Racing: Just the tonic for punters

By Mike Dillon

The odds are becoming more and more cramped around our Victoria Derby favourite Sacred Elixir (No 1, R7). Photo / Getty Images
The odds are becoming more and more cramped around our Victoria Derby favourite Sacred Elixir (No 1, R7). Photo / Getty Images

Melbourne's fabulous Derby Day this afternoon might provide the best punting opportunities.

The odds are becoming more and more cramped around our Victoria Derby favourite Sacred Elixir (No 1, R7) but at the late call yesterday of $2.80 he probably looks value.

Don't forget the place odds around New Zealand's second chance, Highlad (No 12). He is a lot better than the odds offered on both sides of the Tasman.

The Flemington opener, the Carbine Club Stakes is as open as always.

They have to beat Caulfield Guineas runner-up Hey Doc (No 1, R1), but Acatour (No 7) ridden by Blake Shin for the Snowdens, is worth an each-way look.

Tiamo Grace (No 6, R2) is entitled to her favouritism after her second to New Zealand's Eleonora in the Ethereal Stakes. She was regarded as unlucky in that when held up, but even if she'd got out in time she would not have beaten Eleonora.

However, second was a top run and good enough to get her the money here. Darren Weir's horses are always difficult to beat.

World-class horseman Joao Moreira is one of those jockeys you can put your money on knowing he's going to give the horse every chance. In Race 3 he's on the favourite Sheidel (No 2), a winner under James McDonald at Caulfield. The widish barrier is an annoyance, but Moreira can weave magic and at yesterday's $4 he's worth the risk.

English raider Oceanographer (No 8, R4) is a hot favourite for the 2500m Lexus off the back of his fast-finishing third to Qewy in the Geelong Cup. Okay, that was a staying test, but 2500m at Flemington is even more dour and that will suit. Quinellas with Real Love (No 2) and Tom Melbourne (No 5) might be the way to go.

The John Wheeler-trained Pentathlon (No 4), chasing a Melbourne Cup start, is also a leading place hope.

The breaks did not go the way of Astern (No 3, R5) last start in Sydney. He was a long way off them on the home bend and after too much ground to make up finished a close second to a rival here Russian Revolution (No 6).

He should beat that horse here, but he has a couple of beauts in Extreme Choice (No 2) and Star Turn (No 5) facing him. Mick Price, trainer of Extreme Choice and one not given to rash statements, says the Melbourne horses will "spank" the Sydney horses, which include the unbeaten Russian Revolution.

In-form New Zealander Humidor (No 12, R8) is making his Australian debut in what will probably be his sole start across the Tasman. The point of the exercise is to acquaint him with Australia for an autumn campaign, with prizemoney being a bonus.

He is dropping back from a 2000m and a 2040m and will find some of these difficult to handle at 1600m. Included among those is The United States (No 2) and He's Our Rokki (No 4). Mackintosh (No 11) has the magical Waller/Moreira combination.

Difficult at Tauranga because we don't really know what conditions will be like with a band of rain forecast to go through last night.

Worth considering though are Shine On (No 2, R3) who has been sparkling at the trials lately and makes his debut here. Close Up (No 4, R4) is due a win and it is likely to come here.

The favourites in the last three all look good bets at short odds. Mr Luigi (No 1, R6), Seventh Up (No 2, R7) and Only If (No 5, R8) could provide a winning treble.

- NZ Herald

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