race over 1200m. He started a short-priced favourite for his first Australian start where he took on older sprinters in the Apache Cat at Cranbourne. Although beaten, albeit narrowly, as favourite, it was a good effort again older horses given it was his first race for eleven weeks but to win here, he needed to be beating that lot and in a good man-ner.
4. KEEN ARRAY – D Lane (5)
Made it four wins from five starts this prep with a long neck win over Mogador in the Listed Blue Sapphire. Found a lovely spot from an inside gate last time and out and will again get a sweet run from barrier five, with good cover up the Flemington straight. Progressing well and looks one of the better hopes outside of the favourite.
5. JAPONISME – G Schofield (3)
The Choisir gelding went from strength to strength during the winter, winning four on end including the G3 San Domenico Stakes. Returned from a five week freshen-up in the G2 Roman Consul where, from the outside gate in a field of ten, he took up the running. He had established a break upon straightening but was collared by eventual winner Exosphere at the 150m before battling on well for third. Fitter again and whist it’s hard to see him turning the tables on the favourite, he’s capable of getting closer to him again.
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6. COUNTERATTACK – B Shinn (11)
Bided his time out the back and came with a strong finish to win the Listed Brian Crowley (1200m) at Randwick a fortnight ago. The well-bred Redoute’s Choice colt wasn’t far off the best 2yo’s earlier this year during the Bris-bane Winter Carnival and has come back as a 3yo in good order. Will be giving them a start but wouldn’t be surprised to see him finishing better than most and is a value chance for the multiples.
7. DAL CIELO – O Bosson (12)
New Zealander who put in a great effort in his first Australian run, the G3 Guineas Prelude, leading for most of the 1400m journey before being caught late by Bon Arum and Tulsa. Expected to see him settle a lot closer to the speed than he did after drawing well in the G1 Caul-field Guineas at his following and most recent start and he disappointed in running eleventh. Expect him to push forward here and from twelve, that could see him having to make his own run-ning up the straight.
8. SEBRING SUN – B Avdulla (9)
Ran third in both the Up and Coming Stakes and Golden Rose since winning Listed The Rosebud back in August. He settled last and was the widest run in the Golden Rose, getting home evenly in a race where the quinella of Exosphere and Speak Fondly, where closer to the speed. Will need to be ridden cold to produce his best and if that happens, is an outside chance of filling a place.
9. BLACK VANQUISH – P Moloney (8)
Led from the inside gate when resuming in the G2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) before weakening late and running seventh (4.2 lengths) behind Kinglike. It was a similar story a month later at his only run since, where again he settle in a forward position from gate one, along to straight in straight and finish last of six in the Listed Blue Sapphire. Will struggle to worry many here in current form.
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10. MOGADOR – C Williams (7)
Drove through late first up from a spell to win a BM 75 (1000m) at a midweek Warwick Farm meet-ing where he was sent out the odds-on favourite, before falling a long neck short of Keen Array in the Listed Blue Sapphire when finishing second. Good effort last time out, it was three weeks between his first up effort, first go the Melbourne Way, and would think there’s still some improvement to come. Williams will look for and should get, cover from a midfield gate and he’ll run well.
11. HELLBENT – D Dunn (6)
I Am Invincible colt who started the odds-on favourite for the Listed Brian Crowley Stakes (1200m) a fortnight ago, after posting an impressive four length win in a BM 67 (1200m) at Rosehill first up from a spell. Unfortunately for connections and those who took the short price, he was never out of trouble in the straight, climbing over heels and only seeing daylight when eventual winner Counterattack had put the issue beyond doubt, and finished third (2.6 lengths). Obviously should’ve finished closer than he did last time out and comparing the prices from that race to this, could be an argument raised that he’s a few points longer than he should be?
12. RAGAZZO DEL CORSA – B Melham (1)
Expected to run well first up in the G3 Vain Stakes (1100m) but weakened late form the lead posi-tion to run seventh behind Gold Symphony. Unfortunately his two runs since, the G3 H. D. F. McNeil Stakes and Listed Pin and Win – haven’t seen him improve and he’s finished fifth and fifteenth respectively. Given a freshen-up since the Pin and Win and from gate one, would expect him to be the leader but no expecting him to hold of the challengers.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Ragazzo Del Corsa, Black Vanquish, Super One, Keen Array all prominent early and contributing to a good speed. The only job McDonald has to do on Exosphere is get him in clear space – he’ll do the rest. Several could fill the minors without too much of surprise, the best of them for mine are Counterat-tack – who’ll enjoy the good tempo, Ready For Victory – gets a lovely run for Oliver and has been in solid form, and finally Japonisme – improves after running third to the favourite first up and another who should get every chance from the jump.
3.READY FOR VICTORY