Feature racing heads to Caulfield on Saturday afternoon for a bumper 10-part meeting that kicks off at 12:10pm local time. The Group 2 Zipping Classic (2400m) is the marquee event of the day, ably supported by the Group 2 Sandown Guineas (1600m) and several other black-type races. Consistent rain is forecast over Friday and Saturday, which means we will be racing on a Soft track, with the rail coming out 5m for the entire circuit.
Keep reading for our free Zipping Classic Day race-by-race preview and quaddie selections
Race 1: Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m)
The juveniles kick off proceedings at Caulfield in the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes, a race that has catapulted the likes of Anamoe and Little Brose to Group 1 glory in recent years. Eneeza showed plenty on debut when finishing second in the Group 3 Ottawa Stakes (1000m). The race experience of the eventual winner told late, but with that debut effort under her belt and getting back around a corner at Caulfield, this girl can salute at start two.
We were with Awash when he won in impressive fashion at Moonee Valley on November 17. The four-year-old gelding gained a perfect tow into the race and was strong through the line over 1600m, suggesting the 1800m here will be right up his alley. He steps up to BM70 grade and takes on another 1.5kg but gains the services of Jamie Kah, who will look to have the son of Merchant Navy settled in the first-half of the field from barrier 10. As long as he does not get caught wide from the tricky draw, Awash should be bringing up a third-straight win.
Any rain that comes is only going to suit the Patrick Ryan-trained Ferago, who returns to the Caulfield 2400m. The seven-year-old gelding was beaten by 1.8 lengths in the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) here two runs back, before being well beaten in the Geelong Cup (2400m) in a race much tougher than this. In an event that should suit Ferago perfectly, we are getting a ridiculous price for a runner with five wins and six minor placings on rain-affected going.
Extremely Rowdy could not have been more impressive when winning at Cranbourne on November 25. The three-year-old filly gave her rivals a start and an emphatic beating when producing a stunning turn of foot. Race favourite Miraval Rose will making this a genuinely run 1400m affair, and from barrier three, Jye McNeil can have this Extreme Choice filly within striking distance throughout. The step up to 1400m looks ideal, and with even luck from the low draw, Extremely Rowdy can cause a minor upset in the Listed Twilight Glow Stakes.
Keats was going to be hard to beat in the Listed Kilmore Cup before that was abandoned last weekend. The Gavin Bedgood-trained runner was only gunned down late by Maktoob in the Listed Sale Cup (1600m) first-up, but as he steps up to the 1800m, he looks well placed in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes. He draws barrier one under Beau Mertens and should have no issue in gaining an uncontested lead in the race. With a couple of cheap sectionals, Keats should have too much left in reserve for this lot.
The Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1400m) has attracted an even field, where King Magnus can build on his impressive return at Flemington in the Group 2 Damien Oliver (1400m). The eight-year-old gelding will relish any rain that falls, and with two wins and two minor placings from five second-up starts, the son of Magnus looks to have found the right race at this point in his career. From barrier five, Thomas Stockdale will have race favourite Vilana in his sights at all times having drawn next to him. As long as King Magnus gains even luck in the home straight, he is going to prove too hard to hold out.
The Charlotte Littlefield-trained Modown chased home the smart Schwarz in the Listed Springtime Stakes (1400m), with the run indicating the step up to 1600m will suit. With this being just his fourth start, the son of Toronado brings an element of the unknown to the Sandown Guineas, and he looks set to gain an economical run in transit if he can jump cleanly. He has settled towards the rear in each of his starts, but from barrier three, Modown will take some beating if he can hold a prominent position.
Melbourne Cup Carnival form is front and centre in the 2023 Zipping Classic, but we’re going slightly off broadway with the Alex Rae-trained Shock ‘Em Ova following an impressive third in the Rosehill Cup (2000m). The mile and a half should suit him perfectly, and despite this being his toughest task to date, he looks the one to beat. He has two wins and a second to his name from three starts on Soft ground, while most of his rivals would prefer firmer going. Craig Williams will have this guy settled towards the rear of the field, and with Deny Knowledge certain to make this a genuinely run affair, the race sets up perfectly for Shock ‘Em Ova to blouse his rivals.
Revolutionary Miss relished a drop back in grade when winning with ease at Cranbourne on November 25. The Russian Revolution mare settled on the back of the leaders, and when the gap came at the top of the home straight, she put her rivals away with contempt to suggest the Group 3 Summoned Stakes (1600m) would be the perfect next stop. Michael Dee will need a touch of luck from barrier 10, but if he can settle outside the lead, or in the one-one, Revolutionary Miss is going to prove too classy this field.
In the closer, Ghaanati will be looking to go one better than her second in the Group 3 How Now Stakes (1200m). The four-year-old mare went down by a neck to the classy Rose Quartz and managed to get the better of the smart duo She Dances and Queen Of The Ball in doing so. She will be giving her rivals a decent start from back in the field, but with the likes of Jigsaw, Semillion and Lombardo all looking to lead, the race will set up beautifully for Ghaanati to finish over the top.