This is a decent sprint race with some promising types engaged, but I don't think any of them has more upside than Malahat, the three-year-old son of Exceed And Excel and multiple stakes-winning Lonhro mare, Raspberries.
Malahat ran in some high-quality races during his two-year-old season and although he won just the one race from five starts, placings behind the likes of Pariah and Invader, as well as a win over highly regarded stablemate, Kementari, pointed to a bright future.
He looks a stronger colt now at three, and his first-up run against older horses at this circuit three weeks ago was a lovely effort; he got back to last, before pulling out widest in the straight and flashing home to be beat a neck into third behind Golden Shoes. It was a very encouraging run as a future pointer.
He now steps up to the 1200m, which is the same track and trip he has his lone win at, draws barrier one and you can guarantee Hugh Bowman will take advantage of it and, pace depending, will either lead or be getting a cosy run just off the speed.
This just all sets up perfectly to be a great race for him to start working through his grades; a comprehensive win here would see him be targeted for, at the very least, Saturday grade, and perhaps a black type event at his next run.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
Absolutely love what we've seen from Cadencia at the trials, and what's impressed me the most has been an improvement in her racing manners, and style, from her first trial through to her most recent one.
A daughter of Winx's sire Street Cry, Cadencia seemingly wanted to get on with the job in her first three trials. Showing nice early speed and leading, or sitting outside the lead, she was never put under much pressure in those trials and they were all lovely efforts. But she either couldn't, or wasn't allowed to, take a sit in any of them.
Then in her most recent trial we saw a different dimension to her as Hugh Bowman, who rides here, took a hold of her from the start and allowed her to settle a few lengths behind what was a slow speed. Now that looked like a recipe for her to pull, but she relaxed beautifully and after they straightened, Bowman never asked her for an effort. But she worked home brilliantly behind Improvise and her main rival in this, Wild About Her.
Now she draws the outside gate in this field of eight, so I'd be a little surprised if they asked her to go forward from there, considering what occurred in that last trial; so look for Bowman to settle her off the speed here.
The evidence is there that she possesses a decent turn of foot, and I've seen enough of her now to believe she's got above average ability. I expect a winning debut and I'd be a little surprised if that doesn't happen.
Throughout most of her two- and three-year-old seasons, Motown Lil raced, and performed well in stakes grade, but her three wins came in restricted company where she was just simply a class above her rivals.
She's proven now that she's a smart filly, but just below what's required at group level. Nonetheless she'll always be very competitive, no matter what grade; this race she tackles here is certainly no black type event and she looks the class runner.
What's more, she loves the five furlongs at Sandown, winning twice here over this trip, and in the mould of those wins I expect her to settle worse than midfield and unleash what is a powerful sprint late. She's proven on the soft, gets some weight relief and, in the end, just looks better than these.
Another in the long line of promising imported stayers from the Robert Hickmott yard, Crocodile Rock, who's had just the six lifetime starts, looks certain to live up to that promise and a win here would be a good step towards tougher races.
After winning twice in midweek company at his first Australian prep, some may have seen the son of Galileo's first-up effort as slightly disappointing, as he was a solid favourite, when a bit one-paced late and beaten into third behind the smart Alward. Giving that horse six kilos, to my eye Crocodile Rock's run was that of a genuine 2400m plus horse and he'll improve greatly from that.
The biggest issue here is what happens early in the race after drawing barrier 13. You'd have to think they push forward and make a decision as to whether to keep pressing and possibly lead, or try and find a position just behind them.
Class wise, and ability wise, Crocodile Rock os well above his rivals in this - as long as he gets the right run in transit, he'll prove that.
OVER THE ODDS
A Street Cry filly from the Lee & Anthony Freedman yard, Shamar looks as though she may be able to make a leap at three and become, at the very least, a Saturday grade galloper.
Her two starts as a juvenile resulted in an impressive debut victory at Kyneton, followed by a slightly disappointing effort in a good Saturday race when she was beaten seven lengths behind stakes grade colts Kobayashi and Plutocracy.
We didn't see her again until she appeared at the Pakenham trials earlier this month, where she jumped well, went straight to the front and was never really asked for an effort winning by four lengths. Beating a few that were under pressure to make ground on her, it was a lovely effort and signalled Shamar was ready to get back to raceday conditions.
She's struck a decent midweek fillies' race here and that's probably the reason she's been put up at double-figure odds. But I'm certainly not convinced any of them have significantly more upside than her.
She does draw the outside gate, but it's just the one turn before the long run in and it's worth the gamble at that price to find out whether she can take the next step.
Leg 1 - 1,2,7
Leg 2 - 2,6,7,8,10
Leg 3 - 11
Leg 4 - 1,8,10 ($100 = 222.2%)
Leg 1 - 1,3
Leg 2 - 3,6,9
Leg 3 - 2
Leg 4 - 3,4,6,7,11 ($100 = 333.33%)