NEWS PREVIEW

The Melbourne Mail: Caulfield - 14th October 2023

The carnival proper begins at Caulfield with Guineas Day. The horses are sharpened but so is the betting as a game of fine margins takes place on and off the turf.

 

Sharp horses and sharp betting are highlighted by the favourites in the three Group Ones: 

Alligator Blood; a general 5/4 shot in the Might And Power, rated 124 at Racing and Sports and coming off winning the Underwood Stakes. A win here will be his 10th in a Group race. He's a monster.  

Militarize; a general 7/4 shot in the Guineas, rated 115+ at Racing and Sports and coming off winning the Golden Rose. A win here will be his fourth Group One in the year. Monster in the making.

Amelia's Jewel; a general 5/4 shot in the Toorak, rated 118+ at Racing and Sports and coming off winning the Stocks. She's chasing an eighth Group win in as many attempts and was every bit as good as Overpass over 6 f in one of just two defeats. She's a monster.

I think it was American handicapper and racing writer Charles Carroll who once wrote (I'm not 100% here. I've lost it somewhere along the way but I repeat the the saying often enough and it feels to me like it was Carroll) the all-important racing maxim: It doesn't matter that you like a horse. All that matters is how much you like a horse.

I'd offer that it is impossible not to like these grand horses, and tough to disagree with their place at the head of markets on Saturday, but at those early quotes it is also far from easy to answer the question of 'how much?' with 'enough'.

There is depth and with depth comes cons to go with the obvious pros.

The con for Alligator Blood is as obvious as his pros. This time last year he tried 1 1⁄4 m for the first time here, in the Might And Power, and came off his rating. Not by much but by enough.

The Cox Plate seemed to confirm Again, he was too good to see it as an off day, but he was off his best by enough to see the trip as a concern - a point at or beyond his upper bound.

The enemy were at the gates in the Underwood; Duais charging at well-ridden and line-desperate Alligator Blood, confirming what all five runs in 2023 have hinted at - she's back in the form that landed her the Australian Cup in 2022.

In that Cup the pace was good, the time was fast, but Duais never flinched. She moved into the pace with purpose and then powered right through Good grief, she is good.

Duais followed up in the Tancred but we haven't seen that gear since. It lies latent, waiting, and the Underwood can be the run that brings it to the surface.

The pace set up on Saturday looks likely to play along with this narrative. Alas, the gate. Widest of As the famous olde punter Shakespeare once said (I think quoting a slightly less famous (at least nowadays) Roman) "Barriers are neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so." 

Horses from barrier 10 over the Caulfield 1 1⁄4 m have won as often as they should by chance over the past decade. It is not the barrier but the thinking. Those who have settled 10th over the Caulfield 1 1⁄4 m in the past decade have won less than half of what they should by chance over that same decade.

Pace on or not, last aint the place to Duais needs to have sight of the pace if she is to power through Enter Blake Shinn. To take the price in this scenario requires a jockey made for the scenario. There are few of them. Shinn is one of them.

 

 

 


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