NEWS PREVIEW

The Melbourne Mail: Caulfield - 10th February 2024

The racing year gets into gear at Caulfield on Saturday. Fast horses are back for what looks sure to be an entertaining and informative card.

 

Few meetings are as fun as those cast in the role of launching pad which is what the Orr Stakes meeting is all about. Great betting, great horses and great promise of what's to come.

Mr Brightside is certainly a great horse and, having won five times in 2023, he kicks off with the promise of another great year ahead. But is he great betting proposition on Saturday? 

That is the sort of question that punters will face all through this card and in the next few weeks. 

Mr Brightside is good enough; of that there is little doubt. Only Black Caviar has posted a recent performance in the Orr that Mr Brightside isn't capable of beating at his best but, like so many Orr winners, he isn't likely to be right at his best, win, lose or draw.

The dual Doncaster winner has run to ratings of 114, 114+ and 121 in his past three first-up attempts, measured by Racing and Sports. The most recent of those kicked off his spring campaign and he backed it up again at the Caulfield 7 f when winning the Memsie. That sort of form highlights his chance and a shade of odds-on might be fair enough with bigger fresh queries around his Champions Mile conqueror Pride Of Jenni and Champions Stakes winner Atishu, who has run good races fresh but nothing like what could trouble Mr B. 

Veight and Pericles seem sure to run well but have class questions to answer if Mr Brightside is back in order. The end result is a bit of a stalemate as betting stands.

Perth's Railway winner Bustler gets a second look, as betting has managed to undersell the WA form in Melbourne in recent times, but his stablemate Zipaway is the more tempting of the pair as he eases gently into each-way areas in a field of eight in the Autumn Stakes back against the three-year-olds (race four on the card). 

This year's Northerly Stakes was far from a vintage edition but Zipaway getting beaten by a flared nostril reads well all the same. Several have come across with that sort of profile and they have typically gotten on well. Arcadia Queen, Disposition and Amelia's Jewel came over backed up by bigger ratings but all matched or bettered their ratings in the east - tick. Superstorm, Rommel and Dom To Shoot can be better comparisons when ratings are considered - and all three did the business in Melbourne.

Zaaki may have been off his top but finishing upsides him means something. In ratings terms it means that he is the one with a figure to match the clear early favourite Southport Tycoon who, it must be conceded, is more likely to run his race (or better on Saturday and is a good favourite, but Zipaway has the punch and the power to perform with him and the price is right to back him to do The structure of the race means place terms (so often a bad play as a seperate market) a reasonable option as they stand. 

Bold Bastille was brilliant on Cox Plate Day and may not have much to beat in the Fillies Prelude but I fancy High Octane is a better bet against the colts. 

There isn't much between High Octane and his stablemate Bodyguard in the early betting but there is a margin in the ratings and it goes in favour of High Octane and his Preview win. 

His rating there was not outstanding historically but it is high enough to say that those further down the order have their work cut out if he builds on it and build on it he should. 

He got better the further they went in the Preview, splits dominant by the finish, and a quick study of recent Preview to Prelude can strengthen his case.  

Eight Preview winners in the last dozen years have turned up in the Preview and their results have been split down the middle.

Four winners, four losers. Four improved their rating, four went backwards. The average change zero. But what really matters is that when they improve they make it count.

The mise-en-scène on Saturday has High Octane poised to place himself in the role of challenger to Coleman in the Diamond itself and the betting is letting us on. 

 

THE MELBOURNE MAIL 

Bet Of The Day: Race 6 #1 High Octane @ $2.80

Each Way Play: Race 4 #1 Zipaway @ $7.00


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