Group 2 Australia Stakes and Group 3 Blue Diamond Preview
So lulled into a sense of complacency have we been that it almost escaped our notice that there are a couple of Group quality races this coming weekend.
One is the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200 m) at Moonee Valley and the other is the Group 3 Blue Diamond Preview (1000 m).
The Australia Stakes is run under weight-for-age conditions. It was won last year by Malaguerra and Ben Melham, taking it from the favourite Black Heart Bart without much trouble.
Had Bart won, it would have been a clear omen that any horse with the word “black” in its name would be a good punt, as Black Caviar won the race in 2010 and 2012. Given our limited handicapping skills, that choice would have been equally or more effective than some of our others.
In this year’s Australia Stakes, Brave Smash is enjoying pronounced favourtism. He won a Listed race on the same course over the same distance in September of 2017, but it would appear as though some of Brave Smash’s $1.60 quote for the Australia Stakes is the placing he posted in the inaugural running of The Everest in October, where he ran a close third to Redzel and Vega Magic, for which he took home a cool $800,000 and jumped at $19, rewarding any backers he attracted.
The other race, the Blue Diamond Preview, is for two-year-old fillies and is run under set weight conditions.
Limestone was the winner in 2017, with Tulip second and Chateau Griffo third.
One of the ones to watch in his year’s race is Oohood. Trainer Tony McEvoy has been working to improve her starts subsequent to her finishing second in the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes at Sandown, where she was a bit tardy after playing up in the barriers. McEvoy resorted to a barrier blanket and noticed an improvement.
Typical two-year-old, although even Winx has been seen to experience some jumpiness in the barriers and gave the racing world a thrill when she spotted the field six lengths in a race last year that very nearly ended her unbeaten streak.