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Horses To Follow (VIC) - Blackbookers from Saturday's Victorian Racing

  • Blackbookers to catch the eye in Victoria
  • Our latest horses to follow from Melbourne racing

Saturday racing in Victoria produces several blackbookers to take forward into coming weeks and we pick out the best each week.

From winners of feature races to unlucky loses and first up gallopers outrunning expectations, we select three or four horses each week to add to your blackbook from Melbourne's Saturday racing.

Here are some horses to put in your blackbook:

Horses To Follow at Flemington on Saturday March 2 


KEMONO 
I was happy to be against the Ciaron Maher & David Eustace-trained Kemono on Saturday but I did think his run was outstanding. He was scratched from the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) the week before with blinkers on and ran down the straight at Flemington over 1000m with no blinkers on. I’m convinced that was just a fitness run and the market indicated he wasn’t ready to win ($4.60 out to $6.00). The leader Moonlover went 2.4 lengths slower than class benchmark to the 600m and Kemono really had no chance from back in the field. I loved the style of his last 200m, as he ripped home his final furlong in 11.04s which was the fastest of the entire meeting. He can be followed next start. 

WINNING PARTNER 
I’m confident this race will end up being a terrific form reference, with the top three Mr Quickie, Age Of Chivalry and Brilliant Choice looking well above average and others including Black Bliss and Write Your Name looking very impressive. The horse I want to follow from the race is the Tony McEvoy-trained Winning Partner. He was outstanding two starts ago winning at Sandown and although he ran eighth, I thought he was equally as impressive here at Flemington. Barrier one was always going to be sticky and that proved correct, as he never really got a crack at them in the straight and was hard held. 

JOHANNES VERMEER 
How impressive was the Melbourne Cup runner-up Johannes Vermeer. First-up for 480 days, he settled last in the 14-horse field before rocketing home into fourth. He ran his last 200m in a sizzling 11.44s, the only other horse to break 12 seconds for the final furlong was So Si Bon, who ran his last 200m in 11.90s. He is all class and looks ready to win a feature race. Nick Williams spoke on twitter, saying his next run will be in 2-3 weeks, most likely in Sydney.

LA TIGERESA
I was really taken with the run of La Tigeresa. I’ve been with her at her last two starts but thought she might’ve been outclassed by the likes of Oregon’s Day and Clarice Cliffs. She was completely unsuited by the tempo of the race, as the leader Shoko went 4.1 lengths below the class benchmark to the 600m, which didn’t give backmakers much of an opportunity to run on. La Tigeresa ran her last 600m in a race best 9.2 lengths above the class benchmark, clearly running the fastest last 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m and 1000m of the race. 

Horses to follow From Caulfield on Saturday February 23 


ZOUBO
As a rule, the Group Two Angus Armanasco form isn’t usually the best but this year I think the formlines will stack up, as two of my three horses to follow from the meeting are from this race. I still don’t think we’ve seen the best of this Zoustar filly, Zoubo. I was with her two starts ago when nothing went right at Caulfield and she ran last. We backed up again on Saturday and she handled things much better, running a terrific third. Her figures from her Sandown run, beating Kaplumpich were exceptional and I think she can go to a new level at Flemington and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mick Price targets a race like the Kewney Stakes at headquarters on March 8.

QUEEN LA DIVA 
The run that I thought was missed behind the top three was that of Queen La Diva. She was six weeks between runs, dropping back from 1600m-1400m. The Hawkes team had her looking exceptional from the yard which was a good sign. At the 500m she looked like she was going to drop out and run last but charged home to run sixth. She ran the second-fastest 400m-200m and the third-fastest last 200m of the race. She will likely be overs next start and can be followed.

RINGERDINGDING
You won’t see many better tenth-placed finishes than Ringerdingding in the Futurity Stakes. Manuel worked to lead early but once in front, put the brakes on and that didn’t help the chances of Ringerdingding who needs a fast tempo. Manuel went 2.6 lengths slower than Group 1 benchmark to the 600m. I’m not sure that Ringerdingding completely handled the Caulfield turn, he recorded the third-fastest 600-400m split but then only the eighth-fastest 400m-200m split. Once balanced up, he ripped home running the fastest last 200m of the race (11.26s) and took 2.8 lengths off Alizee in that furlong. He will now drop back against his own age group and back up seven days later in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday. He is proven he can handle the quick back up, winning the Sandown Guineas in the Spring off a seven-day back up and is in the perfect stable for doing just that. He is currently $7.00 in all-in markets and looks a terrific bet. 

Horses to follow from Flemington on Saturday February 16 


Note: I’m following three horses from the meeting and they all come out of the C.S. Hayes Stakes (1400m). 

STARS OF CARRUM
The first of the three is the Robbie Laing-trained Stars Of Carrum. I thought this was clearly the run of the day, he started $91 and had absolutely no luck in the straight. The way the track played, I thought Ben Melham did the right thing sticking to the inside of runners but it just didn’t work out. He was never clear in the straight and went to the line hard held. Considering this, his figures from the race were outstanding, he ran the sixth-fastest last 200m of the day (11.20s) equal with Verry Elleegant and faster than the likes of Widgee Turf and Divine Quality. He ran his last 400m in 22.00s, which was the seventh-fastest last 400m of the meeting and he ran his last 600m 7.4 lengths above benchmark, which was only 1.7 lengths off the best last 600m performance of meeting (Osborne Bulls, 9.1 lengths above benchmark). He is doing all of this over 1400m, he was only just getting warm over 2000m last preparation and went to a new level in the Victoria Derby over 2500m. The fact the Robbie Laing is the trainer means I won’t be backing him in any futures markets but I will be willing back him in an Australian Cup if he gets there. 

EXTRA BRUT
I thought this was a terrific first-up run from the Victoria Derby winner Extra Brut. He was just going through his gears and getting warm at the 200m before he got held-up badly for a run and his momentum was stopped, just like Stars Of Carrum, he went to the line hard held. He ran the second-fastest last 200m of the race (11.28s) and it was a good return. He seemed more forward first-up than the likes of Chapada and Stars Of Carrum, which was reflected in the starting prices. 

CHAPADA
Chapada could be the most interesting horse from the entire meeting. He arguably should’ve won the Victorian Derby last preparation and returned here. What I found extremely interesting was the money for him, he was $12 into $7 for a horse that was first-up over 1400m and going to get back from barrier 17 on a day that favoured horses on the fence. This is a serious racehorse and the market reflected that. He made very good ground from eight horses off the fence (Lane 8), a lane where horses struggled to make ground from all day. He ran the best last 600m of the race (8.9 lengths above benchmark) but did get the clear run in comparison to Stars Of Carrum and Extra Brut. He ran the fourth-fastest 600m-400m split, second-fastest 400m-200m split and then just ran out of condition late, running the sixth-fastest last 200m. I can’t wait to see him in a more suitable race second-up and beyond. 

Horses to follow from Caulfield on Saturday February 9 


NATURE STRIP
The best sprinter in Australia, Nature Strip resumed with a terrific win the Rubiton Stakes. The market support wasn’t there for his first start with Chris Waller, as he started $1.80 against a first-up Voodoo Lad and Jungle Edge on a good track. His performance was the best of the day, as he ran 16.2 lengths above benchmark and 3.7 lengths above the Group 2 standard at Caulfield. This was all done despite missing the start and needing to work early to lead. He cruised through the middle section of the race and exploded away when D.Lane clicked him up at the furlong. Hopefully he draws a wide barrier in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) and he’ll start a warm favourite.

AVILIUS
The Australian Cup could be all but over judging by the first-up run of Avilius. He was underdone in the yard and as a result, I thought this was Night’s Watch chance to beat him. Arbeitsam poured the pressure on early, going 12.8 lengths faster than benchmark to the 600m and this suited the backmakers, one of which was Avilius. He looked under a little pressure at the 600m but picked up the bit as they entered the straight, got the split underneath Night’s Watch and the race was well and truly over. He was far too classy late, beating an ok field. He is a deserved favourite for the Australian Cup and it will take a Lloyd Williams horse to beat him. 

SHOTMAKER
I am in love with the Mick Price-trained Shotmaker and he is my top pick for the Blue Diamond at this stage. I found him from the trials and made him a bet on Saturday. He tracked up three-wide with cover and I was very confident around the home turn, as the straightened I thought he raced a little ungenerously and didn’t really know what to do when asked to extend. He almost floated up to I Am Immortal at the 100m mark, instead of stretching his neck out and going past the horse. He will be much better for the run and will eat up every bit of 1200m. He is still $9.00 in futures markets and I’m happy to have a crack at that. 

Horses to follow from Caulfield on Saturday February 2 


I GOT YOU
The horse I want to be following from this meeting is the Joseph Waldron-trained I GOT YOU. First-up in Australia, the four-year-old boasted a nice second in a listed race behind The Bostonian in New Zealand. The market didn’t find him as he was $7.50-$10.00 but was almost the run of the day for mine. He settled back in the field and was still eighth, 5.4 lengths off the leader at the 200m mark before flying home in 11.14s his final 200m, which was the quickest of the race. Off an even tempo, his last 600m was 7.1 lengths above the benchmark, which was 2.3 lengths quicker than the winner Mystikos final 600m. This is a horse that can seriously be followed.

LOVING GABY 
No prizes for picking Loving Gaby as a horse to follow. Two daughter of I Am Invincible did her best Brooklyn Hustle impression, missing the start before behind bailed away on the fence. She looked in trouble around the home turn but I really liked the way she took the run between horses without fully knowing what it was all about. The raced didn’t rate highly on the day, as she only went one-length faster than benchmark but that is more an indication that the horses behind her are no good. She looks a talent and although unders for the Blue Diamond currently, can be followed.

TIN HAT & FUNDAMENTALIST 
My initial thoughts after watching this race was that D.Lane gave Tin Hat the perfect ride out in front and that’s his Group race won, I can oppose him next start. Looking at the figures, however, his run was actually exceptional. Tin Hat ran his first 600m in 4.5 lengths quicker than the average Group 3 race over 1200m at Caulfield. This completely flattened the horses that were first-up, which is why we saw the first three past the post be horses that were race fit. The win was full of merit and if he gets a similar set-up next start, I’ll be happy backing him. Fundamentalist was clearly the pick of the first-up horses for me. She was given the right run in transit but still ran well and just ran out of gas the final 100m which was to be expected. She is a horse who is still underrated in my opinion and back to her own sex, she’ll be hard to beat next start.

Horses To Follow from Flemington on January 19 & Sale on January 20 


ROX THE CASTLE & BATTLECAMP
Race three at Flemington rated extremely highly. I’m willing to bet that this race will be an above average form reference going forward and for that reason, I’m adding two horses to our blackbook, the first of which is Rox The Castle. This was a Benchmark 70 race over 1400m, the only other 1400m race on the day was a Benchmark 84. The winner of this race, Rox The Castle ran 0.24 seconds quicker than the Bad Wolf, who won the BM84 race. Rox The Castle did it at both ends, leading and running 35.38s from the 1200m to the 600m. The leader of the BM84 race, Kings Command ran that same sectional in 36.02s. He kicked away at the top of the straight and ran his last 200m in 11.55s, which was quicker than any last 200m sectional in the higher grading race. The other horse I’m adding to the blackbook is the third-placed Battlecamp. He was in an impossible position at the 400m, last and in behind a wall of runners. James Winks finally got him to the outside at the furlong and he rocketed home, running his last 400m in 22.04s and his last 200m in 11.17s. The only horses that ran a quicker last 200m than Battlecamp on the day came out of the Listed 1000m race. These were Champagne Cuddles, Missrock and Glenall. Both Rox The Castle and Battlecamp can be followed. 

LEODORO 
I really liked the effort of the Mick Kent-trained Leodoro in race six at headquarters. The seven-year-old gelding has raced better than his form suggests this preparation and I thought he put in another good performance on Saturday despite not being suited. He was back last in an on-speed dominated race, with the third three horses in running all finishing in the top four, along with Heptagon, who was sixth in-running. Although he wasn’t ‘bolting’ for a run at any stage, he was racing with restricted room and never really got the chance to get through his gears. I loved the way he finished off and the clock backs up that visual, as he ran the fastest last 400m and 1000m of the race. I don’t think the market will find him next start and he is one we can follow. 

LYRE 
The Horses To Follow file is usually reserved for Saturday racing but adding a horse from Sale on Sunday, as I’m very keen to follow the two-year-old Lonhro filly LYRE. We added her to the blackbook after her eye-catching jumpout prior to her first start. It was a sickening watch at Flemington, as she was back on the inside with nowhere to go. It was only a five-horse field at Sale but it did include the Tony McEvoy-trained Enood, who finished runner-up in that Flemington race. Lyre sat back off a moderate tempo and went through her gears nicely. She did hit a slight flat spot at the 300m, indicating that she probably wants further in time. She still did a bit wrong, wanting to have a look around once she hit the front. The stable hasn’t confirmed if they will go towards the Blue Diamond. Regardless, I’ll be keen to follow, as I believe she is a massive talent. 

Horses To Follow from Flemington on January 12

PLATINI
I think the two-year-old Charge Forward colt Platini ran into a few smart youngsters in Microphone, Pretty Brazen and Auxin in the opening race at headquarters. He looked good without looking great in his two jumpouts prior to Saturday. He settled behind Pretty Brazen on the far side and battled on very nicely into fourth. He was only 1.35 lengths off the winner Microphone and beat home fifth by over two lengths. He ran the quickest last 200m (11.19s), 400m (22.19s) and 600m (33.27s) of the entire meeting. My gut feel is he will be better around a bend and is one to follow. 

STELLAR COLLISION
It was the Darren Weir-trained Chauffeur that stole the show but it’s the stablemate Stellar Collision who I want to be following. The first three horses past the post were the three widest horses on the track. Meanwhile, Stellar Collision was pinching runs through on the inside to finish fifth. He ran the quickest 600m-400m split of the entire day (10.62s) and ran the second-quickest 400m-200m split of the race (11.04s) behind Chauffeur. In his last five starts down the Flemington straight prior Saturday, he hadn’t finished higher than sixth. He hadn’t run over 1100m since running on this day last year. He finished sixth and at his next start, finished fourth (beaten less than two lengths) behind Rich Charm who went onto be Group One competitive. He was first-up for seven weeks on Saturday and will be fitter for that run. I think we can get overs about him next start. 

GOT THE MOVES
I usually don’t like finding the ‘eye-catching’ runs because everyone spots them and we don’t get a price next start. I’m making an exception with Got The Moves. The lightly-raced six-year-old gelding was detached from the field and the 600m mark but Stephen Baster didn’t panic. He eased the horse to the outside, which looked the better ground and he started to run through the pack. At the furlong it looks like he going to run a nice fourth or fifth before he picks up and savages the line. He ran clearly the best sectionals of the race, running the fastest last 200m (12.05s), 400m (23.40s), 600m (34.17s) and 800m (44.75s) of the race. His form is now well exposed but he is still a horse to follow. 

Horses To Follow from Flemington on December 15


YES YES YES & ABSOLUTE FLIRT 
Race 1 at Flemington was for the two-year-olds and it was a comfortable win by the Darren Weir-trained Yes Yes Yes from Absolute Flirt. Both look to have promising futures. The winner was having just his second career start after finishing runner-up on debut at Moonee Valley earlier in December. He settled in a handy spot for Mark Zahra and powered away in the straight. The Darren Weir-trained galloper is likely to head to the Magic Millions at the Gold Coast in January. Absolute Flirt was the best of the back markers and may be suited over further ground. The Danny O'Brien filly was also having her second start and is also likely to travel north. 

SOCIAL SPIN
After claiming the opener, Darren Weir just missed out on a race to race double after his three-year-old, Social Spin, was run down by the impressive Phoneme in the closing stages of the Sports Environment Alliance Handicap (1410m), a BenchMark 70. The son of Toorak Toff did all the early work in the race, running three wide in the early to middle stages before being sent for home a long way out with Ethan Brown on board. His effort to stay on for as long as he did was impressive, going down by a small margin to finish runner-up, and he is one to keep a eye on over summer as it was just his second run this campaign.

DECLARES WAR & FIVE KINGDOM
One of the impressive winners at Flemington was Declares War, who made it three wins on end by somehow securing a gap with 200m to go before producing a stunning closing burst to win by over a length from Naivasha and Five Kingdom. The winner looks to be one that can measure up to Group class and is one to keep in mind for the Melbourne autumn. While he would not have beaten the winner, Five Kingdom is another to enter into the black book. The Hayes/Dabernig runner copped a bit of a buffering in the early stages of the race and lost a bit of ground. He settled in a midfield spot and worked home well to the line to grab 3rd. 

Horses To Follow from Pakenham on December 8


IT'S A MYTH
It's A Myth lined up in Race 3 of the day, a BenchMark 78 for the fillies and mares, and was one of the luckless runners at Pakenham en route to finishing 4th behind Angelic Spirit. The Phillip Stokes-trained four-year-old was coming off a series of encouraging runs and settled towards the rear in the 11 horse field. As the race heated up, the daughter of Sepoy was checked out of it at the 200m mark and with a clearer passage she may have finished closer than the two length margin that separated her and the winner. With some better luck next time, the consistent mare can break through for an overdue win. 

CREEDENCE
It was a tough watch for those that backed Creedence after the David & Ben Hayes & Tom Dabernig-trained galloper threw away victory with 50m to go in the Grand Vue Springlands Handicap (2000m). Lining up as a well supported $5.50 chance, the four-year-old settled just worse than midfield and worked home very solidly in the last few hundred metres of the race before shifting in badly with the post in sight. The blunder cost him victory and he eventually went down by a narrow margin to Mr Quickie. The son of Helmet gets to make amends at his next few starts and should step up in trip. He was competitive behind Runaway in the VRC St Leger (2800m) earlier in the year and despite his antics he is one to stick with. 

BEAUTY WAY
It was an impressive Australian debut by the well-travelled Beauty Way, who claimed victory in the David Bourke Memorial Handicap (1600m) for new trainer Grahame Begg. The six-year-old, who has raced and won in the U.K, Hong Kong and New Zealand, landed in the box seat and took control of the race in the straight, defeating Togersen and Snoano in the process. The lightly-raced galloper arrived with some handy form from his previous ventures and will most likely be spelled with the Autumn Carnival in mind. 

Horses To Follow from Moonee Valley on December 1

BEHEMOTH
Race 1 of the day at Moonee Valley was for there the-year-olds and it was hard not to be impressed by the win of Behemoth, who blitzed his rivals with Craig Williams on board. The South Australian galloper was lining up for his first start in Victoria and his fourth start overall. He attracted plenty of support in the betting and the money was spot on with the son of All Too Hard looping the field before winning by over three lengths. The David Jolly stable believe they have plenty to work with and will come back for a crack at some of the autumn races, with Behemoth set to tackle trips up to a mile. 

BROOKLYN HUSTLE
There was plenty of interest in Race 2 at Moonee Valley with the two-year-olds stepping out over the 1000m trip and it was Brooklyn Hustle that stamped herself as a possible star of the future by producing a scintillating performance to claim the $100,000 race. Despite missing the start by two lengths and being a mile off them at the home turn, the Jason Warren-trained filly was able to come from the clouds in the dying stages to score by two lengths from Yes Yes Yes and Oh So Rewarding. The brilliant performance means that she has now booked herself a spot in the Blue Diamond (1200m) next year and she looks to be one of the early fancies for the Melbourne feature for the juveniles. 

KEN'S DREAM
Of the beaten brigade at Moonee Valley, Ken's Dream might be one to keep an eye on. The Darren Weir-trained galloper was resuming after an autumn campaign that saw him finish within three lengths of Redkirk Warrior in the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) before placing at Group 3 level at Caulfield. At the Valley, he was easy in the market, drifting to the $7.50 but he was able to run on nicely from the tail of the field before just missing out by under half a length to the race favourite, Our Luca. With races such as the Standish Handicap (1200m) on the horizon, there should be a win or two in him this preparation. 

Horses To Follow from Ballarat on November 24

I AM QUEEN
Race 2 of the ay at Ballarat was a BenchMark 70 over 1100m and one that enjoyed the drop back in trip was I Am Queen, who towelled her rivals, including Rox The Castle (2nd) and the race favourite, I Am Someone (3rd). The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained four-year-old had previously won a BenchMark 64 at Cranbourne before missing out at Mornington over 1500m. Her turn of foot in the win was described as being 'electrifying' by jockey Dwayne Dunn and it will be interesting to see if she can go on with the job. 

THE CLOSER
One of the most impressive winners out of the Ballarat meeting was The Closer, who took out the Gold Eureka Stockade (1400m) at just her third career start. The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained filly had won on debut at Geelong before stepping up to Group 3 level at Flemington, finishing a three length 13th after drawing the wrong part of the track. At Ballarat, she was sent in a well supported $5 chance and booted clear in the straight to win by three lengths. The stable regard her as one that can step back up to stakes level and she will be set for some of the middle distance races for her age group next year. 

PROUD WOLF
Of the beaten brigade at Ballarat, Proud Wolf looks to be in for a fruitful campaign after finishing just over a length behind the wet-tracker, Jungle Edge, in the last event of the day. The seven-year-old settled in a midfield spot and made up plenty of lengths in the closing stages on the tearaway leader in what was his first run this campaign. The Lee & Shannon Hope-trained galloper has produced some competitive runs over the journey and should be suited by some of the upcoming summer class racing that await. 



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MORE HORSES TO FOLLOW: Our latest blackbookers from New South Wales and the latest horses to follow from Queensland.

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Horses To Follow (VIC) - Blackbookers from Saturday's Victorian Racing

Saturday racing in Victoria produces several blackbookers to take forward into coming weeks and we pick out the best each week.

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