Spring Racing Contenders: Humidor winds back the clock


Some brilliant racing occurred over the weekend at Moonee Valley and Royal Randwick, including five Group 2 races as well as a number of Listed and Group 3 events. Despite no top-tier races, there were plenty of proven Group 1 horses gracing the tracks along with some future stars. We look back at all the racing to help find your next winner.

Humidor outshines Surprise Baby in Feehan Stakes

Damien Lane produced a ride for the ages in the Feehan Stakes as Humidor claimed his first win since the Group 1 Memsie Stakes back in September 2018 when trained by Darren Weir. He has since been in the care of Ciaron Maher and David Eustace, before moving to Western Australia to be trained by Lindsay Smith, and now finds himself back on the east coast in the Chris Waller stable.

Lane gave the eight-year-old an ideal ride, slicing through the field to guarantee a spot in this year’s Cox Plate. The Melbourne Cup favourite, Surprise Baby, made an encouraging return and is clearly looking for further, while Harbour Views looked to have every chance from the box seat and simply may not be quite up to that class yet.

Bella Vella was simply too tough in the Group 2 McEwan Stakes over 1000m, managing to hold out Ashlor and Brooklyn Hustle. After being three wide on the turn, Bella Vella was able to give a strong kick to get the bob in just in time. Ashlor was very brave in defeat, while Brooklyn Hustle came on strongly.

Blue Diamond runner-up Hanseatic was a victim of circumstance, as he jumped from the outside alley and was forced to settle last. He then didn’t look to corner all that well around The Valley, but he hit the line nicely under Craig Williams.

The other feature event on the program at The Valley was the Listed Atlantic Jewel Stakes for three-year-old fillies over 1200m. Night Raid was heavily backed to get the cash and so she did, making it win number two at start number three. Aidensfield suffered her first defeat, running second, and Dirty Thoughts lost her first race this campaign, finishing half a length away in third.

The three placegetters cornered second, third and fourth and put a 2L margin on fourth-placed Agreeable, who was the eye-catcher from the back of the field again. We black-booked Agreeable after her last start, and she definitely did enough on Saturday to hold her spot there. She looks to be a filly that will appreciate getting out over a trip at some point this campaign.

Best Bets
Coolmore Stud Stakes (Oct 31) – Hanseatic @ $9
VRC Kennedy Oaks (Nov 5) – Agreeable @ $10

Gytrash stuns Nature Strip in Concorde Stakes

Many punters around the country were left with their jaws on the deck after one of the fastest horses on the planet suffered defeat at the hands of South Australian sprinter Gytrash for the second time. Gordon Richards’ gelding won the Lightning Stakes at Flemington first up last prep when Nature Strip was a $1.45 favourite, and he replicated that in nearly identical circumstances in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes at Randwick.

After getting all of the favours in behind the slick tempo set by TJ Smith winner Ball Of Muscle, Jason Collett was able to peel out in the straight and leave the hot-pot standing still. Dirty Work came home very well along the inside, nearly going past Nature Strip, and will win a race in the near future.

As for Nature Strip, he always races better third and fourth up, so punters can be slightly forgiving of him here. The defeat saw him wound out 10c in Everest markets at Sportsbet, while Gytrash was the big firmer ($11 into $6).

Dame Giselle made it back to back wins and completed leg number two of the Darley Princess Series when winning the Furious Stakes. After being posted three deep, Tommy Berry was bullish on the I Am Invincible filly as he loomed up past the leaders in the straight. It was win number four for her and puts her into the million-dollar earners.

Runner-up Hungry Heart was slightly easy in betting after opening as the $2.90 favourite, and the money was right. She wouldn’t have lost any admirers – if anything, she would have gained more as she powered through the line – with race fitness likely to have played a part in her defeat. She looks all systems go en route to the Flight Stakes over a mile and is the one we want to be on there.

Mister Sea Wolf was well backed in the Chelmsford Stakes and justified the support to turn his form around and win the Group 2 feature. After jumping well, he settled in the box seat and was able to idle up alongside pace-setting stablemate Wu Gok in the straight, leaving enough gas to hold out two more stablemates in Yulong Prince and Finche.

Avilius came from last on the turn to run fourth and clock the quickest final 400m of the race in what was a promising return. Of the first seven runners past the post, Avilius was the only horse to settle outside of the top six in the run, which adds a huge amount of merit to his performance given he was last on the turn.

If he doesn’t get beaten by the handicapper, the Big A looks in for a big campaign and is worth following wherever he goes next. In a year without too many weight-for-age stars, we will have something on him at $40s in the Cox Plate. Shared Ambition was also good from the back in a race that wasn’t run to suit the stayer.

John Thompson’s tough on-pacer Dreamforce made it back-to-back wins in the Tramway under regular rider Nash Rawiller, doing enough to hold out Kolding and Reloaded. Dreamforce, Greysful Glamour and Kolding settled 1-2-3 in the run and held a gap of around 6L back to fourth at the 700m, and they all stuck to their guns and finished in the top four.

ATC Oaks winner Colette was lacklustre, in our opinion, finishing second last and fading late. Our top pick in the race, Vanna Girl, came from last and only just beat Colette by 0.1L into ninth, but she got a big pass mark given how well she worked through the line and what she did past the post. Both mares will appreciate more ground, but if they meet again, we will be on the Queenslander.

Reloaded ran a great race in third, but we aren’t convinced about him yet given he hasn’t won since April last year when on debut.

Race 3 on the program was a stacked Benchmark 72 that delivered the goods despite being rated the second-weakest event on the card. Les Bridge’s All Time Legend got the chocolates over a runner who we are very keen on next start.

Air To Air from the Jason Coyle stable was an eye-catcher at the end of last prep, taking it all the way to Dawn Passage and Rocha Clock in the Inglis Guineas. She came back on Saturday and was held up in a crucial stage upon straightening before ducking out in the straight, which cost her the victory by 0.1L. She still has a bit to learn considering she was so green in only her fifth career start, but we expect her to win her next race and make a bid towards the Golden Eagle in October.

Best Bets
Flight Stakes (Oct 3) – Hungry Heart @ $3
Cox Plate (Oct 24) – Avilius @ $41

Horses to add to your Black Book

  • Air To Air
  • Agreeable
  • Avilius
  • Dirty Work
  • Hanseatic
  • Hungry Heart
  • Shared Ambition
  • Surprise Baby
  • Vanna Girl