Spring players show their hand at Caulfield & Randwick

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The curtain closed on Group 1 racing for the 2021/22 racing season at Eagle Farm on Saturday, but when one door closes, another tends to open, so we are only seven weeks away from the first Group 1 of the 2022/23 season. A few horses stamped their claim as spring players at Caulfield, Randwick and Eagle Farm on Saturday, so the team at The Follow Files have identified a couple of runners to follow through the late winter and early spring months.

Caulfield | Track: Soft 6 | Rail: True Entire Course

Race 5: Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m) | Time: 1:38.43

  • Horse to follow: BLUE CUP (4th)

BLUE CUP was one of the more interesting runners on the Caulfield program on Saturday, having his first Australian start for the powerhouse stable that is Ciaron Maher & David Eustace. The six-year-old French import had won three of his 17 starts in the Northern Hemisphere, winning over 1400m, 2002m and 2027m. The son of Kendargent also lined up in the 2021 Ebor Handicap and he wasn’t far away at Listed level during the 2021 Royal Ascot Carnival. On Saturday, the big grey was first-up over the mile and hit the line really well from the back to run fourth, suggesting that he’s adapted well to Australian conditions.

When to bet: This horse could potentially reach the big staying races in the spring like a Caulfield Cup or a Melbourne Cup, with a race like The Bart Cummings (2500m) a potential ticket into the race that stops a nation. Obviously, he will need to win a race or two first, but he’s in the right stable to do so. Follow him as he gets out over a bit more of a trip.

Royal Randwick | Track: Soft 5, upgraded to Good 4 after Race 7 | Rail: +6m Entire Course

Race 8: Listed Civic Stakes (1400m) | Time: 1:23.81

  • Horse to follow: CARIF (6th)

There were a few whispers during the week that CARIF was flying, but we didn’t expect the Snowden-trained gelding to do what he did first-up over 1400m. We haven’t seen the son of So You Think since the Melbourne Cup where he finished a long way down the track – 25.35L to be exact – but he returned in superb fashion in the Randwick feature on Saturday. Carif held a position early on and was able to sprint with them in the straight, before picking up again late and doing his best work past the post. It was a really nice return by a horse who rarely fires a shot below 2000m.

When to bet: We are a touch wary that Carif could put in a flat run or two now following that good first-up showing, but we want to follow him this time around. No doubt the Melbourne Cup will again be their target, but a race like the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) could be his for the taking along the way.

Eagle Farm | Track: Good 4 | Rail: +6m 1600m-1000m, +8m Remainder

Race 2: Benchmark 78 Handicap (1200m) | Time: 1:11.50

  • Horse to follow: SAFEWORK (2nd)

Undoubtedly, the winner of this race, Uncommon James, is a future star, but the runner-up will win his fair share of races this preparation too. SAFEWORK was beaten nearly three lengths by Uncommon James, but he still had a bit on the rest of the field, including the talented Joy Too All. Safework was unlucky on the Gold Coast in the Magic Millions QTIS Open (1300m) in January, before coming out to win back-to-back races after that. He looked to have returned in nice order on Saturday for trainer Scott Morrisey.

When to bet: History suggests that Safework doesn’t win in his first three runs of a preparation, so maybe he will take a few runs to win, but in saying that, he was very good on Saturday. Connections don’t have to shoot for the stars with this four-year-old, with a similar race to this at his mercy during this campaign.

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