Runners to watch: Caulfield, February 24th

Luke Krahe race reviews, notes and blackbookers from Saturday's Melbourne metro meeting at Caulfield.

Blackbookers:

Race 4 – PALAZZO VECCHIO

Race 8 – LADY ESPRIT

Race 1: Ladbrokes Mornington Cup Prelude 2000m

HOMEMAN (1st) was having his first Australian start, sat up on the speed after jumping well, was outside the leader before charging 2 lengths clear at the top of the straight. He looked under serious threat from former Melbourne Cup winner ALMANDIN (2nd) but kicked hard when the stablemate was about to go by. A nice return to racing.

Notes: ALMANDIN (2nd) would have traded at $1.01 here in the run as he loomed up alongside the stablemate and was set to go straight past in the last furlong, but the inside horse rallied and worried him out of it. Even so it was a nice return after having to face the breeze three-wide for the last part of the race. BEDFORD (unplaced) settled well back but tracked Almandin into it, threatened to run on but peaked at about the 100m mark. Had every chance. GALLIC CHIFTAIN (unplaced) settled near last, tracked three-wide and pushed even wider oh the turn but was very one paced in the straight. He didn’t lose a lot of ground but raced like he needed further.

Race 2: Heritage Finance Caulfield Autumn Classic 3YO 1800m.

Notes: VALIANT SPIRIT (1st) jumped, led, ran them along evenly and was never in doubt, the margin at the end was a fair indication of how dominant it was. The way the track proved as the day went on, the better the run of ASTORIA (2nd) looks. He was well back before hooking out and running on hard on a day where that pattern was not successful. The same can be said about MR SO AND SO (3rd) who ran on well from well back. The winner simply was too sharp, 2nd and 3rd across the line will be winning soon.

Race 3: Ladbrokes Zedative Stakes 1100m.

Notes: OVERSHARE (1st) was perfectly ridden, sat off the speed about 3 lengths before easing three-wide and running on well. WILD HEART (2nd) was good from the back but loomed as if it was going to win at the 300m mark. STREETS OF AVALON (3rd) raced well, ran on hard through the middle before getting no room over the last 100m. Jockey Ben Melham protested unsuccessfully against the first two across the line. PREVAILING WINDS (unplaced) seemingly travelled well in behind the leader but was held-up momentarily but found nothing when asked. May have picked up again a little over the last 50m.

Race 4: Ladbrokes Angus Armanasco Stakes 1400m.

I was excited to see SUMMER SHAM (1st) stepping up to this grade, she once again showed good speed to lead and ran them along, looked threatened early in the straight but continued to grind away and although the margin wasn’t great, she looked quite comfortable the last furlong. She did all the work and was still tough enough late. She looks to have a bright future with her natural speed.

Notes: PALAZZO VECCHIO (2nd) was super resuming, settled back on the inner, was travelling well into the straight before exploding through a gap late and charging through the line. MISS WAHOO (3rd) had every chance to run down the winner, as did COUNTERPLAY (unplaced) who had a good run in transit. The first two past the post are the ones to follow going forward.

Race 5: Premier Signs Mannerism Stakes 1400m.

Well, SILENT SEDITION (1st) opened up very short during the week and continued to blow like the north wind, some agencies betting as much as $4.60 about her. She had the addition of the blinkers, Williams got an easy lead, walked them through the middle scetions and although she was threatened at the top of the straight, Williams hadn’t gone for her yet and once he did she exploded away and was never in doubt from that point. A super return to the winners list for her.

Notes: SAMOVARE (2nd) had plenty of support during the week but was also easy in the betting very late, she made a long-sustained run three-wide and loomed to tackle the leader/winner at the top of the straight but was no match when she accelerated. The tempo was only average, it looked as if those that were back in the field were struggling throughout to make ground, especially when the winner went so well.

Race 6: italktravel Futurity Stakes WFA 1400m.

BRAVE SMASH (1st) was unlucky in the Orr, if you backed him here you would have been cursing at the top of the straight after a soft run in behind the leaders. As is usually the case with Craig Williams though, he likes to wait for the split rather than explore other options, this time he got it and burst through and hit the lead at the 150m mark and was home. Very nice horse going forward.

Notes: Stablemate TOSEN STARDOM (2nd) did everything right but was just not as good as the winner, tracked up three-wide with cover at the bend before easing wider. He looked the winner before Williams got the split on the stablemate, but he had every chance and when they are at WFA like this it will be hard to see him turning the tables this Autumn. HUMIDOR (unplaced) ran on nicely from a long way back, a nice return to racing indeed. SHOWTIME (3rd) set the pace, stuck on well in the straight but was no match for the two Weir imports.

Race 7: Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes 2YO 1200m.

The girls in Sydney were impressive, and there was a little whisper around that the track is playing towards those on pace at Caulfield, but the win of WRITTEN BY (1st) was special. The Graeme Begg trained colt remained undefeated after drawing wide again, he jumped well, sat three-wide early before moving up outside the leader. He put them away in a couple of strides when Childs asked him to go, still a little green in the straight but the dominance with which he won is what has catapulted him to third fave for the big dance, the Golden Slipper.

Notes: ENBIHAAR (2nd) and OOHOOD (3rd) both made good ground from the back on a day where very few horses were doing so, both will win their fair share of races. PRAIRIE FIRE (unplaced) had the perfect run in behind the leaders but didn’t accelerate like he did up the straight and raced very flat. No use going any further back, we don’t have our Slipper winner back there. There were a couple caught wide throughout but happy to say nothing back there improves enough for the 1200m at Rosehill.

Race 8: Ladbrokes Oakleigh Plate 1100m.

What a race. It didn’t let us down again the Oakleigh Plate, RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (1st) had to sit four-wide without cover for the trip, continued his unbeaten record when resuming and made it 4/4 fresh. He surged to the front at the top of the straight after that wide run, was all out on the line in a close finish but was the one doing all the work in the run.

Notes: LADY ESPRIT (unplaced) was enormous in defeat, she was a winner at Listed level last start at cricket score odds, was drawn the car park here, dropped out and ran home hard out wide on a day when nothing was doing that. CATCHY (unplaced) was poorly away but made up a stack of ground early in the straight before her condition may got the better of her. BONS AWAY (unplaced) sat wide but was gallant in defeat, loomed up but her wide run told also. SNITTY KITTY (2nd) held on for 2nd after setting the tempo on a day when that was favourable. HELLBENT (3rd) was also good but had every chance.

Race 9: Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes 1800m.

Notes: GAILO CHOP (1st) was backed as if there was no settling. Led, cruised and when asked for the effort he bolted clear in the straight for the easiest of victories. These middle-distance affairs where he can control the tempo are his go. Zahra actually eased him down the last 50. SINGLE GAZE (2nd) was beautifully ridden, she sat in behind the leader/winner and pushed off at the top of the straight, ran her usual honest race but never decreased the margin to the winner. She had every chance. HARTNELL (3rd) also had every chance, sat in the box seat before easing wider and was one paced in the straight. Found the first two a bit too nippy when they straightened. The fourth horse was unsighted?