Seven individual Group 1 winners step out for Saturday’s Memsie Stakes at Caulfield. It really is an exciting race as most of the field are being aimed at bigger things over the Spring Carnival. The Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate are races that many of Saturday’s runners will be set for.
In the mix are seasoned sprinters, Black Heart Bart and Lord Of the Sky. There will also be plenty of interest in how Melbourne Cup winner Prince Of Penzance performs, without regular rider Michelle Payne. Can recently turned four-year-olds Tally and Mahuta carry over their form from last season? And will Derby winners, Tarzino and Tavago make the step-up against older horses and stamp their claims for the big spring features?
Let’s take a closer look at what shapes as a pretty handy field for the first Group 1 of the season.
PRINCE OF PENZANCE
Last year’s longshot Melbourne Cup winner resumes from a spell here. A tough stayer the Darren Weir-trained gelding is $34 to go back to back at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.
Why he can: Expected high tempo will suit this backmarker. The seven-year-old was far from disgraced in a conditioning run over 1600m at Morphettville in May.
Why he can’t: This trip is far too short. The Cup win was his first since October 2014 and his last win over 1600m was in 2013.
BLACK HEART BART
Adelaide’s Goodwood Handicap winner, who has realised his full potential since being transferred from the West to the powerful Weir stable. The type of horse every trainer loves to have in their yard.
Why he can: Has come of age under Weir. This super consistent sprinter is resuming after a career-best preparation. Apart from his Goodwood win, the six-year-old finished second in three other Group 1’s, the Newmarket, All Aged Stakes and Stradbroke Handicap. He has a great first-up record and is a winner at this track.
Why he can’t: With an expected high tempo he may wind up midfield or worse. He has a powerful finish, but a chequered passage around Caulfield can bring the best horses undone. A heavy track would also damage his chances of winning.
LORD OF THE SKY
Why he can: A Caulfield specialist, with his six career wins here and as a stallion with a fitness edge. If the genius of jockey Damien Oliver can slow the tempo on this front runner he could lead all of the way, as he did in the Bletchingly Stakes two starts back.
Why he can’t: He’s been placed at Group 1 level three times, but just lacks the class to compete consistently at the elite level.
Why he can: Fitter for a first-up run, when third to Lord of the Sky in the Bletchingly Stakes. This seven-year-old is an on-speed runner that should be able to box seat from barrier two. In the money six of 10 starts at Caulfield and wintered in Brisbane, which can be a plus.
Why he can’t: Wins are well spaced and usually takes several runs to come to hand.
HE OR SHE
A former well performed West Australian sprinter, from the Hayes & Dabernig yard.
Why he can: Won the Blamey Stakes in March. In his last run, before going to the paddock, this six-year-old gelding didn’t handle the soft going at Randwick when a respectable eighth behind Winx in the Doncaster. Is a first-up winner and also tasted success at the track.
Why he can’t: Has barrier 12 and does not possess enough early tactical speed to cross, nor the ability to do it at both ends.
A consistent performer in easier grade, this entire is the roughie of the three Hayes/Dabernig runners.
Why he can: Ran a nice third when first-up in the Group 3 Auries Star. Will take improvement from the run, which prompted his rider on that day, Michael Walker, to declare the five-year-old will win a nice race during the spring.
Why he can’t: Out of his league and will be suited when his races get longer. Walker has jumped ship to ride Sofia Rosa.
A High Chaparral stallion who was runner-up in last year’s Australian Guineas. Spelled afterwards, due to a pedal bone injury. Likely to target the Caulfield Cup and if he wins this his Cup price of $41 will shorten dramatically.
Why he can: Stretched out well and had plenty in hand at a recent trial win at Tatura. Showed huge potential as a three-year-old, but was unable to realise it. Ran a close up sixth in last year’s Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes and came through his comeback run in May without a hitch.
Why he can’t: Returning from injury so he may not have had the work pumped into him to prepare for a forward showing at this level.
This Darren Weir-trained Flying Spur entire is coming off a great three-year-old season, where he won six consecutive races including the Sandown and Magic Millions Guineas. He‘s been a costly failure for punters in two runs since resuming. This could be his D-Day.
Why he can: He’s furnished into a stallion now and may have needed a couple of runs to help him become a fitter and leaner animal. From the good alley jockey, John Allen, should be able to secure a gun run.
Why he can’t: While he did have a very strong three-year-old season it was a lengthy one, including, Melbourne spring, Queensland summer and Melbourne autumn. His recent racing suggests he may not have come up and another trip to the paddock may be the best option.
Dual Group 1 winning three-year-old set to kick-of his four-year-old career. Won the Victoria Derby in October and claimed another major, the Rosehill Guineas, in March. Currently a $15 favourite for the Caulfield Cup.
Why he can: Class carries a horse a long way and this son of Tavistock is packed with it. With the expected fast speed he will be finishing the race off strongly.
Why he can’t: Missed a barrier trial on Monday and is still carrying plenty of condition. Trainer Mick Price admitted he is not primed for this.
This Kiwi blew the opposition away when he won the ATC Derby at his only Australian start. In that Group 1 win he relegated then three-year-olds and Memsie rivals, Tally and Tarzino, to minor prize money.
Why he can: A highly promising four-year-old will have taken plenty of improvement from his last preparation. He’s now based in Victoria and trialled well in a recent jump out on his home track at Cranbourne.
Why he can’t: Lacks the dash to tackle the more seasoned sprinters. Being set for the Caulfield Cup, where he’s rated a $21 chance.
The four-year-old entire is coming off a strong three-year-old season, where he was in the money six of eight starts – which included a win in the Australian Guineas at Flemington. The final runner from the Weir yard, in race book order and by no means the worst of his charges.
Why he can: Showed he is on track with a pipe-opening first-up effort in the Regal Roller Stakes. Lumped 60kg, was not knocked about and takes a solid second-up record into this race, where the 1400m looks ideal.
Why he can’t: His wide draw. There is a short run to the first turn from the 1400m chute and there is a chance, from barrier 10, that he could get trapped wide.
Godolphin four-year-old, who won four in a row before ending his three-year-old campaign with a game third to Tavago in the ATC Derby.
Why he can: Anything carrying the royal blue of Godolphin deserves respect. This four-year-old grew in stature throughout his last preparation and has a workmanlike quality. According to trainer John O’Shea he has improved physically.
Why he can’t: Unimpressive in a barrier trial which suggests he is not primed for this assignment. Hate to be a broken record, but a wide gate is against him. There have been just three horses in 24 years to win this race from double-digit barriers.
One of only two mares in the race and has been around the money in several Group 1 races, but is yet to add to her only major, the 2014 ATC Oaks.
Why she can: She was beaten less than two lengths in this race last year and was third in this year’s Australian Cup. She leaves nothing behind in her races and is a real trier.
Why she can’t: Her best runs are over longer trips.
Kiwi invader, who is having her first start since capturing the Group 1 ATC Oaks in April.
Why she can: She has a 50 percent strike rate and was the most consistent three-year-old filly in New Zealand last season. She was sharpened last Friday with a trial at Flemington and the 1400m looks an ideal distance for the start of her spring campaign.
Why she can’t: Another that will not be wound up and will find the other sprinters too slick. Trainer Stephen Marsh expects her to race well, but told media he doesn’t expect her to win.
1. Black Heart Bart
3. Lord Of The Sky