Track: GOOD(4) - Weather: CLOUDY - Rail: TRUE

Betting Portfolio ($100):
Mild weather heading into the weekend with not much rain about so this track should come up a GOOD(4) and stay that way as wonít really be drying weather. We should get even racing, probably a plus to be well-drawn and on-speed and down the straight probably not much between both sides, but tending towards the inside rail as fastest. Bit of talk on social media about the size of the fields and the impact of the new Sydney features, but plenty to bet on regardless, on what is normally a great punting day. The first two races the Carbine Club and the Archer have come up a bit light on, but the rest of the day is full of interesting runners so we will double up the Suggested Bets to $100 with plenty to bet on.

Reminder that at the moment for Spring Campaign 2023 we wonít be posting tips till Saturday morning (earlier if time allows). Feature race preview at the bottom of this post will be posted night before major races to allow extra time for form study.

BEST WIN: Race 7: 1-APULIA $15 WIN
This one is currently second favourite for the Derby but suspect he will probably shorten even further than the current $5 odds come race time. Looks a really solid staying type, lining up to race for the third week in a row, and seems to be getting better as the distances increase. Strong staying win last week at MV and as long as they can weave their way through the field here dropping back from an inside barrier he looks hard to beat today. Note that we are also having a second bet in this race on the 3-AIR ASSAULT below

Class sprinter who does have to give these weight, but she is likely to get the fast speed she wants here to run on late, which is her racing pattern. Good run first-up when made good ground late behind a smart one, increase in distance to 1200M suits and she is proven down the straight which is important. She has contested six Group 1 feature sprints over the last year, so this is a much easier contest and she finally gets into a winnable race. Back each way at around $8 and anchor in the quinella with the tear away leader the 10-NAJEM SUHAIL who we are wary off leading alone today along the inside rail with not much pressure, and straight track specialist the 9-CíEST MAGIQUE who didnít run out the 1400M last start.

QUINELLA: Race 8: 1,6,7,13,16 boxed x $10 = 100%
The Group 1 mares mile race is just about the race of the day with a big, even field with a lot of depth and a stack of value chances. What is quite noticeable is that there seems to be a stack of speed here with the 10-PRIDE OF JENNI (who tore the Toorak Handicap field apart last start at Caulfield) and the 11-DENY KNOWLEDGE both known for their tear away running style. Think that sets it up for something proven past 1600M running on strongly late down the middle of the track and the 7-RENAISSANCE WOMAN seems really well suited in that sort of race. Racing well up in Sydney, drawn out, but that allows her to drop back and run on late in clear running which is her running style and she should be strong at the end of the race here at around $26. Not quite sure how well some of the more fancied runners drawn good barriers are going, so that sets up a possible cheeky large quinella result with the likes of the mighty 6-FOXY FRIDA third up and ready to win and finishing on strongly off a fast speed, the 1-ALCOHOL FREE with a good on-speed sit and a bit of unknown factor as an import, the 13-SHUFFLE DANCER who will drop back and need luck from an inside barrier but is racing extremely well this time in, and the other strong finisher the 16-MORE SECRETS with jockey Oliver on board.

Another $20 shot we are going to put as top pick and best each way and we have been following this one all spring and waiting for her to get out in distance and to a big track. There are a few well exposed ones at the top of the market, but she has been competitive against many of these without much luck. Many of these are a question mark at 2000M, but she looks like she will lap it up. Been really launching late most starts this time in, often in leader dominated races and in the worse going and would be good to see her ridden more handy today from a good barrier. Will need some speed on, but she just looks like a big track 2000M horse and we finally get to see what she can do today.

QUINELLA: Race 3: 3,6,7,8 boxed x $6 = 100%
This looks a really even sprint race down the straight with the main chances being the 6-ROSE QUARTZ who is racing well and loves the Flemington straight, the value runner the 7-WILLINGA BEAST who was running on well last start and ran into dead-ends late, the 3-AITCH TWO OH who has led and won down the straight before during Cup Week and she stuck on pretty well last start, and the 8-HYPOTHETICAL who will also go forward in clear running here. Not much between these, but plenty of value in a box quinella with a few runners here in double figures.

Nowhere near the best Carbine Club Stakes we have had, which is a shame as normally itís a really good betting race. Really not sure how some of these are going, and think some may be vulnerable out to 1600M for the first time, so letís have a nibble at one at odds here. There should be a decent tempo and this one has been running on strongly last few starts and looks like he will run a strong 1600M. He did miss the start last time at Caulfield, so if he can jump with them suspect he will probably run into the finish here late at around $41.

We have already backed top pick 1-APULIA in the Derby, but think this one has an excellent chance at odds as well. Looks a tough on-pace staying type, won easily in what is often a good form race in Adelaide two starts back and was noticeably wearing into the margin last start at MV. Should have more improvement to come, and sitting on-speed here he should get the run of the race and be leading midway down the straight Ė and may even kick on at around $20.

This one is ultra-consistent (as is the 11-SAVANNAH CLOUD) and they often race against each other. Excellent distance stats winning 5 from 8 over the 1400M, fitter for the three runs in and made some ground late against the furious tempo in the Toorak last start. Much better suited back to the 1400M here and form before that was suggesting he was close to a win. Should be able to jump and go forward here and sit just behind the speed at around $21 and loom into the race at the right time for get-out punters.

LAY OF THE DAY: Race 6: 1-SHINZO at around $4
Golden Slipper winner who has been running at the elite level in two 3YO runs, but itís a bit hard to tell exactly how well he is going. Many want to say that he has had no luck, but we donít see it and the 3YO season can be very different to the 2YO season as Blue Diamond winner LITTLE BROSE has already found out. Plenty to bet on in a wide open race and prefer to stick to those who are showing form and in the finish rather than guessing on this one.

TURF DELI WONDER BET: Here we try and turn $5 into a snazzy tailored short combo.
TRIFECTA: Race 7: 1,3 / 1,3,5,9,12 / 1,3,4,5,6,7,9,12 x $5 = 10.42%
Letís try for a Derby trifecta with the two top picks 1-APULIA, 3-AIR ASSAULT to win, and some roughies like the 12-ROGEURY, 9-KOSGEI to place and with such a long tail in this race good chance something at odds gets into the finish and a decent trifecta dividend awaits.

Races 6,7,8,9: 2,10,13,14,16,17 / 1,3 / 1,6,7,13,16 / 5,7,10,11,15 x $20 = 6.67%
Happy to go wider today in the quaddie as a good chance of a result, but we will have to be brave and narrow it down to just the two top picks in the Derby and load up the other legs where there are likely to be some $20+ winners.

Feature Race Preview:

Surprising that we got such a big field for the VRC Derby given the fields in some of the lead-up races were on the small side. The VRC Derby form this year has been an utter mess, we had the 4-RIFF ROCKET (at $1.28) and the 2-VERDAD (at $2.45) get beaten in the lead up runs, the well fancied replacement favourite from Sydney TOM KITTEN has been sent for a spell, so the betting market has been dramatically flipping every few days over the last few weeks. Basically these have all been tripping over each other leading into this race so it is hard to bet with much confidence and there is probably a pretty good chance of an upset here in an unpredictable year. So would be very reluctant to jump on the short-priced favourite here.

The traditional lead-ups into this are the Caulfield Classic and the MV Vase and invariably the winner comes from the first three home in those races and most years you donít need to look far past those. We do have a quite long tail this year of stayers coming off maiden or country wins, and one of them probably runs a race at odds, but they will also create a bit of traffic here in a big field for the more favoured runners. Worth noting that no horse has won the Derby with less than 5 starts going into the race since 2000, which is an extra challenge for some of these.

In terms of speed, the tempo here should be genuine with the 16-TOKYO RUN and 11-SACRED EAGLE going forward, the 3-AIR ASSAULT and the 2-VERDAD getting nice runs just behind the speed, and the 5-SUNSETS and the 7-GOLD BULLION both crossing from outside barriers and maybe getting caught wide. Canít imagine anything is going to run along and really string this field out, so suspect they might get a bit cluttered up in the run home here in a big field with a long, long tail of country maiden type horses getting in the way of some more favoured runners. A clear run and a turn of foot may be critical in this race.

Runner by Runner comments:

1-APULIA has always been progressing very nicely towards this race all spring. Eye-catching run at MV when ran on well against the racing pattern at start of his campaign, only fair at Flemington, then chased home well in a sit-sprint at Caulfield when had no chance due to the leader controlled tempo, and really liked the win in the MV Vase last week. That was a really strong staying performance, and he looped into the race outside runners which was not the racing pattern and had the race under control on the turn. What doesnít appear in the form guide is the late scratching at the barrier when he got caught up underneath the stalls in the Derby Preview here at the Sunday meeting in September. That incident probably set the preparation back a bit (and maybe explains the ordinary Flemington run in between?), so he is coming into this racing for a third week in a row. Probably drifts back a bit along the inside here from a good barrier is a little query. Just looks a really solid staying type hitting form at the right time and think he is one of the hardest to beat in this. Top chance.

2-VERDAD has been showing a lot of promise this spring, and hit the line really well in the Bill Stutt Stakes, and again in the Caulfield Guineas. Sent out favourite last week in the MV Vase and there was much talk about him being taken to the lead against his normal racing pattern, but he was well covered by the (1) in that race. Nice barrier and probably takes an on-speed sit here and gets the run of the race. Maybe leading last start just didnít suit him? But he is taking on a big ask here, winning a 2500M Derby in his first preparation and at start number 5, so there has to be some doubt about him at the end of a first preparation and at the end of 2500M so prefer to risk .

3-AIR ASSAULT has had a solid spring campaign and the Hill Smith Stakes over in Adelaide is normally a pretty strong form reference. Quite like the MV Vase run, he was outside the leader and facing the breeze all the way, which was not the racing pattern, and he was sticking on really well there and making ground towards the end of the race, wearing away at the margin. He probably has a fair bit of improvement to come too, note the sharp jump in distance from 1200M to 18000 and then to 2000M. Well drawn, goes forward, will stick on well and really strong rough chance in this. Lot to like about him here and good value chance.

4-RIFF ROCKET was utterly dominant here two starts back and looked to have the Derby sown up already, but then wasnít suited in sit-sprint at Caulfield when just couldnít chase down an on-pacer. Worth noting that he did have every chance though. Well drawn, and back to Flemington may be the key and if he repeated his last win here, he would win this race easily. Last win here he did get stuck inside runners, and looked in trouble getting clear, but the perfect split came, and he burst through - jockey will need to be wary the same thing may happen here and the gap may not come in a big field with a long slow plodding tail to it. The question is really whether the $2.20 on offer represents value, and we donít think it does. Has to be respected as a strong winning chance, but just canít see how you can have a confident bet at those odds given the current 3YO staying form patterns.

5-SUNSETS is one we liked last start and he just held on to cause the upset, but really his form this time in has been pretty darn good. He fought out the finish really hard behind the (7) here three starts back, but just couldnít wear him down, and then got far too back from an outside barrier here and worked to the line really well in the Super Impose, so was well over the odds with good lead-up form at Caulfield. Wide barrier is a major negative here (and it is what got him beaten two starts back), so listen for riding tactics and assume they will go forward here regardless. Lobbing on-speed you know he is genuine and will fight out the finish, dropping back he will probably need a lot of luck and not sure he can run down a staying field from back in the pack. Rough chance.

6-MAKE A CALL has been well held all spring in Melbourne and then beaten as a $1.35 favourite last start (add another to the Derby disaster list). His run here in the Super Impose wasnít that bad actually, he loomed into the race down the middle of the track and stuck on OK. Last start in a small field he stuck trouble and was held up for runs, and was hitting the line well. Still a maiden. Form is probably a bit better than it looks and he might be a super roughie for wide exotics, but outside barrier is going to be a major issue here and hard to see him running into the race from well back in the field.

7-GOLD BULLION was solid winning here two starts back and then disappointing at Caulfield. Well documented that was a sit-sprint race (which should have suited?), but also note that he was vetted at the barrier there after being fractious, so maybe you can excuse that run. Another who is in his first preparation. Drawn out, but probably goes forward here to offset that. In a slowly run on-speed controlled race he is probably a rough place chance, probably exposed in a true staying contest, but a good rough place chance for the wider multis.

8-GATES is coming into this off a very light preparation, only the two runs in and up in distance from 1500M to 2000M to 2500M today. He did match it with the (1) to the line at Caulfield. SP was $8 for his maiden win, and realistically if he was from a different stable today he would be double to triple the odds, but instead he is well in the market. Only had 4 starts before today. Drawn a bad barrier too and likely to drop back. Did work to the line well at Caulfield and have to respect that, but considering his preparation and form he probably should be at much longer odds.

9-KOSGEI looks a likely staying type and chased really hard to the line at Sandown, before not doing much at all at Flemington against many of these. Was the strongest at the end of the Geelong Classic, and that was after making a very long and very wide run at them, which was a very strong staying performance. Only coming into start number 5 today. That race is normally a pretty poor form reference for this race, but he does look like he will stay the 2500M at least so a rough place chance.

10-BULAWAYO is from a strong staying stable and has been even in all runs this time in. Was even enough on-speed here two starts back and then stuck on well off a wide run in the MV Vase. Drawn well and can probably settle handy here and get a pretty good run and stick on OK, but hard to see him beaten home the three who finished in front of him last start.

11-SACRED EAGLE was a tough staying performance to win his maiden, and then stuck on OK in the Geelong Classic which probably wonít be the best form reference for this. Inside draw and likely to go forward and probably leads today, but otherwise little interest.

12-ROGEURY showed a sharp turn of foot to win his maiden and then again when wide last start. He seems to have a good turn of foot, which will come in handy trying to weave through the field from barrier 1 here. Totally separate form line to most of these, and have to respect him coming into this race off two wins and in winning form. Class will be the test, but if they dawdle up front here he looks like he has the turn of foot to be a factor in this. Some rough chance.

13-MERCANTE is another coming through weaker races and is still in his first preparation. Was a strong staying win two starts back when those up front had dropped him and he wore them down, and again last start he looked to be going nowhere on the turn, but out stayed most of them to run 2nd. Likely to drop well back here and given these a start, question is if he outstay them at this level and suspect he probably gives them too big a start here and just works home into the first half of the field.

14-TO BE FRANK is in his first preparation and only up to start number four so this will be a big ask. Won maiden against a small field and then not suited in sit-sprint in the Caulfield Classic but hard to see him improving enough to beat all of those who finished in front of him there. International jockey on board here for staying stable but deserves to be long odds and rank outsider.

15-WARIALDA WARRIOR is coming off Sydney country maiden form and hard to see him being a factor in this. Plenty of kms in the legs if this was to turn into a hard slog staying contest, and likely to lob on-speed here, but unlikely to measure up.

16-TOKYO RUN is the rank outsider of the field and lead in a slowly run race at Caulfield so should have been able to stick on a bit better into the finish. Likely leader again here, but hard to see him improving enough to be a factor in this.


We are really keen on the 1-APULIA here, he looks a strong staying type and really like the way he looped into the race on the bend last week at MV and lengthened into the turn, also nicely ticks the boxes of the traditional lead up races. Drawn well, maybe jockey just needs to be a little cautious about dropping too far back along the inside in a big cluttered field of stayers. Actually think the main danger is the 3-AIR ASSAULT at odds who may have a bit of improvement to come off the last run and will be bowling along just off the speed here and in clear running, expect him to hit the lead halfway down the straight and maybe kick and give you a good run for your money. Respect for the 5-SUNSETS who has been honest and consistent all spring and we have been following him, so will need to include again this week. Happy to go around the 4-RIFF ROCKET today at the short odds, he may win, but not interested at those odds, and will need to get a clear run at them. In terms of value runners in the long tail, the 12-ROGEURY seems to have a really good turn of foot that may be an asset today, and the 9-KOSGEI looks a strong staying type if it turns into a staying contest. Plenty of value around the selections here and punting plan is to have a win bet on the top two selections and a box quinella including the roughies.

The Tips: