Saturday should have seen the first classic of the season in Britain colliding head on with the Run For The Roses at Churchill Downs. Hope is not lost for these two great races with the 2000 Guineas set to be rescheduled for later in the year, while the Kentucky derby has already reserved a slot for September 5th. All of a sudden Morphettville in South Australia has been thrust into the spotlight and it hosts a top class card which includes two Group 1 races. It is the venue for two of my Australian selections tomorrow. The other two come from Sandown in Melbourne.
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For the third year running Robert Sangster Stakes Day is set to be run on soft ground. This has had a big impact on the horses I have selected for each of the Group 1 races here.
The first of these Group 1s is the Australasian Oaks at 6.56am. I like the profile of Affair To Remember for this race. She was third at Caulfield on her most recent start over 1600 metres. She got way back in the field that day and hit the line strongly after encountering a difficult passage. The daughter of Toronado has drawn a favourable barrier in 5 and can give shrewd trainer Dan O’Suliivan a first Group 1 win.
She is a previous winner on soft ground and the booking of Cork man Johnny Allen is another positive. Betcha Flying was a winning selection of mine at Flemington last Saturday and should run well but not having Craig Williams on board again is a big disadvantage. Moonlight Maid renews acquaintances with the selection from the Caulfield run and should also be in the mix.
In the Robert Sangster Stakes (7.36am) over 1200 metres, superstar filly Sunlight is going to be all the rage. She is a three-time group 1 winner and her trainer Tony Mcevoy was eyeing a potential Royal Ascot assault before our world got turned upside down. She has been handed a horrible draw in 16 and her best form is all on a quick surface. While she could have the class to overcome these obstacles, I am going to oppose her here.
This race is similar to the Nunthorpe Stakes in that it is open to all ages. Away Game is only a two-year-old but doesn’t race like one. She is tough as old boots and seems to be thriving on a busy schedule. She won the Magic Millions two-year-old Classic in January and followed that up with placed efforts in the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper. She looked in great heart when winning a Group 2 in Randwick on soft ground a few weeks back. She receives 9.5kg from Sunlight and I expect that this will be enough to see her upset the favourite.
It’s been raining cats and dogs all week in Melbourne and I expect a heavy track at Sandown. Runners drawn wide generally benefit from this as racing progresses. That’s why I like the chances of Starcaster in race 6 (6.05am) and Mystery Love in race 8 (7.25am). Both horses have outside draws and this could allow them to come wide and avoid the chopped up inside turf. I expect them both to back up recent wins.
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Odds correct at time of posting, subject to change.