CAULFIELD PREVIEW July 18, 2009 SIR JOHN MONASH STAKES (WFA 1100M) The Listed Sir John Monash Stakes is the first of a brace of weight-for-age sprints – with the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1100m) – run at Caulfield in the last month of the season, yet both races are usually won by horses of Group 1 quality. The lack of top grade sprint races in the heart of the Melbourne spring carnival means that the better sprinters need to be up and running in July, leading into the early weight-forage races over 1400m – the J.J. Liston Stakes and Memsie Stakes (both at Caulfield) – in August. The Monash and the Bletchingly are ideal preparation races, especially for horses with a liking for wet tracks. Since the brilliant Sequalo won the first Monash in 1994, some excellent Group 1 class horses have won the July sprint, including Flavour (1999), Rubitano (2002), Super Elegant (2004, 2005), Sassbee (2006), Lucky Secret (2007) and Tesbury Jack last year. A small, but select field lines up on Saturday, headed by the 2008 Group 1 Sir Rupert Clark Stakes winner Orange County, who resumes. Orange County handles wet ground and he should run very well fresh. However, the interesting runner is Orange County’s in-form stablemate Gran Sasso, who has won his past three starts, all down the Flemington straight. It’s obvious that a return to “bend racing” at Caulfield – Gran Sasso is none from three on the track – is a query, although trainer Brian Mayfield-Smith claims that this improved son of Dehere is better than
just a straight-track wonder. MayfieldSmith won the Monash with Rubitano. I am tipping the speedy I Am Invincible to be too slick. The classy 4YO resumes from his courageous second to Takeover Target in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 2, when I Am Invincible showed scintillating speed to lead. Before that I Am Invincible won the Group 3 McKay Stakes (1100m) at Morphettville, and he also scored an effortless four length-win over Happy Glen over the Caulfield 1000m course in March. Jockey Darren Gauci is a great judge of tempo and I expect Gauci will want to dictate this race. The danger looks to be Mick Price’s quality filly Damselfly, who won her first four starts, including two at Caulfield, before defeats at Flemington and Rosehill in the autumn. Damselfly won a trial last week at Caulfield, and jockey Damien Oliver should have her tracking I Am Invincible from the start. Trainer John Ledger believes he has the talented and enigmatic Mind Your Head in peak form, and also in the right frame of mind for a big first-up effort on the gelding’s favourite track – he has won three from nine – where he won the Group 3 Rubiton Stakes (WFA 1100m) and the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m) in the summer. Former Sydney galloper Global Warming, now with Robert Smerdon, ran a close fourth behind Gran Sasso at Flemington on June 27. He could be the “blow-out” horse for those looking for a value bet. The tips: I Am Invincible to beat Damselfly (a stand-out quinella), Mind Your Head, Gran Sasso, Orange County and the roughie Global Warming.
Predicted positions on settling
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Race 6, 3.08pm (Melb. time)
AND ALSO The horses-for-courses adage can be extended to trainers for tracks, and at Caulfield tomorrow two stand out, Mick Price and Peter Moody. Price might have the goods in the first two races (Inkster and Gruenfeld), but Moody will join in with gusto from the third, usually with the smaller half of the stable team, Luke Nolen – there has to be a winner from Magic Instinct (R3), Ishant (R4), Bertonic (R5), La Goulue (R6) and With Apologies (R8), or perhaps from Scenic Silver (R7), with 3kg claimer Chris Pace riding. Stake sensibly and you only need one. The 3YO Bertonic was impressive firstup over 1100m at Flemington, and 1400m looks to suit him better. There’ll be no $13 this time, but $5-$6 looks a fair price. Early markets suggest that La Goulue is one of only two who can’t win the Monash, and she is stepping up in grade. But the mare was super impressive winning first up at the track in May, and she has been kept at her fresh best. A nibble at the $20-plus might not be money wasted if you think the shorties – Gran Sasso and I Am Invincible – aren’t invincible. And don’t forget another local, John Moloney, who often pops up at odds. Overtake, at $10, has a bit of a chance against Bertonic and Co., but Zyzxx looks to be in the last up to his ears, and you should get about $9. The 5YO’s fourth over 1200m to Gran Sasso at Flemington indicated that, over 1400m at his fourth start this time in, he’d be at home, in more ways than one. Stephen Howell