Four To Follow – Flemington Finals Race Day
Racing & Sports expert Adam Blencowe identifies four highlight horses for the culmination of the Winter Race Series on Flemington Finals Race Day at Flemington.
Race 3 #1
Trainer: Paul Preusker
Jockey: Dean Yendall 59.5kg
The Listed Schweppes Taj Rossi Series Final (1600m) became part of Finals Day in 2013 and in ten editions since only two have fronted up with stronger credentials than the 105-rated Steparty.
The Bowler was rated 108 after splitting Kuroshio and Dissident on debut but had been beaten in his lead up to the Taj Rossi of 2013, in which he was second. In 2017, Royal Symphony fronted up with a rating of 110 and would replicate it to win by 4.3 lengths on Finals Day.
It is through that same lead up that Steparty arrives, his rating of 105 not quite a match for Royal Symphony but underpinned by both the clock and the margins – a handy one in well beaten in second and a paddock back to the well-strung remainder.
It should be a case of replicate-and-win for Steparty but there is enough to the race to think that he won't want to take his foot off the gas. Hopefully he can post a performance up there with the two best winners of the race – Royal Symphony and Apache Cat – and set down a platform for the spring ahead.
Race 7 #7
Trainer: Peter G Moody
Jockey: Carleen Hefel (a) 55kg
Four-year-olds have won nearly twice their share in the Listed Santa Ana Lane Sprint Series Final (1200m) over the past 15 years; their impact value (strike-rate over participation-rate) clocking in at 1.95.
The established sprinters have struggled to keep fresher legs at bay and that trend can continue as the in-form Sigh stands out as the four-year-old most likely.
Only her stablemate and fellow four-year-old, Invincible Caviar (yes, that is her mum), arrives with fewer miles on the clock and she can't match Sigh for ratings.
Sigh is rated 108, a figure that puts her on the good side of average for Sprint Final winners, and that she produced that mark at just start number eight gives us a good idea that she may prove better yet.
The same can't be said for those that are a match for her on ratings to date and that makes Sigh as appealing as any bet on the card.
Race 8 #3
Trainer: Ciaron Maher & David Eustace
Jockey: Blake Shinn 55.5kg
It is unlikely that this year's Listed VRC-CRV Winter Championship Series Final (1600m) throws up a Toorak winner as it did 12 months ago; none as good as Tuvalu and none that look much chance of getting there.
A year on and the race takes on a very different shape as a 5/4 favourite gives way to a 5/1 the field scenario where few (if any) can be ruled out with confidence.
Perhaps the runner most interesting is the Irish import Charterhouse who caught the eye at his Australian debut, putting up form as good as anything he had done in his homeland.
Charterhouse has clearly settled into life down under and it might be that under the care of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace he goes on to better things – plenty have.
Maher won this race with on his own with Akavoroun, mowing down The Cleaner in a classic, but in partnership they have saddled just one runner, last year's second Sir Davy.
It surely won't be long until they go a place better and they take three shots this time – Charterhouse perhaps the pick of them, though Unusual Culture found a clear career-best to win the mile lead up and the timefigure there says that is form to be taken seriously.
HARD TO CROSS (NZ)
Race 9 #3
Trainer: Patrick Payne
Jockey: Billy Egan 56.5kg
The story of the Silver Bowl Series Final (1600m), scheduled to bring the curtain down on Flemington Finals Race Day, is one of scope versus sectionals.
Hard To Cross ran down Golden Path fair and square at Sandown in the key lead up to this fabulous final. The margin was narrow, but the sectionals said the result was a true one, the winner the best horse on the day.
The task for punters is not to figure out who was best last time but to figure out who will be best this time. The result may have been fair, but the scenario was not. Golden Path was having just his second start while Hard To Cross was third up for the campaign and with the grounding of six summer runs.
Do we trust the sectionals or do we back the scope? The betting ratio between the pair at Sandown was around 80/20 in favour of Golden Path. Early markets for Saturday hint at that ratio being much the same again. A captivating conundrum to close.
THE FLEMINGTON MAIL
Bet Of The Day: Race 7 #7 – SIGH @ $4.50
Each Way Play: Race 9 #3 – HARD TO CROSS @ $10