Sometimes it's easy to overlook the obvious when doing the form, but you'd have to be Blind Freddy to have overlooked Hartnell's performance first up in the Lawrence: It was as dominant a victory as one could ask for from a horse bound to improve as the trips get longer.
Now he gets into a race where he is without doubt more suited on a track where he's produced one of his best performances when winning last year's Turnbull Stakes, smashing subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Jameka. Essentially, outside of a couple of rivals, he also takes on the same gallopers he beat at Caulfield almost a month ago.
I honestly expected him to be $1.50 when markets went up on Wednesday. Barring bad luck or some type of injury, I can't see how he won't be at least as dominant as he was in the Lawrence. Bet with big time confidence.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
Three of the top four in the market for the Heritage Stakes hail from the Godolphin camp, and it does appear to be hard to split them, but I get the impression Marsupial has the most upside and looks set to get all the favours.
As a juvenile, he debuted with a comprehensive win, beating eventual Golden Slipper runner-up Frolic, before being pegged as Godolphin's potential Blue Diamond colt. He didn't really handle Caulfield when disappointing in the Blue Diamond Prelude, and the trip down seemed to take it out of him, as he was only OK in the Black Opal before failing in the wet in the Baillieu.
His first run back at three was in a good restricted Saturday race against older types, and he was heavily backed into favouritism. He loomed up at the 300m and looked the likely winner before running out of gas the last little bit, and Tango Rain, a very smart type himself, was able to find enough to hold him out.
That form has since been franked and, now back against his own age, with extra fitness under his belt and seemingly set to get the gun run from a good draw, Marsupial can get back into the winner's circle at the expense of stablemates Viridine and Malahat, who may both be better off over a touch further.
I'd been hoping they would travel Tulip to Sydney for a crack at this race and the Flight Stakes, and my wish has been granted as we see the Golden Slipper placegetter line up in what is a deep edition of Tea Rose.
Her stablemate Formality has won the first two legs of the Princess Series, but the Hayes-Dabernig camp has rightly realised she's a deadest sprinter whereas Tulip is the filly in the stable with scope to get out to a mile.
Her first-up effort at Moonee Valley was all but a winning one, as she just failed to get the bob in against Roomooz when conceding weight; it was clearly apparent that she was already looking for the seven furlongs, and the clockwise direction holds no fear for the daughter of Pierro, as evidenced by her three starts here in the autumn.
There should be speed on, which will allow Hugh Bowman to take a sit maybe slightly better than midfield and I dare say he'll be keen to keep her off the fence. That should mean she can track into the race when asked, and we've already seen on several occasions that she is powerful at the end of her races.
She is the best filly in the race under the set-weight conditions - and that's usually a successful recipe, and one that has come to fruition in these Princess Series races for a long time.
When you consider what he was asked to do in running during the Chelmsford, I thought Life Less Ordinary's effort, from a future point of view, was very encouraging. He looks to be right on track for a race like The Metrop, but he's also going well enough to win the Kingston Town and probably rocket himself into favouritism for the time-honoured 2400m event.
He got well back in The Chelmsford, behind runaway leader Red Excitement, and was asked to make a long, sustained run around all others when the runners were attempting to get into the race quite early at the 800m. He looked at the 300m a genuine chance of running third, but the run took its toll late and he battled on well for fifth. That was the effort of a horse looking for further who was going to be much better off with that run under his belt.
We should also remember his stellar first-up run, where he zoomed home to almost grab classy entire and stablemate Comin' Through.
There should be a good tempo again, but this time he'll be much closer in transit in a much easier and more suitable race. I expect him to win and claim Metrop favouritism.
The boom on Jorda has been big from day one; remember she was odds-on when she won the Gimcrack on debut and was catapulted into early Golden Slipper favouritism.
Nagging issues meant we never saw her race against the best juveniles, but her first-up performance in the San Domenico three weeks ago, against some of Sydney's best colts, was outstanding. Certainly it proved she's come back in fantastic order and may be ready to live up to that early hype now.
She's now into a much easier race against her own sex, and the set weights and penalties conditions suit her down to the ground. The lone question mark concerns how she will handle the straight, but she wouldn't be lining up if the Godolphin camp felt she couldn't cope.
She's the best filly in this race, and it's probably not that close. She just needs to do the job now, and we may see her progress to a Group I race at some stage this prep.
Hans Holbein flagged himself as a classy performer when smashing a decent field of stayers at Flemington on ANZAC Day earlier this year, and neither of his two races back this spring, nor the track at Moonee Valley, was going to suit even though he was hard in the market both times. Both runs have screamed of a galloper dying to get to at least 2400m on a big track, and he gets that now.
I was somewhat surprised initially that he's backing up from last week, but the more I think about it the more I believe this may have been the plan all along. I feel also that we're about to see a genuine lightweight Melbourne Cup contender put his hand up.
This a quality field, mainly because of the presence of several of his stablemates, including Melbourne Cup hero Almandin, improving Aloft and the untapped Crocodile Rock, but I believe those two recent efforts will hold Hans Holbein in good stead for a race he needs to win to ensure he passes that Cup balloting clause.
There's also a chance Melbourne gets some rain in the lead-up to Saturday, and, although he's in no way a genuine wet tracker, I do feel as though any sting out is a bonus for him - as it is with a lot of the Montjeus.
OVER THE ODDS
The mail from New Zealand about Summer Passage earlier in the year was that he was among the best two year olds to come out of there in the past 20 years, and his performance when a brave second to Invader in the Sires' Produce Stakes gave a glimpse of why he was held in such lofty regard.
Now we see him come straight back to Australia for his spring preparation, and he lines up in what is a great edition of the Danehill Stakes.
I love that this son of Snitzel looks very adaptable and, from what I've seen, has a high level of race smarts; he's able to be put wherever needed in a race, and he finds when asked to do so. His run in the Sires' was superb given he had to do some work early to sit outside the leader, and he found a good couple of lengths when Zac Purton went for him before Invader nailed him late having had a soft trip a few pairs back on the rail.
I think he's at least got the other colts covered here, and at double figure odds I'll be willing to find out if Summer Passage can deal with the fillies, too.
Leg 1 - 7
Leg 2 - 1,2,3,5
Leg 3 - 10,11
Leg 4 - 5,7,15 ($100 = 416.66 percent)
Leg 1 - 3,5,7,10,12
Leg 2 - 1
Leg 3 - 1,4,6,13
Leg 4 - 3,7,10,13,14,18 ($100 = 83.33 percent)
TAB Early Markey Movers and Big Bets
Race 1 - She Knows $9 - $5 ($200 @ $8, $400 @ $6)
Race 2 - Royal Navy $5 - $4.40 ($220 @ $5, $400 @ $4.40, $300 @ $4.40)
Race 5 - Champagne Cuddles $4.40 - $3.20 ($1,000 @ $3.20)
Race 6 - Winx $1.08 unchanged ($72,000 @ $1.08)
Race 7 - Chautauqua $3.50 unchanged ($5,000 @ $3.50), Redzel $3.20 - $2.70 ($400 @ $3.20, $500 @ $3, $1,000 @ $2.80, $5,000 @ $2.70)
Race 2 - Royal Symphony $2.30 - $2.20 ($1,500 @ $2.30, $600 @ $2.20, $1,500 @ $2)
Race 3 - Mr Sneaky $5.50 - $3.70 ($350 @ $5.50, $1,000 @ $4.20, $1,000 @ $3.80, $1,000 @ $3.70)
Race 4 - So Si Bon $10 - $6 ($450 @ $8, $1,000 @ $7.50, $600 @ $7, $500 @ $7)
Race 5 - Jukebox $5.50 - $4.60 ($2,000 @ $5, $800 @ $5)
Race 7 - Hartnell $1.85 - $1.75 ($500 @ $1.85, $1,000 @ $1.75)
Race 8 - Crocodile Rock $7.50 - $4.60 ($350 @ $7.50, $200 @ $5.50, $400 @ $5, $600 @ $4.60)