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Before the first - Makybe Diva Stakes Day

Race 1 JDRF Pin & Win Plate (2500m) - 2-3-7-4

Jaameh was too bad to be true at Caulfield last start. If you forgive that performance he is the horse to beat based on his dominant win in fast time at this track and distance two starts ago. Master Zephyr might be just about ready now with five runs under his belt following a long break, including one at 2400m last start in which he did enough in a low-pressure race. Tiffany's Lass is flying but this is her toughest test yet and she did have the pattern in her favour last start. I have no idea what to expect from Hush Writer, whose European form is probably good enough to measure up in this off a completely forgivable first-up run last week where he got way too fired up.

Suggested bet: No bet

Race 2 Cap D'Antibes Stakes (1100m) - 10-7-4-13

Music Bay returns for her second preparation after showing plenty of talent in two starts in Adelaide in which she might have been unbeaten with better luck in the Dequetteville Stakes. Her recent trial was encouraging and it won't surprise at all if she measures up. Smart Melody heads south unbeaten in three starts with a big boom on her. She was too good in a weaker race first-up but notably her peak performance last preparation was second-up, suggesting she could have plenty of improvement to come. There wasn't much between Sweet Rockette and Multaja at The Valley. Sweet Rockette potentially has more upside to come as she was first-up in that race, however, I doubt Multaja was suited being ridden aggressively to suit the pattern. Trilli had the measure of Sweet Rockette over 1000m at Sandown last preparation and had no luck first-up, the concern is she was beaten as favourite in her only start at the track and distance.

Suggested bet: Music Bay each way

Race 3 The Sofitel (1400m) - 1-8-5-2

Theanswermyfriend has won his past three starts since they've been riding him to his strengths and allowing him to roll along on the speed. He's had five starts over 1400m at Flemington for three wins and two seconds and can likely control this race from the front. Waging War was a length-and-a-half behind Theanswermyfriend first-up, should strip fitter for that run and meets him 5.5kg better at the weights. Cliff's Edge likely found 1100m too sharp first-up in a hot race. The rise in distance suits and he did finish second to Grunt at the track and distance second-up last preparation despite being caught wide on a fast speed. Dollar For Dollar was outclassed in the Memsie last start but should appreciate the drop in class and is drawn for a soft run.

Suggested bet: No bet

Race 4 Antler Luggage Plate (1400m) - 3-6-2-16

Brutal couldn't have been much more impressive winning on debut and then made it two from two at The Valley last start even though I doubt he was ideally suited by the way the race worked out. The inside barrier probably isn't ideal on a day where rain is forecast but he still looks the horse to beat. The August produced a big finish behind Native Soldier, who led thoughout to win the McNeil. On that performance the step-up to 1400m looks suitable and he might be the one storming home late. Good 'N' Fast was only a nose behind The August on debut and then won his next two starts over 1400/1600m. He'll potentially be a long way back in the run but it will be no surprise if he's finishing powerfully out wide. Qafila caught the eye first-up in the Quezette Stakes, which has since produced subsequent winners Thrillster and Golden Halo.

Suggested bet: No bet

Race 5 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) - 4-7-6-1

I really liked the first-up run of Rich Charm at Caulfield. He looked like he was going to finish closer to last than first on the turn before flashing home in sectionals bettered only by Santa Ana Lane and Voodoo Lad, giving the indication he found 1100m too sharp but will relish the rise to 1200m. He's drawn ideally to settle off the speed and make his run down the middle of the track, as he did in arguably his career-peak performance to date at the same track and distance when he won the Linlithgow on Derby Day last year. Kemono and First Among Equals weren't far behind Rich Charm at Caulfield. Both should strip fitter with that run under their belt. Kemono should relish the extra 100m while First Among Equals did defeat Rich Charm at this track and distance last preparation. Hey Doc likely found 1000m too sharp first-up at Moonee Valley but is a multiple Group 1 winner that won his only start at the track and distance.

Suggested bet: Rich Charm win

Race 6 Let's Elope Stakes (1400m) - 13-1-9-8

Hoping Saturday might be the day for Petition. I liked her run first-up at Caulfield over 1200m where she hit the line strongly in restricted room. She will likely be improved with that run under her belt and if there is any rain around on the day it will only be a bonus. I Am A Star comes through the same race as Petition and might now be ready to peak third-up. She was ridden quietly last start but can potentially roll forward and make her own luck on the speed now that she's had the two runs under her belt coming back from a long spell. La Bella Diosa produced a huge finish to win first-up over 1100m, suggesting she's come back in terrific form this preparation. If anything she should be even better suited at 1400m second-up but the inside barrier is a concern. Merriest won impressively at The Valley last start and in her previous third-up run she was a narrow runner-up behind Now Or Later at this track and distance in this class last spring.

Suggested bet: Petition/I Am A Star win

Race 7 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) - 3-10-11-1

The (lack of) speed map makes this race near impossible. The inside gate was probably the worst draw for Humidor but the fact he was able to win the Memsie Stakes over 1400m at Caulfield is a real positive as he should be significantly better suited over 1600m at Flemington. Kings Will Dream was the eye-catcher in both the P.B. Lawrence and the Memsie Stakes. He looks ideally suited at 1600m third-up and has the ability to settle closer to the speed if they want him to but do they want to when he's on a Caulfield Cup path? Kementari was wide throughout in the Memsie and has the ability to roll forward from the wide draw and settle on the speed, which could be a significant advantage. Happy Clapper has arguably the best 1600-metre form in the race and appeared as though he didn't get around Caulfield first-up but was notably strong the last 100m. Races don't get much tougher!

Suggested bet: No bet

Race 8 Danehill Stakes (1200m) - 3-11-2-12

Native Soldier loomed up to win first-up but appeared to peak on his run. He obviously took plenty of benefit out that performance though and bolted in to win second-up in the McNeil Stakes in fast time. He's a horse that has continued to improve every time he's gone to the races and his tactical versatility and wide draw both look positives. Ocean Knight was very good first-up at The Valley, where he had no chance given the pattern on the day. Although he's never raced down the straight he did jump out impressively on the straight prior to this preparation. Marcel From Madrid was just as good in the same race, where he covered ground against the pattern. He should take plenty of improvement out of the run and gets onto his home track for the first time on race day. Tavisan had the pattern in his favour at The Valley but did beat all bar a potential star in Brutal and finished ahead of both Ocean Knight and Marcel From Madrid.

Suggested bet: Native Soldier win

Race 9 Sofitel Girls' Day Out Handicap (1700m) - 15-10-13-2

Furrion tackles arguably his strongest test to date but if his first-up win at Geelong is any guide then he might have improved again from his exciting first preparation during the autumn. The inside barrier looks anything but ideal, however, if he gets the right luck it won't surprise if he proves too good and progresses to bigger and better things. Stablemate Mr Garcia might be the big danger. He ran very well second-up at Caulfield and might get the ideal run in transit while Furrion could be buried away on the inside. Lizard Island's last start was better than it looks on paper. He was simply too far back in a race dominated on the speed but did run home in the fastest sectionals in the race and two starts ago beat home Call Me Handsome, which ties in favourably through Mr Garcia. The step-up to 1700m should be suitable. Orderofthegarter is a big watch at his Australian debut and it will be no surprise if he storms home over the top of them.

Suggested bet: Furrion win

Native Soldier, picture Quentinjlang.com

 

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