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History Says - Turnbull Stakes

The Group 1 Turnbull Stakes, which is the feature event at Flemington on Saturday, is renowned as a fork-in-the-road race that, in particular, is a key reference to both the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate.

More often than not since 1990 it has provided the winner of at least one of those events, sometimes both, with nine of the past 30 Cox Plate winners coming through the 2000-metre set-weights-and-penalties event along with 13 of the past 30 Caulfield Cup winners.

Long-range markets suggest the Melbourne Racing Club feature is again the race it will most likely impact in 2020, with Sportsbet's joint $13 third-elects for the Caulfield Cup, Verry Elleegant and Master Of Wine, among those engaged in the field of 15.

MARES' RECORD

Verry Elleegant went up Sportsbet's $4.60 favourite following Wednesday's release of the field and she will emulate three champion mares if she wins the $500,000 event as the punters' pick.

Thirteen mares have won the race that was first run in 1948, with Sunline ($2.25 in 2001), Makybe Diva ($3 in 2005) and Winx ($1.20 in 2017 and $1.10 in 2018) the most recent girls to have won as favourite.

Let's Elope ($8 in 1991), Devil Moon ($14 in 2007) and Lucia Valentina ($8.50 in 2014) are the other mares to have won in the past three decades, all doing so in their four-year-old season.

Toffee Tongue is the lone four-year-old mare engaged this year, while Verry Elleegant and the other mare engaged, Oceanex, are both five-year-olds.

SIX AND UP

Lucia Valentina's win was followed by that of another four-year-old, Preferment, but wins by horses of that vintage have been rare in recent years, despite having won nine of the 19 between 1990 and 2008.

Nine of the 11 winners since then were at least six years of age, including seven in that age bracket. Winx was seven in the second of her wins, while Zipping won as a nine-year-old in 2010.

Surprise Baby, Master Of Wine and King Of Leogrance are the six-year-olds engaged on Saturday, with Kings Will Dream and Finche - who are both seven - and nine-year-old Harlem the others older than five.

FAVOURITES OR BUST

Punters have a mixed relationship with the Turnbull Stakes with 13 of past 30 going to the favourite, including Better Loosen Up (13/8), Naturalism (4/5), Sunline, Northerly ($2.90), Makybe Diva and Winx (twice).

But the past eight winners who weren't favourite all started at least $8.50, including six at double-figure odds. All Our Mob's win at 33/1 in 1995 is the biggest upset in the race's history.

The average starting price of the winners in the past 30 years is $8.83.

SYDNEY FORM

Verry Elleegant was beaten as a short-priced favourite last time out, when fourth in the George Main Stakes (1600m), and that was the race Winx won the start before both of her Turnbull wins.

It also proved a stepping stone to Turnbull success for Lucia Valentina, while Preferment and Hartnell both won the Turnbull out of the Hill Stakes (2000m), meaning five of the past six came off a Sydney run.

That's in contrast to the preceding 24 years, when only two winners came straight out of a Sydney race.

Kings Will Dream did win it last year off an eighth placing in the Makybe Diva Stakes and he brings similar lead-up form into this year's race, having finished 10th in this year's Makybe Diva.

If successful he will be only the fourth horse to win multiple editions, a feat only achieved by Winx, Vo Rogue (1987/88) and Comic Court (1949/50).

The Verdict: As a seven-year-old who comes out of a Sydney race and is at $9 with Sportsbet, going with FINCHE to go one better than last year.

Flemington hosts the Turnbull Stakes meeting on Saturday, picture Racing Photos

 

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