Although not a Group 1 race this has now become the feature sprint of the year in Australia. Once again the race has turned out a quality field full of our best sprinters. $15 million prize money up for grabs and with COVID-19 making things difficult, we don't see any International raiders lining up this year which a few have failed miserably and not many do match it with Aussie sprinters. Intriguing race with lots of different form lines to measure up and big question marks on how some of them are currently travelling.
As always use the below to have a bet or a trifecta/F4. Be sure to add the main fancies to Quaddies!
BIRDS TOP 5:
TREKKING: ($11/$3.50) Can someone please explain to Bird how this horse has been $17-$18 all week?? Finally we see some money coming for him and most of it is Bird who has been loading up each way ever since the first up run in the Moir when second behind Pippie. That was his best fresh run for a while and gets the dry track here that he needs. Boasts the win in last years Goodwood over Gytrash yet 3x the price here and was less than a length away from winning this race last year in arguably stronger edition. Drawn super to sit in behind the hectic speed battle and can only see him finishing strong late, not at all surprised to see him start single figures and at the current odds he has to be on top as a brilliant each way bet.
CLASSIQUE LEGEND: ($4.60) Set to peak third up here after a cracking return when monstering the line to win the Shorts, then an equally impressive run to finish second behind Libertini when posted wide the trip. This is one they need to beat and should be favourite in Birds opinion. Plum draw and Mcevoy will give the horse every chance to reel them in down the outside, if he produces a finish like he did first up when he smashed the clock the last 200m it's hard to see anything holding him out. Horse to beat.
GYTRASH: ($6.50) Love this SA raider and deserves his shot at the big money. Has bee continually stepping up to the plate and performing in the big races. Ridiculous racing record where he has only missed the place once in a 20 start career, makes it impossible not to include in the top 3. Has gone straight past Nature Strip both times they have met. Gordon Richards has carefully tailored the preparation leading into this race as the horse is dynamite fresh so comes here off the back of a 5 week break. Will be in the finish and a great story for a small stable if he can salute.
BEHEMOTH: ($9) Another great story would be if this bargain buy could take the choccies in Australia's richest sprint race. They bought him for $9,000 and after winning back to back G1s this prep he has amassed over $1.6 million for connections. Absolute monster of a horse and whilst he is dropping back from 1400m here I think the race will feel like a 1400m run so he'll be very strong late. 1200m form is solid and arguably should have a G1 Goodwood under his belt over the journey. Keeps getting better and better as a horse and impossible to rule a line through him as he will be one running through the line late, concede he will need luck from an inside draw and hopefully doesn't get stuck behind tiring horses.
LIBERTINI: ($9) Boom 3yo but didn't show up in Autumn and after two poor runs they sent her to the paddock to aim for Spring. Seemingly the extended break did her a world of good and she smashed Classique Legend and Nature Strip in the Premiere aided by a brilliant Bayliss steer. Great to see Regan retain the ride in such a big race, unfortunately the draw wasn't kind so he will need to produce one of his best to give her a winning hope. From outside gate think the only hope is to get back to the tail to find cover then try unleash her late, confident they will go quick enough upfront and if she gets a cart into the race with natural improvement she can give them a scare. On the other hand her race might be over 100m in if she gets posted wide... hard to leave her out after what she did first up but has to overcome some obstacles.
BIVOUAC: ($16/$4.60) Godolphin had this horse penned for their slot a long way out after that dominant Newmarket win. However, was only plain in a few more Autumn runs after that. Thought the fresh run was full of merit when stuck a little wide but showed plenty of fight to finish in the minors. If he can get some cover from the wide gate and reproduce something near the Newmarket run when he beat a third of this field with ease, then has to be thrown in at big odds. A little hot and cold like a few here which makes him hard to assess. Best run makes him a winning hope but can put in a run where he will struggle to beat many of these home. Lets hope he shows up.
NOT FOR BIRD:
EDUARDO: Thought this horse was done and dusted but after running some shockers in Melb they sent him North to a new trainer and he has found a new lease of life. Form behind his Sydney wins has been strong and he was the hardest horse to put a line through- but... the negatives for me are a dry track and also just the speed battle I can foresee unfolding. How long can he stick on in the straight if he goes toe to toe with Nature Strip and Dollar for Dollar? Interesting runner and if any rain comes he is a top 4 hope, I just hope he does take on Nature Strip so we get a cracking edition where everything gets a chance.
NATURE STRIP: Nope just can't have him at the price. He has disappointed multiple times through his career at very short odds and somehow remains favourite here after two sub par runs. His very best performances when he decides to show up obviously win the race- however, he needs to improve 6-8 lengths off the last run to be in contention here and you have to take $4-$5 for that?? No thanks. First up Gytrash gave him windburn again but we know he doesn't go well fresh, then second up he missed the placings after having issues through the week at trials. Lots of question marks and add to that the fact he will get pestered in the lead by Eduardo and Dollar for Dollar its hard to be overly confident about him. Bird is predicting another capitulation at the 200m mark where a few of our top selections go straight past him again.... Should be $7.50+ and may well see it race day.
SANTA ANA LANA: Pro rolled his eyes at Bird when he declared Santa would not win another race after heading off overseas to Hong Kong. So far Bird has been proven correct with SAL being 0/8 since returning to Aus. Big question marks about where he is at this prep and if he will get back to his best. At 8 years of age time is running out and the last 3 runs especially have done nothing to suggest he can win in his third attempt at this race. If he gets to 50-1 race day you include in multiples but can't win. (Edit: Pro gets final say in these previews before sending to members, so lets clear the air here- Pro told bird its a camel before Bird ever mentioned the above, TY)
DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR: Late inclusion here and not sure Mcevoy camp would ever seriously have targeted the race. He is a great inclusion as he will ensure we get a truely run race and from barrier 1. He will kick up hard wanting the lead so the likes of NS & Eduardo will need to work hard. Did finish in front of a few of his competitors here last start, so I'm not sure why he is the rank outsider in this race but he will be very vulnerable late when the big guns are charging.
HAUT BRION HER: Another late inclusion in the field and this is a massive step up for her after she has been competing against her own sex this campaign. She likes to be up on speed but not sure she'll be able to match motors with Dollar for Dollar, NS & Eduardo. As a result will have to settle midfield and if she crosses the line midfield will be a good result for her. A nice record but has been thrown in the deep end with an anchor tied to the leg....
TOFANE: Got a G1 under her belt in Autumn over 1400m but I do just feel she is a length or two off our best sprinters and would be a huge upset to see her winning this. Close up in both runs down the Flemington straight this prep and been a touch unlucky but don't think that is the A grade form leading in to this race. Drawn poor so will get back and need to pass a lot of good horses to figure.