The Empires Stallions VicBred Super Series reaches its summit with a handful of trotting Group 1’s then a handful of Group1’s for the pacing ranks at Tabcorp Park Melton this weekend.
The trotters take centre stage on Friday evening but the hoppled heroes is where our attention will turn.
It’s arguable some divisions have runaway favourites but whenever the big dollars go on the line things are certain to get hairy, new superstars will emerge and something – or some things – unexpected will occur.
For example, the Australian Pacing Gold champions from both the boys (Centenario) and girls (Soho Nolita) events are here yet both will enter their respective races far from favourites. It’s hard to believe that there are two Group 1 winners in the fillies division (Soho Nolita & Major Kiss) and both will enter as double-figure hopes.
A bunch of the four-year-old males will be storming around the track including Jilliby Kung Fu who is only a few starts removed from a 1:46.99 mile. Excluding a last-gasp lunge from eventual winner My Field Marshal and Jilliby Kung Fu would be entering the four-year-old VicBred Final as the fastest horse in the Southern Hemisphere.
The New South Wales Derby winner is here but he’s been beaten in both the heat and semi, so despite a plum draw (two) Poster Boy needs to lift.
The storylines are everywhere.
The highlights will be endless.
Here’s hoping we can steer you into a winner or three.
Enjoy and good luck!
(The previews are in race book order)
Soho Nolita, from the family of superstars, entered this series as the top seed thanks to her destructive APG domination – winning basically untouched in a personal mile of 1:52.9.
She was surprisingly defeated in her heat by Two Times Bettor and then Kualoa in the semi so things have taken a twist.
That duo, both from the powerful Emma Stewart barn, have been brutally dominant winning both their races.
Major Kiss has been serviceable, Single Tree Road has felt the effects of the Stewart guns, Tangoingwithsierra has been running on and a few others have been around the mark but it’s hard to see anything outside horses 4, 9 and 12 winning.
Topping them will be difficult but things can change quickly for the babies.
Should David Jack hold up with Major Kiss then I can see the horses off the back getting involved late but should we see Stewart and Stewart occupying the lead and breeze then it’s likely game over.
2 Soho Nolita
3 Two Times Bettor
4 Major Kiss
Best Bet: Soho Nolita place ($2.10)
When Carlas Pixel drew the carpark and Tell Me Tales landed relatively cosily in gate five, this race looked a forgone conclusion.
Enter New Zealander Our Step Up.
She’s proven to be quality and whilst she’s seemingly a rung below the big two Aussies, her ace draw gives her options and turns this into a real race in three.
Should David Butcher lead with Chris Alford pouring on the pressure outside her then Carlas Pixel comes right into the race and almost becomes the horse to be on.
Handing the front to Tell Me Tales ends the race as a competitive event but that might be out of Butcher’s hands. Tell Me Tales has often looked so imposing that the decision is not up for dispute – she just takes what she wants.
I think Tell Me Tales is a gun mare and she will be winning but Our Step Up and Carlas Pixel loom as obvious place-getters whilst Flying Moth, Anakena and even She Keeps Coming can run home strong.
1 Tell Me Tales
2 Our Step Up
3 Carlas Pixel
4 Flying Moth
Best Bet: First Four – 5 / 1,12 / 1,7,12 / 1,4,7,8,11,12,13
TWO-YEAR-OLD COLTS & GELDINGS
A month is a long time in racing.
Entering this series, unbeaten star colt Centenario was an odds-on favourite to claim the entire series. Forget about the series, the Pacing Gold champion was upended by his stablemate, Hurricane Harley, in both the heat and semi.
Chuck in a plum draw and Hurricane Harley is almost a moral whilst you can get as much as $8 about Centenario – depending where you shop.
Behind the obvious players, New South Welshman Petes Big Jim and Stewart’s likely trailing stablemates Fourbigmen and Nostra Ideal could play a role.
Unless Mark Pitt and Alford carve each other up, expect number one and two to get home in positions one and two.
1 Hurricane Harley
4 Petes Big Jim
Best Bets: Centenario place ($1.50)
THREE-YEAR-OLD COLTS & GELDINGS
The proven performer or the new whiz kid ?
That’s affectively the question punters need to ask themselves when dissecting this race. Poster Boy was only just overrun in the Victorian Derby but saluted in the New South Wales edition, making him a genuine Group 1 star.
His stablemate however looks to be something else.
Ride High, a veteran of five race starts, sat outside his buddy and beat him in a mind-blowing 25.7 final 400m at Kilmore in the heats.
He then came from the back to dominate a semi-final against a couple of his fancied stablemates in Liftntorque and Major Times.
Those two are the main players but behind them is Stewart, Stewart and Stewart (Konan) plus Kasbah Kid, Alpha Charlie and Master Moonlite.
Poster Boy reminds me of Our Little General. Right place, right time type of horse and with gate two in his favour – maybe even Ride High cannot run him down.
1 Poster Boy
2 Ride High
4 Major Times
Best Bet: Boxed Exacta – Poster Boy & Ride High.
FOUR-YEAR-OLD ENTIRES & GELDINGS
This series has taken twist after twist but now things look a shade surer… we think!
Jilliby Kung Fu – fresh off a miraculous Miracle Mile effort – looked a stone-cold certainty before the series launched but he was taken down in his heat by Emma Stewart’s Rocknroll Icon who kept rolling and obliterated the Ballarat track record.
Unfortunately, both he and fellow heat winner Form Analyst have been scratched from the $125,000 race, leaving Kung Fu as the main man despite drawing gate 13.
The Jilliby freight train look to have a mortgage on this one thanks to their trio of Chevy, Road Runner and Kung Fu.
Big Gun Johnny could likely hold up until handing to an appropriate rival whilst Emain Macha – who now gets a run – and Sirletic will be looking for nice positions in transit.
Wrappers Delight is the wildcard. His three runs since returning from WA have been ultra-impressive and I see an opportunity here for him. Should Jilliby Chevy get the lead and Wrappers Delight gets to the breeze, I am posting Kung Fu until Chevy lets me go…
We shall see how this one unfolds.
1 Jilliby Kung Fu
2 Wrappers Delight
3 Jilliby Chevy
Best Bet: First Four – 13 / 5,6 / 3,5,6 / 1,2,3,4,5,6,8
What a race we have here!
The big guns are all drawn on the front row four, maybe five, horses ready and willing to take the lead and never give it back.
Nostra Villa looked the dominant favourite entering the series and the way she dispatched Soho Burning Love in a Kilmore heat justified that suggestion. Fast forward a week and it was Mick Stanley’s filly who upstaged the Emma Stewart assault with a strong victory.
Speak No Evil, another Stewart gun, fell in against inferior rivals in her heat so a few questions linger with where she is at.
Stanley has two runners (gates 2 & 3) whilst Stewart has gates four and five assigned for her two.
The win/place hopes outside of the main three are either drawn wide or out the back – namely Saphirique (6), Major Occasion (7) and Macey Jayde (13).
Knowing who ends up in front is crucial from a betting perspective but I doubt I can help you. Soho Burning Love possesses speed but can race fiercely whilst should Nostra Villa or Speak No Evil find the front you’d expect them to be terribly tough to get past.
1 Soho Burning Love
2 Nostra Villa
3 Speak No Evil
4 Macey Jayde
Best Bet: Macey Jayde each way
HOW TO MAKE A BUCK (I hope)
Multi-bets; (odds courtesy of Ladbrokes)
R4 N9 place, R5 N5 win, R6 N2 place = $4.58
R5 N5 win, R6 N1 win, R8 N5 place = $3.52
Macey Jayde (R9 N13) each way $21 & $3.10
Jilliby Chevy (R8 N5) place $1.50
Konan (R7 N6) each way $10 & $1.83
Centenario (R6 N2) place $1.50
Tell Me Tales (R5 N5) win $1.90