With the conclusion of the AFL and NRL seasons over the last two weeks, attention turns towards the Spring Racing Carnival and the return of the A-League for season 2014/15, offering punters another great avenue to back a winner this weekend!
The Spring Racing Carnival kicks up another gear this weekend, highlighted by Caulfield Guineas Day in Victoria and Spring Champion Stakes Day at Sydney’s Royal Randwick.
The Caulfield Guineas Day card is understandably headlined by its namesake Group 1 for three-year-olds and will this year feature a particularly talented list of thirteen colts and geldings. Classy colt Rich Enuff has returned to racing in exceptional form this season; taking out each of the Listed McKenzie Stakes (1200m), Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) and Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) in succession. Clear favourite to continue his run through the Caulfield Guineas, Ken Keys’ stable star will have to find an extra gear if to overcome the likes of Group 1 champion over a mile Almalad, Stan Fox Stakes winner Shooting To Win and classy Queenslander Looks Like The Cat.
Boasting a total of ten black type races on Saturday, Caulfield Guineas Day will also play host to three other Group 1 races in the Toorak Handicap (1600m), Thousand Guineas (1600m) and Caulfield Stakes (2000m).
Attracting a field of 15 milers, the Toorak Handicap will see classy mare Commanding Jewel return to the highest level of Australian racing for the first time since taking out the 2012 edition of the Thousand Guineas, but faces stiff opposition via well-trialled runner Speediness, in-form stallion Bull Point and last start Group 1 winner Trust In A Gust.
A less-than capacity field of eleven three-year-old fillies have been confirmed for the Thousand Guineas, highlighted by some of the autumn carnival’s standout two-year-olds. Steadily building to the task over two starts this time in, Go Indy Go displayed a superior turn of foot to win the Group 1 Champagne Stakes over a mile in April but well and truly has her hands will this weekend when lining up against Bring Me The Maid, in-form filly Afleet Esprit and Stakes winner Sabatini.
A key form indicator for the Group 1 Cox Plate, the Caulfield Stakes is shaping as the day’s most exciting and well-contested race, with several leading fancies confirmed for a final competitive hit-out. Peter Moody-trained Dissident has returned to racing in career-best form this time, but undoubtedly faces his biggest test to date in the Caulfield Stakes when racing off with Sacred Falls, Fawkner, Happy Trails and further six Group 1 winners.
The Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) is the main event at Royal Randwick on Saturday and is shaping as an extremely interesting betting race.
Classy three-year-old First Seal won the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) at a jog last weekend and is clear favourite for the Spring Champion, but is yet to contest an event over a mile. Godolphin runner Sweynesse is yet to be defeated over four competitive starts and looks like biggest danger after comfortably taking out the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes over 1800m last start. Paul Messara’s in-form three-year-old Panzer Division is also worth consideration at generous odds of $7 for success.
Season 10 of the A-League kicks off on Friday night with a match between leading premiership chances Melbourne Victory and the Western Sydney Wanders. The Victory have been impressive in recent FFA Cup matches and start clear favourites, however the Wanderers arguably offer punters the best value for money having also displayed exceptional form in reach the Asian Champions League Grand Final over recent weeks.
Other notable matches in week 1 of the A-League include an F3 Derby between the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC vs David Villa and Melbourne City and current champions Brisbane Roar hosting Adelaide United.
Pakistan hosts Australia in the 2nd of their three game ODI series in the UAE in Friday night, and are aiming to get their campaign back on track after a demoralising loss in Game 1. The Aussies are clear favourites to seal the series in Game 2 and offer great value particularly in batting and scoring markets.