Ciaron Maher has nursed Moudre back to racing in top company. Photo: Angela Wylie
Flemington Race 2, No. 1
Gai Waterhouse has tried something different this year. She is determined, maybe more so than usual, to be back on the top rung during this Melbourne spring carnival and has already had a successful start with the horses she sent down early. Rockford is a last-start Caulfield winner and can make it two straight today. It doesn’t take long to realise that under the set-weight conditions of this race, Rockford is pitch-forked into the race because under handicap conditions he would be conceding his rivals a minimum of 4.5kg. The cream on the cake is the engagement of Brett Prebble. Get on.
SUGGESTED BET Rockford to add another win to his file.
Flemington Race 3, No. 3
Peter Snowden was a wonderful foreman for John Hawkes when that trainer was head man at Darley and was a natural replacement when Hawkes quit and set up his own successful operation with sons, Michael and Wayne. Since taking over, Snowden and son Paul have followed the Hawkes routine of switching horses between their Sydney and Melbourne stables and this highly lucrative routine can continue today with Paximadia, who is having his first Melbourne start. The worry is the barrier. Wide barriers are a major concern from the 1400-metre chute at Flemington. In our favour is having Nash Rawiller guiding his path. This colt showed in Brisbane that he has a touch of class.
SUGGESTED BET Back Paximadia and hope for a Nash Rawiller special.
Flemington Race 6, No. 3
For a beaten trainer there was probably no happier man at Flemington on September 7 than Ciaron Maher after he sent his patched-up eight-year-old Moudre out in the Makybe Diva Stakes and watched the old warrior flash home to finish third behind imported gallopers Foreteller and Puissance De Lune. It is a credit to Maher that he has nursed the injury-prone gelding back not only to racing, but to racing in top company, and there was nothing wrong with the horse’s sixth at Caulfield a fortnight ago. Today, back under handicap conditions he looks a mighty bet in the Bart Cummings. The step up to 2520 metres today is ideal.
SUGGESTED BET Moudre looks a great each-way bet.
Randwick Race 7, No. 6
Watching Sydney racing recently I’ve noticed how well Blake Shinn is riding and more importantly riding for top trainers, and he’s even back in the Waterhouse fold. Shinn is a fine example of a young guy who made a mistake, did his time and returned determined to again establish himself as one of the country’s best riders. Today, he can win the Epsom Handicap on Toydini, a horse he has a real affinity with. Toydini is one of the favourites for the Epsom after winning the Cameron Handicap at Newcastle recently, but I like him even more when I look back to the Carbine Stakes in April when he won the race over today’s trip, sweeping into second place on the home turn and beating Hawkspur by 3.8 lengths. That’s Epsom Handicap-winning form.
SUGGESTED BET Back Toydini to step up to Group 1 company.
Randwick Race 9, No. 7
The changing face of racing is evident in today’s Metropolitan Handicap at Randwick. The top seven horses and one other are all European bred with five Aussies and two New Zealand-bred horses making up the field. It’s odds-on that an import will win and I believe it will be the David Vandyke-trained Prince Capri. Bred in France, Prince Capri has an ocean of strong German-staying blood in his pedigree and today’s step up to a true staying distance will be ideal. In France, Prince Capri won on debut over 2400 metres and finished second over the same course before coming to Australia where he has won three of four. He is stepping up from 2000 metres but he looks set to keep on improving.
Back Prince Capri. If he stays, he wins!