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The 2022 Spring Racing Preview

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

Welcome to the 2022 Spring Racing Preview where we will be covering all the big talking points heading into what is shaping to be a solid spring carnival, with a stronger international scene but an inferior local scene around the middle distance.

The 3yos

Where do we even start? The 2yo crop (now 3yo) has been criticised as weak, at least from the point of view from the colts but. Adam Blencowe did mention a stat that 12% less 2yos ran this season which is likely due to the big wet. This is going to make futures punting heading into the season very hard but at the same time, will be plenty of value on offer. Trials will need to be highly considered as there could be plenty of unraced types or horses who flopped after 1 start on the wet that could be worth following. Of this crowd, the one I find interesting so far is Greece who could be a Coolmore Stud Stakes horse who was trialling well before flopping on the wet which is relatively common thing for I am Invincible horses as they are iffy on wet.

Next, we have to assess the current horses and see if they benefitted from the Sydney Wet or were hindered by it. Horses such as She's Extreme, Fireburn, Best of Bordeaux and Paris Dior seem to be horses who all benefitted from the wet, while horses like Coolangatta and Russian Conquest were all negatively affected however, it seems as if Coolangatta will take a WFA sprint path and she could very well be good enough. Another horse worth highlighting is Lofty Strike, as while mild lameness/vic stewards kept him out as opposed to the wet, the form from his Blue Diamond Prelude looks far better in hindsight.

Then, you have the progressive types who came on the scene in the late autumn to winter but are yet to truly be tested. Horses like Ruthless Dame, Doull, Osipenko, In Secret, Ghaanati and plenty more that all showed serious promise at one time or another. The challenge here is finding out which horses are the real deal and which ones are pretenders. Trials will help here but getting in early on the futures mark will be paying serious dividends as the bookies may have not caught on.

Looking onto the Spring Champion, Derby and Oaks, I would be looking to trials again and maiden form in country towns. Most of these horses just would not have bothered running in Sydney with the wet and typically, you have plenty that have their first start at 3 go on and run well/win these races. I do not mind Cadazio but at his current price, better finding the next horse that shows ability.

Lastly, Amelia's Jewel will be staying in WA and based off trainer comments, Fireburn and She's Extreme will both have small springs, likely to be around 2 starts however, Fireburn has been nominated for the Cox Plate so if she continues to light up the track, her prep could continue.

Overall, I see a horses like Lofty Strike and Russian Conquest as my top seeds for the Coolmore and a horse like Greece could be another. Ruthless Dame is a solid outside chance for the thousand guineas beating Nanagui (Moody is keen on her) first up over what appeared to be an unsuitable trip. Political Debate looks to be the top seed for the Caulfield Guineas and for good reason. Fireburn will still be heading to the Golden Rose and while fillies do not often win that race, she is no ordinary filly and while she does prefer it wet, she was easily the best 2yo last season. I also quite like how she comes from the back as while Rosehill is often a biased track, to me it suggests she is not one of those front runners who just has more racing nouse compared to other 2yos at that stage of their career (Farnan, Kiamichi, etc) but will need to see what colts burst onto the scene. Koshu could be a good type in the Flight Stakes but that race to me is very up in the air.

Our WFA Scene

Where do we start. It is weak at the moment with the absence of Incentivise, Hitotsu and Think It Over for the spring as well as Verry Elleegant currently residing overseas but it is not all doom and gloom. Gold Trip, Mugatoo will provide some solid competition, as well as the resurgence of Alligator Blood, Anamoe not being retired to stud, the consistent I'm Thunderstruck, the old boy Zaaki, the now 5 year old mares in Montefilia and Duais although both will progress to the cups and a few horses trying to make a name for themselves such as Profondo, Top Ranked and others potentially featuring should add some entertainment. Should not forget about Mo'Unga either, who will be kept around the mile by all reports. So where do we start?

We will look to Sydney's early season G1s first in the Winx & George Main Stakes. Tracks will likely be wet, let us be honest so horses like Mugatoo & Gold Trip should enjoy that. Anamoe will also be a player but he seems to be unfazed on the surface (unless it is bottomless) which is handy. It would not surprise me to see some long shots win some of these races. Now onto the Vic WFA path in the Memsie, Makybe, Underwood, Turnbull (SW+P), and Might & Power. It will not surprise me to see plenty of the Sydney horses in Melbourne avoiding the wet increasing the strength of the fields within Victoria. However, due to the perceived lack of WFA quality, do not be surprised if a few long shots take out some big races like what happenhappened in 2019. Who those may be, I do not know. Duais and Anamoe are probably the two highlight horses though throughout whatever race they contest. Tofane could also go out on a high in the Memsie.

As for the crown jewel the Cox Plate, I think outside of Anamoe as the best local hope at this stage, you have to look international and the two that stand out at this stage are State of Rest and Real World. I do think Anamoe has all the tools and will establish himself as our premier WFA horse, until Incentivise returns (if he is back to his best)

Our Sprinters

Our sprinting stocks are not overly outstanding at the moment either, with a very dominant Nature Strip, a bridesmaid in Eduardo, a progressive type in Mazu, a forgotten horse in Classique Legend and a get back, hit backsides horse in Masked Crusader. Marabi will miss the spring and be aimed at the autumn. Artorius is unlikely to play a huge role either, probably having the one start in either the Golden Eagle or Champions Sprint.

We will start in Victoria with races like the Moir and Manikato. Coolangatta, In The Boat, Rothfire and some others will make up the main contingent of these races. Personally, I am very keen on Rothfire. Injuries have seriously affected him and a Manikato seems very winnable.

Now for the Everest. I believe it comes down to two factors. Has Nature Strip returned well from his UK trip. If he has not, Eduardo is probably the best chance to knock him off his perch but Mazu and Masked Crusader are probably the others that can stake a claim. If he has returned to his best, it comes down to is Classique Legend fit and firing? That is a huge IF at this point and the recent trainer comments are not overly promising stating that if he is not at his best, they will pull the pin and focus on the autumn. So it is hard to go past the Strip but I do not like the 2.80 on offer and think you will get better, plus he is still sometimes vulnerable to horses that challenge him in the lead.

Another prediction I will be making is that while the top of the Everest field will be filled with high quality talent (horses such as Nature Strip, Eduardo, Lost & Running, Masked Crusader, Mazu & Classique Legend [if fit]), with Sydney raising the prize money of the Winners Stakes and especially the G3 Sydney Stakes to go along with the Victorian increases in prize money, Sydney have shot themselves in the foot and the bottom level talent of the Everest will be very poor as there is no reason to target it if your horse cannot match motors with the best of them.

The Cups

The great handicaps of Australian racing are likely to play a far bigger role in the spring this year with plenty of nominations particularly in the Melbourne Cup however, it seems as if the exposed quality on such horses are not as obvious to see as they have been in previous years with horses like Spanish Mission, Twilight Payment and Cross Counter (second time around) but that does not mean they are bad horses by any stretch and for the Melbourne Cup, there is a strong chance the winner comes from overseas, as it seems to be happening a lot more often lately. While it is still muddy as to what will come over, it seems Deauville Legend, Hoo Ya Mal, any of Lloyds and in particular Cleveland and Away He Goes will all be over here. On top of that, it is likely more come down or are purchased by Australian interests before the big race.

The Aussie contingent, while not overly strong will likely take out the Caulfield Cup as both Montefilia and Duais will each contest the race as well as a lack of perceived international interest. Grand Promenade (if he contests), Crystal Pegasus and a few other light weight chances could prove to be very interesting but weight appears to matter less in a Caulfield Cup so that is worth noting.

As for the local chances for the Melbourne Cup, the one that immediately screams out to me is Realm of Flowers for reasons discussed in other articles. She appears to be improving with each trial and presuming she is sound first up, I will be looking to her. Otherwise, we have the two mares mentioned prior, Spanish Mission and I'm sure Ciaron Maher will have a bunch that will be competitive. The Sydney Cup trifecta may also be able to play a part and Vow & Declare seems to be trialling well. Could he be back? Alegron also is probably the 4yo to watch in the race as he seems to be a genuine stayer who can go all day.

Big Predictions

- Tofane vs Alligator Blood kicks off the Victorian G1 scene in style, with a Memsie to remember.

- Fireburn breaks the slipper duck and actually wins a race, that being the Golden Rose.

- Montefilia and Duais put together a sensational Caulfield Cup duel, with Montefilia winning.

- Classique Legend returns sound and runs down Nature Strip in the Everest.

- Rothfire dominates the Manikato, leaving Everest Slot holders thinking what if.

- Anamoe takes down State of Rest in the Cox Plate part 2. - Realm Of Flowers wins the Melbourne Cup with a glut of internationals and in behind

- Champions Day to end the Flemington Carnival proves to be a massive success.

- Jamie Kah returns to the peak of her powers, winning multiple G1s.

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