Jockeys, particularly champions, make a difference. Glyn Schofield returns to Boban, lacking dash without him, in the group 1 Chipping Norton at Warwick Farm for his clash with It’s A Dundeel.
Jim Cassidy, too, will be out to bring out the best of Hawkspur – a stablemate of Boban, prepared by Chris Waller, and also a last-start failure – in the same race.
Cassidy is a legitimate champion, one who has held a high ranking in majors for decades, as has Damien Oliver, whose expertise will be on show at Flemington on Shamexpress in the Newmarket and Fiorente (Australian Cup).
At his best, It’s A Dundeel is dynamic but resuming after a spell has made some keen judges nervous about his prospects.
“I believe the odds, around even money, are no value about It’s A Dundeel against such a fighter as Boban, who has had two races this prep,” said Dom Beirne, for Betfair. He reckons there are two ways of looking at Boban’s recent failures, but he is going for “his wily trainer has simply been building his fitness level in parallel with the rating required to win feature assignments this autumn”.
“I expect Boban to improve considerably and demand It’s A Dundeel return a higher rating than he’s been capable of first-up in the past.”
Boban did better last start than Hawkspur, which flopped in the Orr Stakes at Caulfield on February 8, but Cassidy, for who he promised so much in the spring, is back on him. The combination won the Chelmsford at Randwick last year over Saturday’s journey, 1600 metres.
Perhaps the state of the surface, rated slow on Friday, will play a role as will just how the track reacts to four earlier races before the Chipping Norton. Boban hasn’t acted on ground worse than dead, while It’s A Dundeel has scored on slow.
It’s A Dundeel is accomplished at weight-for-age and has a decision over the mighty Atlantic Jewel. Resuming last campaign, the entire was fourth, beaten less than three lengths by Atlantic Jewel in the 1400m Memsie at Caulfield. Obviously he is better suited by further.
Verdict: It’s A Dundeel.
Kerrin McEvoy returns to Guelph in the Surround Stakes after the filly had what many consider an unfortunate experience under Hugh Bowman last start. Bowman was criticised when Guelph was wide throughout and sixth at her first start back, to Sweet Idea in the 1200m Light Fingers at Randwick on February 22. Still the question arises: was Bowman the fall guy for a substandard performance? Guelph will have a return bout with Sweet Idea and others from the Light Fingers, including Real Surreal, which was having her first start for nearly a year. She was fourth, beaten 1¼ lengths.
Verdict: Real Surreal.
Ollie the edge
The Newmarket at Flemington, where Shamexpress chases his second, is a conundrum. Shamexpress scored in the same race last year with only 51.5 kilograms and goes up to 56kg. However, the entire is weighted to beat a top contender, Samaready, on their last-start clash in the Lightning (1000m) down the Flemington straight on February 15. Samaready is conditioned by Mick Price, who also has the form sprinter Lankan Rupee, renewed after a gelding operation, another big show. Price prefers the mare. Beirne has nothing between the pair and rates them at $4.50, and another over the odds is Spirit Of Boom, assessed at $12 by him but $20 on Friday with Betfair. On their clash in the Newmarket last year, topweight Moment Of Change is handicapped to beat Shamexpress but the latter has a big plus, Damien Oliver.
Pace will suit
Tactic changes for the Lloyd Williams team should assist Fiorente in the Australian Cup, as second favourite Shamus Award is the likely leader. Melbourne stewards have been told Mourayan’s rider, Steven Arnold, will be instructed “to be positive, to be forward or lead” while stablemate Green Moon ”will be ridden in a positive position”.