Runners to watch: Caulfield, Boxing Day

Ray Hickson reviews Monday's Caulfield meeting and highlights some horses to follow.

Race 1: Joe Brown Plate (1200m)

Oak Door (2nd): may have cost himself a win, over raced early on and pressured the leader from the turn. Kept sticking it out and he’s not far off a city win.

Notes: merit in the runs of all three placegetters. Alter Call led most of the way on the rail and had to keep kicking up to hold that spot. Oak Door also had to work hard and beats the well bred filly in another bound or two. Emptor was also closing late after taking the sit behind the first two. They broke right away from the rest of the field.

Race 2: Dennis Hanrahan Handicap (1800m)

Notes: winner Big Duke was classes above his rivals though did have 53kg. Third Australian start and he’s improved with each appearance. Some of the chasers aren’t very brave and he had panels on them. Runner-up Bondeiger ran an improved race second-up but has plenty of convictions and Dodging Bullets battled into third, a long way off the winner.

Race 3: Allan Wicks Handicap (1600m)

Notes: Plein Ciel is another promising import from the Darren Weir camp. Kicked on to be outside the leader, put them away from the 300m for another soft win. Royal Applause finished on well into second just ahead of Balf’s Choice but again they weren’t in the same league.

Race 4: Robert Allan Plate (1100m)

Lyuba (2nd): stick with this consistent mare who probably found herself in the wrong spot and once clear the winner had already sprinted past her.

Notes: Tykiato took advantage of clear running to sweep down the outside and upset the favourite Lyuba. She was held up coming to the turn and to the 300m before getting clear and no knock on her effort. Lady Trickster hit the line hard late for third.

Race 5: Ken Sturt Handicap (1400m)

Expinsive (4th): caught the eye charging home from last. She gave away a huge start in a strung out field but ran them to just over a length at her second run back. She can hold her form.

Notes: Violent Snow enjoyed a nice run just off the pace and pounced about 300m out before holding off Vital Importance to win narrowly. 5.5kg between them may have been significant. Easy Flyer led and held on for third. No obvious excuses for beaten favourite Lady Selkirk.

Race 6: Christmas Stakes (1200m)

Tonopah (5th): looks to have come back in very good order as he hit the line from last with plenty of purpose first-up at an unsuitable trip. Will be effective when he gets to a mile.

Notes: Lucky Liberty enjoyed a reasonable tempo, was brought to the outside and swept home impressively. Grande Rosso continued his good recent form to hold down second from Smart Dart, also continuing his good prep. Disappointed in Duke Of Brunswick who was there to do something but couldn’t match them late.

Race 7: Lord Stakes (1700m)

Master Of Arts (4th): is just about ready to win after two nice runs back, settled in the second half and closed off nicely. He may well have bloused this field in another 100m or so.

Notes: Kenjorwood did it the hard way racing three wide on the speed after stepping away a shade slow. Worried them out of it.  Hell Or Highwater was game up in class and is in peak form while Khutulun looked the winner 200m but her run ended.

Race 8: Summer Championship Heat (1400m)

King’s Command (5th): found himself last on the turn, which is unusual, but picked up significant ground to be right on the placegetters’ heels. Ran well here and if he can step away with them can go close next time.

Notes: Hard Call took advantage of an inside run on the turn and kept going to down the enigmatic Bradman, who loomed but didn’t finish off, and The New Boy was tough up on the speed and might pick up one of these races.