There are two Group 1 races coming along this weekend, one at Flemington and one at Royal Randwick.
Both are 1600 metres and both are run under weight-for-age conditions, so there is a form of synergy taking place between Melbourne and Sydney Saturday coming, as spring races continues to build to it climaxes in October and November.
Flemington will stage the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes. Palentino provided the astute handicappers with a nice dividend, jumping at $9.00, beating Black Heart Bart (2.05) and He Or She ($13.00). Rising Romance had the same starting price as Palentino, but ran seventh.
Palentino did not do much from that point onward, winning the Group 2 Blamey Stakes at Flemington back in March of 2017, but failing to place in seven other jumps. He is not in the field for this year’s Makybe Diva. Hartnell ($1.80) is the clear favourite over Black Heart Bart ($6.50).
At Randwick, the George Main Stakes was won by, who else, Winx last year, over Hauraki in second and It’s Somewhat in third.
The George Main serves as the primary lead-up for the Epsom Handicap at the end of September. Winx won the Epsom in 2015, but Chris Waller has not committed her for this year’s edition of the Epsom, as he can be more than a little obtuse concerning the plans for the star of his stables.
Winx will jump in the 2017 George Main Stakes as the clear favourite. She is currently listed at $1.10, but that will drop, as the race time gets closer. Le Romain and Foxplay are next at $15.00, followed by Happy Clapper at $17.
One measure of the faith in Winx, going for her 20th straight win, is the excitement expressed by Happy Clapper trainer Pat Webster, who unequivocally stated that the prize money for finishing second in the George Main is what will get his horse to the barrier.