Runners to watch: Flemington, 14th January

Race 1: Better Beyond Plate (1400m)

Fudged (3rd): more than acceptable effort as she was back from a mile and up against some smart males. She stuck on well and look for her up in trip again and perhaps in fillies grade.

Note – Oak Door led all the way for another strong win, he’s above average. Widgee Turf ran on well though raced greenly as he got into second ahead of Fudged. Emptor was a huge disappointment though had excuses pulling up with EIPH and suffering a cut to a heel. He also resented the blinkers.

Race 2: Seascay Handicap (2000m)

Note – Honey Cara is one tough mare and she did a good job to stalk the leader then hit the front and hold off Vandancer, who had a cold sit on her. Hell Or Highwater led them and finished six lengths away in third. Not much else to say about this one.

Race 3: Meadow Mist Handicap (1400m)

Note – Deja Blue had a few anxious moments around the 300m but managed to work out of a pocket and finish too well for a soft win in the end. New Summer Night was also held up at a vital stage and hit the line ahead of Princess Arrow who wasn’t disgraced at her first try at the trip. Ma Jones was a big flop, she might not have come back.

Race 4: Piping Lane Handicap (1100m)

Barthelona (2nd): on face value he had every chance, sitting off the winner and looking to be cantering at the 300m. But ultimately he was conceding fitness and 4.5kg and it just got the better of him late. Stick with him.

Invincible Al (3rd): had excuses for different reasons, pilot error with an apprentice having her first Flemington straight ride and it showed. Made his run closest to the inside and not a lot of vigour shown. Solid effort under the circumstances.

Note – Capannello finally lived up to the promise he has shown and responded when challenged by the runner-up. No star but an honest campaigner in the making. Barthelona and Invincible Al far from disgraced for reasons above.

Race 5: Arbroath Handicap (1000m)

Note – Several disappointments here but it was a return to form for Thermal Current who really lifted on a fair fresh run in stronger grade. Bullpit also improved to hold on for second and Super Fun ran an honest race first-up. Beau Rada did nothing and the ex-Hong Kong horse Divine Ten was beaten a fair way after starting favourite.

Race 6: Rain Lover Handicap (2500m)

Hale Soriano (2nd): an improved showing was expected from this import with the blinkers on first-up. And he had no luck at all when it counted. Hard to say conclusively that he should have won but he certainly could have gone close. Expect him to hold form now.

Note – Double Bluff hadn’t done much in two runs for the new stable but turned it around after settling handy and having the breaks. Hale Soriano arrived for second with Sir Laszlo snatching third from a luckless Oncidium Ruler who was stuck three wide throughout.

Race 7: Chester Manifold Stakes (1400m)

Tonopah (5th): raced a bit handier second-up in a slowly run race. Gained a split at the 300m. And looked as though he was going to dash but levelled out and held his ground. Should lose no admirers and he’s just about ready to win.

Note – Grande Rosso was always in the right spot in a trot and canter up front and sprinted away, easily accounting forZupacharged who ran on from the back as he usually does and Sold For Song getting up for third. Divine Mr Artie didn’t settle early and made ground without threatening but couldn’t win the way the race was run.

Race 8: Craftsman Handicap (2000m)

Master Of Arts (4th): had a nice trail into the race and as he lengthened down the outside it appeared as though he’d sweep past but was a bit one paced. Yet another solid effort third-up and watch out from now on.

Note – blanket finish with not much between six of them on the line. Kourkam sprouted wings late to defeat Chance To Dance, backing up with an improved showing, and Goldstream working home strongly late also showing some form. Master Zephyrand Swacadelic narrowly missed placings and Galaxy Raider again had no luck.

Race 9: Tauto Handicap (1100m)

Note – Rocket Tommy ran them off their feet for the second consecutive time. Put the race away from the 200m and easily held the longshot Kirani continuing his good fresh form and Doomsday Warrior arriving for third ahead of Rich Charm.