What a cracking edition of The Run To The Rose this is and I couldn't blame anyone making a strong case for several in the race. I've thought from day one that Menari is Sydney's best three-year-old colt at any distance up to 1400 metres, and I won't be changing that stance now.
The Gerald Ryan trained son of his former brilliant sprinter Snitzel, was sensational winning first up, when conceding weight to all his rivals. It was the win of a star, as he displayed his versatility when ridden off the pace and letting down with a devastating burst of speed to put paid to a quality field.
Now this is a deeper field than he faced there, with Pariah and Kementari new challengers and both blessed with big ability themselves, but I'm not convinced either could have done what Menari did in The Rosebud.
He draws the outside barrier, but, again due to his versatility, I don't believe that will be an issue. Josh Parr can assess things, but if there's a whole heap of speed he can go back and look for some cover. The more likely scenario will see Menari have enough early toe to be able to come across and either lead himself, or sit outside nominal pacemaker Siege Of Quebec.
We may be seeing the making of Australia's next great sprinter, let's hope he doesn't let us down.
Around the grounds
He paraded like he might need the run, and that looked like the case with Trapeze Artist in the Up And Coming three weeks ago. Forget about what the form guide says as far as him running sixth in the race, it just wasn't a suitable affair for the Black Opal winner. He conceded a lot of weight to his rivals and was forced to work a touch and lead, perhaps firing up a bit with blinkers on, and he put in a great effort.
Now he gets into a race where there's a few factors working in his favour; firstly he meets all these at set weights, secondly he steps up to the 1500 metres, thirdly he draws the fence and won't be looking to lead, and finally, he gets the blinkers off. His trial on Monday, when he was given an easy time beating the likes of In Her Time and Comin' Through, was very encouraging.
I think they will look to follow Addictive Nature throughout running and given he gets the split when needed, I reckon he can run him down and prove he's a genuine threat as we head towards the Caulfield Guineas.
It's a day full of stars, and few may shine as brightly as Egg Tart, the dual Oaks winning daughter of Sebring who cut a swathe through the Autumn, remaining unbeaten in five dominant starts.
I think she has the Epsom at her mercy, as she profiles as the perfect Randwick mile type, but in the meantime, she can show she has come back even better than the Autumn with a win first up here.
I know comparisons to Winx are unfair on her at the moment, she obviously has a long way to go to get anywhere near her level, but there's definitely some similarities there when you look at the two of them at the same stage of their careers. The fact that Chris Waller has targeted the exact same two races (Theo Marks & Epsom) that Winx won when she was close to the start of her win streak, shows the regard her champion trainer holds her in.
The small field suits her here, and Kerrin McEvoy will just look to have her lob along towards the tail of the pack, and give her clear galloping room out wide upon straightening. Like Winx, she can take a little bit to wind up, but once she hits full speed she can maintain it for relatively long period.
I can't see her rivals, albeit high quality ones, being able to withstand that when she looms up outside them.
Unbeaten thus far, Shoals, a daughter of Fastnet Rock from the famous family that has produced the likes of Redoute's Choice, Manhattan Rain, Platinum Scissors and Rubick, did what few two-year-olds are capable of doing in her juvenile campaign - win stakes races in both Sydney and Melbourne.
She now reappears at three in what looks like a highly suitable race for her to maintain that perfect record. It is a set weights and penalties event and she carries the top weight, but, in reality, she should be conceding all of these much more than the two kilos over the limit.
On top of that, she draws perfectly to be able to possie up just behind what looks like a strong speed, she should do little work in the run, and she gets one of the most in form jockeys in the country to steer her around Moonee Valley in Mark Zahra.
She's not one of those fillies that has blistering speed or blinding acceleration, but what she does possess, and it will win her a lot of races, is a big engine, a strong will to win, and a lot of ticker. All often underestimated traits of high class gallopers.
She's high on the list of favourites for me right now and a win here will only solidify that position.
When the field for the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes came out on Wednesday, my first thought was that Bonneval would be very close to being favourite. Instead we're getting close to double the quote I thought she might be, and accordingly she looks a great bet.
Make no mistake, this four-year-old mare is a rising star, and she's in the perfect hands to get every chance of fulfilling that promise, being under the care of outstanding Kiwi horseman Murray Baker and his training partner Andrew Forsman.
She was the dominant filly in her homeland, having won the New Zealand Oaks as well as the two major lead ups, before she arrived in Sydney for the Australian Oaks. What a display she put on, as she cruised into the race at the 600 metres and raced right away from her rivals under Hugh Bowman. That performance prompted bookies to install her close to favouritism for this year's Caulfield Cup.
As far as this race goes, a mile first up should be right up her alley and considering she won't be having a long prep prior to her expected appearance in Caulfield's famed mile and half handicap, you would have to think she's fairly forward. On top of that this race isn't the strongest WFA event that will occur this Spring, and I believe her class will shine through in the end.
If you think she can win the Caulfield Cup, it may be wise to have something on prior to this, because she's the only one in this field that could blow her rivals away.
Over the odds
A winner of two of his three starts, I was taken by Masculino's recent first up victory at Cranbourne, when he toyed with some older types in a Class 1, eased down to win by more than three lengths.
That was after a two start juvenile preparation that resulted in a solid maiden win at Benalla on debut. He then went to Flemington, for what was a pretty decent two-year-old race, when he looked the possible winner with 300 to go, before some swoopers arrived on the scene and he was relegated to fifth, beaten less than two lengths.
The Mick Price trained colt takes on the deepest field he's been in here, but he looks like he should either get a cosy run behind what might be a fairly moderate pace, or perhaps even take up the running himself. Jake Noonan will have both options from the inside draw.
At almost double figure odds, I can see him figuring heavily in the finish.
Leg 1 - 1,2,3,7,8,9
Leg 2 - 5
Leg 3 - 1,4,6,7,8,12,13
Leg 4 - 2,5,6,7,13
($100 = 47.62%)
Leg 1 - 1,6,7,13
Leg 2 - 2,10
Leg 3 - 8,11
Leg 4 - 2,3,4,5,9
($100 = 125%)
TAB early market movers and big bets Rosehill
Race 3 - Alward $2.10 - $1.80 ($4,000 @ $1.90)
Race 4 - Trapeze Artist $4.40 - $3.80 ($400 @ $4.40, $250 @ $4.40)
Race 5 - Egg Tart $2.60 - $2.90 ($500 @ $2.90, $5,100 @ $2.80, $1,000 @ $2.70)
Race 6 - Bonny O'Reilly $6 - $4.20 ($1,000 @ $4 x 2)
Race 7 - Menari $2.80 - $2.40 ($750 @ $2.60, $4,000 @ $2.40)
Race 1 - Samovare $2.60 - $2.40 ($750 @ $2.60, $250 @ $2.40)
Race 2 - Illumicon $6.50 - $4.60 ($500 @ $6.50, $250 @ $5)
Race 3 - Brahmos $4.80 - $2.90 ($200 @ $4.80, $1,000 @ $2.70)
Race 5 - Houtzen $2.40 - $2.50 ($2,425 @ $2.50, $2,400 @ $2.50, $1,000 @ $2.40)
Race 6 - Shoals $5.50 - $4 ($300 @ $5.50, $400 @ $5.50, $200 @ $4.80, $2,000 @ $4)
Race 7 - Brave Smash $1.70 - $1.60 ($2,000 @ $1.70 x 2, $500 @ $1.70)
Race 8 - He's Our Rokkii $4.20 - $3.70 ($500 @ $3.60 x 2)