Track: SOFT(5) - Weather: CLEAR - Rail: OUT 9M

Betting Portfolio ($50):
Bit cold and wet this week in Melbourne and a lot of rain heading into the weekend. Weather is clear, but cold for tomorrow so we should get a track with some give in it that will stay in the SOFT range. With some very big fields and ten races they should be coming off the rails in the straight as the track wears and cuts up and winning running on down the middle of the track. Down the straight although the 2YOs probably go to the inside in Race 2, the other races the wider the better and outside barriers may be the way to go. Looks a pretty good punting day, there are clear cut favourites in most races in the second half of the program and they look very hard to beat, but these races also have more depth than the betting market shows.

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.

The 3YO 1800M staying race on this day is always a wide open race and normally you want to look for a strong staying type down the middle of the track. This one has only had two starts so not as seasoned as many of these, but from a strong staying stable and chased home hard really well behind a lead all the way winner last start at Sandown (who won again last night at MV). Not convinced of the strength of the more exposed runners who keep mixing their form, and just looks a solid staying type, suited up in distance and finishing hard and a nice each way bet at around $13.

The short priced favourite the 3-PRINCESS GRACE looks extremely hard to beat here dropping in class but there are a few mares who go OK in this field. This one looks a better betting proposition as an each way chance, well-drawn, fitter for the two runs in, and worked home well first-up before giving AMELIAíS JEWEL a decent run for her money last start. She has always shown a fair bit of potential and seems to be getting back to best form so is capable of challenging the favourite here at around $7.

QUINELLA: Race 7: 18-FIRST IMMORTAL#4,5,6,15 x $6 = 150%
Up and coming stayer who is one of the horses to watch this spring and really hoping he can get into a Caulfield Cup with a low weight. Looked an exciting prospect stringing together staying wins here over winter and seems to have come back even better and may be a major spring player. Been struggling to get a run in the higher grade races and has just snuck into this field as an emergency so we get to line up exactly how good he is today Ė and suspect he may be very good indeed. Carried weight and cruised past them in weaker grade last start in Caulfield. Up to 2500M here and up against a lot of seasoned stayers, none of whom are particularly outstanding so this is a very winnable race. Keen he will be in the finish, think the $4 is a bit on the short side up against a big staying field so instead playing a quinella with the solid rolling stayer the 4-SERPENTINE, the roughie 5-SIR LUCAN who may improve on-speed with a few runs in, the 6-VIRTUOUS CIRCLE who needs the distance and the consistent 15-FUTURE HISTORY.

QUINELLA: Race 8: 2,6,8,11,15 boxed x $5 = 50%
The one is flying this time in, slid though the gap with ease first-up at Caulfield and then ran home well down the outside in the Underwood, which was the worse going. Up in distance and to bigger track Flemington is a big positive and just looks ready to really unleash and go on this spring. Inside barrier might just be the issue and might need them to edge off in the straight and let him through. He has exposed form and we know how is going, so much rather prefer to back him each way at $7 then jump on an unknown international. Take a cheeky value quinella in case the favourite doesnít travel and run his best, with the main danger the 2-GOLD TRIP, the value runner the 8-UNCLE BRYN, the consistent on-speed 15-RIGHT YOU ARE and the 6-EMISSARY who probably improves today.

One of the more open races of the day and normally want to be on strong finishing types in the Edward Manifold. This one looks like she is looking for the big track and 1600M, eye-catching run last start making good ground late and she will be suited running on down the middle of the track here from an outside barrier. Really good roughie here at $18.

We have been stung quite a few times but this one, so not going to get caught out today. Has won his last two tries at the Flemington 1400M and should be suited end of the day on a drying track. He is 2nd-up and up in distance, but did work home OK first-up and that was an unsuitable distance. Not sure there is much depth to this field away from the favourite, so that leaves him a winning chance her at around $13.

LAY OF THE DAY: Race 3: 6-RIFF ROCKET at around $3
Solid staying type whose form is OK, but to be honest we just lay the favourite in this race every year regardless, as in a big field of 3YOs stepping up in distance you want a bit more value for finding the winner. Might get cluttered up along the inside barrier 1 coming from Sydney way of going and just not keen to jump on something at $3 in this sort of race.

TURF DELI WONDER BET: Here we try and turn $5 into a Flemington members car spot for the year.
FIRST FOUR: Race 6: 3,10 / 3,10 / 6,11 / 1,4,6,9,11,14 x $5 = 25%
The classy 3-PRINCESS GRACE and the 10-LIFE LESSONS should fight out this race, which isnít much value, but there are two great roughies here that will go OK in the 6-WALTZ ON BY and the 11-DAZZLING LUCY for the placings, so letís try and nail the first four for a large percentage.

Races 7,8,9,10: 4,5,15,18 / 2,8,11 / 2,11,14 / 3,5,9,14,15 x $20 = 11.11%
Even though the favourite the 18-FIRST IMMORTAL looks the one to beat in the first leg, need to always throw in a few more in a big field of stayers. Plenty of value if you take on the favourite in the Turnbull (and to be honest the quaddie pays nothing if it wins regardless), one of the main three chances should win the sprint race, so really the trick is then to try and find something away from the obvious in the last leg for a decent dividend.

Feature Race Preview:

Capacity field for the Turnbull Stakes and all eyes on the much hyped Hong Kong International 1-ROMANTIC WARRIOR, who does strike a field full of mid-range stayers, but a few of these may give him a run for the money. The speed totally depends on whether the second emergency the 18-GOLDMAN gets into the field as he is the clear leader in this, from the 3-SMOKINí ROMANS and
15-RIGHT YOU ARE who both need to work and cross from outside barriers. So there is the chance for something well drawn to push more forward then usual here and get a really good run in this, maybe the 8-UNCLE BRYN or the 17-EL PATRONESS. Speed doesnít look strong and decent chance something with a sprint turn of foot could kick clear early in the straight here and take running down.

Runner by Runner comments:

1-ROMANTIC WARRIOR is impossible to line up and we are well known to stay away from internationals until we have seen them run and see how they have travelled. Well documented he is a fussy eater and didnít like the Aussie Tucker. Worth noting he has only ever raced at the one track, Sha Tin and only clockwise way of going, so travelling to Australia and racing in the opposite direction is something he needs to show he can handle. Most of the internationals who come down are well travelled and proven to handle it. Basically he either wins easily at short odds, or doesnít run a place, so would need to keep him safe but not the sort of horse we back just because we donít like taking $2 about a total unknown. Makes for a fascinating race though with reputations on the line.

2-GOLD TRIP is proven at this level and is probably still a little under-estimated even for a Melbourne Cup winner. Drawn a shocking barrier, but does have two go forward horses in the (3) and the (15) inside him so there is the opportunity to follow them across if they want (listen out for tactics). First-up run was sensational weaving and flying through the field from last at MV. Bit of give in the ground and to Flemington are very big ticks for this one. Ran a solid 5th in this race last year off a similar first-up run. He has more class than most of these, running into form, and suited finishing on down the middle of the track and looks a strong winning chance.

3-SMOKINí ROMANS caused an upset leading all the way to win this race last year, and there wouldnít be many times the last winner of the event went around again the next year at $126. Win in this race last year came off three runs in and last start Naturalism win, so definitely nothing like the lead-in form this year. Actually ran a really good race leading in the Australian Cup too this track and distance. Drawn wide, will go forward and lead but would need to improve substantially to be in the finish here. Saying that probably will run better than a $126 shot given a soft lead.

4-FRANCESCO GUARDI is a stayer slowly building towards some spring staying features and has been ticking along OK in two runs this time in. Ready to show something today over 2000M, perhaps coming off a yearís break maybe just one more run, but suited if they go too fast running on late down the middle of the track and a solid place chance and almost certainly will put in a run that suggests he is on track for the major staying races.

5-WEST WIND BLOWS is another international and donít think we have had many internationals kicking off in this race in previous years, but it does seem an obvious choice. Well in the betting market which is a good sign and drawn well, worth noting all his runs have been in fairly small fields and probably with a genuine staying tempo, so this race may be run a bit different to what he is used to. Can probably settle handy in this and unlike the (1) he has travelled around a bit and shown he can handle it. Probably wants a solid staying contest, but a winning chance.

6-EMISSARY rapidly improved last spring winning the Geelong Cup and running on well for second in the Melbourne Cup. Autumn form was even and should be ready to do something with two runs this time in, both of which have been OK. Was running on well along the inside last start in the Naturalism. Yet to win in 7 tries over 2000M is a concern and will want it longer, but actually a pretty good rough place chance at $91 with improvement to come off last run.

7-OSIPENKO continues to not have the best luck in this races and his form card should read a bit better than it does. Bit more versatile than most of these, he isnít a stayer and has good turn of foot which is probably a big plus with the way this race will be run. Chased really well behind the two best horses in the country here in the Makybe Diva and well-drawn to take up a position in this. Won only try over this distance, but that was only a field of five. Definite winning chance, donít think he is great value though and want to see him really step up in a top line race.

8-UNCLE BRYN has always show a bit of ability, but looked to be moving back towards the dry track country cup mile races so impressive last start win in the Naturalism was a bit of a surprise. He has often been running in races at the top level though so stable must have some opinion of him. Dry track was a definite plus last start and he wonít get that here, but you just get the feeling he is going to live up to his potential this time in Ė that last start win was very impressive. Drawn well, and likely to settle more handy here (prefers to be outside horses?) and getting $40 about the only last start winner in the race. Genuine rough chance.

9-BERKELEY SQUARE has probably had enough chances to be honest, but Flemington big track and 2000M is probably his go. Drawn wide suits as likes to drop back and run on, and racing pattern should be to suit here. Definitely most of the 3YO hype has washed off by now, but you are getting $81 today about a horse that has started $5 or less in his last 9 starts so if he is one you follow you would be utterly and totally mad not to have a saver on him today. Solid rough place chance and over the odds.

10-BANK MAUR has been even enough in two runs in and last win was over 2000M, but not totally convinced he isnít better off as a miler. Rank outsider here, drawn inside and think he needs room in running and does tend to mix his form and think he needs it easier.

11-SOULCOMBE won the Queen Elizabeth last year and was all the rage for the long range Melbourne Cup, but then didnít fire during the Autumn and punters somehow totally forgot about him. First-up win at Caulfield was sensational when he burst through the pack under a hold and again ran on well last start out wide when the inside was probably the faster lane. Out to 2000M and two runs in should improve even further and looks the form horse for this race. Inside barrier is a little concern as do suspect he prefers to finish on late in plenty of clear room, but maybe they will come off the rails here in the straight and allow him to come through on the inside. Clear top pick here as the in-form horse we can line up and likely to go on this spring.

12-DUKE DE SESSA is an import who hasnít shown much in Australia so far, though first run in a feature mile wasnít too bad. Likely to drop well back here in a big field and will need luck and need to see him show some genuine form before getting on. No

13-SPANISH MISSION placed in the Melbourne Cup in 2021 and has been sparingly raced since so has obviously had some issues. Started long odds in the Makybe Diva and did little and wait till he gets back to form.

14-EL BODEGON went around $6.50 when placed in the Cox Plate last year, but really hasnít shown much since and goes around $126 in this, which is a pretty big fall from grace. Wet track probably helps but need to show some form.

15-RIGHT YOU ARE is a really tough consistent on-pacer when he strikes form and probably ready to show best now with two starts in. Set weights here is a bit better then meeting these at WFA, but would love to see him up against these in a handicap at the bottom of the weights. Drawn out but unlikely to be much pressure up front here so should be able to get across and sit handy. Likely to be in the finish here, suspect he probably finds one better but definite for quinellas and trifectas.

16-LUNAR FLARE is a talented come from behind stayer at Flemington and shame she didnít get to run in the Melbourne Cup last year when she probably would have gone pretty close. Flemington is a big plus, doubt she can win but likely to run better and get her spring back on track today.

17-EL PATRONESS (emerg) surprised with a forward run first-up and is rising in distance quickly to the 2000M here. Needs some give in the ground, which she gets and likely to get a really soft on-speed run here from a good inside barrier. Definitely has the ability and probably strike a vulnerable field here so likely to be not too far away. Rough place chance.

18-GOLDMAN (emerg) is the likely leader if he gets into the field and should be ready to do something up in distance at third run in. Best when controlling the speed, suspect by this race they will be coming of the rails though which may make it tough and would need to improve to be a factor in this.


The unknown of the highly rated overseas horse makes it very difficult to have a serious bet in this race, but no interest in jumping on and tipping or betting unknowns at short odds. Really there is a stand out bet here in the 11-SOULCOMBE who looks to be flying this spring, and as long as he can get a clear run from an inside barrier is going to give the internationals a run in this, and suspect he may be the headline story coming out of this race. Wary of the 2-GOLD TRIP especially at Flemington and on a track that is a genuine SOFT and he has a class edge on most of these. Going to rate the 8-UNCLE BRYN who looks over the odds and clearly best roughie as the only last start winner here and was a very impressive win at that. Small win bets on the top two picks and a little each way on the roughie and all good if the favourite steps up (and if you want to join the punting hoards jumping on board feel free to do so, donít let us stop you), but just not a punting proposition for us.

The Tips:

Race 2: EARLY 2YO. NO BET.