The middle night of the 2020 Summer of Glory shapes as an absolute beauty.
The rich classic-aged contests for the boys and girls headline the night of racing which is ably assisted by the new Mercury80 series finale as well as a Group 2 Casey Classic where we should learn about who might and who might not leading into next week’s A G Hunter Cup. The trotters do not miss out either with Oscar Bonavena making his Australian debut alongside a handful of the best squaregaiters on either side of the Tasman Sea.
The highlight of the night (outside of my horse winning the Derby of course) could be the 4YO Bonanza where we see Australasia’s newest pacing star, Self Assured, clash with a bunch of stunningly talented four-year-olds.
I’ll have to wait until 10pm to see my boy go for Group 1 glory but I’ll be there well before race one at 6pm to soak up a brilliant night of Harness Racing so see you in the Owners Paddock for a beer and a chat!
Here is how I see the big races shaping up;
RACE 5 – ALABAR 4YO BONANZA (Group 1, $100,000, 1720m)
Believers will say Self Assured’s Ballarat Cup further certifies his standing atop the pacing ranks whilst doubters will wonder whether he can endure bad luck and still beat open class stars. Here, Mark Purdon will know he can breeze against any of these and win. That scenario looks likely as Lochinvar Art should find the fence early unless David Aiken-prepared colt Max Delight could explode off the arm but he’d need a significant breather in the middle stages.
Demon Delight did not disappoint against the big boys last week but he’s in no man’s land from gate five over the short trip.
Hurricane Harley basically has no hope coming from gate eight behind a 100/1 pop. Our Millionaire is in amazing form and deserves his chance here but top four looks unlikely. There’s some small chance this race could set a new mile record in Victoria.
1 Self Assured $1.30
2 Lochinvar Art $4
3 Max Delight $13
4 Demon Delight $10
F4 – 4 / 3 / 2,5,7,8 / 2,5,7,8,10
RACE 6 – ALLIED EXPRESS CASEY CLASSIC (Group 2, $50,000, 2240m)
A trio of outstanding New Zealanders lob here in a lead-up to next week’s $500,000 Hunter Cup. NZ Cup winner Thefixer returns to Oz for his summer stint and should start favourite despite some indifferent form across his ID and NZ & Auckland Cup campaigns. Triple Eight will be unknown to many Aussies but he’s becoming a proven performer at the level, as evidenced by his third placing in the Auckland Cup.
Cash N Flow is in sensational form but gate eight hurts whilst Mach Shard is another of the Kiwis with excellent recent performances. Jilliby Bandit is never to be underestimated and Rackemup Tigerpie’s Ballarat Cup sectionals were phenomenal and he could again figure from a better barrier.
1 Triple Eight $10
2 Thefixer $1.55
3 Mach Shard $4.40
4 Rackemup Tigerpie $11
Split win bet #7 Triple Eight & #2 Rackemup Tigerpie
RACE 7 – PRYDES EASIFEEDS VICTORIA OAKS (Group 1, $200,000, 2760m)
Gun Kiwi pair Dr Susan and Stylish Memphis looked the most impressive on heat night and they again look the horses to beat in the final – despite a horror draw for Stylish Memphis. Maajida was not super impressive visually last week but she should take great benefit from the run and gets a nice trailing draw behind stable mate, Amelia Rose.
Jenden Strike was awesome from the death against Stylish Memphis and could be a factor if she has enough gate speed. There’s an outside chance the New South Wales visitor tries to lead all the way. From there, blowout hopes loom in Soho Gloria Jane, who was closing in on Maajida last weekend, Good Faith and Alice Kay.
Whether Stylish Memphis breezes or comes with one run is up for debate but either way I expect her to be too classy for any of these fillies.
1 Stylish Memphis $2.40
2 Dr Susan $2.20
3 Maajida $5.50
4 Jenden Strike $14
#13 Stylish Memphis win $2.40 & Soho Gloria Jane place $8
RACE 8 – DNR LOGISTICS V.L. DULLARD TROTTERS CUP (Group 1, $50,000, 2240m)
Budding superstar Oscar Bonavena makes his Australian debut but will have to contend with gate 11 and a handful of seasoned and quality opponents.
His best should be too good but with this stable, we must remember this is a lead-up run to the Great Southern Star so perhaps we will see Oscar driven for late speed.
Massive Metro was placed in each of the ID heats as well as the Grand Final and gate one will give him an excellent hope of pinching a victory.
McLovin could be the horse forced to punch the breeze but looms as the each way play of the race whilst veteran Kiwi Temporale will be looking for late gaps from an awful alley.
1 Massive Metro $4
2 Oscar Bonavena $1.70
3 McLovin $11
4 Temporale $8
Quinella #1 Massive Metro & #11 Oscar Bonavena
RACE 9 – DOWNBYTHESEASIDE VICTORIA DERBY (Group 1, $200,000, 2760m)
Line Up entered his heat at 30/1 but now enters this Derby as the outright favourite such was his performance in the heat, The Anthony Butt-trained and driven colt is the one to beat but this is a very even bunch of three-year-olds.
Our boy, Soho Hamilton, lobbed the ace alley but will need to go to another level to be winning whilst Queenslander Governor Jujon did everything asked of him when winning his qualifier.
Youaremy Sunshine is a versatile and quality animal so whether he lands in the breeze or trails one into the race he could easily surprise. Bad To The Bone and Pacifico Dream drew back row gates so will need luck in running whilst Mirragon and Mach Da Vinci face similar troubles from 12 and 13, respectively.
1 Soho Hamilton $8
2 Line Up $2.10
3 Youaremy Sunshine $26
4 Governor Jujon $3.30
#1 Soho Hamilton win (then meet me at the bar!)
RACE 1 – COGS RISING STARS PACE (Heat 2)
1 Think About Me $1.80
2 American Zest $14
3 The Crimson Prince $8
4 Onthecrestofawave $26
Suggested Bet – Quinella 2,10,12
RACE 2 – APG & ATS SALES SUNDAY FEB 2
1 Il Pirata $4
2 A Jewel In The Crown $3.20
3 Illawong Byron $14
4 Needabacardi $21
Suggested Bet – #6 Il Pirata win $4.80
RACE 3 – TAB MULTIPLIER PACE
1 Fake Smile $2.40
2 Kasbah Kid $3.20
3 Winkanditsover $26
4 Thereal Usain Colt $5.50
Suggested Bet – #8 Fake Smile win $2.40
RACE 4 – MERCURY80 FINAL
1 Liftntorque $4.40
2 Always Fast $1.75
3 Fourbigmen $3
4 Van Mara $21
Suggested Bet – #7 Liftntorque each way $4.40
RACE 10 – ALDEBARAN PARK VICBRED PLATINUM TROTTING MARES SPRINT
1 Majestic Dream $4
2 Cash Lover $10
3 Angels Breath $14
4 Madena Sky $2.20
Suggested Bet – #7 Majestic Dream each way $4
RACE 11 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHARON PRYDE TROT
1 Majestuoso $1.30
2 Miss Blissful $7
3 Revy Jay $51
4 Fratellino $15
Suggested Bet – #4 Fratellino place $2.70
Best Bet – R7 N13 Stylish Memphis $2.40
Best Value – R8 N1 Massive Metro $4
Best Longshot – R6 N2 Rackemup Tigerpie $13
1, 4, 6
1, 4, 5, 7, 8
2, 7, 9
(Odds courtesy of Sportsbet)