Caulfield Racecourse, Saturday 1 September 2018
Race 7: 4.10pm (AEST)
1400 metres, WFA
The first day of September 2018 announces the start of the Spring Racing Carnival in Australia. Race meetings will be spread between Sydney and Melbourne from now and mid November, with Western Australia concluding the Spring season with three meetings in late November and December.
The highlights will be the rich sprint The Everest, with a purse of A$13 million contested at Royal Randwick in Sydney, while down in Melbourne, the W.S Cox Plate sees superstar mare Winx gunning for her fourth consecutive win in the Group 1 race. The Melbourne Cup raced on the first Tuesday in November will see an influx of European raiders head down under to land the big 2 mile prize. Last year it was Irish four-year-old Rekindled trained by the O’Brien stable. Who will it be this year?
However, before those big races pop up on the racing calendar, this first proper weekend sees Royal Randwick host a handful of Group races which has many of the top contenders from last season resuming in shorter distance events. The main focus however will be down in Melbourne where the Caulfield racecourse hosts the first Group 1 of the season in Victoria: the Memsie Stakes over 1400 metres.
The field is very strong, with many Group 1 winners lining up. History will show that those horses with good fresh-up form, and a liking for distances between 1200m and 1600m will fare best. Those who are gearing up for longer distance events over the coming months (and there a few here), will be using the race as a tune-up, upon resumption to regular racing.
Three horses have come down from Sydney (Happy Clapper, Kementari and Showtime) and one from South Australia (Dollar For Dollar), while the rest are Victorian gallopers. All are chasing the Group 1 status of the Memsie.
The favourite is likely to be Vega Magic, who won this race last year. He’s a two-time Group 1 winner, and won upon resuming in the Bletchingly Stakes in a small field at very short odds (10/9) a month ago. He’s using this as a primer for The Everest in about six weeks.
Kementari is the Godolphin representative from Sydney, out of the James Cummings stable. A handy three-year-old last season, he was kept to shorter distance races after winning the Group 1 Randwick Guineas over 1600 metres. He kept bumping into Winx, even as recently as two weeks ago in the Warwick Stakes. Has a great turn of foot, but will need to contend with a wide barrier draw; the 1400 metre start point is notoriously awkward for gallopers who draw wide, because of its short proximity to the first turn, so he’ll need to get across early. Currently the second favourite on the betting market at A$4.00.
Sydney based miler Happy Clapper brings solid credentials into the Memsie, based on his Group 1 1600 metre dual winning exploits in last season’s Epsom Handicap and Doncaster Mile. Both are blue riband 1600 metre/mile events in Australia. He resumes his new campaign in the Memsie, though not expected to win, punters have him on the third line of betting at A$5.50.
One of Australia’s exciting three-year-olds from last season was Grunt. Only lightly raced, he broke maiden ranks back in December 2017, but compiled two good victories in the Autumn, culminating in his Group 1 win in the blue riband Australian Guineas. Looks likely to head to longer distance races in future, but hasn’t stepped out over 1600 metres as yet. Grunt certainly has some class about him. Punters think so too, putting him on the fourth line of betting at A$9.00.
This time last year, former British galloper Kings Will Dream was undertaking his racing apprenticeship on courses around Yorkshire (Ripon and Pontefract). Emigrating to Australia in late 2017, he resumed after a five month break and won five races on the trot between January and March 2018. On the back of those wins, he was installed as the early favourite for this year’s running of the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400 metres). His resumption to Spring racing saw him flash home for fourth two weeks ago in the Group 2 P.B Lawrence Stakes. That race was run on the same course and same distance, but he is one that will be crying out for longer distances in the weeks ahead. He is trained by one of Australia’s top trainers in Darren Weir, so is in good hands. Currently the fifth favourite on starting price odds of A$10.00.
One of the interesting runners here is Sydney trained Showtime. He’s from the same stable as the ‘Grey Flash’ Chautauqua, who was sensationally banned from all racing in Australia this week, after refusing to jump from the barriers. This after several months of trialling and frustration from his training team and other associated parties. Showtime however, could become the replacement stable star, after his win first-up in the P.B Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield two weeks ago. Has yet to win a Group 1, but he’s knocking on the door. Not the worst of chances. Starting price odds at A$11.00.
Former West Australian Black Heart Bart has ideal stats leading into this race. He’s a multiple Group 1 winner, likes the course and distance, and usually runs well fresh, or second up. However, he hasn’t won since February 2017 though did run second to Vega Magic in last year’s Memsie, and did win it the year prior. Despite getting on in years (now a rising eight-year-old), he’s still good enough to win this.
Tip: Vega Magic, at odds of 5/2.
Video from last years race: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq-Z4jAWck8