The Melbourne Mail: Flemington – Saturday 13th of May 2023

The Ramsden and the Straight Six are the highlights on a typically terrific May card at Flemington.


Changes made to the Ramsden in 2019 have had the desired effect. Back-to-back heroics from the great Unchain My Heart in 2013 and 2014 fit in among many magical May moments at Flemington, and De Little Engine was a champion to many, but it would be fair and reasonable to say that wins from Sin To Win and a hurdles-bound Glorious Sinndar, both who failed to break triple figures on Timeform's scale, didn't have the VRC blowing the bronze budget in preparation for new statues. 

Three of the four winners since the changes now count among three of the four highest rated winners this century. 2008 winner Gorky Park still the standard bearer on that score but chased by Realm Of Flowers (Timeform 110), Steel Prince (110) and Point Nepean (109). 

The 2023 edition is all set to add another to the pointy end of the pile with four rated 110 or better and a couple of those candidates to topple the 115-rated Gorky Park as the best Ramsden winner this century.

Hezashocka is rated 120, Vow And Declare 115, White Marlin 112, Lunar Flare 110 and we could bundle Third Realm into the list if we are still taking note of his form in the UK - his latest effort was okay but optimism is required to do so... 

This order and the market order are currently not aligned with White Marlin being more than just a horse rated 112. He is a horse rated 112 after just seven starts - six of them wins, including a fine one over the Ramsden course and distance. 

His rating is expected to prove a starting point rather than a final representation of his talents and for the others that is probably not the case. 

Even prices getting down around even money leave little wiggle room and a strong case can (and I think should) be made for Hezashocka being the right favourite. 

His defeat at Mornigton was narrow but full of merit, only slightly behind the form he showed at Randwick prior, and his form in both of those runs has gone ahead and confirmed the rapid progress he made in the spring.

2800m is a new test but one that he is as well equipped to handle as just about any here and for one as good as him $4.40 allows for some breathing room that White Marlin's price simply doesn't. 

For an each-way play we also head to the established over the promising. Buffalo River is not getting any better at the age of seven but, rather incredibly, he does face something new at his 35th start. This will be his first try at 6 f and while the trip is not expected to bring about any vast improvement it doesn't look like doing him any harm either. 

Buffalo River is one with pace and he finds a nice scenario to use He can be hit and miss but he was right on his game last time, forcing a good one to pull out the stops to get him, and a repeat here would leave plenty of these needing to find something they haven't found before.

A walk down Straight Six Memory Lane, a walk we should all enjoy on a semi-regular basis, shows Buffalo River good enough to win more than most runnings of the great race. He is no Miss Andretti, no Catapulted and no Lumosty, but he won't have to be to make prices up around double figures well worth taking.



BET OF THE DAY: Race 7 #3 Hezashocka @ $4.40

EACH WAY PLAY: Race 6 #1 Buffalo River @ $9.50

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