Trainer combination of David Hayes and Tom Dabernig continued their stellar start to the season with a winning treble at Caulfield on Wednesday and will be hoping to keep the ball rolling at the same venue Saturday when Dibayani lines up in the David Jones Cup. The former Hong Kong galloper has pleased in each of his three local starts and finds himself in a suitable race here. The 6yo is a $6.50 chance for Saturday’s Group 3 race but worth noting that on the past two occasions he has competed over 2000m, he finished fifth (4.4 lengths) to Designs On Rome in the G1 QEII Cup and third behind the same horse again in the HK Derby with Able Friend splitting the pair. On both occasions he was ridden by Zac Purton who is reunited with the galloper this weekend. Early favourite is Stratum Star ($3.20) from Fenway and Sadler’s Lake at $4.50 and $4.20 respectively.
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1. STRATUM STAR – (2)
The Darren Weir trained galloper hasn’t put a foot wrong in four runs back this campaign. Got a lovely run in transit to nose out Disposition in the G1 Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) two starts back before again being given every chance when 1.4 lengths behind Lucky Hussler and Disposition in the G1 Toorak Handicap. As the above efforts suggest he should, he’ll be giving his opposition weight here but that could be off-set by a sweet run from a good draw and it’s impossible to leave him out.
2. DIBAYANI – Z Purton (10) 57.5kgs
Two very good efforts when returning off an extended break saw the former Hong Kong galloper finish third in both the P B Lawrence and Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes behind Mourinho and The Cleaner respectively. The 6yo then stepped up to the 1800m of the Underwood Stakes. He settled at the tail end of the field and was carried wide rounding the turn before running ninth (3.3 lengths). Most that settled on the speed figured in the finish in the Underwood and he wasn’t far behind Caulfield Cup favourite Mongolian Khan on the line. Suited this grade, drops a bit in weight and should go well.
3. LEEBAZ – D Dunn (3) 57kgs
He hasn’t enjoyed any good news in terms of barrier draw at his past two runs – the G1 Rupert Clark and Toorak Handicap – jumping from gate twelve in both. That’s made it hard for the normally free-wheeling running and no surprise to see him finish ninth in each event, beaten 2.4 and 4.8 lengths respectively. Drawn better here and will take up a more advantageous position from the jump, gets to the right distance – he’s finished close second in the G3 Frank Packer Plate and G1 Doomben Cup from three starts the trip, both whilst leading, and expect a sharp improvement here.
4. PUCCINI – B Melham (4) 57kgs
Well beaten in each of his three starts this campaign, the latest seeing him run twelfth (6.1 lengths) in the G1 Toorak Handicap. It’s a similar story in recent attempts at or beyond this distance, with his last five runs producing no results. Not going well enough to worry the leading the chances.
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5. FENWAY – B Shinn (5) 56kgs
No luck from her three back the fence position first up in the G2 Let’s Elope Stakes won by Amicus before making amends in the G2 Stocks Stakes at Moonee Valley, where she got the better of May’s Dream late to record a ¾ of a length win. Will get every chance again here from gate five and third up over 2000m looks ideal. She hasn’t missed a place at the trip in three starts which consists of the G1 Vinery Stud Stakes, the Australasian Oaks, and G2 Wakeful Stakes.
6. SADLER’S LAKE – J Cassidy (7) 55kgs
A good ride along the fence saw the High Chaparral gelding score a good win in the G3 Bill Ritchie Stakes (1400m) before limited luck in the run home prevented him from crossing the line in a better position than ninth the G1 Epsom Handicap. Found himself in the middle of a bunched field in the Epsom and never really got a crack at them. Going well this time in and during the Brisbane carnival was a leading contender in the 3yo races over this trip. Has a good hope here.
7. THUNDER LADY – D Lane (1) 54kgs
Kept coming in the Benalla Cup (2046m) at her most recent start but just couldn’t pick up winner Araldo Junior and finished second (1.5 lengths). That was only her second place from eight starts since her successful spring of last year and would’ve had to have seen her win at Benalla in good style to be considered among the better hopes here.
8. AWESOME ROCK – S Baster (6) 54kgs
Very good first up from a spell when third (2 lengths) behind Charmed Harmony and Jacquinot Bay at Caulfield before, despite running second to last, being very good again in the Makybe Diva. Caught three wide for most of the trip, loomed up to the leaders near the clock-tower but felt the pinch late, finishing 3.1 lengths from Fawkner. Got too far back in a leader dominated JRA Cup (2040m) at his most start and his first two runs would enable that to be overlooked. Would’ve thought on recent efforts he’d run better than a $26 chance.
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9. VELOX – C Williams (9) 54kgs
Improving imported galloper who chased tenaciously in the JRA Cup (2040m) to run third (1.6 lengths) behind Escado and Magnapal. Carries the same weight here and drawn more awkwardly than last start out in nine. Each of his three career wins have been at a mile.
10. HIGH MIDNIGHT – G Boss (8) 54kgs
Drew widest in a field of thirteen and settled last before sweeping home with a big run to finish half a length second to Zayam – who led throughout, in a BM 75 (1800m) at Rosehill. Big effort last start under 60kgs and although he gets down in 54kgs here, would still think the rise in class represents too great of a challenge for a horse that’s won three Benchmark races.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Leebaz will take up the running here from an inside draw. Can be forgiven to a degree for his past couple and might go ok here – certainly no surprise to his opening price of $15 firm early to $12, with Saddler’s Lake likely to push forward too. Should’ve finished much closer than he did in the Epsom and that effort, along with his first two wins, should see him go very close here. Fenway was good chasing second up in a solidly run race and that would have brought her on nicely for this. Great record the trip, Shinn to ride and she’ll land in the box seat whilst Stratum Star can’t be left out. Just wonder how he goes if in need of the run turning for home under the 59kgs, again not surprised to see his opening price of $2.80 get out already.
3. SADDLER’S LAKE
4. STRATUM STAR