The first Group 1 of the calendar year highlights 2018 CF Orr Stakes Day and we are set for an outstanding nine-race card at Caulfield on Saturday.
The rail remains in the true position around the entire Caulfield course and at the time of publish, we are set to race on a ‘Good 3’.
Eight horses will step out in the first on CF Orr Stakes Day and it is the only race on the card not contested at black type level. The Darren Weir-trained Gallic Chieftain ($3.70) returned to racing in strong and consistent form without posting a win in spring and may never be offered a better chance to claim an elusive victory. The Tamayuz entire ended his winter prep with a strong triumph in the Listed Winter Cup (2400m) and managed minor placings in each of the Group 2 Hebert Power Stakes (2400m), Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) and Listed Sandown Cup (3200m) most notably in spring. Dean Yendall will take the ride from barrier 2. Downhearted ($3.60) has a fitness edge on several of his rivals and is also primed for a big performance here. The Starcraft gelding has finished second at his two most-recent starts and will relish a step up to 1800m, as well as a 5.5kg drop in weight.
The first of two Blue Diamond Prelude races will peg thirteen fillies against each other at Group 2 level. Oohood ($3.50) has shown above average ability through her two career starts so far and is set to jump race favourite. The I Am Invincible filly debuted for a close second behind Long Leaf in the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m) at Sandown in November and resumed a fortnight ago for a credible third in the Group 3 Blue Diamond Preview F (1000m). She should take plenty of improvement into this race and is drawn ideally in gate 6. One filly that is worth consideration at genuine each-way odds is Angel, who is available at $15.$4.20 at the time of publish. An expensive yearling, Angel debuted for a comfortable win at Geelong in January and is sure to have taken plenty of benefit from the experience. This is a step up in class, but the daughter of Fastnet Rock has plenty of ability and will enjoy a good run in transit from barrier 3. Pure Elation ($6.50), Crossing The Abbey ($8) and Downloads ($8) all appears to be winning chances in an extremely open field.
Fourteen colts and geldings will step out in the second Blue Diamond Prelude and it is another extremely open affair from a betting perspective. Godolphin colt Plague Stone ($3.80) has only made one appearance at the races so far, but appears to have plenty of talent and can produce his first winning performance here. The son of Lonhro was a good thing beaten when Brenton Avdulla dropped his rein in the Golden Gift (1100m) on November 25th and he has trialled extremely well leading into this race. Ollivander ($4.60) and Run Naan ($7.50) were both good in the Blue Diamond Preview and can go on with the job here, while debut winner High Ratio ($7) is another horse who is sure to have taken plenty of benefit from the experience and is worth consideration.
Seven horses will step out in the Carlyon Cup and there is a case to be made for literally every runner. French import and multiple Group 1 winner Gailo Chop ($2.10) is set to jump favourite and will be able to take up the running with ease from barrier 4. The Deportivo gelding won the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) in spring, but took a couple of runs to find his best and may require this start to produce similar performances. Seaburge ($11) and Petrology ($26) should both improve into this race, while Wyndspelle ($3.50) will also take plenty of benefit into the Carlyon Cup and will enjoy a step up in distance. The Iffraaj entire ran on for third in the Listed John Dillon Stakes (1400m) first-up and should prove tough to hold out here. The remaining runners Lord Fandango ($11), Harlem ($5) and Master Reset ($20) all have the class to win this race.
A smart field of nine three-year-old fillies will contest this year’s Kevin Hayes Stakes and on previously form, it is surely Shoals’ race to lose. Shoals ($3.30) returned to racing in typically strong condition in spring; winning the Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes (1200m), before finishing second in both the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) and Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m); ending her campaign with a maiden win at the highest level in the Group 1 Myer Classic (1600m). Mark Zahra will deliver a quality ride and she’ll be tough to run down late. Tulip ($4.40) and Booker ($4.20) were both also terrific in spring and looms as the biggest threats to Shoals in the Kevin Hayes Stakes. Tulip has a terrific record at 1200m and finished an impressive fifth in The Everest last time in. Booker has run only one bad race through his six-start career and has won at Group 2 level previously.
One of the better races on CF Orr Stakes Day is set to take place when eight sprinters step out for the Rubiton Stakes. This is another race whereby almost every runner is a live chance, but Super Cash appears to be over the odds at her current $7 quote. The daughter of Written Tycoon has an outstanding first-up record and won the Group 2 Schillaci Stakes over the course and distance of this race in spring. Rich Charm ($8.50) was the cult hero of spring and ended his campaign with a smart win down the straight at Flemington in the Group 2 Multiplier Stakes (1200m). His fresh record is fair, but he generally kicks off in lesser races than this and may need the run. Three-year-old Merchant Navy ($3.30) is shaping as the horse to beat. The Fastnet Rock colt has never missed first-up and ended his recent spring campaign with a smart win in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m).
The Autumn Stakes is always a good betting race and this year’s edition is no exception, with an open field of thirteen confirmed for the Group 2 feature. Levendi ($4.80) has reportedly taken plenty of benefit from his time away from racing and should enjoy the conditions of this race first-up. The son of Pierro produced a number of commendable performances in spring and was last seen comfortably taking out the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) on Derby Day. Damien Oliver is reportedly thrilled to be riding the horse in autumn and the champion hoop will look to settle a bit better than midfield from his wide draw. Black Sail was a strong and consistent performer in spring and is worth consideration at each-way odds of $11/$3.50. The Savabeel colt doesn’t win out of turn, but he ran on well to finish in the minors in both the Listed UCI Stakes (1800m) and Group 2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) at his two most-recent appearances.
The first Group 1 of the calendar year has drawn an outstanding field and there’s plenty of value to be taken from a betting perspective, as always. Japanese import Tosen Stardom ($4.70) was outstanding in spring and he has remained race favourite since our CF Orr Stakes market went up on Wednesday. The Deep Impact entire won both the Group 1 Toorak Handicap (1600m) and Group 1 Emirates Stakes (2000m) last time in and on class alone, he is clearly one of the leading contenders on Saturday. The veteran pair of Hartnell and Black Heart Bart share the second line of CF Orr Stakes betting at $6.50 quotes and neither would look out of place in the winner’s stall. Hartnell resumed in spring to win the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes over the course and distance of this race and can repeat that effort here after trialling well. A five-time Group 1 champion, Black Heart Bart is the defending CF Orr Stakes winner and should carry residual fitness into this race first-up, having contested a Perth summer campaign. CLICK HERE for our full 2018 CF Orr Stakes Betting Update
Twelve mares will step out in the Bellmaine Stakes and it will be our first opportunity to see several exciting Autumn Carnival prospects. Group 1 winner Silent Sedition ($3.10) will launch her autumn campaign in the Bellmaine Stakes and looms as the horse to beat. The War Chant mare undoubtedly produces her best form through the Autumn Carnival and resumed last year for second in this race before eventually taking out the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) most notably. She can get the job done for punters in the last and is subsequently our Best Bet on 2018 CF Orr Stakes Day. Flippant ($6) and Just Hifalutin ($7.50) have been racing well and have a fitness edge on several of their Bellmaine Stakes rivals.