Steve Moran

Australia prepares for the overseas invasion

It’s rare that the world’s leading racing operations clash with multiple numbers in this part of the world so today’s action is intriguing to say the least.

Thus it’s a shame the TAB has not launched a bet type pitting stables and visitors alike against each other.

It could have been based on which stable or group will win most of the seven major races of the day – the four Group 1’s and two Group 2’ at Caulfield along with The Everest.

We’ve got Godolphin versus Ballydoyle as they take on the extraordinary talent being presented by Waller and Lees and the sheer weight of numbers representing the Weir and David Hayes’ family teams.

If you’re unsure about the strength of the overseas invasion, a ‘stable challenge’ could have provided an opportunity to hedge your bets. Similarly, you could have backed Waller or Lees if unsure about which one of their multiple runners, in five races, might be the winner.

The ‘runners’ would have looked something like this:

CHRIS WALLER STABLE: Fiesta, Shillelagh, Noire, D’Argento, Unforgotten, The Autumn Sun, Brimham Rocks, The Lord Mayor.  


KRIS LEES STABLE: Le Romain, In Her Time, Graff, El Dorado Dreaming, Smart Melody, Gem Song.


DARREN WEIR STABLE: Brave Smash, Voodoo Lad, Amphitrite, Krone, Anjana, Black Heart Bart, Land Of Plenty, Cliff’s Edge, Lord Langley, Humidor, Tosen Basil, Night’s Watch, Native Soldier, Leonardo Da Hinchi, Big Duke, Gallic Chieftain.


HAYES, HAYES, DABERNIG STABLE: Vega Magic, Faatinah, Fundamentalist, Qafila, Muraaqeb, Harlem, Muswellbrook, Good ’N’ Fast, Pilote D’Essai, Sin To Win, Rezalient.


AIDAN O’BRIEN: U S Navy Flag, Intelligence Cross, Spirit Of Valour, Fleet Review, The Cliffsofmoher, Yucatan.


GODOLPHIN: (worldwide): Osborne Bulls, Hartnell, Jungle Cat, Benbatl, Blair House, Prize Money.


VISITING ELEVEN:  (11 overseas horses racing in Australia for the first time in the selected races): U S Navy Flag, Intelligence Cross, Spirit Of Valour, Fleet Review, The Cliffsofmoher, Yucatan, Lord Langley, Benbatl, A Prince Of Arran, Dal Harraild, Prize Money.


I’d have been inclined to be on Waller or Lees which would please Sky Channel’s Ron Dufficy and his much beloved SF (Sydney form). New South Wales trained horses did win six of the nine races at Flemington last Saturday and I can’t see that trend changing today.

It would be no shock if Waller swept all four Group 1’s at Caulfield but I think Lees will triumph in the the Thousand Guineas with either Smart Melody or El Dorado Dreaming – with a clear preference for the former.

Waller’s represented by Fiesta who was very good in the Flight Stakes but I’m not sure that Maid Of Heaven subsequently beating the B grade boys in the Spring Champion, necessarily franks that form from the blanket finish Flight. Fiesta and Oohood in the Caulfield Guineas will truly determine that.

Waller’s pair Shillelagh and Noire have been well backed in the Toorak. However, Shillelagh is now into 4/1 on the TAB (at last look) in a race which really should be 10/1 the field. The race is frankly impossible but the horse who is over the odds is the Hawkes’ family trained Kingsguard who, last start, finished alongside Noire and yet is four times the price. A half length behind them was Youngstar who then ran second to Winx!

I fancy Unforgotten in the Ladbrokes Stakes and Waller may well win it with either this mare or D’Argento who come through the Epsom – as do Hartnell, Shillelagh, Siege Of Quebec and Muraaqeb who contest the Toorak which is 50 minutes earlier. The extended break between races is to allow some air around The Everest at 4.15 pm. While keen on Unforgotten, I do think the market – like the Toorak – should be much wider at around 7/1 the field.

Waller’s The Autumn Sun looks to have a mortgage on the Caulfield Guineas. Good heavens, I’ve backed him to win the Cox Plate at 70/1 which makes me a heretic but all’s fair in love and the punt.

However, if he were to be upset then it could well be chief rival Lees spoiling the party with Gem Song. On the line through Royal Celebration, which I admit is a touch tenuous as the clashes were months part, Gem Song is competitive with The Autumn Sun.

Gem Song’s effort under 59 kg in the Dulcify Quality was excellent and I doubt the subsequent moderate effort of the runner-up Mickey Blues Eyes – to whom he conceded 6 kg – is significant as that was on rain affected ground over much further.

As to the international challenge, well it would be monumentally embarrassing if Aidan O’Brien’s sprinters prevailed in the Schillaci and The Everest in the land of speed. They’re all by War Front as is Homesman who contests the Ladbrokes Stakes. Where have those briefly shuttling sons of War Front gone? We might be clamouring for them.

Similarly, it would be unsettling if Benbatl and The Cliffsofmoher dominated the 2000 metres weight-for-age race. They are decent horses who’ll run well but not the elite middle distance performers of the UK and Europe.

Prize Money and Yucatan are the two who most interest me – in the Herbert Power Stakes. If winning, I’ll have a couple of bob on each at double figure odds. If not, I’ll look and learn which we’ll be doing all day long.

As to The Everest, I suspect the key runners are Redzel, Shoals and Graff assuming the track is heavy as it was rated when we went to press. The three-year-olds didn’t threaten in the inaugural Everest last year but they were all fillies. Graf just might be the one over the odds and could cap a remarkable day, if not season, for Kris Lees.