Saturday morning's racing Down Under is headlined by the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington, as a select bunch of sprinter's class, led by the Royal Ascot-bound Nature Strip.
Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (Flemington Race 7 - 5.10am GMT)
Nature Strip begins the road to Royal Ascot as an odds-on favourite. On past form, Nature Strip should be too speedy for this lot, as he aims for five from five down the Flemington straight. He’s trialed sensationally twice in Sydney and also impressed Flemington's trackwork watchers during the week with his effortless work.
However, on figures, he’s far from over the line yet, and REDZEL (6/1 bet365) is the one to beat him. First up last campaign in the Concorde Stakes at Randwick, Nature Strip overraced and cost himself a chance of winning in finishing fourth, while Redzel led all the way to defeat Pierata and Graff. Tactics will play a big part, as will Nature Strip’s manners, but the one true consistent in this event is Redzel first-up over 1000m. Redzel is 6/1 with bet365 compared to 9/20 for Nature Strip, and is the value in the race.
Group 2 Apollo Stakes (Randwick Race 8 - 5.30am GMT)
Three runners clearly standout and it would be a surprise if the winner came outside of Happy Clapper, Dreamforce or ALIZEE (2/1 bet365). Six of the ten runners are middle distance to staying types resuming, and don't have the first-up credentials over this distance on rain-affected ground to figure in the finish. The other, Glenall, has a poor record at the track and distance and is the lowest rated horse in the field. That leaves the aforementioned trio to fight out the finish...but which will pass the post first?
Happy Clapper was 2nd to Winx in the Apollo Stakes last year and was runner-up to Samadoubt when first-up in the Winx Stakes (1400m) during the spring. Dreamforce defeated Te Akau Shark first-up in the Tramway Stakes (1400m) last spring with an explosive performance, but it is a concern the blinkers are left off on his first run this preparation. Alizee is the one with a fitness run under her belt, and it was a cracking run at that. She was last as they straightened in the Expressway Stakes and had to take a run through the field. Standout built a big enough lead at the top of the straight and Alizee was unable to run him down. If she can spike second-up over seven furlong, she’s the one to beat.
Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (Flemington Race 5 - 3.50am GMT)
This shapes as one of the better three-year-old races that you will see as the likes of ALLIGATOR BLOOD (11/10 bet365), Catalyst and Dalasun go at it. Alligator Blood has met Dalasun on two occasions and has beaten him on both occasions. He comes up against the Kiwi, Catalyst, for the first time. While it might be a different story in the Group 1 Australian Guineas in a few weeks, a wait and see approach is the best policy with Catalyst.
Stick with the local horse Alligator Blood to get the job done over seven furlongs. He claimed the Caulfield Guineas Prelude over the trip in the spring and his last two runs have both come over the distance, including a dominant last start effort that saw him take out the $2 million Magic Millions 3YO Guineas. He galloped well on Tuesday at Flemington and is versatile enough to lead or take a sit from the inside draw.
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