Group 1 previews and tips

In the last couple of weeks we’ve had Super Saturday and the All-Star Mile at Flemington, plus five Group 1’s at Rosehill on Golden Slipper day as well.

Two days of the Championships at Randwick are only a week away, so this weekend is something of a lull even though we still have three Group 1 races.

Tancred Stakes

It’s been a while since the Tancred has been a truly elite race, though it still draws a quality field.

There look to be three strong winning chances in this year’s edition, with Duais, Spanish Mission and Think It Over all currently $4 or under, with the rest of the field in double figures.

The aforementioned three ran the trifecta in the Australian Cup down in Melbourne last start, but 2000m at Flemington on a good track is a very different proposition to the Rosehill 2400m on wet ground. It makes for a fascinating contest both in the betting ring and on the track.

To add another dimension to proceedings, Duais and Think It Over have no wins or placings from a combined seven heavy track starts, while Spanish Mission has never seen heavy ground. Does it mean something might jump out of the ground to challenge the main trio?

Duais dominated the Australian Cup after Spanish Mission went out hard and fast to make it more of a staying test than Australian WFA races often see. Think It Over simply couldn’t match the finishing burst of Duais off such a hot tempo, after she peeled off his back.

Think It Over has been tested beyond 2000m twice before in his career, both two years ago. He was a different horse then but didn’t give the impression that he loved the extra distance. It’s hard to think the extra 400m is going to suit him more than the other two.

Who is capable of springing a surprise?

Angel of Truth loves the wet but hasn’t won since the days of Kingston Town, Great House is a tough Chris Waller stayer and No Compromise is a developing one, while Sheraz and Avion Fury looked better placed in handicaps.

Stockman is a genuine mud runner but has never appealed as a Tancred winner, but his fitness and love of the ground give him claims.

She’s Ideel was left standing in the Australian Cup despite settling last after missing the start by a couple of lengths. She was run off her feet when the field quickened, but she actually hit the line well once she warmed up. She should pick up a few lengths over the others on wet ground.

The Chosen One has run in all the great Australian staying races multiple times but flopped in this race last year. He’s been in fine fettle in New Zealand this campaign so far, and his third placing in the 2020 Caulfield Cup tells us he’s good enough.

The speed will likely be dictated by how hard James McDonald wants to go on Spanish Mission, and he’ll have company in the form of Angel of Truth. How wet the conditions are is also going to have a huge bearing.

Selections: 1. Spanish Mission, 2. Duais, 3. She’s Ideel, 4. Angel of Truth

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Vinery Stud Stakes

The Vinery Stud tends to get a bit lost amid the many wonderful Group 1 races at this time of year, but this year’s edition for the three-year-old fillies shapes as a good one.

The unbeaten Gypsy Goddess comes down from Queensland off the back of a couple of big wins, and it’s time to test herself against the best of her age now. As is often the way with these things, she’s been handed something of a visitor’s draw, so Willie Pike will have some decisions to make out of the gates.

Hinged is proving herself as one of Sydney’s best fillies, at least on wet ground. Second in the Flight Stakes in the spring, winner of the Surround Stakes two starts back and the first filly home against the older mares at Group 1 level last start, it’s clear she’s the testing material.

Never Been Kissed beat Hinged in that Flight Stakes, was second to Profondo in the Spring Champion and put herself back on the radar in the Phar Lap last start.

The highly spruiked Fangirl has finished behind both Never Been Kissed and Hinged at her last two starts, and it’s hard to make a case for her turning the tables on both, at least on heavy ground. Perhaps if we get a soft track, she might be a chance.

Yearning and Mokolua have been doing their racing on the good tracks in Melbourne, suggesting there is a query over their wet form. They have to change states, go up a level and prove themselves at 2000m. Not to say they can’t do these things, but you’re taking them on trust.

Pretty Amazing is the fresh filly on the scene after three wins in a row coming through the grades, all with something in hand. Chris Waller has two others in the race, but James McDonald is on this one. Alarm bells are going off.

Selections: 1. Gypsy Goddess, 2. She’s Amazing, 3. Hinged, 4. Never Been Kissed

Anamoe ridden by Damien Oliver

(Scott Barbour/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

William Reid Stakes

The William Reid Stakes, over 1200m at Moonee Valley on Friday night, is the final Group 1 of the Victorian racing season.

Marabi is the odds-on pop, who is starting to compile a Black Caviar-like record of seven wins from seven starts, including a Group 1 victory. Not many win an Oakleigh Plate at just their seventh start, let alone fend off all challengers from the front, and there were plenty of horses carrying less weight than her too.

She was a comfortable winner of the Australia Stakes at this course and distance two starts back, and while her opposition is far stiffer this week, she’s clearly the one to beat.

Trekking is an old hand in these sprints and has always raced at the Valley, so he’ll keep the others honest. Jonker won the Manikato here in October, and we know how fast and tough he is. The Inferno shouldn’t be slept on, having contested the Everest and Lightning Stakes at his last two outings, having had excuses in the latter.

The Astrologist, Halvorsen and September Run have made their names down the Flemington straight and have only one win from four starts at Moonee Valley between them. The Astrologist was second in the Newmarket in that funny race and should be right up on the speed from barrier one, while September Run was third and meets him better at the weights.

Kemalpasa is a South Australian warhorse that never runs poorly, so it’s doubtful he’s going to start now. He’ll be in the game somewhere, but his wide gate makes it tricky. Standout has been chasing home quality gallopers like Lost and Running, Eduardo and Big Parade in Sydney all season, and might just be the main danger to Marabi.

Four three-year-olds will greet the judge in the William Reid this year. Marine One beat Oxley Road when they met six weeks ago, and that horse just ran third to Marabi in the Oakleigh Plate, so he has to be in the mix. Generation and General Beau are consistent but seem to be a level below the top tier.

Selections: 1. Marabi, 2. Standout, 3. The Inferno, 4. The Astrologist