The international runners were shown up in this year’s Melbourne Cup but punters are sticking with a few of them in this year’s Emirates Stakes, the final Group 1 of the VRC Carnival, on Saturday. Both Bow Creek and Magic Artist were super impressive in their respective first starts in Australia recently, and their pair are prominent in the betting at $4.8(F) and $5.5 respectively. In-form New Zealand front-runner Turn Me Loose is next at $7.00 with the best of the local hopes being top-weight Lucky Hussler ($8.00) who finished a narrow second to Hucklebuck in this race last year.
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1. LUCKY HUSSLER – G Boss (3)
Rewarded after a couple of luckless runs with victory in the G1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) two starts back, defeating Saturday’s winner Disposition by two lengths, before starting the short priced favourite for the Crystal Mile (1600m) on Cox Plate Day. Settled a bit closer to the speed from the inside draw, a good move given the way the track was playing, and presented at the turn as a big hope however, he was a bit flat in the run to the line and could only manage third (3 lengths) behind all-the-way winner Turn Me Loose. Gets the box seat run here from three, ran a narrow second in this race last year and his form is just as strong – goes well.
2. AROD – C Williams (15)
Came to Australia for the Cox Plate with a very strong European record behind him that included two wins and three placings from five starts this year in quality races. He took up the running early in the Cox Plate but was soon under pressure as the pace picked up, finally finishing eleventh and fourteen lengths from Winx. Has plenty to turn around on that effort, especially from gate 15 here.
3. TURN ME LOOSE – K McEvoy (11)
Led all the way in the Darley Seymour Cup (1600m) and repeated that effort when stepping up in class to the Group 2 Crystal Mile at Moonee Valley, defeating the fast-finishing Bow Creek by half a length. Track favoured him last start but there was a good gap to the rest of them and his ratings are climbing quickly. Will take up the running, or at least camp on the speed here, and for most races this week that’s tended to be an advantage.
4. BOW CREEK – J McDonald (10)
Imported galloper from the Godolphin camp who blew badly in betting when making his local debut in the Crystal Mile, starting at $17 after opening up at $8. Won’t be that price here though after flashing home late in the Crystal Mile to run half a length second to the in-form Turn Me Loose. Drops 4kgs on that run, his first for fifteen weeks, and the open spaces of Flemington will suit. Plenty to like about him here and rates highly.
5. DISPOSITION – D Oliver (9)
After a couple of consecutive second placings at Group 1 – The Toorak Handicap and Sir Rupert Clark, the consistent gelding was rewarded with victory in the G3 Guvera Stakes on Derby Day, recording a head victory over San Diego. Jumped awkwardly, lost a plate and on a day when not many did, she had to come from the second half of the field to score. Back up to G1 on the quick-back up here have to be taken into consideration but just too honest to dismiss altogether.
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6. MAGIC ARTIST – B Shinn (5)
Something beaten on Derby Day – his first Australian start, when running into a dead end inside the final 100m when building a full head of steam and running fourth (1 lengths) to leader Gailo Chop in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m). Drops back to a mile here but also gets down to 54kgs, 5kgs less then he carried on Saturday. If he can hold a position early from gate five, can figure in the placings this time around.
7. ECUADOR – B Prebble (6)
Excellent second to subsequent Cox Plate winner Winx in the G1 Epsom Handicap two runs back and then stuck on exceptionally well to run sixth (1.9 lengths) behind Gailo Chop in the Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday. The drop back to a mile is in his favour, as his the 5.5kgs less that he has to carry. Will settle handy to the speed and capable of giving cheek judging by his last couple of efforts.
8. MESSENE – D Dunn (4)
Very good two runs back finishing third to Winx and Ecuador in the Epsom Handicap – carrying the same weight as the winner, then surprised he didn’t make more use of his inside draw in last Saturday’s Guvera Stakes where he finished eighth (6.2 lengths). Been mixing up his form a bit this time in and hard to take with any deal of confidence, despite the good draw, at this level where he’d have to be at the very top of his game.
9. MORIARTY – G Schofield (1)
Only has one of his last eight wins below 2000m with his last mile victory coming in at BM 95 race at Randwick in October 2012. Most recent outing was in the G3 Craven Plate where he did return a credible fourth (3.7 lengths) behind Complacent however, it’s just too hard to see him give this lot a start over a mile and run them down, even with a weight he hasn’t carried since January 2013.
10. AMOVATIO – J Winks (7)
Excellent win first up in the Listed Weekend Hussler, making it three wins on the trot, before failing to make an impression in the Crystal Mile from the back of the field. Stood little chance in a leader dominated race on a biased track last time out and best to forgive the 5yo that effort. Previous efforts, whilst not anywhere near this grade, were very good though and could run a race better than his current price may suggest.
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11. POLITENESS – C Newitt (8)
The Robert Smerdon mare was jumping from 1200m to the mile of the Group 1 Myer Classic on Saturday, off a three weeks break, but just cruised up to them approaching the clock-tower before running away for the victory over Fenway and Azkadellia. Have to have a crack at this race off of that effort but she has finished out of the placings her last three attempts at this grade and this is much stronger than Saturday. A mare in form should never be taken lightly but still have a few rated in front of her.
12. SONS OF JOHN – J Penza (2)
Excellent return to racing when caught by a freakish effort from Winx in the G2 Theo Marks (1300m) and was super his following start again, defying a wide barrier in the G1 Epsom Handicap to finish third, to Winx again. Settled handy to the speed from a good draw at his next and most recent start, the Crystal Mile (1600m) but struggled the final few furlongs, finishing eighth and 6.3 lengths from Turn Me Loose. Takes up a forward position here and the Winx form reference is strong. A place chance could be made for him off of those efforts.
13. MAY’S DREAM – C Parnham (16)
Finished no further back than 1.5 lengths from the winner in each of her last four starts but only has the two placings to show for it. She was very good in Saturday’s Myer Class when fourth (1.5 lengths) to Politeness but to be winning this quality race form sixteen, had to be winning at least a few of her past couple and in good style.
14. ROCK STURDY – D Tournuer (13)
Very good in each of his first two runs back from a spell – The Shorts and Premiere Stakes, hitting the line well in both but his two subsequent runs, in lesser grade, have been a touch disappointing for mine. He ran fifth to Vashka in the Moonga Stakes at Caulfield before returning to Sydney and running second to Frespanol in an Open Handicap over a mile. Needed to see more from his last couple before warranting serious consideration here.
15. CORONATION SHALLAN – M Dee (14)
Led and refused to give in late when scoring a narrow victory in the G1X.com.au Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate day. Second in the race was Azkadellia who has since ran a real eye-catcher in the G1 Myer Classic behind Politeness. Going well at present but will find the Flemington Straight much tougher than that of the Valley to be hold of the challengers.
16. HE OR SHE – C Schofield (12)
Going well this campaign, winning his most recent run – a BM 90 (1600m) at Caulfield. Improving with each run this time in but hard to see how of his current form he improves enough to make the jump to a Group 1 race.
RACE OVERVIEW –
A lot to line up here – a few horses new to Australian racing that have recently performed well, proven form, and a few different form references to consider. Not an easy race to digest. Bow Creek was given a glowing endorsement by John O’Shea prior to his Crystal Mile start as one of the best horses Godolphin have brought to Australia and his performance franked that statement. It was a similar story for Magic Artist, a former import who really caught the eye in the Mackinnon. The quick back-up is of some concern after such a long layoff as is the return to the mile, but hard the drop in weight counters some of that.
1. BOW CREEK
2. LUCKY HUSSLER
3. MAGIC ARTIST