The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) is the first taste of what will be a common scenario for many of the big Spring majors, with champion trainers Chris Waller and Darren Weir set to battle each other for Group 1 glory. This Saturday, Waller saddles favourite Counterattack while Weir has second favourite Voodoo Lad and outsider Telopea.
UNDER THE LOUVRE
Smart sprinter, won this year’s Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm.
Why he can: Took time to wind-up at first run from a break when 4th in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis Stakes (1200m) at Flemington. In the money nine of 10 starts this track and five of six when having second-up run.
Why he can’t: Promises plenty, but can be hard to catch. Stradbroke field was below par and that was his first win since Listed Hareeba Stakes in March last year. Has to carry 58kgs and top weights have a poor record in the race.
A dual Group 1 winning Kiwi sprinter, with six wins from 11 starts.
Why he can: Proven Group 1 performer. He was very worked up before the race, which may have affected his first-up effort when eased out of the race in the Bobbie Lewis. Trialled well this week and fitness level will be improved.
Why he can’t: Saves his best for home turf. Hasn’t fired in two Australian starts and while there may have been excuses, he needs to show something before becoming a betting proposition again.
Another Kiwi invader, he has won seven of 13 starts, including the Group 1 New Zealand Derby in May.
Why he can: At his only Australian start he was midfield behind Counterattack in Group 3 Fred Best Classic at Doomben. Promising type and by all reports went well in a recent Flemington jump-out.
Why he can’t: Usually takes a run or two to find form and 1400m may be too short.
FAST ’N’ ROCKING
Blinkers come off and winkers go on this six-year-old gelding. A dual Group 3 winner, placed twice at Group 1 level.
Why he can: Fitness edge with four runs this campaign. Was trapped wide last start when 11th behind Voodoo Lad. He was only beaten 4.9-lengths after the tough run so pay to forgive that effort. Races well this track.
Why he can’t: Hasn’t won since October last year. He has struggled in top grade.
He’s an on speed gelding and likely leader. Biggest win was at Group 3 level.
Why he can: Caulfield specialist. In the money five of nine starts and won three at this track and distance.
Why he can’t: Recent form not good enough.
Odds: ($3.40 favourite)
Chris Waller-trained four-year-old. Won Group 3 race during Brisbane winter carnival.
Why he can: Has furnished into a nice four-year-old and will be fitter after his first run of the Spring. He had excuses when second in the Theo Marks (Group 2). Blocked for a run, but once he saw daylight he powered to the line.
Why he can’t: Having first start around Caulfield and some horses just don’t handle the track.
Darren Weir-trained five-year-old chasing a hat-trick of wins. Won eight and placed seven of his 15 starts.
Why he can: Won last two starts at Listed level. Latest run, after being slow away, he turned in a barnstorming finish coming from last to win over 1200m at Moonee Valley. He’s racing well enough to suggest he is ready to make the step up in grade.
Why he can’t: Untried above Listed level and while he boasts an impressive career record he faces his acid test here. He can’t afford to miss the start again.
High Chaparral entire, he wintered in Queensland where he notched his best win in the Group 3 Sunshine Coast Guineas.
Why he can: Chased Faatinah all the way when second in the Group 2 Bobbie Lewis (1200m). He should appreciate the extra 200m, is fitter for that run and from barrier three he should be able to take up a good position.
Why he can’t: He’s bred to get over more ground and may be looking for further.
This four-year-old mare is prepared by Mick Price. Last season she won two Group 2 races and finished third in the Group 1, 1000 Guineas.
Why she can: Up in grade, but drops seven kilograms on her last run. She over-raced in the middle stages in the Let’s Elope Stakes, but wasn’t knocked about late. Will be improved and on home track.
Why she can’t: She’s drawn a wide gate and will probably have to go back in the early stages and need luck.
Group 3 Guineas Prelude winner, this track and distance before a spell.
Why he can: At his second start from a spell he was an impressive winner in the Tontonan Stakes (1400m) at Flemington. Covered plenty of ground, but still ambled up to them at the 300m and had two lengths to spare at the end. Promising, light weight and drawn to take up a nice position.
Why he can’t: This is toughest test and other runners may be a length or two ahead at this stage.
Jockey Corey Brown returns from Singapore to take the mount.
Why she can: Been bridesmaid at past two starts, latest was second to Bon Aurum. Raced on speed, fought on well and Caulfield should suit, especially jumping from the rails draw.
Why she can’t: Group 3 win in March is her best and she is outclassed against these better quality horses.
Another runner from the Darren Weir yard, she is consistent in weaker grade.
Why she can: Will be one of the fittest horses in the race with plenty of recent racing under her belt. Went back from a wide gate and then made up plenty of ground and was midfield in the Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m).
Why she can’t: Has the Weir polish, but may not be up to Group 1 level.
Listed winner of last year’s McKenzie Stakes.
Why he can: Turned in a fast finishing effort and beaten in a close photo behind Keen Array in last Saturday’s Testa Rossa Stakes (1200m). Out to 1400m here should be to his liking.
Why he can’t: Has struggled in the higher grade races.
Cranbourne-trained six-year-old, in the money 16 of 28 starts.
Why he can: Four runs ago he finished second to Voodoo Lad in the Regal Roller (1200m). Won, following that, in a Benchmark 90. Consistent and tries hard.
Why he can’t: Not up to this grade and better suited in something easier.
Apprentice Regan Bayliss gets his chance in a Group 1.
Why he can: He’s been racing well in weaker grade and is a likely improver, in with a featherweight.
Why he can’t: Facing huge class rise on recent form.
3. Bon Aurum
Fast ‘N’ Rocking