The Hunter (1300m) is the headline act this Saturday at Newcastle, with a capacity field of 16 set to line up in the $1 million feature.
It brings together contenders from a multitude of form-lines across the NSW metropolitan racing scene — including the Everest (1200m), The Kosciuszko (1200m) and Group 3 Sydney Stakes (1200m), just to name a few.
The race could be in for a dramatic shift, however, as some of the leading chances, such as Vilana and I Am Me, have dual-accepted for the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on the same day.
THE HUNTER 2023 ODDS
The market has already started to gravitate towards the only Australian Group 1 winner in this field, as Mazu holds the call at +450 in a wide-open race. I Am Me has held solid on the second line of betting at +500 despite no jockey being listed in the form guide. Sharing that quote is the David McColm-trained Far Too Easy, while the Joseph Pride-trained Coal Crusher has eased slightly to +600. King Of Sparta has firmed from +1000 into +800, leaving Opal Ridge at +900 as the main elect at double-figure odds.
THE HUNTER 2023 SPEED MAP
There should be a genuine tempo in this race, with the Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott-trained Dajraan likely ping the lids from barrier 13 in an attempt find the rail under Tim Clark. Coal Crusher led them up in the Giga Kick Stakes (1300m) and will look to hold out Dajraan from the inside draw (2). Far Too Easy can utilise barrier one to hold a position, while Mazu (6) and I Am Me (4) should get a lovely trail just behind the leading pair. The likes of Rustic Steel (18), Dark Destroyer (17) and King Of Sparta (10) are likely to drag back towards the rear, while it wouldn’t shock to see Gravina (7) and Opal Ridge (14) ridden to slot in mid-field.
THE HUNTER 2023 FORM & BETTING PREVIEW
Mazu brings the strongest form to The Hunter and should finally get conditions to suit. The son of Maurice was closing with intent behind a quality field in the Giga Kick Stakes but couldn’t match motors with the likes of Bella Nipotina, Private Eye and Think About It in the concluding stages. This must be considered a significant drop back in grade, and with the forecast suggesting the surface could end up in the Soft range for this race, Mazu should be closing in on his first win since the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 in 2022.
Excellent Proposal is a silly price in this field. The Hong Kong import has contested against the likes of Golden Sixty and California Spangle in Group 1 company, holding him in good stead for a race like this. He wasn’t disgraced first-up in a BM100 at Randwick when crowded for room at a crucial stage, and with a wet deck only going to suit his chances, Excellent Proposal is a genuine winning hope at massive odds.
I Am Me is a must-include if she shows up to this event. She was closing best for second behind Imperatriz in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 28, and wherever she goes, you must consider her a winning chance.
Far Too Easy and Rustic Steel will be doing their best work late and should be thrown into the multiples if you’re playing exotics.