There’s always something to like about racing on a Wednesday, but the quality kicks up a gear at Flemington this week for Standish Handicap Day.
Happy New Year! My resolution for 2020 is to back as many winners as possible and I’m confident of beginning the year with a few at HQ.
Typically, a two-year-old race full of debutants opens the card – only five of the confirmed twelve starters have race day experience.
Regardless, no one prepares juveniles quite like Godolphin have these last few seasons and for that reason, I’m going to start the day with something small each-way on the James Cummings-trained Amateurish.
The Closer will take good improvement into her second campaign start at HQ today and looks well placed to win the second. The Maher & Eustace-trained mare has returned several pleasing efforts and results throughout her nine career starts, but her first-up run for second over 1200m at The Valley suggested that she has returned an even better prospect this time, and a run down the straight should suit.
Yulong January has opened the shortest favourite in any of the eight races on Standish Handicap Day ($1.55 at publish), and rightly so. He’s been nothing short of outstanding this time in; recording three wins in succession leading into this race, which is no harder than anything that he has contested so far. I think he’ll be winning, but he’s far too short for me and I am happy to watch.
There is no shying away from the fact that Spirit Of Valor has mixed his form since transferring to the care of Maher & Eustace, but he has been freshened for the Standish Handicap and for mine, he looks overs to win ($14 at publish). The War Front entire hit the line with intent to finish third in the Listed Chandler Macleod second-up in spring but was awful in the Testa Rossa. He finished midfield in the Group 1 Winterbottom at his most-recent appearance and this is a big drop in class from that race. Happy to have something on each-way at the price.
This race is about as wide-open as it gets at Flemington on Wednesday and there is a case to be made for several in the market.
Bowing has returned to the track in competitive form this time and looks a live chance of winning at a nice price ($8 at publish). The Mitch Freedman-trained gelding has recorded two wins in four starts since resuming, placing on another occasion and he flew home from the tail of the field late to finish a credible fourth at The Valley last time out. He looks ready to peak in condition and can slot in behind the early pace from barrier 8.
Parlay Princess has returned to the races in excellent form this time and looks well placed to make it three in a row at Flemington on Standish Handicap Day. The four-year-old daughter of Sebring found form around some good horses last time in and is yet to taste anything but success this time; recording smart wins at Sandown and Caulfield respectively. 1400m looks to be her pet trip and she’s drawn to receive a lovely run, with the bonus of Liam Riordan’s claim.
This is a real staying test, but I don’t think that there is a better horse in the field than Secret Blaze and I am keen to be on board again. The Sizzling gelding hasn’t missed a placed in five starts since resuming; winning on three occasions including a smart performance over 2500m here at HQ a fortnight ago. There’s no doubt that he’ll see out the trip and he’s clearly rock hard fit for the race.
Heavenly Emperor is a competitive type and I think that he’s up to running a big race in the last. The four-year-old son of Echoes Of Heaven hit the line well fore second when resuming at Bendigo, before recording a class win in BM70 company at The Valley. He was last seen finishing within two lengths of the winner in the Wodonga Cup and this does look a better race for him.